Breaking Your Own News

The days of “extra, extra, read all about it” are gone. Newsrooms have shrunk and consolidated and news consumers have other options in the palm of their hands.

So what are superintendents to do when they have news of their own? Break it yourself.

The changing media landscape requires districts to become their own newsrooms.

Establishing your newsroom is not as daunting as it sounds. You already have a built-in audience and, more importantly, a direct line to families and staff through your website, social and mass communication system.

As superintendent, you also have sources in your students, teachers, principals and other staff members who can provide the details to you and your communications team. Those details are what journalists call the five Ws and H.

  • Who
  • What
  • Where
  • Why
  • When and
  • How

The next step is determining if those 5 Ws and H meet the 10 elements of newsworthiness.

  1. Proximity
  2. Prominence
  3. Timeliness
  4. Oddity
  5. Consequence
  6. Conflict
  7. Human Interest
  8. Extremes or Superlatives
  9. Scandal
  10. Impact

Now that you have the nuts and bolts, it is time to get creative, consider your audience and publish. Whatever medium you choose, you have between three to seven seconds before your audience decides to keep going or move on. So make it compelling.

If your communications team has strong photos, lead with that. If writing is your communications department’s strength, then remind members to draft a clever opening that draws your reader in with the details. Videos need clear sound and a tight story. Your stories should feature your people or programs and give your audience an inside look at your district.

Finally, when your team publishes, consider and utilize all of your platforms. Again, you have a built-in audience and a direct way to communicate with students, parents, teachers, administration and staff. The days of the media being the only way to share your story are gone. Social media and the internet have changed the landscape and empowered districts to be their own gatekeepers and storytellers.

The more you break your own news, the easier it will become. And the more consistent and creative your stories are, the more likely your local news agency will take notice and come calling.

Want to know what to do when the media does show up? Check out part 2.