1) What’s the story? Summarize the story in a way that tells why it is important, interesting, or appealing. Think: How would you tell the story to a friend?
- Write a one- or two-sentence summary
- Even shorter: What would the headline be?
2) Why do / would / should readers care about this story? If there’s nothing at stake and no controversy, are you sure this story is worth writing? Will anyone want to read it? It’s possible — for example, stories about food or movie reviews will draw readers even if there’s no controversy. For most news stories, there must be something at stake, some tension, or the story will not claim readers’ attention.
- What’s at stake?
- Who will be affected?
- What’s the controversy?
3) Who are the stakeholders? Whose voices/perspectives MUST be in this story?
- Specifically identify at least three stakeholders – people who have something at stake in this story, who will be affected by the issue, event or controversy that you are writing about – community residents, experts, public officials
- If you can’t identify at least three stakeholders, should you be writing this story? Maybe it’s not interesting, or maybe you aren’t prepared to write it.
4) How will you use social media in researching, writing and following up on this story? If you are reporting for the Daily Planet, we expect that most stories will include outreach to readers, experts, and people involved during the writing process, so that multiple points of view can be considered. (Part 2 of Step It Up goes into detail about use of social media.)
- What networks or social media can you use to invite people to participate in creating the story?
- What Facebook pages and forums will you contact?
- What questions will you post on these pages to spark interest and get information?
5) What is the best way to tell this story?
- Is there a multimedia component – audio, video, slide show? Or should the story be told as a video?
- Can facts and figures be presented through charts and graphs?
- What’s the best story structure? Outline or draw the story.
6) How can we add value to this story?
- Photos and graphics?
- What internal and external links will build value?
- How can readers get involved? Include suggestions for action, further engagement, organizations, phone numbers, email addresses.
7) What can we do to promote this story?
- Who can we ask to comment on the story on the day that it appears?
- Who else should get a notice of publication (individuals, forums, Facebook groups or pages)?
- What neighborhood or community groups might be interested?
8) How can we follow up or update the story?