same sex marriage

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Explaining Impact: NY’s Gay Marriage Vote Gives Us a Teachable Moment

A sign at a rally for New York marriage equality.

Tonight, New York’s State Assembly approved same sex marriage rights by a vote of 33-29. A handful of Republicans joined all but one Democrat in passing the legislation, which, upon approval by the governor, will roughly double the number of Americans to which same sex marriage rights are available.

The news item struck me as a particularly good opportunity to coach you on how to think about government action stories that StateImpact will produce. To reiterate, our reporting mission is to focus on implications, effects, and dare I say — impact. That means, when a news event like New York’s same sex marriage vote happens, StateImpact bloggers should not write the “what happened” story. You can simply live tweet the “what happened” part for your community. And you can count on several other news outlets in your orbit to do the ‘what happened’ stuff. All you have to do for the ‘what happened’ story is simply write a sully lede, block quote the nut graph of someone else’s story and link to it.

Your StateImpact coverage should deliberately do something else. Do something deeper. Do something more contextual. Put the news — whether it’s the lege approving something, or a government leader taking some sort of action, or an important decision of some sort — in perspective.

The stories about the passage of same sex marriage were out. Then what? Some examples of the news organizations that did the “impact” stories well, and did them quickly. I hope it provides some inspiration and gets you thinking. Continue reading