Step 1 - Pitch Sheets
Every month, we develop a pitch sheet with the whole staff. It is a dynamic meeting where kids are throwing out ideas from this month and nothing is rejected.
"I heard the baseball team is having a problem recruiting new kids."
"Isn't there an art show coming up?"
"The Phillies are playing awful."
Step 2 - Discuss Newsworthiness
After our pitch meeting, we go around the room and the reporters express interest in doing the story they want. If it is a story like the Phillies having a bad season, we talk about an angle that would make it newsworthy for our readership.
"What can we write about that that is different than the Philly Inquirer?"
"Well, it seems like a lot of kids on campus are abandoning the Phillies and joining the Yankees bandwagon."
Timely - yes, Impactful - yes, Prominence - no, Proximity - yes, Novelty - yes, Controversy - yes, Emotion - yes
"Sounds like a heck of a story. Who will you talk to? What will you ask? etc."
Step 3 - Write Stories
Throughout the entire month, we emphasize localizing the angle of stories and making sure it qualifies for at least a few of the qualifications for news.
Every fall we used to have an Eagles season preview and every spring we would have a Phillies season preview. We don't do that anymore.
We have also completely changed our coverage of our sports section. We would have season previews, but every time it would end up something like this: "The cross country team is going to miss last year's seniors, but they have a lot of great young talent to step up for the next year."
Sports information is almost ubiquitous and instant with the use of social media, so we have refocused to do human interest pieces. For example, Rashon Lusane's struggle with the SAT requirements for NCAA recruiting or Cullen Pina's recovery from a season-ending concussion that led to his repeat of junior year.
Editorial vs. News
When the school decided not to host a 9/11 ceremony, we wrote an editorial on it. Over the course of the weekend, I also organized an event for the Monday after. I knew that I had personal bias in the event, so when it was pitched that we cover the remembrance that I organized, I wasn't the one to write it. Writing a news story requires complete objectivity, and I did not have that. However, I was the primary writer of our editorial on the topic.
Below you can see the difference in our coverage. One, facts on the event and then our opinion, and the other just a brief on the unbiased facts.
What You Missed
Under my leadership, we have started a weekly curation of world news led by our News Editor Jack McClatchy.
Every Sunday / Monday night, we share a weekly article giving a short 50-100 word synopsis of an important event in the news that our community should know about. We judge what those topics should be based on the news values as they pertain to our community.