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The changing media landscape


Mary Hockaday, Head of BBC Newsroom

Got grassroots news stories that are all-important to your network but which slip beneath the radar of big news outlets? ‘Your stories matter,’ says Mary, ‘so don’t give up.’ Here are some tips from Mary's talk on the angles you can contribute:

  • Human interest: a high-impact story is one that touches lots of people… and has powerful images to accompany it. Humanitarian aid stories always make the headlines.
  • Accountability:  Get to the heart of the truth and you stand a good chance of making people sit up and listen.
  • Drama: It engages people and can exist in all manner of news stories.
  • Conflict: A key ingredient to the above, it might be as simple as the nature of debate or a disagreement.
  • Redemption: Sometimes we need to be reminded there are positive angles to a story too.
  • Surveys: Statistical facts in medical or health stories can be of interest, but be warned - there are lots out there!
  • Call to Action: Inspire your audience to get involved.
  • Debate / eyewitness: Give your story urgency, relevance and honesty.
  • Quirky: Because there’s always room for these kind of stories!

Spring conference: Mary Hockaday

Best practice says to make first contact with busy journalists via email with a bulleted list of key facts, then follow up with a phone call a few days later. But what do the journalists ask themselves when they look at your story?

  • Is your story new?
  • What’s the top line? The nugget of the story that can be summed up in a sentence?
  • Why does your story matter?
  • Am I being spun? What’s your motivation for getting the story out there?
  • How does it affect my audience?
  • Is it national or local?
  • What’s the narrative?
  • Is it an exclusive?
  • Are there case studies?
  • Are there documents or data?
  • Are there pictures?

Courtesy of Mary Hockaday

Mary became head of the multi-media Newsroom in April 2009. Prior to this she was deputy head of the BBC Newsroom where she was central to the creation and leadership of the Multimedia Newsroom. As well as deputising overall, she led the On Demand, Radio and BBC Newswire teams. Mary was editor of BBC World Service News and Current Affairs from 2001-2006.