Q: What is the best method for pitching a news story?A: Know what the issue is and why its important. Dont justsay "I want to write about (whatever)." Know the subjectand put it in context. And be able to do it succinctly.A: The story idea must be communicated instantly to theeditor. Not every detail, but a sort-of headline that shouldspring to mind whenever the idea comes up. The reportermust then be able to explain clearly what the story willexplore and explain. These things can change as the story isreported and things are uncovered, but the idea should beclear from the start.For example…
For example: "Its a shark attack story. But its not justanother run-of-the mill shark-bites-man story. Somescientists are saying the common perceptions that sharkattacks on humans are increasing are wrong, and sharksdont really like eating people. I want to examine whetherthe man-eating "Jaws" is real or a myth.“
SUMMARYQ: What is the best method for pitching a news story?-Know the issue (do some reporting before you pitch!)-Be clear and succinct (don’t be wordy!)
Q: What are you looking for in an effective global newsstory pitch?A: A passion for the issue. A reporter has to care about what he or she isdoing and should be excited about doing it. At the same time, the writer hasto be able to look at multiple sides of the issue -- don’t enter with a givenconclusion already reached.Something that, while it may appear local, can be seen in a bigger context.i.e., the lack of clean water may affect a small village but, is it isolated to thatarea, or does the region or country have the same problem?A: The story must have appeal to the broadest possible audience. It musteither be important to an audience outside the country in which the story isoccurring, or say something new and interesting about that country or itspeople that will resonate with an outside audience. The journalist pitchingthe story should be able to put it in that context.
SUMMARYQ: What are you looking for in an effective global newsstory pitch?-Reporter’s passion/concern BUT “don’t enter with agiven conclusion already reached.”-Needs broad, global appeal
Q: What makes you want to hang up on a news pitch, ordelete a query from your inbox?A: Time more than anything else. Be succinct; knowthat editors are busy and get to the point. And don’t beobnoxious. You can push your agenda without goingoverboard. Listen to the questions the editors pose --and be sure they are answered in the final version ofthe article.A: Ideas that have not been thought through and areunspecific.
Q: What is the single most important piece of advice you can leave with the studentstoday?A: My best advice is to write and write and write. It’s the best way to honethe craft.Read the good journalists in your region and look carefully how they handlea story and craft it. Read any good writers -- even novelists -- for an idea ofwhat works (and what doesnt) as far as reading ease and clarity. Don’tcondescend to your readers but also don’t expect they know the subject asyou do; each time you write about a subject needs to include background.Just because its not the first time youve read on the issue doesnt meanyour readers have done so.A. Know your stuff. Do some reporting before you decide whether you areon to a story or not. Be willing to listen to other ideas, and take them onboard. Many great stories come from collaborations that start with a goodidea but that take twists and turns as they are reported out or as othersbring in ideas.
Q: What is the best way for a writer to sellthemselves and their story to you withoutbecoming obnoxious?A: Do your homework. A good editor should always bewilling to hear good ideas, no matter where they comefrom or who pitches them.But editors are also trained BS (bullshit) detectors andthe chances are that if you dont know your stuff, theywill be able to tell.
Q: What should a seasoned journalist do beforepitching their news story? How should theyprepare?A: There are three things one should remember before pitching: 1. Research well the topic you are pitching. You should have a solid grasp of the topic to be able to answer any resulting queries with confidence. 2. There should be a clear reason/peg why you are proposing the story at that very point in time and it should be outlined right in the beginning. 3. Lastly, but most importantly, the pitch should be your story ina nutshell. Ideally it should be no bigger than a paragraph. But thatparagraph should be able to engage the editor as much as the storywould later engage the readers.
Q: Is follow-up on a news pitch important?A: Yes, it is very, very important.The editors receive many mails in a day and sometimes they put awaymails thinking of getting back to you later and often they will tend toforget.As a freelancer, it is very important that one should gently remind theeditor after a week or so about the idea. If its a pitch with a longer shelflife then you can query again after 2-3 weeks. But follow-up is must.The challenge is to find a balance where you do follow-up but without itlooking like you are harassing the editor. So, space it out, keep it casual andfriendly and restrict it to a line or two.
Q: What were some obstacles youve had toovercome with editors?A: Some editors are nice, some are not, some are cranky, and some areplain nasty. But editors are clients and as they say “the client is always right.”:)I have had to overcome too much enthusiasm from certain editors whohave been overexcited about stories and then gone incommunicado whenit came to execution of the story ideas. I think for me that was the biggestobstacle when editors went incommunicado. But I never really gave up andwould e-mail them gentle reminders from time to time till they got back tome.The other problem I encountered was that some editors wereapproachable only till the story was happening and when it came to thepayment part they worked really slowly. They always blame it onaccounts, but I think it is an editors responsibility to see that his/herfreelancer got paid on time.
Q: What was the greatest lesson youve learnedabout pitching a news story?A: That it cannot be hurried. You have to invest time to come up with agood pitch. You cannot just throw together a few lines.Q: Do you have any other advice for the students?A: Persistence, discipline and diligence are the key words to being afreelancer. Also, get a website for yourself - it always helps. It tells theeditors much more about you as a person than a black and white CV.Good luck!