Newsroom Juice

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Newsroom JuiceAnticipate this question before you start to pitch: “Why should I care?

That’s the message five media people had yesterday at The Naked Truth, a meet-up for entrepreneurs, journalists, and bloggers “to talk about how we tell our stories.”

Really it was about how you as an entrepreneur should go about getting yourself into the press.

I’m not sure if you know this, but the sole reason I am in Seattle is because I took a job as a news reporter here. What follows is from my old-school style reporter’s notebook, yesterday’s panel’s collective advice:

Don’t hire a PR company

Which sits nicely with a past post I did on how to get your own free publicity. Reporters want to talk to the person with the ideas and vision, not someone who just tries to make you say what they want you to say in your story. Ugh.

Don’t waste people’s time

Talking about your product/ service/ personal philosophy/ ___ is totally boring to the guy listening if you can’t do it fast and in a way that’s interesting to them. Say it right. Say it fast. Then stop.

Reach out to the media

“We’re only as smart as the people we talk to.” –Becky Buckman, a San Francisco-based reporter for the Wall Street Journal. To which Wired Magazine‘s Fred Vogelstein added: “Know what’s going on, make us be smarter… You guys are the best salesmen for your ideas and your company.” And the Seattle TimesTricia Duryee reassured people it’s cool to call or e-mail with your story idea even if you’re not all polished.

Have passion and something neat to say.

If you have a really, really cool product it doesn’t matter how much of a buffoon you are, you’re going to get written up. –Michael Arrington, TechCrunch.

Media people are deperately looking for the newest, coolest thing or person to write about. Why? Those kinds of stories just write themselves.


No golden nuggets of information there.

What I thought was missing from the presentation was the thing I’d have liked to see more of at my old reporter job: juice in the newsroom.

All the workshops and day things and seminars I ever went to on how to be a better reporter said the same thing: Get out of the newsroom. Roam the street. Talk to people. Spend time getting to know your beat.

But other reporters for corporate-y type outfits conferred with me that sort of overhead time just isn’t encouraged.

Especially when you’re up against the daily deadline.

Content is the product. Broad-based reflective thinking is not.

But c’mon. What gets journalists psyched up? Where do they hang out to pick up stories? How come everyone has to go around “pitching” and stuff?

Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter John Cook told me he finds stories at events like the one we were at.

And I’ll be honest. A lot of journalists are kind of insecure about media and the way things are changing. No one wants to really get into it, but they apologize for their print media being “dinosaurs,” and talk about “internal discussions” on how they’re trying to integrate web stuff into what they do at their papers.

Big media=old media=a dying industry. Everyone knows.

Those embracing change are blogging.

But how do you justify blogging if you did all this work in the middle of your career to decide to go back to J School and make some sort of difference in the world, in a lofty, printed font, like, say, New York Times? Hard to do.

I do have some good news about journalists trying to step outside of the comfort zone, though. Today radio guy John Ryan tells me he just got an award for a series I got to hear the early soundtracks for:

D, I just won my first national journalism award! PRNDI (Public Radio News Directors Incorporated) has deemed As the Sound Churns the best public-radio news series of the past year!! –John Ryan

There was some more stuff, all excited-sounding, which all reminded me of the time we chatted about polka dots on the Beeb (BBC).

Polka. Dotty. Juice.

How to Get Free Publicity | The Naked Truth wiki


  1. J. Stoffel

    Nice entry; now that I sat down and subscribed to your RSS feed yesterday, I see all the interesting things you’re up to there. I was at a workshop for bloggers a month ago in the Seattle Public Library, can pass on info if wanted, but it does seem to be the way to get things done these days. Keep up the great work!

  2. Dale

    Great points.

    On making successful pitches, I’ve heard it called the “-est” factor. “Biggest,” “fastest,” “newest,” etc. If the product/person/idea is one of those things, it’s got a great shot at becoming a story. The very nature of news is to highlight something that’s different than the usual.

  3. laura

    Awesome! I love your honesty and integrity. It’s important to question everything, take risks, and follow your own path. Ah- that all sounds cliché, but I just got out of yoga class… ohmmm.

  4. dipika

    …. namah shivaya.

    Question everything is a great mantra.

    I have been reading up more on news stuff, in part because we’re rebranding the Northwest Asian Weekly! I love community journalism because it is so accessible, both reading and writing it.

    Today I found this site on newspaper front page makeovers.

    I was also thinking I should have asked a PR person for a comment before posting Newsroom Juice, cause of the blanket “Don’t Hire Them” advice, but that would have been more reporter-y and less blog-gy.

    Do bloggers get carte blanche because it’s the Internet?

  5. Donny

    Great article from the view of a reporter. Detailed information guidance give to be a successful reporter. Really enjoyed reading it. Lots of tips shared.

  6. Pingback: The Naked Truth Goes Straight to Video… | Redfin Corporate Blog

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