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Tales from the trail: A how-to for journalists in a presidential campaign year

June 10, 2016

Image of a U.S. flag-colored map of the United States and a VOTE political buttonIn a presidential campaign season that legitimately can be described as bizarre, what’s the responsibility of the media in covering those elections?

What’s the best way to ensure journalists are doing top-notch reporting on local races and referendums? How do you craft stories in this multimedia age that will capture citizens’ attention, encourage people to take part in the election process and understand the issues?

Who are the right sources and why?

These and other questions will be part of an engaging media-focused seminar hosted by the Northern Illinois Newspaper Association from 9 a.m. to noon Thursday, June 16, on the campus of Northern Illinois University.

The seminar will be held in the Campus Life Building, at the northeast corner of Normal Road and Lucinda Avenue.

Who should attend

The seminar is presented as training for students and working journalists but is open to the interested members of the general public. Cost is $20 for NINA members and $25 for the public.

Here are the topics and panelists:

(1) How hard is it to write an engaging and fair election-based story? How is election coverage changing with the shifting political and media landscapes?

Panelists: Chuck Sweeny, senior political editor, Rockford Register Star; Jim Webb, former Illinois political editor, Chicago Tribune, now with public relations firm Serafin & Associates.

Matt Streb

Matt Streb

(2) What does the press do well when covering politics and where does it fall short?

Panelists: Jim Webb; NIU Political Science Chair Matt Streb; Bill Catching, former journalist with the Aurora Beacon-News, current Aurora Township supervisor.

(3) How is press digital coverage elections evolving? What are effective strategies for using various social media platforms in election coverage? Where have we been, and where can we go next?

Panelists: Nicole Franz, digital editor, Northwest Herald; Roger Ruthhart, managing editor, The Dispatch and Rock Island Argus.

Why come?

The seminar will provide insights for students who might be interested in journalism and politics, training for young journalists learning the ropes of election coverage and a media’s-eye view of election coverage that could be on interest to public officials or staff members who are active in the election process.

It’s also a great way to network with some of the top media professionals in Northern Illinois and to learn more about the Northern Illinois Newspaper Association.

About NINA

NINANINA is the Northern Illinois Newspaper Association, founded in 1962 to promote the newspapers of northern Illinois, develop programs to enhance the profession and promote good fellowship among its members.

Based in DeKalb, and in partnership with Northern Illinois University, NINA has expanded over the past half century to bring together multimedia publications on the cutting edge of modern information technology, upholding a mission to preserve and enhance the precepts of fairness, accuracy and quality of journalism and journalism education in northern Illinois. Membership starts at just $25 for individuals.

For more information, visit the NINA website.