Letter from the Dais
Welcome to the YMUN XLV’s Press Corps! My name is Julianna Lai and I’ll be your committee director at this year’s conference. I’m your point person for all things Press Corps-related or if you just want to talk journalism. We are so thrilled to have you all on campus come January and hope you make the most of this exciting experience!
A little bit about myself:
I’m a sophomore from Los Angeles currently majoring in History and Anthropology and hoping to pursue a career in journalism post-Yale. On campus, I write and edit for the Yale Daily News (the oldest college daily in the country!) on the University and Sports desks, the Yale Daily News Magazine, and the Yale Politic, the undergraduate journal of politics and culture. You can also find me singing in the Yale Glee Club (it’s not like the show), playing club basketball, working on the Yale Refugee Project as part of their employment team, and hunting for free food.
I’m a big believer in the indispensability of journalism, not only in holding power to account, but also to educating the liberal arts. Acting somewhat independent from states, journalists provide the information and interpretation for citizens to decide how governing bodies should work.
Between press conferences, exclusive interviews, background research, and investigative reporting, you will have the opportunity to experience several days in the life of an international journalist. You will have the power to shape the narrative of the conference, hold delegates accountable to their positions, and act as the primary source of intelligence on the ground.
As reporters, each of you will be held to high journalistic and professional standards. My hope is that you leave YMUN with a stronger appreciation for the importance of a free press and the difficulties that journalists face when tasked with delivering a comprehensive picture of events to the public.
The following background guide will prepare you with an outline of the format and tasks of Press Corps. Think of this guide as a starting point from which you should begin your research. Try to familiarize yourself generally with the topics being debated in other committees. The more research you do, the more context you’ll have to inform your journalistic endeavors during the conference.
We understand that Model UN can be overwhelming to beginners, but whether you’re the editor-in-chief of your school’s newspaper or you’ve never written a word outside of class, I can assure you that Press Corps will be a rewarding experience. Please do not hesitate to reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions before, during, or even after the conference. We can’t wait to meet all of you in person!
All my best,
Press Corps, Chair
Yale Model United Nations XLV
The primary role of Press Corps is to observe other committees through the lens of major publications in order to share committee proceedings with the general population of delegates. Press Corps does not engage in formal debate, but members will have the chance to discuss the committee’s priorities for the duration of the conference. Press Corps also has a unique opportunity to engage with all of the committees at the conference. The goal is to provide comprehensive, insightful, and entertaining media coverage of YMUN action, and to answer the question: What does the UN do and why?
Members of the YMUN Press Corps will operate as members of the U.N. Correspondents Association (UNCA), a professional organization of over 200 correspondents and producers from all over the world that operate out of small outposts and represent a larger international or national organization. As a result, many journalists are generalists, meaning that they are expected to cover and be knowledgeable about a wide array of issues. We will try to capture this versatility in committee, as you will be asked to research and report on diverse topics across the other committees.
Like UNCA, you will represent a range of publications, news agencies, and broadcasters. You will cover the events of conference through the ideological perspective and editorial stance of your assigned news agency. Your commitment to your news organization’s perspective and bias will be the key to a dynamic Press Corps experience as you cover developing and breaking news events throughout the conference.
The Press Corps chairs will work closely with you in our “newsroom” to hone your ledes, clarify your message, and position your stories before they are published to the YMUN News website.
Press Corps will be broken up into three subcommittees: the UN News Center, UN Photo, and UNifeed. For our purposes, each subcommittee will have their own specializations, but Press Corps will act as a single publication with different sections based on region, topic, or issue. Press Corps as a whole will produce two online newsletters at the conclusion of each of the two full conference days and one final, comprehensive report released at the end of the conference, in addition to multimedia content and articles to be published on the website throughout the conference.
Descriptions of Each Subcommittee:
The UN News Center produces daily print, photo, radio, television and webcast news coverage of the work of the United Nations. Reporters and Copy Editors fall under the UN News Center.
UN Photo documents mandated activities throughout the UN system telling the story of the UN in the conference. The UN Photo subcommittee is comprised of photographers and production and design editors.
UNifeed is the United Nation's video news and multimedia service documenting conference proceedings. UNifeed is responsible for leveraging social media as a communications tool and is run by the Public Relations and Marketing team.
Responsible for coverage of committee proceedings. During committee sessions, you should be taking notes and interviewing delegates and chairs about issues that arise during debate. As reporters, you should be holding delegates accountable to their positions and raising public concerns. With the source material you have compiled, work with editors to write articles to be published on the press site and in the newsletter. Reporters will also attend a press briefing with delegates representing each of the other committees during the final session with contents of the briefing to be published in the final Press Corps report.
You are not strictly limited to news briefings and are encouraged to explore creative ways of reporting. Other types of articles include profiles of leading delegates, interviews, analysis of country positions that give the public context for the decisions being made, and interest articles such as “Top 10 Signs of an Effective Delegate” or “What Your Committee Says About You.”
Those of you with more experience writing long-form reports should experiment with shorter, more social content, or focus on by-the-minute updates. If you haven’t done much writing, I would encourage you to try an in-depth feature piece about a certain committee’s dynamics, or a step-by-step guide to a complicated cross-committee issue. You’ll have plenty of freedom to choose the direction you take your writing and to collaborate with each other to come up with creative reporting techniques.
It’s important that we get the complete rundown of events, but we also want you to have fun with reporting!
Responsible for fact-checking statements issued by delegates and spoken in debate and fleshing out articles with relevant historical context and balance of perspectives. As fact-checkers, you can send reporters to challenge delegates with any inconsistencies you may find with their positions. Your work is crucial to the quality of Press Corps publications, and thus, copy editors will work closely with all members on the team.
Photography, Production and Design Editors
Under the UNPhoto team, these specialists are responsible for creating the Press Corps visual content and documenting the conference through images and multimedia content to be used alongside articles and as standalone photo essays, interest pieces, and more. They will also work with editors and the public relations team to build on written content and to publicize Press Corps.
Public Relations/Marketing Team
Marketing coordinators are responsible for promoting Press Corps content, primarily through social media feeds. It is impossible to be a journalist today without being active on social media, as it is an essential news and communications tool. Twitter especially is a platform to provide almost-instant updates of breaking news, crisis events, and other important developments. This team will be charged with keeping the YMUN website, Facebook page, and Twitter up-to-date. You are also encouraged to explore other forms of media such as Snapchat and Instagram.
Press Corps journalists have the privilege of getting an exclusive look into UN proceedings and are often the sole or primary voice their publication’s readers will hear on an issue. Thus, it is especially important for members of the Press Corps to be cautious and intentional with their language. Fact-checking and compiling credible sources from a diversity of perspectives will be essential.
Because sourcing is vital to crafting a complete and well-balanced story, a large part of reporting is building rapport with your sources, i.e. other delegates and chairs. The nature of the Press Corps requires that our committee be much more dispersed and informal than others. It is vital that you maintain utmost respect and professionalism when conducting your research and reporting in other committees. Please be courteous, and source only during unmoderated caucuses as you gather quotations and opinions.
Personally insulting other delegates, name-calling, and unnecessarily negative or positive bias is prohibited. Criticism and praise of a delegate’s policies or actions is acceptable if in line with your news outlet’s traditional stances on such a policy or action. However, remember to present all perspectives in your piece and maintain balance.
Questions to Consider
1. What is the historical reporting and publishing style of your news outlet? Are you mainly opinion and editorial pieces or features and news? Are you known for long-form or short-form pieces? Are you published daily or biweekly? Knowing the traits of the publication you’re representing is critical to complying with its tone, history, and style.
2. Consider the readership of your publication. What issues are they directly impacted by, or care deeply about? What might they have strong (or nonexistent!) opinions on? Will your writing challenge or reinforce their conception of the issue in any way? Will they care about these developments?
3. Know the context. How is the event/development on which you’re reporting remarkable/unique? Did a delegate act contrary to his country’s usual policies? Did a diplomatic relationship better or worsen? Is a committee responding how you would expect it to, or has something different and interesting occurred?
4. Is there another side to the story that you’re missing? Are you reporting exactly as something happened, or adding in some of your opinions and bias?
5. Could what you’re writing be said more efficiently or clearly? Are your titles and quotations helpful and interesting?
6. What format best suits your writing? Or what kind of article best suits the format in which you want to write? Can this be presented interestingly through social media or other outlets?
Ahead of conference, you are expected to research, understand, and adopt the writing style, perspective, and any ideological bias that your assigned international news organization may have. Read as many publications as you can from a variety of viewpoints to get an idea for what ideological slant looks like in practice. Take notes from news outlets that publish interesting blogs, multimedia, and creative content. Of course, those listed below should serve as just the beginning of your research.