4 reasons why small newspapers can’t cover big stories

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Sometimes, it is quite hard for a small newspaper to cover a big story. There are of course several obstacles.

This by the way, can be applied to both old-fashioned journalism, and online reporting as well. The obstacles are the same. Let’s take a closer look how NewsCollege presents them.

1. There are too many assignments, and the “big story” cannot be covered. – Talk to your editor, ask if you can have time to work on a special story. It depends on the time the “big story” requires. Either way, you’d like some time to work on a big story (not for yourself, but for the readers).

A progressive editor should embrace such an approach to avoid being a predictable newspaper. It is also good to chose the right day for publishing a story, that is a surprise, a story that’s not expected. It’s a nice change from predictability.

2. The staff is small, and there are only a handful of reporters. – Create a rotation where reporters get time to work on a special assignment. You’ll still have to work on regular assignments, perhaps, but it might mean one less story on a particular day. Other reporters will have to pick up the slack.

Eventually, each reporter will get their turn to work on a special assignment. In effect, everyone is contributing to the effort, even if they’re not the one working on the special assignment during that particular week.

3. The staff is unexperienced. – If you’ve got a young staff, you should have a valuable tool to work with . . . enthusiasm. Learn about your staff’s interests. Now talk about those interests and how they can be adapted to producing stories of interest to your readers/viewers.

4. Editor is not interested in story ideas, won’t let reporters work on “big stories”. – Editors have to think BIG too. Some small newspapers’ news content is dominated by meeting coverage. Meetings that are so interesting, the public can’t even be bothered to attend.

But week after week there’s the newspaper reporter. If you have a staff of five reporters and the bulk of coverage involves reporters attending meetings, how can anything else be done?

Remember, few young reporters envisioned a career where they sat in meeting upon meeting upon meeting taking notes. Yes, meetings are potentially great places to mine for stories, but there needs to be a balance.

Don’t dismiss the story pitches from your reporters (there’s a reason they’re pitching them and editors can either embrace that initiative or crush the enthusiasm).

And there are a bunch of other excuses why small newspapers don’t do stories that are big. The best solution here, would be – change your thinking to How Can We Do It, rather than Why We Can’t Do It.

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