How Does a Journalist Get Their Story Ideas?

Content is in greater demand than ever before, thanks to the Internet, so journalists are busier than ever producing newsworthy stories that will resonate with their target audience.


They have to meet their deadlines. They also have to be ethical and sort fact from fiction lies from truth. Google News, for example, is constantly being bombarded with hoax stories. Hoax stories are also passed around regularly on social media such as Facebook, with serious consequences.

Journalists, therefore, need fresh, interesting ideas, from sources they can trust. This gives reputable businesses the chance to market themselves by offering honest, verifiable, factual content that can be fact-checked so there is no embarrassment or lawsuit as a result of running a story.

So, where do they get their ideas?

Their own experiences and research

Journalists and top bloggers these days tend to focus on one niche or industry, or area of interest, to become expert at it, and through that knowledge, are able to sort between fact and fantasy.

News services

L’Agence France-Presse (AFP), Associated Press (AP), Reuters and United Press International are 4 top news agencies, with reporters on the ground all over the world reporting on important events. Some journalists will use their data as the source material for their own stories. However, this is “me too” journalism, compared to things that are fresh and interesting.

Investigative reporting

Journalists with a nose for news might sniff out a story worth following up on. They look for facts, connect the dots for their readers, and come up with a unique piece. They might specialize and become, for example, a war correspondent or political correspondent.

But all of these methods can take time, and time is one thing in short supply when a journalist is on deadline. In this case, they will look for other sources of content and inspiration.

The pitch

Smart business owners and marketers will connect with the journalists who work in their niche or industry and contact them directly with story ideas, commonly referred to as pitches. The business wins because they get media coverage. The journalist wins because they have something for the column, and hopefully something their readers will benefit from, and which will also expand their readership as people share stories on social media’ and so on.

Press releases and press release distribution services

This can be a goldmine, but journalists do need to do a lot of digging before they find the right nuggets. About 300 press releases are issued per day in the US alone. But a smart press release writer will:

  • craft a great headline
  • write an excellent summary
  • create a powerful press release
  • include keywords a journalist would use to find that story
  • add media to support the story
  • provide enough corporate information to show they are experts worth paying attention to
  • include a clear call to action so that the journalist, and their readers, will be able to get more information, attend an event, and so on
  • give contact information for a real person who will be willing to follow up and answer questions, and serve as a resource for the journalist

Craft great pitches and press releases, and journalists will soon start using you as a mine of information.

Call us today to speak to one of our PR specialists: 1-800-713-7278

Anthony Santiago is Director of Marketing at Newswire. With over a decade of experience in PR, he helps ensure that clients understand the value of brand messaging and reach.

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