Editor Questions for Reporters

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)?