The modern media environment has fundamentally changed the way news is both reported by producers and consumed by readers. An informational and technological revolution -- coupled with increased globalization -- has led to the demise of the traditional news bulletin, replacing it instead with an insatiable 24 hour rolling news environment with its own unique challenges and way of working.
This chapter will introduce you to this new environment, as well as to explain how Movie Pilot reacts to and covers the news, and how you can then use the news to its fullest potential in your articles.
Where Does News Come From?
The creation of 24 hour news networks and, more recently, the explosion of social media, has changed the way news organizations operate, including entertainment outlets.
The speed of information these days means to take advantage of this system you have to get a bite of the apple before your competitors. This obviously creates challenges to covering the news. Once a breaking story has hit one of the other major online publishers and been posted across social media, it is already too late.
How To Get There First
If you want to cover the news, speed is often the key. One tip is to create a Tweetdeck. This is a collection of Twitter feeds which can be separated into different columns of grouped Twitter accounts. Follow as many studios and notable Twitter users as possible and wait for the cascade of tweets to begin. Once you've found a breaking story, write up a quick article presenting the news and unleash it upon the world. For an example of a quick news piece, check out this article.
However, this method of working does have major challenges. Firstly, the speed of working can be quite stressful, as it requires constant vigilance of information sources, which is not always possible. Trying to be first in line to publish the news also creates issues of inaccuracy, and it's not unusual for even professional outlets to unwillingly report outright lies in an attempt to get ahead of competitors. Indeed, some unscrupulous individuals actively try to take advantage of this environment to spread false information - think celebrity death hoaxes etc. In this sense, it is often best to only follow official verified social media accounts or wait for official confirmation. If you have none, clearly mark the article as unconfirmed, or a rumor.
Faced with these issues, we do not generally expect our Creators to be the sources of breaking news. Instead, breaking news can be the catalyst behind some truly interesting and insightful content.
Using News to Inspire Your Content
The great thing about news is that it places certain topics and issues into the zeitgeist. This allows fans of these topics to create their own content which is linked to the news, but isn't a simple regurgitation of it. This contextualization of news into the wider fandom is where Movie Pilot's strength really lies.
So, instead of writing a simple article reporting the news - which several other Creators and outlets might also be doing - think about the wider implications of the news itself, and always add a unique and personal angle to your news. Here are some examples of adding value to a simple news piece:
- Trailer Breakdown: A more in depth look at the trailer that reveals any Easter Eggs and hidden secrets.
- Trailer Comparisons: Perhaps the trailer can inspire an article which compares a live-action superhero to their comic-book version, or which compares a remake or reboot with the original?
- Speculation: Trailers often reveal lots of story hints; let this inspire you to speculate about the storyline or any big reveal the movie might have in store for the audience.
- Casting Speculation: If an actor has been cast in an unannounced role, perhaps speculate about who they could be playing?
- Opinion: Do you think the casting is perfect? Why not write an article outlining all the reasons a certain actor will nail a role.
- Time Flies: Casting news is a perfect opportunity to look at an actor's career and see what they've been doing over the years.
- Rising Star: Is the cast actor a new name? Perhaps you can delve into their lesser known work and introduce them to the world?
New Movie/Television Show Announcements
- Fan Casting: If a new film or show with known characters has been announced, perhaps create a shortlist of actors who could play the role? This could also work for directors if one has not been announced.
- Speculation: Similar to above, you could speculate about what we'll see in the movie/show. Alternatively, you could write an article stating what you'd like to see.
- The Wider Franchise: Is the movie or show part of a wider franchise? How about writing an article which places it within the wider cinematic universe? How will it affect other movies in the franchise?
- Social media reactions: How are people, both celebrities and fans, responding to the news?
Of course, this list is by no means exhaustive, but it illustrates that you can do a lot more with news than simply rewriting it with different words.
Create a Conversation
The great thing about news is that it gets people talking. Take advantage of this in your articles. If you notice a particularly interesting conversation dominating on social media or even amongst your friends, why not use this as the basis of your next article? Hopefully, this will encourage other fans to engage with your content and generate a rewarding conversation. Sometimes, these conversations could even inspire your next follow up article.
Follow Up Pieces
Furthermore, if you notice one of your news articles has done well, consider creating follow-up articles concerning that topic. Develop a few ideas and see if they have been covered by other Creators or outlets. If they haven't, you might be onto a truly unique insight into a certain topic. Ultimately, this is the best way to draw continued relevance from a news story which can be even a few days old.
One important thing to remember is to link any other articles involved in the dialogue into your own, or link back to the previous articles in your follow-ups. Not only does this provide more material for readers eager to find out more, but it also helps the Search Engine Optimization quality of your piece, making it more visible to Google.
So, the next time you're covering a news story, always ask yourself what the story behind the story is, and use that as the basis for your article.
As always, any questions are welcome in the comments.
Chapter 7 Assignment
To show you've got what it takes to make your news piece stand out from the crowd, your assignment is to write a news piece with a unique angle or perspective. Find a news piece that interests you - it doesn't have to be from today, or yesterday, just as long as it's still relevant to an audience. Think about why audiences find the news itself interesting, entertaining or important, and how you can start a new conversation using the news as inspiration.
- Have you done a quick google search to see if your take on the news has been covered?
- Is your angle unique and does it teach the reader something new (even if that 'something new' is a new opinion on a potential casting choice, or a convincing theory as to why a newly contracted director will reinvent 'insert movie title here').
Remember, don't try to 'break the news' - every individual and outlet is doing the same thing at the same time. Take a deep breath, read the news, and think about the implications of it. Then use your insane fan knowledge to start a new and wider discussion about the effect the news will have on the community that care about it most.
If you've got any comments or questions, or just want to brainstorm and geek out, head to the Facebook group- we're always around to lend a hand!