Whether you’re a journalist who needs expert comment for a breaking story or a researcher with scientific findings that warrant news coverage, the UF News Bureau can help. Our staff of writers and editors, most of whom are former journalists, understands how the news business works and can provide a variety of services to meet your needs.
The News Bureau is the primary media relations office for the University of Florida. The office is responsible for disseminating news about the university and responding to media inquiries. It is the place to send information and seek assistance in dealing with the news media.
- Initiating news coverage
- Responding to media requests for information, story ideas and faculty experts
- Producing and distributing news about research activities, people and programs
- Producing and distributing news and publicity photos
- Arranging interviews and media visits for faculty and staff
- Advising colleges, departments and individuals on media and public relations
- Providing media training to prepare faculty and staff to deal more effectively with the media
- Assisting in the preparation of publications
- Calling and coordinating news conferences, when appropriate
Reporting UF News
The News Bureau is organized and functions much like a news bureau for a major newspaper or television station. The News Bureau writers keep up with newsworthy developments campuswide and identify UF experts with the help of faculty, staff and students.
It is vital that the News Bureau be alerted to a potential news story as early as possible. In an emergency, we must act immediately. On other news, time is required to gather information and notify the news media and allow them to find space for the story.
The effective dissemination and management of news requires planning, which in turn requires advance notice of newsworthy events. Sensitive information will be kept completely confidential, so never hesitate to share information with the News Bureau. We are all part of the university family.
Not all information is news. Each potential story will be evaluated by the News Bureau staff — all of whom have worked in commercial newspapers and television — to determine the interest among the media and other constituents.
Once writers have identified a story, the News Bureau editors will decide the best ways to disseminate the news. This may include:
- A news release (print or broadcast)
- Accompanying photographs, if warranted
- Tip sheets to reporters and editors nationwide
- Personal contact with reporters and editors
- Accompanying faculty or staff to professional meetings or interviews
- A news conference, when the News Bureau determines one is warranted
- A faculty – or staff-written opinion piece
The News Bureau has cultivated an excellent relationship with the news media by providing legitimate news stories, written well and delivered in a timely manner. The chief vehicle for disseminating news about UF is the Associated Press. UF stories are written in the basic news style, so wire services and newspapers that want to use them have to make few or no changes. The stories provide sufficient facts to permit the paper to write its own story or to serve as background for a journalist’s interview.
The making of a story
News releases and tip sheets are created in the same manner as the news media creates its stories, with one important exception. The News Bureau writers offer the source of the story an opportunity to check it for accuracy before it is released. Our news gathering steps include:
- Interviews with appropriate faculty and staff and reviews of written source material
- Discussion of content, target audience and timing
- Writing of a draft release and initial editing
- Source approval
- Final editing
- Reproduction and distribution
Timing is everything
The News Bureau works with faculty and staff to coordinate the timing of a news release so that it will coincide with a publication in a professional journal or a presentation at a professional meeting. Besides ensuring that the university does not “scoop” a professional publication, this coordinated timing often increases news interest in the story.
In addition to transmitting UF stories electronically to Associated Press, the world’s largest news gathering and distribution network, the News Bureau sends the information to newspapers and magazines around Florida and beyond.
One reason the News Bureau writers adhere to a strict journalistic style is to reduce the necessity for changes by the media. Often, editors at AP and other media will make few or no changes to UF stories. Others may shorten it, change the style or rewrite it completely. Some may print it immediately, save it for weeks, or file it and contact the source months, or even years, later.
The News Bureau cannot control what the media does with a release after it leaves our office. We can increase the potential for accuracy by giving reporters and editors well-written, factual material at the start.