Thinking Outside the Box When You're Looking for Resources

Listeners want you to cover your local community the way NPR covers the world. This means providing depth, intelligence, authenticity and a global perspective. Too often local news fails to deliver on that level. Many news directors say they simply don't have the resources that NPR has. True. But by thinking outside the box you can improve the quality of your reporting with the staff you have in place. Here are some ideas designed to inspire.

Solving the Monday Morning Dilemma

The biggest challenge for newsrooms can be planning ahead for fresh local coverage on Monday morning, particularly if your reporters don't work weekends. If you wait until Friday to report for Monday you're too late: calls don't get returned, reporting becomes thin, and you're left with Monday newscasts of warmed over AP wire copy and rewrites from the local paper. The solution: plan ahead!

Providing Context

Local news should not be parochial news. Listeners will not value a story that is approached from a merely local perspective. They want to know how actions in their community affect the region, state, even the world. They want to know how their locale is similar or different from others in tackling complex issues. In public radio, we call this "context." Here are a few easy methods to help you deliver the big "ah ha" about why things are they way they are.

Be a Leader, Not a Newspaper/PR Follower

Let's face it. Most of us read the local paper for story ideas. Problem is, your listeners read the paper too, and are disappointed when you simply rehash a story they already know about. Newsrooms also rely too much on press releases for story ideas, allowing lobbyists and stakeholders to dictate coverage. Challenge your reporters to use different sources for story ideas. It may feel like a risk but listeners will value you for exercising independent judgment about what's important in the community. These examples can take you beyond the "usual suspects."

Final Thoughts

These ideas are offered to inspire you to do something different today and this week. Stay nimble in your newsgathering methods. It keeps you creative and inspired, allowing you to do the same for your listeners.