Public speeches and meetings are vital aspects of journalism, as “many news stories report what important or interesting people say in speeches or the actions people take at public meetings” (Bender et al. 323). Journalists, however, only report on the most newsworthy speeches and meetings. In fact, many news organizations publish two stories on important public speeches and meetings: one story before and one after. The story that airs before the meeting is called an advance story, while the news story that airs after the meeting is called a follow story (Bender et al. 323).

            Michelle Luo’s article, “Top Obama Adviser to Appear at ‘Super PAC’ Meeting,” is an example of an advance story, as Luo reported on the ‘Super PAC’ meeting before it occurred. Like all advance stories, Luo’s article emphasizes what will happen, when and where it will happen, and who will be involved (Bender et al. 324). First, Luo addresses when the meeting will happen, recognizing in her introduction that the meeting will occur on Friday night. To answer what will happen, Luo acknowledges that the event is to raise money for President Obama’s campaign, stating that “Democrats gird for a financial arms race against powerful independent groups on the right” Then, later in her article, Luo addresses where it will happen and who will be involved: “The meeting in the Bay Area is for Priorities USA Action, a super PAC set up by Mr. Obama’s former aides.” Similarly, Luo answers other crucial questions in her advance story, such as the event’s sponsor: “It is being organized by Steve Westly, a venture capitalist and major fund-raiser for the Obama campaign in both 2008 and 2012.”

            Perhaps the most successful aspect of Luo’s story, however, is the effectiveness of her lead: “The leads for advance stories should emphasize what is important and unusual, not just the fact that someone has scheduled a speech or meeting” (Bender et al. 324). Luo’s lead acknowledges the most unusual part of the Super PAC meeting, which is that David Plouffe, one of Obama’s political advisors, will attend.

            Ashley Parker’s article, “Romney Trying to Recast Wealth to Be Seen as Asset,” however, is a follow story, as the Parker conveys important information about Mitt Romney’s public speech in Idaho Falls, Ohio a day after the event. Although Romney’s speech included many major topics, Parker decided to emphasize one—how Romney addressed his wealth—and address others—such as gas prices and employment—later in the story. Parker is not the only journalist to utilize this structure, as the structure is a common solution to addressing complex speeches: “If a speech or meeting involves several major topics, select the one or two most important topics and summarize them in the lead. Summarize the remaining topics (rarely more than two or three) in the second and third paragraphs” (Bender et al. 326).

            Similarly, Helen Cooper’s article, “Obama Revs Up Oratory, Reminding Autoworkers of Bailout,” is a follow story, as the article conveys information about a speech President Obama had already given. Although some leads that are written about speeches can be “so broad they contain no news,” Cooper successfully “[emphasizes] the most newsworthy information” in her lead (Bender et al. 327):  “President Obama channeled his 2008 campaign persona on Tuesday, using an energetic speech before the United Auto Workers conference to remind Michigan on primary day that he helped save the auto industry with a controversial bailout even as Mitt Romney was calling for the leading car companies to seek bankruptcy.”

            The main difference between Cooper’s article and Parker’s article is that the speech Cooper was covering only had one major topic, while the speech that Parker was covering had many. This meant that Cooper could implement a different writing style then Parker: “If a speech or meeting involves one major topic and several minor topics, begin with the major topic and, after thoroughly reporting it, use bullets or numbers to introduce summaries of the minor topics in the story’s final paragraphs” (Bender et al. 326).

            While all three of the reporters utilized different writing styles, each reporter effectively kept their “readers in mind, clarifying issues so that readers can understand how events will affect them and their neighborhood, city or state” (Bender et al. 331).Within each story, the reporters addressed the broader implications of the speeches and meetings.


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