Setting Up the Newsroom

A newsroom where texts and other handouts are available and where journalists can work should be reserved at the headquarters hotel or convention hall at the same time that rooms are reserved for the scientific sessions and other functions.

A second room nearby should be reserved where television and radio representatives and photographers can hold filmed or taped interviews and take pictures. The room should be relatively immune to outside noise interference, and with sufficient power outlets. Also, it should be possible to turn off air conditioners or other noise sources inside the room.

A third room, furnished with enough chairs, may be needed for news conferences. The radio-television interview room, however, may be adequate to serve this purpose. This room might include a "mult-box" attached to the sound system, into which radio reporters can plug their tape recorders.

The main newsroom should be equipped with typewriters (one for every 10 or so reporters attending, since many use their own portable computers); telephone jacks for computer modems; several telephones (more for very large meetings); a fax machine, typewriter paper; and tables and chairs. Tables should be typewriter-table height.

It is helpful, although not required, to have a computer available with standard word-processing programs, Internet access and an attached printer.

Other needs include an area in the newsroom for a registration desk and telephone; sufficient tables for displaying paper texts, releases, and other handouts; a bulletin board or blackboard for notices, and a photocopier.

Also provide, in printed or electronic form, reference works such as dictionaries; general books on the field; biographical references; publications on the aims, purposes, history and organization of the sponsoring society; copies of local telephone directories; and an ample number of copies of the official program.

Staff the newsroom at all times with a PIO or assistant. A member of the society or other expert should be on call via beeper or cellular phone to answer technical questions.

Register reporters as they come to the newsroom and issue press badges. Keep a list of reporters and their hotel rooms, e-mail addresses and/or cellular phone numbers, so they can be called if important news breaks. Also, offer registration to fellow PIOs from speakers' institutions, professional societies and other groups. They can provide background on their people, arrange interviews and offer other assistance to media covering the meeting.

The newsroom should begin operation the afternoon of the day before the meeting's opening. Some reporters will begin arriving and working then. You can expect that some may want to use the newsroom facilities until late in the evening during the conference.


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