Public Affairs

Understanding the News Media

What makes a “good” story?
  • Does it matter to the average person (relevance to audience)?
  • Does it have a “news peg” or is it part of a larger trend?
  • Does it have “gee whiz” appeal?
  • Does it have emotional appeal?
  • Is it one of the six C’s — crime, catastrophe, crisis, corruption, conflict, color? (Old TV saying, “If it bleeds, it leads.”)
What do reporters usually want?
  • A story (not just information)
  • The bottom line (instant analysis, a short sound bite)
  • To meet the deadline
  • To stick up for the little guy

Some standard journalism practices

  • Reporters identify themselves as members of the press
  • Sources generally may not review stories in advance
  • Written documentation is highly desirable
  • Documents distributed/presented at public meetings are expected to be available to all in attendance, including media