When Jimmy Olsen Is Better Than Clark Kent

How do you translate that press release or story tip into actual newspaper coverage?

Too often, publicity seekers want to start at the top. For comic book readers, that would be editor Perry White or reporter Clark Kent.

What’s wrong with Jimmy Olsen? Why not the cub reporter, or even the intern?

Yes, the intern. Often, they are unpaid eager beavers dropped into a strange pond of a town for a summer. In exchange for their near-free labor, editors allow them to pitch away. Enterprise journalism. Make your own assignment.

In fact, I’ve been in the intern’s shoes. I’ve worked in more than one newsroom. I’ve seen editors point to the ignored stack of press releases. “Find something you’d like to write about in that stack and get back to me.”

Not such an easy task for someone new to a community. Someone who has never cultivated their own contacts or sources.

Be that someone who welcomes the new intern to town. This can be a simple e-mail. Offer to answer questions about where you live. Then, if you want to pitch a story to the paper, you have a liason, a direct connection to the editor.

Interns are hungry. It’s not just their lack of wages. They want to have an impressive “clip,” that published example of work that can get them hired somewhere else. You’ll have that same “clip,” allowing other journalists the chance to learn (and share) more about you, too.

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