One of our recent alums, a new TV reporter, emailed me recently asking for my handouts and tips on finding stories. She’s struggling to come up with a couple pitches each day. I think it’s one of the hardest parts of the job. So here’s 5 tips:
- Meet sources. Take 30 minutes a week to meet with someone to develop contacts. If you put it in your calendar, just like exercise or that dentist appointment, it will happen. You can probably spare 45 minutes (including travel) and the cost of two cups of coffee. Stories come from people. That’s my #1 tip. And if that’s too much, alternate — every other week call three people to schmooze in the 45 minute time period.
- Follow ups. Check your station archives or the library’s database for the local newspaper (or even a national one) and see what was big news 6 months ago and one year ago. There’s probably a follow-up there.
- Note dates. When you cover a story and know there is a “next step” mark that date — be disciplined. Always write it on a reminder list, calendar or to-do list. Have a system that’s easy and works for you. Or see something on air or in the local paper that tells of an upcoming event, i.e. trial date, decision due, report out, then mark that down, too.
- Borrow good ideas. Go online to other station/newspaper websites in your region. Then pick some for cities the same size as yours. What are they reporting. Probably a story where you are, as well.
- Read specialty pubs and sites. Each week pick a different area/topic and read some specialty magazine, website or publication. For example, The Packer (agriculture/food) consumerman.com, or Jet Magazine
Email me at readyreporter<at>syr.edu with other good story-finding tips, or leave a comment below.