How To Advance A Local Story Without Any New Information

How To Advance
A Local Story Without
Any New Information

Written by News Gal
🕒 April 19, 2019

Sometimes I leave the morning meeting with no idea what I’m supposed to do.

This week I was told to “advance the story,” but I wasn’t given any direction on what angle they would like me to take.

In a way, it’s nice when you have such an open assignment, because you can do whatever you want. On the other hand, it can be stressful, especially if there is no obvious follow up to the story.

My photographer and I decided we needed to just go back to the scene of the crime and figure something out. We got lucky. The family of one of the victim’s showed up, and gave us an exclusive interview.

You don’t always get that lucky in TV news though. So how do you advance a story that has no easy next step? Here are a few tips:

1. Go back to the scene.

You’re not going to get anything by sitting at your desk in the newsroom. Get out the door as early as you can.

Go back to wherever the story took place, and talk to people. Ask a neighbor what’s been going on at the house since the shooting, talk with the mailman about how people in the neighborhood have been acting since the arson, ask the clerk at the corner store if people have been talking about what happened.

You’ll be amazed at what people will tell you when you just ask simple questions.

2. Look around.

This sounds simple, but people forget to do it.

Look around the area, and think about what you see. Is there something new in the area that wasn’t there during the previous story?

For instance, are the Crime Watch signs up that weren’t there before the robbery? Is there a tiny, free community, pantry box in the neighborhood after the flooding? Do you notice more graffiti now than you did three weeks ago?

Once you determine what has changed, you can ask people about it and find out who is responsible or how it might be impacting the community.

3. Revisit old interviewees.

Find the people you talked with for the previous story, and ask them what’s new or what’s different since the last time you’ve talked.

It might be something little, like a mother who now leaves her porch light on since a little girl showed up at her house for help. It could also be something more drastic, like someone who moved to another part of town because of what happened.

Whatever it is, it’s something you haven’t told viewers about before, and it could be a new angle to the story.

4. Know when to walk away.

Sometimes you just need to move on.

There are some stories that don’t need to be advanced because there is nothing new or it’s too soon. If you feel like there is no way you can tell the viewers more than what you already reported, you should call your managers and hope they like your backup story.

Good luck!

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1 Comment

  1. TLDR: Get out and speak to people.

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