URN News Digest- Vol No 20: Make old news appear fresh

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When we wake up each morning, I guess we all look up to a fresh new day, fresh smell, fresh energy, fresh plans and fresh ideas.

Likewise fresh news is like food for thought to the hungry. A hungry person like a hungry reader and listener want fresh food and not stale cabbages and beans.

Good stories will always be treated and appreciated as good stories as long as they sound new to our ears. One such story this week was the striking shift from the old story about the challenges facing Butabika hospital to the lice that have curved a battlefield in the lives of the already battered mentally ill persons. I surely enjoyed this story.

I have been reflecting on the many stories that appear to be regurgitating on the site with no fresh perspectives. “Tea farmers stuck with tea in Kabale”, “ so and so arrested, charged, jailed for defilement” , “Garbage protests in Lira”, and “Parents not packing lunch for their children”, the list is endless.,

When I think about all these stories, fresh perspective is what comes to mind.

Yes these are the ever occurring waves of stories in our communities, but remember that like the waves in the sea, each phase of wave comes with its own strength, destruction, calmness and sometimes we don’t notice at all, that a wave passed.

If you have no new developments since you last wrote the story, find a way of turning around the intro to make sound fresh and new. We can breathe fresh breath in old stories, revive the old dying stories and resuscitate the fainting ones.

How do we do that?, I hear someone ask

Well all it takes is craftsmanship, creative use of the information and technique.

Craftsmanship: obviously no one would like to buy the same design of a pair of shoe; likewise no one would love to listen to the same news hook. A journalist like a craftsman needs to add a fresh perspective call it design to the story. For example how would a craftsman flesh out a new design for the tea farmer’s story in Kabale.

They were stuck with tea in 2010; the story is still the same in 2012. Does that tell us something yes. The story can be moved a step, how are our tea exports doing? Give the story a tweak and add some fresh perspective.“ because Uganda’s tea exports have declined, many farmers in Kabale are stuck with the produce”.

Give the reader an eclectic mix; 200 pupils miss school because farmers can’t sell tea…amazing, its all refreshing and you can see the relationship between tea production and education opportunities.

Just like a craftsman, plays around with various designs, so should we as writers play around with various hooks to find one the fits and attracts the audiences.

Creative use of information: Many of us still suffer from information overload. And all we need to do is internalize and comprehend all the materials gathered before we can put our fingers to the key board. I am told that headmasters are finding ways of compelling parents to pack food for their children. This surely is old stale food to some ears.
A journalist would then realize that parents still can’t afford to pack lunches for there children. Why? Perhaps because the price of goods and high cost of living. What next. Visit a home, and find out how much money they are spending on food. What hurdles are they faced with putting food on the table, let alone packing food for their children?

Technique: technique in this sense refers to the ability to get fresh info by testing it out on the audiences. Seek opinions from people and find out what they think about whether parents should or should not pack lunches?

Find another hook that could perhaps teach parents why packed lunch is important to the children. Find a nutritionist and file a story on the advantages of packing lunch and effects of no lunch to the learning.

Instead of listening to a headmaster lament about parents failing to pack lunch, why not visit a school and find out what is in the lunch boxes. Are they empty? Do some have food? What type of food? What does the type of food tell you about the parents?

Technique is that tweak you apply to tune the story so it sounds fresh and new.

Remember a good memorable story is always one that sounds new to the listener and reader.

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