Finding the local angles in a national story

NewsBreak is focused on delivering relevant, necessary and impactful local content to local communities around the U.S. It’s no secret that we’re seeing a decline in newspapers around the country, but we believe that local news is vital to our health, safety, quality of life and so much more. The Creator Program at NewsBreak is a valuable part of our local content coverage.

While many creators have no problem coming up with story ideas, there are always those slow news days, or maybe you’re just stuck with a little writer’s block. One of the best ways to get inspired is by reading and listening to the stories around you, but what do you do when those stories are national? We wanted to share some strategies for turning a national story into one with local interest and impact.

1. Compare and contrast

A broader national conversation started taking place in 2020 about sending mental health crisis workers instead of police to certain emergency situations. While this was often covered through a broad national lens with leaders and activists talking about the issue on different sides, some local publications took a look at it from their own perspective. In fact, for more than 30 years, a team of unarmed crisis workers have been working with police and the 911 system in Eugene, Oregon. If you’re living in Eugene, you can tell that local story, but if you’re not, you can compare your city's response. You can reach out to your local law enforcement agencies (they usually always have a communications official) and see how they feel about the topic. When you want to find the local angle to a national story, ask yourself if there’s a similar issue, program, organization in your town that can provide that context for your community. 

2. Find a local expert

As I’m writing this, it’s March, which means for Hollywood, it’s award show season (Golden Globes, Grammys, etc). Award shows are not inherently local, but there are a lot of local connections to be found. Maybe nothing is jumping out at you though, you can’t think of an actor or singer from your hometown or a movie that was set in your city. It’s okay, you can always talk to a local expert. For instance, for the Grammy Awards, you could speak to a local music producer about what it takes to produce a song or a local musical artist and what their aspirations are. For the Oscars, you could speak to the local theater director or high school drama teacher or club. You can share their local perspectives on these national events and hey, they might even be able to tell you about a local connection you never knew about.

3. Discover the local impact

Many big national stories have wide-ranging impacts and relations on local communities. The COVID-19 pandemic is the perfect example of a national and international story that begs to be told on a local level. There are so many local angles to look at this story from, here are just a few: business owners, students, mental health professionals, multigenerational families, doctors, parents, laid off workers, lawmakers. The list can go on, but you get the idea. Big national topics, issues and policies often affect local families, businesses and communities or there’s a local individual who can relate to a similar experience.

There are so many ways to connect national news to your story, so don’t feel limited by this list, but we hope it helps get your creative instincts going.

Click here to read our full post on our NewsBreak Creator profile.