Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

Two Minute Tips

Five tips for covering politics

July 6, 2015

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In the exciting world of politics, money runs everything. Reporting on political finances can be tricky, so here are our top five tips for reporting on politics:

1. Use social media.

Social media is a great way to reach out to readers, particularly when reporting on local politicians. Post photos and link to biographies to help readers get context for your story and interact so they feel involved.

2. Utilize legal experts.

When Robert Snell reported on the Detroit bankruptcy, lawyers and judges were some of his most helpful sources. They know the law, obviously, but they also know the area and it’s history. Make contacts and check in regularly for political tips and stories.

3. Research is key.

Political reporting can be exciting but prone to nitpicking and criticism. Be sure you have all your facts right so when you’re called out, you’re ready to show proof of your reporting.

4. Talk to millennials.

The millennial generation is becoming a political powerhouse in terms of campaigning. Speaking with them could get you a new angle for a story about how younger people are educating themselves for a big vote or what issues matter most.

5. Know your state’s statutes.

Political reporters can get on a politician’s bad side pretty quickly, particularly when money is involved. Make sure you know your state’s laws concerning interviews, paperwork, reporting and other areas you think could be dangerous to protect yourself and your organization.

Want more? Download our “Guide to Business Beat Basics” for tips on covering money in politics and other beats.

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