A little note as some of you get rolling on your IS projects…
Of course you will need to use experts as sources, but also keep in mind that experts won’t necessarily bring your story to life (or give it color, as they’d say in a newsroom).
Try to think about your topic from the ground up.
Who are the people most impacted by your topic and how can you tell their stories?
What does your story say about the culture of the time, place, and people you’re writing about?
It’s easy to lose sight of the storytelling aspect of telling the news, but think about what you enjoy when you consume media. It probably won’t be a list of facts, stats, historical data, or something that reads like a report. It probably will be stories about people.
Newswriting is about sharing information, but it’s also a cultural expression and a chance to tell people’s stories. It isn’t an academic report, it is a folk report.
The job of experts, stats, and information in your story is typically going to be to provide context, to offer verifiable facts, to maintain accuracy, but they won’t tell a compelling story alone. You need live sources. People telling stories about the impact of your topic on their actual lives. That is what will make your IS great – and far more fun to complete.