The Mystery of the Story Budget
For those who are just getting started in the game of blogging, you might come across a few terms that are unfamiliar to you now and then. This can be confusing at times, but well worth learning what they mean.
I use the Edit Flow plugin to organize my upcoming content and came across the term story budget and had no idea what the heck that was. After a little research, I came across this helpful little snippet that cleared things up right away.
Editors use the word “budget” to describe a list of stories that they expect to be available for an upcoming publication, newscast, etc. Your “budget line” is what you would give your editor when proposing to do a story. You are trying to sell the story to your editor — and giving yourself at least a rough plan for developing and writing the story.
Begin each budget line with a one-word title (called a “slug”). Then:
- Describe the story in just a few sentences.
- Identify your audience.
- List at least three sources from whom you expect to obtain information. These are three individuals who can give you different perspectives on the story. Examples include someone directly involved as a participant in the story, a “real person” affected by the story, someone with administrative responsibilities such as a city official or university official, and an expert such as a college professor. At this point, you don’t need to name the individuals whom you’ll contact; for budget purposes, it is sufficient just to name three types of sources you plan to use. If you attend an event and cover it, you can count your attendance at the event as one of your three sources. (You will be expected actually to talk with your major sources in person or by phone. Don’t rely on email or other indirect contacts.) If you plan to use documentary sources such as public records, then mention them, too. Be aware that in order to write a thorough story, you often need to talk with more than three sources.
- Suggest a way to illustrate the story with a photo, graphic, video, podcast, or other multimedia presentation. For class purposes, this is usually hypothetical. In most cases, you will not be required to provide this element, but when planning a story you should consider its visual presentation possibilities.
Here’s an example of a budget line using a fake event (your story will be about a real event or situation, and it may be a news or feature story):
Story description: The two candidates for mayor of Springfield will appear Monday night in a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters. I will cover the event and will report on what they say.
Audience: Voters of Springfield who read the local newspaper and its website.
Sources: The two candidates’ remarks during the forum; follow-up interviews with the two candidates afterward; citizens who attend the event (I’ll ask them to react to what was said); someone who didn’t necessarily attend the meeting but will be affected by what was said; if needed, someone who can clarify or verify facts or provide additional information.
Illustration: Photos of the candidates speaking; possibly photos of projects that they discuss and people affected by these projects.
I hope you find this as useful as I have.