Archive for September, 2016

I’m teaching my Media Writing class about event coverage today. So here are some tips on event coverage:


Before the event, learn what you can about what’s going to happen. A sporting event might have a program or roster with the players’ numbers and names. A public meeting might have an agenda. A conference program will list the speakers. A more informal program will have an organizer who can provide an overview and some background.

But sometimes you need to go beyond the handouts and the organizers. Find some contrarians who can let you know about interesting turns the event might take. (more…)


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This week’s flood in Cedar Rapids brings a sick, familiar feeling.

I hope the current forecast of a crest at around 22 feet is right this time. That’s a bad flood. But I do know that flood forecasts can be wrong. The email below, sent late the night of June 11, 2008, warned of a crest at 24.7 feet, which would have been a record. The actual crest less than two days later was more than 31 feet.

It was a record-setting disaster for my then-community, similar to the flood my now-community experienced this summer. (This time I wasn’t involved in flood coverage.)

I don’t have much new to say about this flood, except that I’m confident Executive Editor Zack Kucharski and his staff will excel in covering this flood. Many veterans of the 2008 flood have moved on, either voluntarily or as the Gazette cut staff. But I count more than 20 veterans of the 2008 flood still on hand, including Zack and several others who played key roles. They know what to do.

I hope the waters don’t rise above expected levels again. But I’m certain the staff will perform at whatever level the community needs, whatever the obstacles.

The Gazette has some good aerial photos of this year’s flood, but they’re not showing nearly as extensive flooding, especially in areas with homes and businesses, as what we experienced in 2008. I hope it never again approaches that level.

Here are previous posts I’ve written about the 2008 flood, and the award-winning double-truck front page, designed by Rae Riebe, with a design suggestion from Michelle Wiese and a powerful photo by Liz Martin:

Our June 13, 2008, front and back pages.

Our June 13, 2008, front and back pages.

The Cedar Rapids flood: Hard to believe it was four years ago

Mississippi Gulf Coast recovering slowly

If “The Fifth Season Is Progress,” it better be a long season

No Pulitzer, but still high honor for Gazette staff

Gazette flood coverage wins Sigma Delta Chi Award

Recognition for Gazette’s outstanding journalism

Disaster coverage in the digital age

Time for Cedar Rapids to get pushy

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These are blog posts that relate to my “Revenue Roundup” discussion at the Online News Association today:

A possible new business model for obituaries

Jobless journalists could find a business model in obituaries

‘A Death Notice for Obituaries?’ Or an opportunity for entrepreneurs?

Obituaries: A chance to tell a loved one’s story

Personal storytelling sometimes overlaps with journalism


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