John-Paul Flintoff




How to get stories into newspapers

For Christine, who sent me ideas about climate change

Hi Christine – thank you for your email.

The ideas you sent me would almost certainly appeal to someone interested already in this topic, but I’m not sure they’d reach the uncommitted.

They need some kind of “twist”.

Trainee journalists are taught that “dog bites man” isn’t a story, because it happens too often.

But “Man bites dog” would definitely get into the paper.

We were also asked to consider the “Hey, Doris” test. Would a person leafing idly through the paper shout out to a friend, “Hey, Doris, you have to read this…!”

In reality, many stories fail these tests but still get in. That seems unjust. It’s also an opportunity. Editors will be desperate to run something that really grabs them.

I hope you don’t mind me telling you what might be bleeding obvious.

JP