News reporter to what extent would you go in search of raw materials for a news story?
Reporters are always looking for news — that is, something “new” or “different.” So are their editors. Ideas that make it into the news are said to be “newsworthy.” For your project or research to make news, it has to be newsworthy in the reporter’s mind. What, exactly, fits the bill of being “newsworthy”? Of course, controversy makes news. But your work doesn’t have to be controversial to be “newsworthy.”
Here are some other ways your research can be newsworthy:
1. Is it truly new — or a “new” way of thinking about an old issue? A recent story –“Do people need 8 hours of sleep a night?” — is an example of a research finding that was newsworthy. Reporters are interested in a scientific breakthrough that will affect the lives of many people — the proverbial “everyman.” If the finding will only affect a few, but do so in a startling way, that’s also newsworthy They’re also interested in “breakthroughs” if they think they’re ones that will interest “the general public.”
2. Is it timely? Sometimes “news” is timed to coincide with a related event so that it is staged to be “happening now.”
3. Can what you’re working on be related to something that’s currently in the news? A just-released government report? New research? New technology? A new trend? Maybe it’s a hot new movie — or a disaster (the Sept. 11 tragedy). These are called “news hooks.” If your research can be “pegged” to the Super Bowl, for example, you can release it around that date.
If your research or new finding fits one or more of these criteria, it may be very newsworthy. Still, you have to get reporters attention first — get them to say, “Wow! I didn’t know that!” The Center for an Accessible Society is ready to help you with this.
WHAT REPORTERS ARE LOOKING FOR
Reporters are almost always on deadline. And they are deluged with information, news tips and ideas from people wanting to get their story in the news. How can you make your “news” stand out from the glut of information swamping reporters?
Be simple and direct. Reporters don’t have a lot of time to sift through raw material in search of a story. The easier you can make their job, the more likely they will use your material.
Reporters are drawn to news that readers can use, information about new technology, new research that has implications for people’s everyday lives.
Reporters look for easily-told stories, with compelling facts.
They need clear and easily-digested ideas for their viewers and readers.
If they can’t understand, it they won’t use it. It’s best if you’ve done the “hard work” for them — giving them “sound bite” material and a good quote from a reputable expert or consumer.
In today’s fast-paced information society, news must be very short. One central idea, 2 or 3 facts — no more.
Stale studies, research reports done months (or even years!) in the past, won’t make it as news — unless you can find something timely to hook them to.