This section is for those who find themselves in a placement where they’re expected to attend story meetings and PITCH. If you haven’t had to pitch in any of your previous courses, or if it has just been a very long time since you did, you may feel a bit at sea in story meetings on your placement. This section is for you!

 

You’ll see the formal, written pitch is broken down into four discrete areas: i) Focus and angle; ii) Sources; iii) Background and/or Research; and iv) Treatment.

 

Also check out the two examples of excellent pitches; links appear below the rubric.

 

Of course you’ll need to streamline this approach for actual story meetings, where pitches are made verbally — and rapidly! In those cases, you should aim to possess the same kind (and extent) of information in each of the four sections, but you’ll have to be succinct and articulate to get your pitch heard and understood during a story meeting. Perhaps before you try your first pitch at a story meeting, observe for a day or two how the experienced pros around the table do it.

 

 

    Criteria        Pro      Needs work       Poor
Focus and angle A clearly articulated story angle that’s fresh and timely. It’s informed by good sources and background. Idea is too vague and is not likely yield a fresh story. Maybe needs some refinement or discussion with the editors or instructors. Less of a story idea than a theme to explore. An undeveloped idea.
Sources Story pitch includes idea for a main source that is realistic and likely to yield a fresh story.

Ideas for secondary sources add depth and balance to the coverage.

The pitch includes strategy for getting in touch with the sources in a timely manner including phone numbers, extensions, emails and a deadline.

Maybe not a likely source.

Maybe not quite the right source to produce the story angle that’s described.

Maybe too few ideas for sources.

Editor or instructor needs to help think of potential sources and approaches.

Little evidence of research in finding the right sources. A vague idea of contacts.
Background and or research Name two or three stories or background research that will inform the story.

Also any reports or studies or numbers that add depth and evidence to the story.

Explain why the story is important to your readership and how your research helped you to develop key questions that you want to answer for the audience.

Some background stories or research is missing that add depth to the approach or coverage. You’re pitching an angle that’s already been covered because you haven’t done enough background.
Treatment A clear plan for how the content will be delivered – text, video, audio. etc. with a timely deadline.

This may include additive or complementary coverage. (For example – It is a breaking news story that will be delivered by a short crew piece and then you’ll expand with a print piece later.)

It should also include a clear plan for social media distribution. Most stories should be tweeted several times, for example, and posted to FB several times at timely moments.

Decision making around treatment needs improvement in one or two ways.

For example, a feature approach to a piece of breaking news. Or you want to create a listicle before telling a deeper story. Or you miss an obvious opportunity to consider complementing your story with photos, especially if it is a visual story.

If you have no social media engagement plan, you’ll lose a lot of marks.

Decision making around treatment needs improvement in many ways.

A layering of several errors in judgment as above.

Below are two examples of effective pitches from past students, also taken from the Masthead course.

Pitch one:

https://courses.ryerson.ca/content/enforced/95365-jrn910_w17_01/Pitch%20example%201.pdf

 

Pitch two:

https://courses.ryerson.ca/content/enforced/95365-jrn910_w17_01/Pitch%20example%202.pdf