An Echo Press Editorial: Please give story ideas to the newspaper
By the Echo Press Editorial Board
Let’s say you’re a business owner in Douglas County and your company does something cool – builds an addition, moves to a bigger site, wins a state or national award, or raises money for a good cause.
Too many businesses put the accomplishment on their website or Facebook page and call it good. Yes, they may get a few hundred people who come across it but they’re missing out on a golden opportunity to reach many thousands more, not just in the immediate area, but all across the country.
Here’s how: Let the newspaper know. We can put a story not only in the print, but also on our website and our Facebook page, which has an audience that’s 100 times the size of your business.
Or let’s say you do something amazing – patent an invention, appear in a movie, start a hobby that’s the “next big thing,” are part of a group that’s changing lives – or if you know about a former resident who is doing something innovative or unique.
Why not share it with the newspaper? We are constantly on the lookout for story ideas.
Sometimes, people just assume that the newspaper knows about a local hero or an upcoming event or a success story about a local person who overcame obstacles and the odds. But we may not know about it so the story never materializes. And that's a shame because our reporters thoroughly enjoy those kinds of stories and readers love them too.
So if you’ve got a story idea, please let us know. Send an email to aedenloff@echo press.com, mail it to Echo Press Editor, 225 7th Ave. E, Alexandria, MN 56308 or call us at 320-763-3133.
The path of getting your story idea into the paper starts with simply letting us know. Boil down what your story amounts to – the basics. Pitch your idea like you’re talking to a friend. Remember, it must have some connection or relevance to Douglas County. We will need contact information for the sources – a phone number, email, etc.
Here’s an inside look into what happens with your story idea:
The editor will typically look into the story first – if we’ve already done a similar story or have interviewed the same person not too long ago or if the story has a strong enough local connection. If the editor decides the story is worth pursuing, it will be brought up with the reporters at our weekly editorial meetings on Thursday mornings.
First, we go over the stories that each reporter is working on. This helps the editor determine what the front-page possibilities will be for the next couple of issues and beyond. Reporters often come up with their own story ideas too, through tips from sources, something they read or noticed, or just something that they’re curious about.
After getting an understanding of each reporter’s work load, the editor will then go over new story ideas and the timelines for doing them. This is the time when story ideas from readers are talked about. We brainstorm a lot, talking about the different angles of the story, other sources we can talk to, photo and video possibilities.
A story idea may be turned into a story quickly, just a few days, if everything falls into place. Other stories may take several weeks and additional interviews before they’re ready.
Last week, based on the discussion at the editorial meeting, the editor sketched out seven front-page stories for Wednesday’s issue, including a “centerpiece” package that always includes a dominant photo. Another seven stories and a centerpiece were penciled in for Friday’s issue.
These plans, of course, can be blown to smithereens if a big story arises or other stories fizzle out. That’s the nature of the business.
If a story doesn’t work out – a source is unreachable, an event is canceled or something bigger pops up out of the blue – we have “plan B” options. Right now, in addition to the 14 front-page possibilities for this week, we have 29 other stories that are assigned out to our reporters and another 15 stories that are up for grabs.
But we’re always looking for more. So please send us your story ideas. Give us a tip on something new you’ve noticed around the county. Let us know if your neighbor or relative has an interesting hobby or talent that’s worth sharing. The best story ideas often come from our readers.