Finding a Story

The most important reason to cover any story is that it is relevant and newsworthy to the community you serve.

Before you proceed with any story, these are the questions you need to ask yourself:

How do I know the community I am working on behalf of would find this story/issue/event relevant and newsworthy?

Sometimes you may have an opportunity, through research, use of social media, or even polling, to gain an insight into what is in the public interest for your community. In other situations, it may be enough to simply rely on your own experience and understanding of the community. But the important thing is to take the time to assess the story and satisfy yourself that it is relevant and newsworthy.

Am I being influenced by any outside vested interest in deciding to pursue this story?

There is no shortage of politicians, activists, commercial organizations, or powerful individuals who want to put information (or disinformation or misinformation, for that matter) into the public domain to serve their own interests. Journalism is not in the business of serving those interests, so resist any attempts to cover a story in order to suit the aims of special groups or individuals.

Are my own views and preferences interfering with my ability to cover a story fairly and impartially?

Before you ask hard questions of anyone else, ask them of yourself. What baggage am I bringing to this issue? Do I have blind spots, settled perspectives, or prejudices I haven’t been aware of or paid sufficient attention to? What am I assuming? Do I have strong views of my own that may color my ability to weigh the facts dispassionately?

Everyone has their own subjective views. The challenge for any good journalist is to be aware of them, allow for them, and make every effort to set them aside and report on the facts, weighing the evidence and presenting it fairly.