What journalists look for in a news story

22 July, 2019     Posted in: Public Relations

Journalists are responsible for keeping the public up to date with the latest news events and stories.  In order to gain the media’s attention, it’s important to understand what journalists look for in a story.

Most journalists work against tight deadlines, strict guidelines and are under a lot of pressure to find relevant, engaging and important stories.

Our Communications Director and former journalist, Clare Christensen has some advice on how to craft a story that will catch a journalist’s eye.

News needs to be new

Save old news for the recycling bin. Most journalists want to break the news and are after an exclusive story. Timing is everything.

If you are working on a topic that has been covered previously, consider your unique point of difference. Have you got a perspective that reveals something new and adds to the conversation?

Or, if you are providing insight into a new topic, think about how it will play out in the current media landscape.

Keep it relevant

Journalists are always on the lookout for media moments, but in order for your story to make the cut, it needs to be relevant to their audience. Make sure you consider who the journalist works for and make sure that the story suits their platform.

Most journalists have to run their stories past an editor before being published, and lots of good articles get cut because they fail to connect to a greater issue. If the story isn’t relevant to the audience, a journalist can’t help you no matter how good the scoop is.

It’s in your best interest, to be interesting

In a globalised world there is a lot of news to keep up with. Journalists working in digital media are looking for stories that can go viral and be shared amongst millions.

With so much internet clutter, journalists aren’t going to be able to grab a reader’s attention easily – so you really have to stand out to be read.

Ask for feedback on your story before reaching out to a media professional. Good stories can get lost in dull language, poor structure and a hard to understand narrative. Including a first-hand account or interviewing a person of interest will boost your story’s newsworthiness.

Can you see it

In the digital space text doesn’t stand out. Stories should be accompanied by beautiful, evocative and stimulating visuals to grab both the journalist and reader’s attention.

This is especially important for television. Source an image taken by someone at the scene and get permission to publish the image. This cuts down on the work the journalist has to do later.

It is the role of public relations (PR) managers, to promote clients and their interests to the public. Generating a strong media presence is essential when building and maintaining the public’s attention and support.

This requires a strong relationship between PR representatives and journalists.

These days, most journalists find out about stories through media releases, sent (typically via email) from PR organisations and businesses.  A media release contains all of the most important information surrounding a media moment.

If a journalist decides to take on a story, they will then begin conducting interviews, finding supporting data and writing a story to present to editors.


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