Assignment 1: Beat Note due Thurs. Sept 17

Due Thursday, Sept 17 at beginning of class
Worth 10 points (No late work accepted)
Please post your beat note to before you come to class on Thursday, Sept. 17

A beat note or “beat memo” is a way for reporters to let their editors and coworkers know what they are working on. They often include story ideas, where the person is reporting, and sources.

Your beat note assignment is designed with several goals:

  • Generate story ideas that you will use for future assignments in this class.
  • Get you using your equipment again to take photos, record audio and shoot video.
  • Use multimedia to actively hunt for and flesh out your story ideas.
  • Get back into the swing of posting various media elements online. The clunky button pushing that is part of being a journalist these days.

The primary goal of your beat note is to use it as a tool to help you notice new things, talk to people, and be creative in an active manner. This assignment values creativity, risk and effort. You are not committing to do all of these stories. You will abandon most of them. The point is to get the creative flow going.

For your beat note, you will turn in:

  • 6 story ideas: two events ideas, two issue ideas, and two profile ideas. Approx 50 words each – 300 words total. (Worth 6 points)
  • 10 photos connected to one or more of your ideas  (Worth 1 point)
  • An audio clip of an interview connected to one of your story ideas. It should be .mp3, 90 sec. max. (Worth 2 points)
  • A video clip connected to one of your story ideas. 30 seconds max. (Worth 1 point)

Here is how to go about creating these things…

My suggestion is to start with your interests, locations and passions:

  • What kinds of places to do you want to explore this semester?
  • What kinds of people do you want to talk to?
  • What topics do you want to write about?
  • What kinds of things do you want to add to your journalism portfolio?
  • What kinds of “clips” are going to help get you the internship or job you want?

Then look for ways to flesh out the specific assignment requirements.

Brainstorm and research story ideas. Your story ideas can come from things you observe, other news stories, social media, flyers, bulletin boards, local event listings, things you overhear, a way to localize a national story, or something about the past.

Each story idea pitch should be about 50-100 words. Do your research. Your pitch should explain why this is a compelling story and include likely sources for each.

Follow the advice given here:

Do not tell me “A lot of bands come to town and it would be fun to write about them.”

Tell me instead: There’s a band called Those Darlins coming to play at Proud Larrys – they represent a new wave of indie rock out of Nashville, and this show is part of a new touring corridor that puts our Glassboro on the map of bigger-ticket shows.” I would like to talk with the person who books talent at Proud Larry’s, as well as the band’s manager ______ and the lead singer _______.

Do not tell me: “The men’s tennis team is awesome.”

Tell me instead: Half of the men’s tennis team is from outside of the U.S. — the recruiting staff spends $____ each year traveling abroad to court them. This year, they’ll go to Spain, Sweden and Portugal – I plan to write about a typical recruiting year and the lengths they go to, literally, to bring top-notch players to Rowan. I plan to talk to the players __________ and_________ as well as the assistant head coach_______.

Come up with a total of six (6) story ideas. Two (2) story ideas for each of the following categories:

Two “Event” story ideas (The events must take place between Sept. 20 and Oct. 10)

Find two (2) events that you might like to cover. They can be cultural, sporting, neighborhood, governmental or community events. They must be events that you can attend in person and can report on. They should also be events that you want to attend and you want to write about. Be sure to include the event description, location, time, and why it makes for an interesting story in your pitch.

Two “Issues” story ideas

Find two (2) “issues” or social concerns that you care about and might like to cover. They should be issues or topics that you can research and educate others about. And you must be able to locate people who can talk about the issue. For example, if you want to write about the plight of Syrian refugees you need to be able to get in contact with Syrian refugees and/or people who are assisting them. Be sure to include why the issue is important, possible sources, and what you think an audience would want to learn in your pitch.

Two “Profile” story ideas

Find two (2) interesting people or groups of people that you would like to cover. They must be people you can meet with in person, photograph and/or video, and spend some time with. The best profile subjects are people who actively “do things” and who are articulate about “why they do it.” Be sure to include information about what the person does, why they do it, and why you think it would make an interesting profile in your pitch.

Create a photo gallery (10 photos) connected to the story ideas above

Post 10 photos connected to one or more of your story ideas. They can photos of an event, issues or people. Pick a subject that makes for good photos. Take at least 50-100 photos. Post the best 10 in a gallery.

Collect a short audio interview (no more than 90 sec.) connected to one of your story ideas

Find someone to talk to about one of your story ideas. Get the person’s first and last name and their job or association with your topic. Record the conversation with your audio recorder or cell phone. Pick an interesting clip or soundbite from the conversation. It should be no more than 90 seconds long and posted online.

Shoot a short video (no more than 30 sec.) connected to one of your story ideas.

Find something active connected to one of your story ideas. Shoot a short video of it. Now more than 30 seconds. Post it online.


Here is a bit of inspiration: A four minute clip of how photojournalist Richard Koci Hernandez goes image hunting in Mission District ( goes hunting for inspiration. “This is just the art of discovery,” he says. “That’s all good storytelling really is in anyway: making a reader or a viewer feel like they’ve discovered something for the first time the way I discovered it.”


How to Turn-in/Post Your Assignment

Log-in to WordPress with your user name and password.

Use Switch Site option in the upper left hand corner of the dashboard.


Make a New Post (Don’t use the Quick Post option. Go to Dashboard>Posts>Add New.)

Add “Your Name’s Beat Note – Fall 15” as the headline.

  1. Post your six (6) story ideas in the order and manner described above.
  2. Post your 10 photos as a Gallery.
  3. Post your audio to Soundcloud. Type up the full name of the person you interviewed and their job or position. Embed your audio clip in your post.
  4. Post your video to YouTube. Then embed your video into the post.
  5. Set a feature image for your post (in the lower right hand corner). Pick the best image from your gallery and use that.

Publish your post.

Visit to make sure it is visible.

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