What is a news beat? It’s a subject area or organization that you’ll monitor and write stories about while taking this class. Your job is to be the class expert on your beats and find the best story ideas.
Inside Towson will give you a good idea of many possible beats. On-campus beats can include:
- crime and public safety
- student government/media
- student life, campus rec and greek life
- employee/faculty life (including Aramark, union, AAUP)
- a combination of academic departments (college of business, college of fine arts, etc.)
- university administration (provosts, president, etc.)
- university governance (faculty senate, board of visitors, etc.)
- university finance/budget
Your job is to cover your beat, stay on top of all breaking news and develop ideas for feature stories on the side.
Do this by being curious, persistent and courteous. Get to know all of the main contacts on your beat, go by and talk to them regularly and keep up with pertinent reading/newsletters/emails/web pages/blogs/other publications (such as the Daily Digest).
For more tips and a list of beat ideas read pages 20-23 of the Student Newspaper Survival Guide.
To be successful in this class, you’ll want to keep in mind the following:
1) No conflicts of interest. If you’re a member of a sorority, you can’t cover Greek life.
2) Don’t get scooped. Your job is to get the news first.
3) It’s got to be right. You’ve got to get the news right and you’ve got to spell names correctly. I’ll be double checking.
4) If you need sources from another beat for a story you’re working on, considering paying a courtesy to the classmate covering that beat. He or she can often suggest the best sources to contact and the best strategy for contacting them.