Untitled Document

Organizing a Journey for Justice Event: Writing a News Release

Organizing Journey Events
Journey Event Introduction
Organizing a Public Event
Find a Journey Leader

Register as a Journey XActivist
Types of Meetings
XSpeaker's Forum
XDiscussion Group
XPrivate Meeting
XMedia Appearance

Technical Assistance
Choosing a Meeting Location
Order Supplies

Publicity - You Want It!
XGetting an Audience
XYou and the Media
XNewspaper Listing
XRadio/TV Bulletin (PSA)
XNews Releases & Samples
XDesigning Flyers/Posters
XUsing Mail and Phone
XUsing the Internet!
XPublicizing a Journey Event XXon our Website

Sign-up Sheets/Petitions
Phone Tree
Volunteer Questionnaire

Grassroots Organizing
Getting Started
Starting a Local Group
Expanding Your Network
The First Meeting
Forming a Family Group

Making a Display

Vigil, Rally, Demonstrate
Presenting a Video Series

Reading Room
Intro & Contents
Media Resources
10 Tips to End the Drug War
Becoming an Activist

Communication Skills
Closing Your Letters/Memos
Tax Credits for Volunteers
Working with Legislators
Honest Hope and
XThe Hundredth Monkey
Overcoming Masculine

Adapted from; used with permission
Bottoms Up Version 1.0
©2001, 2003


Organizing a Speakers' Forum

For your public event you may want to feature a panel of spokespersons, but you're not sure what that is. It means the formal presentation of a selected group of speakers to a public audience. Speakers are usually seated next to each other behind tables facing the audience, sometimes separated by the moderator's chair in the middle.

After a speaker is introduced, he or she steps to a podium, or lecture-stand, to speak for a set period of time to address the public. The moderator introduces the next speaker (if there is one), and so on through the panel. Before beginning, the moderator should work out an order of speaking agreed to by each panelist.

Ideally, the speakers you select for your speakers forum or panel will offer listeners a blend of viewpoints about your meeting's purpose or agenda. The "panel" members should be selected carefully for what they know, and their ability to effectively teach on the subject of the drug war's damage. This is important because the audience will very likely accept them as experts.

A panel presentation is not a debate. Avoid inviting someone you suspect would probably be disruptive to your agenda, for example, a local judge who sentences drug users to prison, the head of the drug task force, or the county prosecutor. In other words, if you had intended to schedule a debate, it would be billed and promoted as a debate, a contest.

The audience at your panel discussion should enjoy a relaxed opportunity to hear and judge different views on the subject, minus the atmosphere of competition that defines formal debates. Your invited panel speakers should be at ease knowing they won't be facing off in a public forum with representatives of the opposing view sitting next to them.

Expect, however, that members of your audience might hold opposing views -- and share them before the event is over!

Remember, your moderator has told panelists beforehand how long each one has to speak. The moderator should be skilled at helping panelists avoid arguments and speaking past time limits. Pay attention to working out these details about how the moderator communicates with panelists and members of the audience. Public meetings must be timely, and most who attend will appreciate and respect how well this is done.

Your group has planned an agenda that includes time for questions and comments from the audience. Before closing, the moderator thanks all panelists and the audience for participating.

If you want to plan a speaker's forum or panel discussion, your group will ask, "Who else locally might join Journey speakers on a "panel?" Since the Journey is demanding an early release system for federal prisoners, other panelists could include individuals or groups that minister to prisoners.

If there's a college in your area, you might find a criminologist who has become an expert on prison overcrowding. You may know someone with a loved one in prison who could speak about impact on families. Other possibilities: an experienced defense attorney, professional counselor, journalist, public health official, religious leader.

If you don't know other people who might be appropriate to join a panel, you can still plan a public forum and use one or more Journey for Justice speakers. In this case you would call your event a speaker's forum. This could happen by accident if one or more panelists fail to show up; so stay flexible in planning and accepting of unanticipated changes.

If you can only feature a Journey speaker at your meeting, our presentation may include use of a PowerPoint, stand-up displays, petitions, newspaper, or video documentary. You will want to discuss these potential details with a member of our staff during an early stage of your planning, and always keep your group notified of any plans you make with us.

As you plan the event's agenda with your local volunteers, remember to leave time for adequate discussion with the audience after all speakers' presentations. Panel members should expect to hear comments from the audience and address questions and concerns. If you have a Speaker's forum, you should plan for the same period of audience participation. This is very important.

A speaker's forum or panel is a public event. You will want to study other portions of this website that assist you with publicizing a Journey for Justice event.

Remember, your objective is to attract an audience to hear and view the presentations. Your group may want to set up informational tables, and you should have people ready to greet the arriving public. For details on including these important tasks, review details provided at: Organizing a Public Event.

Back to the top