The third step in my Hometown Stories project is deciding who to send each pitch to. The first and most obvious thing to do is figure out which newspapers cover news about the area each intern is from. This is the easy part—it just involves asking the intern or a quick Google search. Then you have to figure out to which reporter it would be best to send each particular pitch. This involves visiting the Contact Us section of the newspaper’s website. Sometimes, the only email address available is new@ or the editor, but frequently you can find contact information for a number of reporters either listed all in one place, on the reporter’s information page or on an article the reporter has written. In some instances choosing the reporter is easy—especially if it’s a paper that reports on a number of different towns and therefore has reporter assigned to specific geographical beats (e.g. my newspaper has a specific reporter who covers the Poolesville/Boyds/Germantown area).
In other instances, especially when the newspaper only covers one town, it is a bit more complicated. To narrow down the reporter pool, I search key phrases like “internship” or town names to read sample articles from a variety of different journalists and choose the one whose work most reflects the type of story I plan to pitch, because even if a reporter isn’t assigned a specific beat, it’s likely that they tend to favor a specific type of story topic. If the pitch I plan to write has a heavy emphasis of what an educational opportunity the internship is, I’ll want to focus on Education reporters. If my angle focuses more on “Look at what a local student has accomplished,” I’ll focus more on community reporters. I may even change my story angle if I realize it wouldn’t fit the publication or if I locate a reporter I think would be drawn to an alternate angle. In this way, Steps 2 and 3 are intertwined and therefore cannot be completed in an entirely linear manner.
I was surprised with how much I have enjoyed this portion of the project. I was dreading compiling media lists because it seems so daunting, but being able to get this experience of compiling a media list on a much smaller scale has been a great way to introduce me to the things that should be considered and the way it should be handled.