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Smart reporters know to get the 'boilerplate' written early

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Three days to go.

Ah, a man after my own heart!

Oregonian reporter David Holley was on the phone to me Thursday and Friday, doing what’s called “boilerplate” for the story he’ll be writing after the results of Tuesday’s election are known.

Many inexperienced reporters try to write their whole election story on election night. The smarter ones know that paragraphs three-through-nine can be written days in advance and saved. Then, when you get good numbers from the elections divisions (figure 8:10 p.m. or so), you can make a couple of phone calls, write paragraphs 1 and 2, and have a fully cooked story ready to go to your line editor, way ahead of all your other writing colleagues.

Then you can go attack the pizza that will be served Tuesday night in every newsroom in America. Pizza on election night is sacred. Do not mess with the pizza.

Send your feedback to And thanks in advance.

About Dana Haynes

Dana Haynes, joined PCC in 2007 as the manager of the Office of Public Affairs, directing the college's media and government relations. Haynes spent the previous 20 years as a reporter, columnist and editor for Oregon newspapers, including ... more »


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