The story pitch process requires at least two individuals, the person pitching the story idea and the person vetting it.
When a pitch is vetted and approved it can become an assignment.
When a reporter pitches a story, he or she usually has done enough research to say what the central focus is. To be focused, the reporter is clear on who the main players are, what action they are involved in, where the story tension is, and why this is of importance or interest to the public.
Typically, the reporter writes a “focus statement” to distill the idea down to a single sentence.
An editor vetting a story pitch will usually ask questions to elicit tighter focus, a better angle, a missed opportunity or some compelling aspect of the story. Questions may include: Who does this affect? How do you know this? What is missing here? Where will you go? What sounds would I hear? Why do I care about this? What other stories have been done on this?
Other considerations may be logistical — such as time or cost or risk.
By challenging ideas this way we try to make them stronger. Sometimes ideas don’t hold up to the challenge and should be discarded. Sometimes the original idea morphs into a better idea.