Capitolbeat Conference 2009

August 23, 2009

Thank You and Goodbye

Filed under: Uncategorized — sdwmk7 @ 5:18 pm

Capitolbeat09 has ended. Thank you for reading the blog and attending the conference. If you have a few moments please let us know how we did in the comments section or take the survey.

August 22, 2009

Environmental Journalism

Filed under: Uncategorized — Emily Coleman @ 4:02 pm
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  • There is so much legalese, jargon, technical stuff and spreadsheets. Press for the simplification and translate all this for your readers.
  • Build a reference stockpile of links.
  • Knowing the legal and logistical requirements help you keep those involved accountable.
  • You have to prove yourself and your knowledge to environmental sources.  If you can get them to trust you, you can get sources who will give you a heads up when something is wrong.
  • Ask for emails and phone records of public officials.

Environmental Law

  • Federal environmental statutes
    • Clean Water Act
    • Clean Air Act
    • Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
    • Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act
  • State regulations
    • Permits
    • Enforcement
    • Notice / Public Comments
    • Administrative Review
  • City / Council zoning ordinances
    • Notice / Public meetings
    • Judicial review
  • Common law
    • Nuisance
    • Negligence
    • Trespass
  • Freedom of Information Act and state open-records legislation



Gitte Laasby, environmental reporter for the Post-Tribune of Northwest Indiana

Kim Ferraro,  founder of the Legal Environmental Aid Foundation of Indiana, Inc.

What’s being tweeted about CapitolBeat09

Filed under: Uncategorized — sdwmk7 @ 3:49 pm

created at

Covering Children and Families

Filed under: Uncategorized — sdwmk7 @ 3:32 pm

Here are some resources from the Covering Children and Families Seminar held Saturday morning.

Journalism Center on Children and Families

  • Resource site on family issues based at the University of Maryland’s journalism school
  • Has a listerv that you can join
  • Will compile data for you

The Annie E. Casey Foundation

  • Has national, state and local statistics
  • Web site has a rank and compare feature on child well-being.
  • Produces a yearly state ranking of child well-being.

Contact Information for Laura Beavers, National Kids Count Coordinator


Possible stories or trends:

In 2006-2007 the teen pregnancy rate increased for the first time in a decade. This was seen in 41 states.–Annie E. Casey Foundation

National Survey of Children’s Health- done every 4 years. Next one out in 2011.

Child sexual abuse- Is your state compliant with the federal sexual registration law?–Journalism Center on Children and Families has a report on their web site.

Higher Ed

Filed under: Uncategorized — Emily Coleman @ 2:22 pm
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Performance funding is government funding is rewarding higher education for meeting educational goals like improving the number of graduates, getting students to graduate on time or early and for transferring students onto four-year universities from community colleges.

There is are two dilemmas faced when seeking the effective implementation: the school even bothering to try to meet the goals and the unstable nature of performance funding.

University of Michigan receives 7 percent of its overall revenue — this includes revenue generated by sports, parking, etc. — comes from the state government.  A point to consider is if a university is only getting about 7 percent, how willing are they going to be to go out of their way to meet the qualifications – like in the performance model – set up by the state.

Higher education consultant Brenda Albright said schools may attention regardless to protect their public image.

University of Missouri system used to use the performance funding model, but it died during a recession.  Higher education institutes want stable source funding for future planning.

Community colleges have harder times getting funding, especially from the state.

If you’re looking for data to support your higher ed stories, check out the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

Transparency can be big a deal in this area to make sure numbers actually make sense and there’s actually improvement going on, not just allowing students to skate by.


Adam Van Osdol, the senior editor of INGroup

Brenda Albright, a higher education consultant

Eric Kelderman,

Bringing the Stimulus to Life

Filed under: Uncategorized — sdwmk7 @ 2:12 pm

A few web sites to help with covering the stimulus.

State Recovery

  • Won’t provide stories in itself, but can lend information for stimulus stories.
  • Has stimulus deadlines
  • Has certification letters and other information that the states have to provide to the U.S.

National Governor’s Association

  • Stimulus resources from the NGA
  • Also has a timeline

Other suggestions include:

  • Comparing the current situation to the previous recession from 2001
  • Keep old notes/stories in a stimulus file for eventual graphics
  • Interview your state’s stimulus czar. has contact information on their web site.
  • Check often
  • Find out which agencies are overwhelmed

Don’t forget, has a list of online resources for covering the stimulus on their web site.

August 21, 2009

Membership Meeting

Filed under: Uncategorized — Emily Coleman @ 10:24 pm

Update on the Bylaws:

Last year at the membership meeting, the board presented a proposal to allow affiliate members to join CapitolBeat. The proposal would have allowed lobbyists and other non-statehouse reporters to become non-voting members. The plan was rejected. The board returned this year with a plan to allow affiliate membership to reporters who do not spend the majority of their time reporting on state politics and to former voting members who leave statehouse reporting. Former members who become lobbyists or politicians would not be eligible. Freelance reporters and bloggers who are accredited by a statehouse press corp. could also become affiliate members.

Other News:

Goodbyes to: board member Charles Ashby, board member Nancy Cook Lauer, Contest Chairman Larry Messina and Rachel Stassen-Berger.

Elections are tomorrow.  All the elections are so far uncontested.  If you’re interested in being a write-in candidate, Capitolbeat Vice President Mark Binker recommends you speak with him.  It is a two-year commitment with at least one conference call per month.  If you join the board, you’ll end up working on the contest or the conference.

The biographies of the candidates are on the thumb drive.

The Pew Center on the States seminars will be reoccurring in Washington, D.C. Sept. 24 to 25 and Las Vegas date pending.  They will likely have a regional focus with the D.C. mini-conference focusing on the east coast and Las Vegas on the west coast.

The board is also considering moving the conference back to November.  They’re looking for feedback either way on that as well as location suggestions in a survey.

Gambling 101

Filed under: Uncategorized — Emily Coleman @ 8:07 pm
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Random facts:

  • Not all gambling is covered by state gambling commissions.
  • Lotteries, land-based casinos, river (or lake) boat casinos, horse racing, charity bingo and slots are all gambling but are often times regulated differently.
  • The gaming industry is very complicated, and few legislators understand it, Ed Feigenbaum of INGroup said.

Beat lingo:

Rascinos: Slot parlors at racetracks

VLTs: Video Lottery Terminals are like slot machines, mostly in bars
an issue in Illinois, Ohio

Downloadable credit: free play time,  gets sent out in mail ads for example
still gets taxed

The numbers and terms — like quite a few industries — are unique to the gambling industry.

Keep in mind:

… who is running what and where they’re coming from

… who’s going to be eligible to get licenses

… can these people or companies make campaign contributions

… where is the money coming from for the licenses and the facilities

… how do the different companies, geographic industries and different types of gambling interact with each other and the government

… for new casinos, where are they going and do the people there get a say

… what ethical restrictions are in place or going to be instituted

… what changes in the law are being sought

… how revenue for the state – which can vary by gambling type – affect how the state regulates or encourages these types

… how will lag times in licensing and other processes affect efforts to fill budget gaps

… how dependent are governments (and the local communities) on the revenue generated by the casinos, etc.

The Panel

Ed Feigenbaum of INGroup

Ernest Yelton, Executive Director of the Indiana Gaming Commission

Mike Smith, president of the Indiana Association of Casinos

Tech Mojo

Filed under: Uncategorized — sdwmk7 @ 6:55 pm
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In the Finding Your Mojo session Mark Binker, Joshua Hatch and Rachel Stassen-Berger gave some great tips and web sites that make it easy to get technological.

Here are some great web sites to explore.
Lets you rearrange twitter to fit you. VERY COOL
Creates word clouds. Just insert text and paste onto your web site.


Easy to make charts and graphics. easy to embed

Many Eyes
Highly customizable charts, graphics and other visual tools


Whether you got to attend the Mojo session or not, make sure you read the tip sheets on the Thumbdrive.

Numbers into stories and graphics

Filed under: Uncategorized — Emily Coleman @ 6:34 pm
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  1. Keep the graphics department in the loop to keep communication and ideas going both ways.
  2. Make a list of what you know.  This can make graphics and multimedia more useful to the readers by including more relevant information.
  3. Try putting graphics together yourself.  Using online tools can make collaboration much easier.  Danny Dougherty, the graphcis reporter at, recommends sites like many eyes and Google Docs.
  4. Learn more about what’s happening in the field by following blogs and job associations awards and newsletters.

Speaker: Danny Dougherty of

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