Eight ways news editors find compelling stories

Great story ideas can come from anywhere. But where do news editors usually find unique angles and interesting content to run on a daily basis? ContentGrip explores.

Eight ways news editors find compelling stories

The all-digital era we now live in has given opportunities for media professionals to transform the game rapidly, and at scale.

Today’s speed-to-publish allows editors to explore many different avenues simultaneously, commissioning everything from in-depth investigations to breaking news and quirky features.  

But how exactly do editors find fresh new ideas to publish, every day? How do they make themselves stand out among their internal competitors?

Here are eight strategies editors use to find compelling stories, worthy of publishing.

Social media has made it possible for everyone to be up to date with the latest trends and events.

Whether it's via Twitter, Facebook or TikTok, editors and journalists alike are often scouting social media for trending topics to write about.

From general news, odd stories, and the newest fashion trends, social media platforms can be powerful tools in hunting for story topics when used properly and with ample research to avoid misinformation.

Research

Research can provide editors with a treasure trove of data to work with and use as a basis for possible stories.

Common research sources include public research repositories (e.g. Pew Research Center), market research agencies (e.g. Nielsen), academic organizations (e.g. Monash University Repository), and other international organizations.

However, these will still need thorough review or clarification to discern whether the research data is objective, and the publishing organization has no questionable agenda behind it.

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Other forms of media

While digital media is steadily rising at the top of most used form of media we can access in this day and age, tuning in to other forms of media such as radio and TV news, newsletters, podcasts, hanging out in online forums such as Reddit, and reading through newspapers, magazines, and blogs can still give you tips for possible stories.

You can always filter out which topics or interests you will prefer to follow closely, and which of these media channels to follow to make it more suited for your niche.

Newswires

Newswire agencies develop and provide pre-written stories to verified media subscribers. Some renowned names include Agence France-Presse (AFP), Associated Press (AP), and Thomson Reuters.

Editors with a budget can take a look at the content on offer and choose to publish it verbatim or enrich it by adding some additional information for the readers. A newswire allows editors to keep up to date with important stories from all around the world, without having to send correspondents into a specific country.

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Leverage contacts

When done correctly, an editor’s ability to cultivate relationships can become a treasure trove when it comes to story ideation.

It’s good to be constantly building out your network, and then nudging potential sources regularly to get the latest intel and scoops in your field of interest. Some editors even share Google forms to receive story tips from readers.

Internal brainstorming

When something is trending or important, editors must think outside the box to ensure their coverage offers something that other media haven’t yet touched on. Normally, each media has an internal meeting to calibrate their priorities, angles, and potential sources for the week.

This is usually when in-house journalists can pitch their ideas to editors. When done correctly, weekly editorial meetings will lead to cohesive content across the board.

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Press releases

Press releases are one of the most important and common tools for disseminating news and story angles to the media.

If you’re just getting your feet wet as an editor, reach out to the companies and organizations from which you’d like to receive press releases from, day-to-day, week-to-week. This will keep you sharp, and on top of the latest happenings within your beat.  

Freelance pitches

In today’s fast-paced media landscape, freelance journalists play an important role for most online publishers. Building out your own roster of go-to freelancers will often prove to be worth its weight in gold.

Having some great freelance talent is a start but keeping them organized and in sync with your evolving editorial focus is the sweet spot all editors should aim to achieve. Doing this can help lead to a steady inflow of story pitches that none of your competitors will have.

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