How to write for the media

The media landscape is changing dynamically. Circulation among mainstream media publications is declining. New media, including weblogs and news feeds, focus on issue segmentation. They demand that news providers, such as yourself, connect to customized needs of readers’ specialized needs.
Lisa Bushey of Widmeyer Communications spoke this week to a group of educators at this week’s meeting of the American Educational Research Asssociation.
The issue segmentation that we see forces us, as communicators, to articulate the value of education research in a new way. We must answer the “so what” question even before it is asked, she said.
As an education communicator who wants to get the attention of a local reporter or state reporter, frame your story so that it shows how:
Your story is part of a larger trend;
Your story connects to regional concerns;
Your story can inform national, state, or local policy debates.
Your article should tell a story. Compose a compelling lead. Use metaphor.
Following these guidelines can be especially difficult for researchers, who are sometimes unwilling to bend. “This is how I present my work,” they say, and “I won’t be flexible, so just make of it what you will.” This attitude will not work, Lisa says. Think about ways to frame your story in ways that address current policy debates and media trends.
Target media outlets. Know which reporters cover your topic.
Connect your education story to active policy debates.
When you’ve finished your story, run the draft past people for comment; a policymaker, a journalist, a principal, a teacher. Effective communications requires a diverse partnership. Have these people read your stuff first, before publishing.
Meet the media halfway. Understand reporters’ need to localize. Know the local and regional context. Explain how your education story makes a difference.
Attend a media training workshop if one is available.


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