Two Types of Pitches

When we have our monthly pitch meetings, all sorts of ideas come up.  Some are great, some are not.  Most fall somewhere in between.  

What makes a good pitch for a broadcast journalism show?  Here is how I have started looking at it the last few years.

There are story pitches, and there are topic pitches.  One is a little more do-able than the other, but both have their place.

I consider a story pitch something that can be shot quickly and edited in just a few days.  Students pitching stories are usually planning to cover events such as community activities—games, fall festivals, Homecoming, the opening of a new skate park—subjects that do not require multiple shoots.

I consider a topic pitch something more challenging, with a much longer production cycle.  These are usually your social issues or in-depth profile pieces.  They are sometimes less visual than story pitches, and usually require several formal interviews.  They require multiple shoots, sometimes as many as seven or eight locations.  

When your students start pitching for your next show, this breakdown might help.  For us, it is usually about experience and time.  The juniors just coming onto the staff might not be ready for an edgy, or difficult topic that they might feel more confident covering in a few months.  And right now, the broadcast students who are involved in fall sports have limited time to shoot and edit, so they often pitch stories that they can shoot in one day, or maybe on the weekend.

As an adviser, I think it is important for me to make sure kids pitch things they can actually get done.  Usually, that is just about asking them simple questions about time management, sources, research, things that impact every story.  But ultimately, it’s up to them to turn their pitch into an actual segment for our show.