Beat Reporting

Recent posts

Legislative Coverage, StateImpact Style

Here they come! It’s time for some lawmakin’.

Some of you have one year of covering the legislature for StateImpact under your belts. For states like Texas, where the legislature convenes every other year, this will be a first spin through. Either way, it should be an interesting ride. Odd-year sessions following an election are when the bulk of state legislative business gets done. And it blows by fast. So be ready!

Here are some ideas on how to be thinking about covering the legislature in a StateImpact sort of way.   Continue reading

Using LinkedIn For Backgrounding People and Companies

UPDATE: Next “LinkedIn for Journalists” training will be held on January 10. Read below for details….

I suppose that a lot of you use LinkedIn as a professional social media platform. Well, did you know that it can also be a good reporting tool? As a journalist, you can use LinkedIn to conduct background research,  identify potential sources and reach out to your core communities.

I took a LinkedIn training, and here are some highlights on how you can use LinkedIn for reporting.

Before we start, let’s get familiar with the navigation bar because a lot of searches will start from there.

1. Finding Sources

  • Advanced People search: Click on “Advanced” on the right side of the search bar, and you can search people by company, including past and current employees.
  • Company search: Search companies by clicking on the right third drop-down menu on the navigation bar, and you will be able to see how many people among your first and second-degree connections work at a certain company. Continue reading

Five Beat Reporting Tips You Can Use

“Once a week, buy a key person coffee. Learn what they want from you before telling them what you want from them. When possible, do interviews in person. Build relationships. While on a story, log contact info for good sources you meet.” — Erin Barnett, The Oregonian

Norman Rockwell's "The Runaway" shows a beat cop talking up a runaway child.

In our latest StateImpact webinar, our database reporting coordinator Matt Stiles gave us a run down of some things to keep in mind to really own your beat. Before he was a data nerd, he was a nerdy beat reporter. Stiles covered federal courts in Dallas and City Hall in Houston. Both had challenges. The feds wouldn’t talk to him. And he couldn’t get the folks at City Hall to stop talking to him.

As you know, beat reporting is hard. The best beat reporters are organized, they really care about a subject and they’re asking the right questions. Some tips to remember to own your beat:

1.) Be aware and be around.
The best beat cops are in diners and on street corners meeting people and, in this case, perhaps discovering a runaway. If he were out in his car, or back at the station house, he might not have seen this kid. Or looked close enough to recognize the pack on the floor. This kid might have gotten away.

Continue reading