Monday, May 25, 2009

Is your story REALLY a story?

Posted by Lisa Banks

Have you ever wondered why your story never gets run in the media?

While your media release may seem fascinating to you, ask yourself this question: “Would I run this as a story if I was a journalist?”.

Every year we take a survey of what makes news in The Northern Territory News for two consecutive months. The results of this survey are never surprising. News values have remained the same for as long as we can remember.

The top three news angles of our survey can be used as a practical guide for your business.

1.Impact: If your story is about a big event or is something that impacts a lot of people, then you should focus on this in your media release. A quarter of stories had an impact angle so it is more than likely that your media release will be picked up if your story impacts on people.

2. Human interest: If your story appeals to people on an emotional level, your media release needs to follow a human interest angle. 15 per cent of stories in The Northern Territory News followed this. If your media release is something that you honestly were so excited about that you couldn’t wait to tell your friends about at after work drinks, you’ve hit the human interest jackpot.

3. Great photos: 12% of the articles we looked at had great photos. Photographs add an extra dimension to a news story. Remember, a picture paints 1000 words. Be specific about what photo opportunities exist and make sure the journalist is aware of them.

Other news angles that have always been popular in media coverage include:

Local news: Most regional and local newspapers have a policy that local content comes first.

Timeliness: Is it happening today, tomorrow or yesterday? If it happened last week it’s no longer news and if it’s happening next month it’s probably too early for a story.

Conflict: Is there a major disagreement or conflict? Even better, is it between two people or parties who are supposed to agree with each other?

Famous people only have to go on a diet to be news.

There are some issues that people just want to keep talking about. When something is topical, just about anyone can make the news if they offer an opinion.

Novelty: Scary ghosts, singing dogs, walking fish, swimming babies and male beauty queens will always be news.

First and Last: The biggest, smallest, best, worst, newest, oldest, tallest, shortest, longest, most, least, fastest and the slowest.

Our survey provides a great starting point for the business community and a lot can be learnt about writing for the media through looking at what gets run in the newspaper. When you write your next media release, take the time to ask yourself “Would I find this an interesting story? Or is my ‘news’ not news at all?”.


  1. Anonymous9:23 PM

    If I *were* a journalist, I would write with correct grammar

  2. Anonymous2:17 PM

    To the author of the previous post:

    If you *were* a journalist, then surely you would also use correct punctuation. Where is your full stop?

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