Recently I addressed the importance of defining your news philosophy to end up in a station where you can really flourish. When I ask journalists to define their philosophy the most common answer I get is “enterprising stories.” Let’s consider that for a minute.
Enterprising stories is not a philosophy. It is the result of source building. However, it is what you should be doing anyway as a news reporter. Again, “enterprising stories” is not a news philosophy. A news philosophy defines how you present information to the community to inform, empower and educate. It includes writing style, graphics presentation, and topic selection. It delves into which of the 5 W’s and 1 H you focus on the most.
Stations may emphasize unique stories as a key part of coverage. It can be part of a news philosophy. But it is not the whole of a news philosophy. Remember, part of serving the public is covering the issues and events of the day. You cannot always enterprise every element. You can look for impact elements others do not have, but the basic facts must still be present in order to serve the public effectively.
Here’s one more thing to think about: Nearly all newsrooms aspire to have some sort of “enterprise” unit no matter their stated philosophy. (Conan recently reminded us how rare it really is.) Aspire to break this mold. Delve deeper into issues to find the unique elements. Source build so you can learn what the reality of a situation really is, and use those skills to define your philosophy. Think of “enterprising stories” as a means to the end, which is, your news philosophy.