In the series, "Worth Pitching?" I'll describe research I've come across in the course of science journalism and whether or not I pitched it as a story. All research may be worthwhile, but what might the general public want to read about?
So here's research I mulled over pitching for a while, entitled "The Effect of Linkedin on Deception in Resumes."
LinkedIn is basically Facebook for business. You can post your resume there, link to colleagues and friends, and develop networks. A lot of professionals use it, including me (shameless plug). So you have an interesting readership you might reach with this story — professionals who use LinkedIn.
You also want to attract reader attention with words such as "deception." Skullduggery's afoot! People lie on resumes — shocker! These liars might be getting the job you want! Maybe you should lie too?
So this story might have a certain broad appeal. However, I decided against pitching it. Why didn't I pitch it? In the end, it boils down to audiences, and who I write for.
Each news outlet has a unique audience it wants to reach. The subject, tone, reporting and length that makes up a story depends on this audience.
I write for a bunch of different news outlets — Scientific American, The New York Times, Wired, LiveScience and others. I can't quite find myself pitching this story to any of them. What is the story? The kind of deception you use with online resumes differs with traditional resumes? Too specialized for the outlets I typically write for. I might aim for a story that says that deception online differs from deception in print, but that seems like it might overreach into bad, irresponsible journalism.
I'm sure, however, there's a news outlet somewhere that can run this — a business news site, for instance. You are free to pitch it yourself, mind you.
Keep in mind that what each science reporter likes to write about can be idiosyncratic, so my choices might not be the choices another science reporter or you would make. Also, it bears saying — whether I pitch a story or not isn't a judgment on whether I think the research is worthwhile, since my hope is that all research moves human knowledge forward. I'm focused on whether whatever audience I write for might be interested in reading about it.
You can email me regarding Worth Pitching? at firstname.lastname@example.org.