Writing:Articles about supporting/opposing initiative and referendum

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Articles about the impact of new I&R laws

These three topics are addressed below in order.

What to call your article

At present, the preferred format is to start your title with the name of the state, followed by the descriptive language by which the initiative is generally known, followed by the year that the law was passed. The year can be in parentheses or not.

Examples:

  • Alaska Residency Requirements 2006
  • Alaska Residency Requirements (2006)

Writing the article (the right content)

To write an article well:

  • Know where to go to find information about new I&R law policies
  • Divide the article up into standard or useful sections, as suggested below.

Finding content

Here are good places to find out about I&R law. If an article has already been started and you want to add to it, these resources can be consulted for additional detail and information.

  • Check Ballotpedia under initiative and referendum law to see if there have been any recent updates. If you are interested in a political states law then simply add it to your watch list for updates.
    • A watchlist is located at the upper panel of your edit box and will allow to keep track to other users changes to that page.
  • Do a Google search to see if you can find the websites of the groups that supported and opposed the change.
    • With these changes make sure to ask yourself "Who, what, when, why, where, and how?" It's as practical for Ballotpedia as it is for journalists. Some sample questions include:
      • Who will benefit from these changes?
      • How are they being instituted?
      • What are the changes?
      • Why are they being instituted and why now?
      • Where is the source of these changes?
      • How did they pass/fail in the legislature?
  • Go to Project Vote Smart’s website and research the different rulings that judges or legislatures have passed on initiative and referendum. Look for voting records here.
  • Go to the I&R Institute website and see if the changes were noted on Ballotwatch.
  • Check out The National Conference of State Legislatures for easy to use charts containing I&R law by state and any recent changes.
  • Look at the Lexis/Nexis website for newspaper articles about the law
    • Lexis Nexis is a subscription only website that allows you to look at numerous local and national newspaper articles (including an extensive list of old articles). If you have access to it through your college or local library it is an incrediable resource.
    • If you do not have access to Lexis Nexis, make sure to check out Google News
  • Consult Wikipedia
  • Try a Google blog search.

Break it down

One of the great things about Ballotpedia is that you can break a measure down into easily readable segments. Below are some suggestions for sections you can break the article into. These section suggestions can also give you an idea of what kinds of information to provide about the initiative, whether or not you break the information out into sections.

If you don’t have any information to place in a particular section, you can still put in a market for the section heading. This might inspire future readers to add appropriate information in that section.

Typographical tip: The way to create a section heading or title is to surround the title with two equal signs, like this:

 ==The case for support==
 ==Controversies==
 ==Press coverage==

Helpful tip: its useful to create your wiki page in "Notepad" (if you are using a PC) or any other type that has a text editor.

Introduction

Typically an article will start out with a 3-4 sentence basic introduction that states the amendment, installment or restrictions of the initiative or referendum law. That will be followed by additional information broken down into sections. Here are some sections you might consider:

  • Notable supporters
  • Notable opponents
  • The case for the initiative change
  • The case against the initiative change
  • Controversies surrounding the initiative
  • Any lawsuits filed as a result of the ballot drive
  • Blocking campaign against it
  • Newspaper coverage
  • How the measure’s funding is viewed
  • Legislation blocking the ballot drive
  • Funding of the legislation
  • Funding of the opposition to the legislation
  • Press coverage
  • What’s happening now
  • References
  • External links
    • As always include references and external links to give your article credibility.

Formating your page

If you are at loss for how to write in "wiki" please check out our new page and editing articles.

Also remember to categorize your page and to cite your sources.

Also remember to cross-link your pages. Link to the states, the initiatives and other key players/organizations that are mention in profiles.