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Well, I got to attend a jamboree 20 years ago as a youth. Had the time of my life. Was patrol leader, bugler and hometown news correspondent. Lost my ID to get into a private conference with Steven Spielberg the day he was arriving. Went back and got a new ID and had a professional photographer invite me to cover Spielberg's arrival at the arena by choppper. I got a great shot that was published and it's a great memory.


I write that to give a little background. Now to the present. I'm on the Jamboree planning committee for my council. In fact I chose to be on the Hometown News committee as an assistant. We require the Journalism and Communications Merit Badges in order to be a correspondent. Sadly, the chairman who had been running HN for many years passed away a couple weeks ago. I will now be assuming the role as chairman for Hometown News. I was left only a couple documents prior to Steve's death. The person heading up the Jamboree for our council has not contacted me even though I've sent several e-mails and tried to contact him.


So today I tried looking on-line for resources and found very little in the way of Hometown News. I left a message for our council professional working with the planning committee. He did get back with me this evening and will see what he can find for me. From what I know of this person, he does not do things in a timely manner. So I am not holding my breath.


Does anyone have resources (national) regarding HN? Any guidelines, rules, procedures, anything would be greatly appreciated. Even if it's from the last jamboree, it would be helpful so I can have a foundation on what I will need to do.


Thanks in advance!

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Hi Shortridge,


No, I do not have a journalism or public relations background. I've been a music teacher, special education teacher, agent recruiting & selection consultant, trainer, network specialist and now an implementation specialist. I have close to ten years in computers. Through all of my experience, I've had to create a lot of documentation for training, and creating programs. At the present time I'm the chairman for our council's museum and have created the mission statement and guidelines for the museum. Also, I currently write articles for our council's newspaper for both the museum and for the Jamboree recruiting efforts.


So I don't have professional training specifically in journalism or public relations, but I do have some skills that will help.


Your pov's would be greatly appreciated.


However, I wonder if the council should find someone else to continue this? I don't want this to fall through, but at the same time want to make sure the boys get the best training/information to be good correspondents at the Jamboree.



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Go to the Scoutiing.org and type press release in the search bar. I think that is what you are looking for. If you are looking for more information, try searching press release, because that is essentially what you have.

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To clarify... you're in charge of your council's Hometown News committee for the jamboree? No, I don't think you need to step down or find someone else. You're clearly interested, and enthusiasm counts for a lot. You can study up on your own and encourage your Scouts to do likewise.


One book that I used in college and found to be very readable is "Writing the News," by Walter Fox. It's a fairly slim volume, not daunting to Scouts who are interested in this sort of thing.


A general observation: Newspapers are cutting staff left and right - editors, reporters, photographers - as the economy turns to molasses (minus the sweetness). That bad news for journalists creates a GREAT opportunity for smart organizations to get good news coverage in the local press. If you can put together a news release that requires very little editing, chances are it'll go in your local paper pretty much verbatim - maybe even on the front page. That can only help gain attention to your cause.


Off the top of my head, I have a few suggestions for a hometown news program.


1. First and most obvious (but often neglected): Get detailed contact information, including e-mail addresses, of the editors and reporters at the local newspapers, TV stations and radio stations in your council. That'll take some time to compile, but be well worth it. Send out a test e-mail message about a week or so before you depart to make sure everyone's still working there - that'll give you enough time to get new contacts. I once ran a hometown news program for a local university - stuff like who made the dean's list, won scholarships or was named to a student government job - and keeping my contacts up to date was the biggest challenge.


2. Don't expect daily coverage back home, unless you work out an arrangement beforehand to have some type of "Daily Dispatch" feature in the local papers. (If you do develop that type of relationship, send material on a daily basis - don't skip a day, or they'll forget about you.) Unless Scouting is really, really big in your area, the daily paper will probably do one big story, maybe two, during the course of the jambo... the idea is that readers get tired of the same thing over and over, and the paper can't give wall-to-wall treatment to one group because then everyone'll demand it. This can be overcome if you're doing interesting stories - see point 8, below.


3. For daily news releases, send them out in mid-afternoon - 2-3 p.m. would be ideal, and the earlier the better. My own newspaper recently bumped up reporters' daily deadlines to 4 p.m. The only exceptions are breaking news or coverage of an evening event.


4. Releases should be sent by e-mail if at all possible. Fax is a backup option, as it requires someone to re-type the information.


5. In writing releases, keep them readable, fairly short and - absolutely most important - JARGON-FREE. Don't include a lot of Scouting detail that the general public won't understand. You're writing for the guy down the street, not for other Scouts and Scouters.


6. Write them as close to newspaper style as possible - that will require a lot of study and training on the part of your Scouts, but it'll be worth it.


7. Customize releases for local markets. I'm from a council with 10+ counties, and each has at least one weekly newspaper. The dailies straddle the counties and cover wider areas. Know where your Scouts are from and which markets they're in, and the editors will be greatly appreciative.


8. Pick interesting, exciting, action-oriented stories of universal interest. The local reader doesn't care about merit badge midways, patch-trading or OA fellowships. They WILL be interested in the fact that a local young man or woman oversaw the construction of a 30-foot-long rope bridge, shot a perfect archery round twice in one day, shook hands with the president or ... [fill in the blank].


9. Offer plenty of photos. They should be high-resolution images with caption information that clearly identifies both the people and what's happening. Action photos are best - many newspapers will pass on posed "grip and grin" shots. Unless it's against policy, include the last names, hometowns and ages of all Scouts in the photo. (If I'm an editor selecting photos, I'm probably not going to pick one that features "Joe C. of Troop 12." I can't tell who that person is or if he even is from my coverage area.)


10. Local TV and radio stations will be less likely to report on your experiences at Jambo while you're there, and more likely to cover your contingent's departure and/or return. Give them visuals/audio actualities that they can use - Scouts in uniform wearing backpacks, loading/unloading a trailer full of gear, practicing a flag ceremony or marching, singing a Scouting song, etc. In the case of TV, the more action, the better. For both TV and radio, designate some of the more articulate Scouts to talk about what they're doing. Rehearse some basic questions and answers with them beforehand.


11. The exception to No. 10, of course, is if you can provide video or audio from the Jamboree. I don't know what type of resources will be available there for video or audio editing, but I'm sure you'll have more than one Scout who can turn out a video and stick it up on YouTube or e-mail it to the stations. A simple video camera, a basic digital audio recorder and a laptop could work wonders.


I hope this helps! Any questions, let me know.(This message has been edited by shortridge)

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Hi Shortridge!


Thank you very much for all of the suggestions and insight. It helps a lot. Yes, this is for my council's Hometown News committee for the 2010 National Scout Jamboree. I am in the Mid-America Council. We cover three states (Nebraska, Western Iowa and part of South Dakota. There are 13 districts. I know that we will have several troops from different towns. Depending on who signs up for hometown news, we'll need to try to work with the local media.


I'm good friends with the editor of our council's newspaper. She should have several contacts for me to work with and build some business relationships with. Also, the gentleman that passed away, he sent me several documents "in case" I needed to send anything out. It was almost as if he knew.... A couple of the documents contain a schedule with the names of professional he had work with the boys for the last Jamboree (2005). I'll work on contacting them and see what I can do.


Our council requires Communications and Journalism Merit Badge to be a correspondent. Personally, I feel the photography part needs to be stressed. My son just took the photography merit badge and it seems like that would be good background for a HT correspondent. I'm not sure adding another requirement would be healthy. But I would like to at least encourage a little work in photography before attending the jamboree.


The Jamboree Contingent Chair has talked with me and would like me to continue working on HN unless it gets to be too much. I'm also an Assistant Scoutmaster for the Jamboree. Personally, I think it will be fine. I appreciate the support and encouragement Shortridge. Originally I was to be an "assistant" or "apprentice" to learn and get experience. That way down the road, I might be able to run the program. With Steve passing away, I'm definitely going to get initiated! I'm looking forward to it. The good thing is that we've got a year and a half before we head to Jamboree. So we've got a good amount of time to get everything in shape for the boys.


Thanks again for the advice and suggestions!!!





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