July 21, 2015
by Angel Pacheco, SurfMedia Communications
If there’s one thing that’s in short supply inside the average newsroom, it’s time. Reporters and editors for newspapers and news websites, as well as broadcast journalists, wake up each day with email accounts, voicemail boxes, postal boxes, personal calendars and social media accounts filled with story ideas easily worth their time to look into and produce a news account.
Couple that with limited staff and resources that every news organization faces, getting your own story noticed often feels like it could take a small miracle. However, knowing how a newsroom operates and who within the organization would most be interested in covering your event or milestone could help give you a big leg up in earning your organization some coverage.
It all begins with…
Pretty much every news story begins as a bit of information that comes into the newsroom. Whether it’s a juicy rumor left on an anonymous tip phone line, a conversation with a trusted source or an email sent to a reporter, there are always potential news stories flowing into a newsroom and onto a journalist’s desk. Today, email is the most preferred method of communication.
You’ll want to send your press release or story idea to the most relevant editor or reporter within the newsroom. Within larger news organizations, editors may oversee different sections, such as general news or sports. Reporters will also often have specializations, such as education, the environment or city hall. Take a look at stories they have worked on in the past to get an idea of whether your story would interest them. If a news organization doesn’t have staff overseeing particular topics, send your information to the main editor.
With only so much time in the day, journalists sift through this stream of information to find what would most be relevant to their readers and viewers. It has to be timely, as something that happened just a few days ago can feel like years ago to news organizations competing for the most recent information. Are there prominent community members or celebrities involved? Does it impact a large percentage of the community? Does it affect the area that the news organization covers?
Unusual human interest stories can also catch the eye of a newsroom. The classic example is “Man bites dog” – an eye-catching stray from the norm.
The reporting begins
While every newsroom is different, in most cases newsroom editors will choose the top stories and assign them to reporters to work on. Reporters are also often able to choose the stories they want to pursue. The process can involve interviewing sources, doing some online research and going to a meeting or the event. Photographers and videographers will also be assigned to shoot relevant photos and video. In many cases, reporters will take their own photos or video as well.
It all comes together
Often the most hectic part of the day is producing the information collected into a text or video story. Reporters at a print newspaper will work to get the information into a readable form on a deadline in order to get the story to an editor to review for accuracy, typos, grammar and more. The story will then go to page designers to incorporate into the coming edition. The most relevant photos are also selected for publication.
It’s a hectic process that’s repeated each day throughout the country. While it can be a challenge and take multiple attempts, getting attention from media is important for every organization and is a great accomplishment.
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