C.11 Chapter Summary

Chapter 11 of Telling the Story: The Convergence of Print, Broadcast, and Medie covers the concept of beat reporting. Beat reporting is a type of in-depth and constant coverage of a certain topic, as opposed toa breaking news story — a bomb threat or stock market plunge. This topic can range from writing about a geographical location or a government agency.

Due to the general public’s demand for ongoing updates on these beats, many reporters are assigned to constantly cover these topics. But there are certain rules to being a beat journalist.

Firstly, journalists must be prepared. They must research extensively to know what questions have been answered and what questions haven’t been answered. Being prepared also means anticipating the results from certain interviews and actions and people. Finally, journalists must also establish good relationships with their sources; more effort is required when it comes to dealing with these sources because, according to the text, these beat assignments can last anywhere from six months to two years.

Beat journalism also required a deeper sense of alertness. Some stories may seem unimportant at surface level, but digging may reveal a much deeper story. Journalists must also be there. Good beat journalism — although this applies to any sort, really — requires personal, firsthand experience. Interaction in person will yield different, more natural results than communication over telephone or email.

In addition, reporters must be persistent, which includes not only stubbornlygetting the answer you need, but also following slower developments. They must also be wary. They must remember that everybody has a spin, an angle, and they will use the media as a platform to sell their stance or viewpoint. It is up to the reporter to slog through all of the bias, both forced and natural.

There are many different forms of beats. There are social, local government, sports, science, politics — all categories in which beats can be found. No matter which category the beat falls in, it is important to keep your reader updated with true and honest information. There should be no bias. Furthermore, the journalist should be sure to translate all the jargon and concepts into easy-to-understand form.