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Suggest a Story

How to Suggest a Story to the Media & Making Contact

For Grassroots Organizations and Community Members

Experienced radio producers – see our Submission Guidelines.

How to Suggest a Story to the Media

Suggesting a story in media lingo is called “pitching.” It is important to tailor your “pitch” appropriately for news or public affairs. News stories require a very timely news hook (event, action, etc.) and tend to be shorter stories (“pieces”) that contain less analysis. Public affairs programs look at unfolding ramifications of stories that are not as breaking or time-dated.

Typically, public affairs programs offer more in-depth analysis of an issue and are longer in length. Be familiar with the program to which you are pitching. It is useful to first look at the producer’s website, review past transcripts, listen to or watch the program, in order to get a feel for the flavor of the program, and look over their submission guidelines.

Submitting an action alert or an article is useful as background material. Note: sending only an article, action alert or press release that doesn’t succinctly explain the story and its connection to larger social, political or economic trends is not an effective pitch.

Pitching a Piece to Making Contact

Making Contact is a half-hour, weekly public affairs program, and is thus less time sensitive than “breaking news.” We try to produce programming with at least a 6-month “shelf life.” Making Contact takes the time to cover underlying structural issues and large political, economic and social trends. We generally air three kinds of programs:

  1. Ordinary people talk about how public policy affects their daily lives, families and communities. These are the documentaries – telling localized stories by the people most affected while drawing out the larger themes. For example, when looking at international trade, we might cover the effects upon jobs and the environment through a specific story as told by people in one or two local communities.
  2. In-depth reports on political and social issues, trends and events. A news magazine style program consisting of three segments and a variety of voices.
  3. Speeches by social activists and advocates share a vision of a better world. We are always on the lookout for eloquent recordings of speakers who inspire people to think and act on a global-village scale.Recent speakers include: Thomas Frank, Tavis Smiley, Bertha Lewis, Manuel Pastor, Kevin Acebo, Maria Blanco, Jacqueline Berrien, John Powell, Diane Wilson, Jodie Evans, Charlotte Brodie, Dina Metzger, Reverend James Forbes, Jim Hightower, Arianna Huffington, DJ Davey D, Jeff Chang, Aya De Leone, KRS-1 (aka Kris Parker), Nawal El Saadawi, Arundhati Roy and Saher Saba.

Before pitching to Making Contact

It is helpful if you learn about National Radio Project and listen to some of our shows. In making your pitch, please consider the following questions (each Making Contact program does not need to answer every question):

  1. What human rights, social or economic justice issue will be addressed?
  2. Which of the voices/opinions are not often heard on the mainstream media?
  3. How will the point of view expressed differ from what is heard in the commercial media?
  4. Explain how the piece will address the structural roots of inequities.
  5. Describe the practices, policies and or institutions that are biased with respect to race, class, gender, sexual orientation or socioeconomic power, and how they will be exposed.
  6. How will the piece question access to power and/or reveal the use and abuse of power?
  7. How will the piece connect the issue(s) addressed to the life of the average listener?
  8. How will the piece motivate the listener to act?

Be sure to provide potential interviewees, a succinct one to two paragraph summary and why it is relevant to a national audience.

Please note that National Radio Project never guarantees that a particular piece will air. Making a pitch and receiving a positive response means that we are interested in the possibility of using it. All submissions are considered.

We will be happy to answer any questions you may have, and to help you through this process. Please contactLisa Rudman, Executive Director or 510-459-8558 to get started.