My News Director says We Should be Looking for News, What Does It Really Mean?

In his “News Notes” column, Doug Drew explains that it’s all about recognizing a story, and in these tough budget times, it’s best to make oneself as valuable as possible…suggesting stories all the time is one good way to do just that. Here’s Doug’s posting:

Enterprising stories: Going beyond the news of the day

One of the biggest complaints from viewers in research is that all the news is the same. Same stories day in and day out, and each station seems to have pretty much the same content. There are some stories that are “must-cover,” but each newscast, every day, has to have some unique content. If you don’t go “beyond the news of the day,” then viewers will grow weary of tuning in. You must set the expectation that every single newscast will have something viewers haven’t seen before.

Finding unique content

But where do you find those stories? They rarely present themselves in news releases, on the wires, or in any of the traditional ways newsrooms find content. Most enterprise stories have to be “discovered,” and that means every single news employee should be on the lookout for interesting things whether they are at work, at home, on their way into work, at church, at their kid’s baseball game, at the movies, in a restaurant or at the gym.

“Seeing” news

I was reading the LA Times on Saturday and came across an interesting article by Sandy Banks. She was on her way home from work when she spotted a bed and couch ringed by some bookcases under a freeway off ramp. She made a note of it, and later went back to find out who lived there, and turned her visit into a compelling story.

That’s the kind of story that will never show up at the assignment desk. It’s only found by someone with a good eye for news and more importantly, someone who is willing to be “on duty” even though “off-duty.” We all know the phrase that news is “not an eight hour job,” but how many people actually take that to heart when not at work? Think how many enterprise stories a newsroom could produce if every single person suggested just one story at the morning meeting based on something they had seen while out in the community?

In that very same LA Times there was also a story by Veronique De Turenne Simply by going on line and looking at the local Craiglist ads, she was able to produce a compelling story about how the economy has forced so many people to sell items to make ends meet. She found some really interesting items that one wouldn’t normally see advertised if it weren’t for the economic crisis. Again, it’s not the type of story that would ever show up in a press release.

The other day on facebook, a friend of mine, Larry Klein of CBS News, posted a new status, noting how he has seen an increase in the number of people who seem to be taking their lunch to work. As he commutes into New York City each day he is seeing more and more people toting their lunches and noticing more people in the lunch room. Another good angle to the economic crisis, a story that one has to “see” as compared to waiting for it to show up in a press release.

Be as valuable as possible

The best newsrooms are the ones that create their own content daily in addition to the given must-cover stories. It you are someone in the newsroom who is constantly pitching story ideas in the morning meetings, great! Keep it up! For those of you who don’t normally look for stories outside your regular work hours, keep in mind that with budget cuts and layoffs mounting each day, it’s best to make yourself as valuable as possible, and finding and suggesting stories is one good way to do that.

Doug Drew is a morning news specialist who does reporter and producer seminars for 602 Communications.

This article originally published at TVSPY.COM.

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