Vox: Getting press coverage

May 15, 2007

My friend Vox wrote an excellent post this morning on getting mainstream media to pay attention to issues that don’t get enough coverage. Not only that, but her guide includes tips that any writer who wants to break into newspapers can use.


Write a lede that is one or two sentences long and says, without any adjectives or colorful language, exactly what the story is writing about. Here’s a good example from Fox News: “Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa condemned the Police Department’s use of force against demonstrators and reporters at an immigration rally, saying he was ‘deeply, personally troubled’ by the clash.” [This is harder than it sounds. I still struggle with this, of course–I’m just starting out–but I know even well-established journalists have to pay special attention to their ledes. A class I was in last semester spent about seven weeks on writing ledes only–and half the students still hadn’t got it by the end.]

Use “said” or “asked” when quoting someone. Do not use “shouted,” “whined,” or anything else. There are exceptions to this, but when in doubt, just avoid it. [I’m so glad I’m done with professors who hand out “Words to use in place of ‘said'” sheets in their writing classes. Yes, people actually do this, and I’m baffled as to why. It’s not doing anyone any favors to make students think that using a thesaurus indiscriminately–especially for dialogue tags–is good writing.]

There are more tips at the original post. I’d like to see a follow-up post about how to actually get your story seen by an editor (which maybe I’ll tackle later), but this is a great start. Check it out here.


4 Responses to “Vox: Getting press coverage”

  1. Vox Says:

    Hey, thanks for the publicity. Ledes and headlines are seriously the hardest parts of journalism. If you can nail those, the rest is easy. I’ve been doing the headline thing for over a year and I still only manage to be barely adequate 90 percent of the time (and the rest is divided between sucking and nailing them).

    I’d love to see something about getting articles seen by an editor. My main experience has been with small papers and magazines/e-zines. I’ve never tried to submit anything to a large paper or magazine, and I know things get way different when you’re not on a first-name basis with half the staff.

  2. […] have touched on this in an earlier post, but I want to reiterate. Even in more “colorful” writing than news […]

  3. […] obstacles, writing tips, education, essays, journalism — by Rachel @ 8:10 am I promised over a month ago to write a guide to getting your work into print. Before we start, though, a […]

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