Washington State News Story Informants
Submit a story idea
As someone with firsthand knowledge of the community mental health system, recovery, coping and challenge, you can help to educate and inspire others by working with the news media. If you do not have a good working relationship with an editor or reporter in your area, this page can help you seek media coverage if you have a mental health story that is newsworthy
What Makes a Story Newsworthy?
When an editor needs to decide whether to run with a particular story, s/he will ask how well the story meets each of the following criteria. Normally, a story should perform well in at least two areas. Naturally, competition plays a part. If there are a lot of newsworthy stories on a particular day then some stories will be dropped. Although some stories can be delayed until a new slot becomes available, time-sensitive news will often be dropped permanently.
- Timing: The word news means exactly that - things that are new. The general public is used to receiving the latest updates, and there is so much new news that old news is quickly discarded. If it happened today, it's news. If the same thing happened last week, it's no longer interesting. If your story is linked to an event or an anniversary, like a March or the opening of a clinic, the editor needs ample notice.
- Significance: The number of people affected by the story is important. A budget cut or a grant that affects hundreds of people seems more significant than one that affects just a few. However, it usually is most effective to focus on one or two individuals to illustrate and personalize the impact.
- Proximity: The closer the story to home, the more newsworthy it is. For someone living in Spokane, a recovery story at Gonzaga is more interesting than one at Pike Place Market in Seattle.
- Prominence: Famous people get more coverage because they are famous. If your aunt comes to visit it won't make the news, but if Tipper Gore comes to speak, it probably will.
- Human Interest: Human interest stories are a bit of a special case. They can stretch the main rules of newsworthiness; for example, they don't date as quickly, they may not involve a large number of people, and they often focus on “ordinary” folks. Human interest stories appeal to emotion. They aim to evoke responses such as amusement, empathy, sadness or a greater understanding of the human condition. Television news programs often place a human interest story at the end of the show to finish on a feel-good note. Newspapers often have a dedicated area for offbeat items or self-help advice for parents, caregivers, etc. Recovery stories and interviews with mental health experts often have strong human interest.
Submit your story
Do you have a mental health story that is newsworthy to share and do you live in Washington State? If so, please email your ideas in the form below. Someone from the WA State Coalition for Mental Health Reporting will be in contact with you soon about how to contact a journalist who might be interested in the story. If your news tip is related to an upcoming event, please give as much advance notice as possible.