An editor of a Boy Scouts magazine published in Texas calls the UI News Bureau to find out how he can make arrangements for one of his free-lance writers to visit the campus for a story he's working on that takes a look at the experiences of freshmen at a number of campuses around the country. The News Bureau gets in touch with the writer, who lays out exactly what he wants to do while on campus for a day and a half: get a guided tour, meet one-on-one with four students of different ethnic and economic backgrounds, and arrange for photos to be taken of the students and campus. The News Bureau routinely gets requests such as this - and responds as quickly as possible, because a delay not only can make it appear the university doesn't care but also that the reporter ultimately turns elsewhere for information. And, after all, providing information is what the News Bureau is all about. Giving reporters quick access to the expertise of the UI faculty and staff promotes the institution among the many audiences the university serves. One way the News Bureau capitalizes on the faculty's expertise is via a set of monthly "news tips," one-page news releases widely distributed to the news media throughout the nation. The tips are designed to pique a reporter or editor's curiosity rather than tell the whole story about a particular project a faculty member is working on. A recent tip, on a UI-run project benefiting children in Hope Village at the former Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, has generated front-page articles in the Chicago Tribune, Christian Science Monitor and New York Times, as well as a televised report by CBS News. Occasionally, small newspapers, with correspondingly smaller staffs, will publish a news tip verbatim. More often, a reporter or editor will call the News Bureau to get more information about the tip or to arrange an interview with the faculty member mentioned. Sometimes the call will go directly to the faculty member. Frequently, the news media call the News Bureau, seeking help with a story in the making. "Do you have anybody who knows anything about mad cow disease?" (Yes, we do, as a matter of fact.) "I'm looking for someone who's an expert on folklore. Is there someone there who can help me?" (No, but we know of someone at another university who may be just the source you're looking for.) "I need to know if you've got someone who can talk to me about Stephen A. Douglas." (We do.) Sometimes, it's a photo the reporter is after, either of the faculty member or of the research. Recently, the New York Times called, asking for a diagram of a process to accompany an article a reporter was preparing for Science Times, the Tuesday science section in the paper. A member of the News Bureau was able - after a series of phone calls and e-mail messages, including several between continents - to track down what the paper needed. (And it was published.) A relatively new way for the News Bureau to be queried is electronically, via ProfNet, a service that allows the news media to post questions to an electronic bulletin board read by hundreds of subscriber colleges and universities. The key to getting the word out about the UI when responding to such inquiries is speed. Because so many institutions have the same opportunity to reply, the News Bureau tries - and usually succeeds - in responding within minutes.