Not too long ago, we did a story about a soldier coming home and reuniting with his family. It was sweet and inspiring, and an overwhelming majority of the feedback we received was positive...
But there was one person (there's always one, isn't there?) who had nothing but negative things to say. He concluded with an appeal to what he called Journalism 101, saying the story wasn't news to begin with. That got me thinking ... How many of you guys actually know/understand the why of what we do?
In my "What's A Producer Do Anyway?" post, I told you that we have a meeting every morning to determine what stories reporters will be covering. Of course there are the things that have to be covered, like county/city commission meetings, school board meetings and press conferences, but each reporter also comes up with ideas based on things they see going on in the Wiregrass, emails/phone calls they receive and things you guys pass along to them.
But we don't just blindly cover something because it's happening. There are certain criteria our stories have to meet.
First, and most importantly, we have to consider you, the viewer. If it's not something you're talking about, something you need to know about or something that just won't interest you, there's probably no point in us covering it.
When I was in college, one of my professors had an acronym for how to determine what stories are newsworthy: TIPCUP.
This one's pretty obvious. We don't want to cover something three days after the fact if we can help it. However, the officials we rely on to provide us with information/confirmation don't have to worry about that. With that being said, though, we're not so concerned with having the story first so much as we're concerned with getting the story right.
Will the story impact our viewers? If the answer is no, we don't do it. Our goal is to tell you about the things going on in the Wiregrass, state and/or country that will have an effect on you.
Does the story involve a well-known person?
Is there more than one side to the story? Is it a topic that's causing controversy in the community? In stories of this nature, it is imperative that we show both sides of the issue. In the end, it doesn't matter the way the producer, reporter or anchor feels about the issue. Our job is to deliver the facts of the story so that you can make your own decision about it.
Is the story unique or unusual? We call these features. For instance, we recently did a story on a woman who was born without arms who retired from Ft. Rucker after 20 years.
Is the story happening in our area? If it isn't, is there any way to tie it to our area? As I said before, if the story isn't something that will affect the Wiregrass in some way, it beomes less important.
We rely on you guys for most of our story ideas. If you ever have something you'd like for us to cover, don't hesitate to tell us about it. There are lots of ways to reach us - Facebook, Twitter, email, phone. You are our best sources. After all, if y'all aren't talking about it, we're not interested!