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How To Cover A Big Story Like Shakedown [Pt. 2]

Tips From Scouting Magazine's Bryan Wendell

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Covering a big event like Shakedown poses as many challenges as The Ropes at The Summit.

Bryan from Scouting MagazineBecause we overheard on Twitter that we have some Scouts who love journalism, we wanted to get some insider tips for you. Of course, we would only settle for advice from the best that Scouting has to offer. So, we immediately turned to Scouting magazine’s Bryan Wendell and got him to divulge all the tips and tricks of the trade.

Psst: Did you miss it? Be sure to catch Part I of this super-guide to Scouting journalism!

SB: Tell us more about getting those extra special details like what’s happening behind the scenes. Do you have a special badge or do your VIP status and charm naturally clear you wherever you want to go?

Incognito is the name of my game, at least at first.

Bryan: I was a registered staff member at the Shakedown, so I didn’t need any special badge beyond that. Incognito is the name of my game, at least at first. Once people know I’m there taking notes or recording what they’re saying, they’ll often become too measured and speak unnaturally.

SB: Speaking of VIP, do people stop you in the streets and exclaim, “Hey, you’re that Scouting magazine guy!”?

Bryan: OK, I had one person recognize my face from the little photo on my blog, but that was it. I gotta say, I was flattered!

SB: Yes, that was completely irrelevant. Back to the point: We noticed you talking to lots of Scouts at Shakedown—how do they react when you interview them? What kind of stuff do you ask them?

Bryan: Most are excited at the chance to have their names and/or faces in our magazine, and they’re all very polite and patient as I pepper them with questions. I asked them about their overall impressions of the site, the activities, and their expectations for next year.

A couple of Scouts mentioned some things they’d like to see improved before next summer, but the majority were highly impressed with what they saw. Almost everyone said they were headed back home to recruit their friends!

SB: So, where can we check out Scouting magazine’s articles about Shakedown?

Bryan: I thought you’d never ask! The Shakedown article is the cover story for our November-December issue, delivered to all registered Scout leaders at the end of October. That’s also when it’ll post online at scoutingmagazine.org along with a Web-only slide show of our best photos from the event.

SB: We realize you’ve got tight deadlines, so we’ll wrap this up. But before we go—any advice for future journalists out there?

Bryan: Yes! Two things.

…bring along lots of tools to document everything. Notebooks, pens, a voice recorder to get quotes and ambient noise, and a camera.

First, if you’re covering an event, bring along lots of tools to document everything. Notebooks, pens, a voice recorder to get quotes and ambient noise, and a camera. Sure, Scouting magazine had a professional taking photos at the Summit, but my pocket camera let me take some quick snaps that I turned into observations for my story. My photos won’t make the magazine, but they help me write the story much better than mental pictures would.

Second, use details. If you’re out kayaking with a Venturing crew, were the “yellow boats floating in the sea” or were the “lemon-colored crafts bobbing like candles on the water”? Descriptions help put the reader there.

Wow! Sounds like an incredible whirlwind of activity being a journalist. Are you ready to make it happen? Join us at the 2013 National Scout Jamboree and put these skills to work!

Are you into capturing stories using words or photography? Let us know how you do it in the comments!

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