Where Does Your Story Fit In?

After a comprehensive review of news station broadcasts in several markets, we were able to determine how much time is devoted to different topics.

Typical 60-Minute Newscast

Screen Shot 2014-10-03 at 3.22.43 PM
Screen Shot 2014-10-03 at 3.22.43 PM

As you can see from the above – the bulk of an average 60-minute local news broadcast is geared towards the local viewer with coverage of the local news, sports, weather and traffic.

This does not leave much left of the pie for your segment to make air.  Just over 20 percent of the news rundown – about 2-4 minutes of a 30-minute news rundown and 6-9 minutes of a 60 minute rundown – is dedicated to feature stories (health, business, entertainment, kicker).

The audit also revealed that celebrity stories (other than breaking news about the celebrities themselves) do not make the news that often.  In fact, stations in smaller markets rarely, if ever, covered celebrity news.


Most of the news desks we contacted confirmed that they gain a portion of their news from outside sources (b-roll pitches, media alerts, news services, etc.) on a daily basis.  But because their audiences demand that the program focus on local events/news /weather/sports – there is not much time left in the rundown for feature type stories.  And, the competition is fierce – with many of the hundreds of pitches made to stations each day not making it beyond the assignment desk.

So, how do you compete to break through the clutter and get your story on the news? News desks across the country provided us with some solid insight into how a story is assessed internally and the questions that are being asked before a segment makes air.

  • Is there a sponsor and is the story overtly commercial?  If yes, does the news value/appeal outweigh the commercial aspect of the piece?
  • Will the story appeal to the majority of my audience?  Is it news they can use?
  • Is there a way the story can be teased to gain viewers for my news program?
  • Is there a local angle to the story?
  • How much time do we have to devote to tell the story?
  • Will our audience be better served (tune in) with an interview segment?
  • Do we need outside visuals for the story – or will a reader do?
  • If it is an event b-roll.  Are visuals so quirky and amusing that the location of the event does not matter?

So what does this all mean?  Simply, it shows us that the newsroom is like a business – and their business is getting local audiences to tune is so that their ratings and revenues increase.   When developing a news or interview segment, it is imperative that we take into account that stations are also our customers and create segments that will appeal to their audiences.