Here are sample questions to ask reporters when first discussing a story idea.
To Get at the Focus of the Story
- What is your story about?
- Who is in it?
- What will they be doing?
- Why is this interesting?
- Why is this important?
To Drive Toward Greater Substance
- What makes this story necessary? Why now?
- Where is the overt or underlying conflict?
- How will you show that?
- What led to this? Where is it headed?
To Assure Originality and Authenticity
- Has anyone else done this story? How is this different?
- Why do YOU care about this?
- Who else do we need to hear from? Who would add the missing voice?
- What don’t we know here? How can we find that?
To Meet Broader Objectives
- How can we get out in front of this story (not play catch up)?
- What can we bring to this story no one else can?
- How are we bringing diverse perspectives to the story?
- How does this fit with our community (or beat) coverage priorities?
To Stimulate Creative Thinking
- What scares you here?
- What delights us?
- What would be fresh, exciting here? Where’s the surprise?
- How is this satisfying? Challenging?
- What can this be compared to?
To Anticipate Ethical Issues
- Do you have a personal stake here?
- What “blind spots” might we have on this? Who can help us?
- Do you expect your sources to go on the record?
- How controversial is this? Who are the stakeholders?
To Make Good Use of Time and Resources
- What is a reasonable form/length for this story?
- How much time do you need? When should it air?
- What help might you need?
To Make Best Use of Our Medium
- What makes this a strong RADIO story?
- How can we maximize the aural experience for listeners?
- What visual opportunities will we get (for the web)?