Media Coverage: 40+ News Story Ideas

Fake news is a big thing in the field of Social Media Journalism. Fake news can be as simple has spreading misinformation, or as dangerous as smearing hateful propaganda.

Fabrizio Moreira

This post details patterns surrounding media coverage. By the end, you will have learned over 40 of the most used news story topics and the best times to pitch reporters.

Note: For the sake of simplicity, I will use Journalist and Reporter interchangeably. Their differences are outside of the scope of this post. Plus, I probably wouldn’t do them justice. Though I do have tons of respect for both!

I’m often reminded, while watching or reading the news, that there’s nothing new under the sun. Stories repeat themselves over and over, just with new faces and places.

Yet we still react with such awe, wonder, disgust, etc. when we find out our latest celebrity or political hero allegedly does (insert list of indiscretions).

The Background

On a trip to the library, a book titled Media Training 101 by Sally Stewart caught my attention. She confirmed many of my observations about how journalists operate.

Like how nightshift reporters are bored and unappreciated. As a result, they are likely to spend more time considering your pitch, than busy daytime or evening reporters.

Then there’s this hot take: just because an event is lavish or charitable does not mean it will automatically gain coverage. It has to fit into their audience’s interests or pain points, and it has to tie into something exceptional.

For instance, a party for 200 people happening the day before Christmas Eve? Yawn, boring! A party with 200 people fundraising to support a new playground rebuilding project? Yes please!

The Gist

As if I wasn’t hooked enough already, the author listed a ton of story topics that nearly ALWAYS peak an editor or producer’s interest. Straightaway, it inspired a few of my own. Here’s a list of 45 news story topics you can use to get media coverage:

News Story Ideas

Timing: The Best Times to Pitch Reporters

As I mentioned above, night reporters need love too! Now I’m not telling you to manipulate them. I’m saying there’s alternative gates for your story to enter publicity heaven!

So let’s cover the best times for different stories to be pitched.

Morning Glory

First, according to Muck Rack, a PR consulting and software company, the best time to pitch a story overall is between 5 am and 12 pm.

Most likely because this is before the morning pitch meetings happen, or it’s just enough time to have a jumpstart on tomorrow’s stories.

Equally important, these people are, well, people! They have circadian rhythms with swings in energy, attention, and patience just like the rest of us.

Remember, they have friends and families, with 9-5 jobs, who invite them to evening events too!

At any rate, the story you pitch better be darn good if they’re going to miss those moments for you and your company.

Goodnight Cruel World

The next best time to pitch a story is during what I like to call the time of least resistance.

Summing up a point made by Jill Osborn, author of Accessing the Media: How to get Good Press, during the normal working hours, reporters are flooded with story updates, fact checking, and breaking news that rearranges the station or newspaper’s priorities all the time.

The graveyard shift isn’t pretty, very little action happens and even fewer thank you’s and sucking up.

Remember, all parts work together –the day feeds into the night, and the night feeds the day.

How does this look on a typical news day?

Day in the Life of a Journalist

Reporting shifts are split 3 ways: morning, day and night. For reporters, it’s generally

  • 4am-12:30pm
  • 10:30am-7:30pm
  • 2pm-10:30pm

Shifts are typically based around show times (5am, 6am, 11am, 5pm, 6pm, 9pm, 10pm).

At the start of a shift, reporters and journalists meet with producers and editors to discuss the day’s coverage.

All involved will have a blend of responsibilities. These tasks fill the time that they are not “on-air” or writing for print. Journalists daily tasks include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Catching up on the latest overnight, daytime, or evening news
  • Researching assigned stories
  • Checking sources and facts
  • Conducting interviews
  • Write/report the day’s news stories
  • Collaborating with other journalists, producers, category editors, subject matter experts, and insider sources.

Closing comments

I often say I would have loved to explore a career in journalism and PR. I plan to make more posts on this subject.

For instance, I’ve recently learned a thing or two about the magazine world by reading memoirs and biographies from the like of Ana Wintour (Vogue), Ruth Reichl (Gourmet), and Tina Brown (Vanity Fair). Fascinating stuff!

Have you noticed any patterns in the way news is reported? What differences do you see in local coverage vs. national coverage?

Leave a comment below with your own observations. Share this post with anyone who needs help forming a good angle for a story.

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