Elements of a good story

We’ve gained a few new audience members lately, so this might be a good time to run through some basics of how we do what we do at Crossfield News, and how anyone can better identify stories worth telling.

Our mission:

We will seek and report stories of God’s work occurring on the front lines of the Great Commission, to help engage the worldwide Church. We will recruit and train others to do the same.

Additionally, we seek to report firsthand, with a style of journalism that puts the audience on the scene. We will emphasize story quality over quantity.

That’s a lot of potential stories for a very small (for now) organization. So, we also use a criteria list when deciding which stories to cover. Over the next few posts, I’ll walk you through that list.

The first three criteria are holdovers from my newspaper days. They form a basic definition of news: timely, important, interesting. Stories that made the front page needed all three of those attributes.

For our purposes at Crossfield News, timely means the topic is relevant now to our audience – primarily the U.S. church – and possibly is occurring in a world hotspot. It doesn’t have to mean that we’re on the scene of a breaking news event; often we’re reporting from a place that’s been in the news and now is gone from the daily public consciousness – but is still relevant.

Important means the story has potential impact on our audience. Does this affect their lives? How? The story answers the questions, “Why should I care?” and “What can I do?”

Interesting means the story contains strong building blocks like sympathetic characters, conflict, resolution and even redemption. Basically: Would it make a good movie or book? Not every news story offers resolution or redemption, because the story is still playing out. But, does it contain tension – one force pushing against another, with something important at stake? That’s probably a good story.

More criteria on Wednesday.

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