Reporter Guidelines

FIRST TIME PITCHING TO FSRN?

Prior to accepting pitches from new reporters, FSRN asks reporters to do the following:

Become familiar with the kinds of stories we air and our style of production by reviewing some recent feature stories and headlines.

Submit a CV and audio journalism sample(s) at our NEW REPORTER FORM. Audio samples should ideally demonstrate your field recording skills and voice delivery (in English) in a format that FSRN airs (feature or headline).

We can normally review your materials within two weeks and respond to you. After approval, you are welcome to pitch stories to FSRN’s producers (see above).

If you are a print journalist looking to file a radio story, please email editors[at]fsrn.org.  You’ll need to procure your own recording and editing equipment, and we will still want to hear a sample of your field recording and voice delivery.

 

GUIDELINES:

What we look for in pitches

SURPRISE US: We are looking for true stories, events or people that present something new, important and interesting to a national audience.

NATIONAL INTEREST: Would your story be more interesting to your local station than to people across the country? FSRN is a daily national and international news show aired on stations across the United States, so we are looking for stories with a national angle. International reporters do not have to always find the US angle in their pieces.

KEEP IT SHORT: One paragraph is best. Not whole scripts. Write a paragraph about the story you intend to produce; include your angle and a list of the sources whose voices you will use in your story, including if your sound is in-person or phone tape. It is a good idea to develop confirmed contacts with the sources you intend to interview before you pitch the story.

BE SPECIFIC: Tell us why your story would interest our listeners: e.g., “On the eve of the scheduled execution of Frances Newton in Texas, the American Civil Liberties Union has issued a report called ‘the forgotten population,’ which takes a look at death row in America through the eyes of women.”

WHAT’S THE NEWS PEG: Let us know whether the story is time-sensitive:
e.g., “Witherspoon’s story will be published in this week’s edition of Insects Today.” Or: “This would be a great story to run with the anniversary of the Smithsonian next month.”

OUR PROCESS: Your pitch will be circulated around the daily editorial team and each day a general consensus will be reached on what pitches we accept and which we decline, after which one of the producers will get back to you. Most often this happens in the evening after deadline after the change of shift between day and night producer. For breaking news and same-day production, please send pitches by 9:15 AM US Eastern Time. For less time-sensitive stories, you can send pitches anytime, but keep in mind that FSRN staff does not work weekends. If you want to propose a story for Monday, try to get your pitch in by 3 PM Eastern on Friday. An editor will respond with our intertest generally within 48-72 hours.

Send all feature pitch submissions to producers[at]fsrn.org. Send headline pitch submissions to headlines[at]fsrn.org.

 

Story types and general guidelines

Read more about the TYPES OF SEGMENTS FSRN COMMISSIONS, including features, headlines, vox pops, reporter’s notebooks, and more.

Our allotted time for a feature story is about 3-6 minutes. A full feature requires a minimum of at least three different voices. Our second tier shorter news story runs between 1:30-2:59 minutes and requires a minimum of 2 voices. Headlines are a maximum of 1-minute. Voicers should be between 35-45 seconds.

If you have actualities that are not in English, provide a full transcription of the clip and a full English translation, as well as noting the gender of the source. Our production team will take care of the Voice Over mixes. However, please make sure that the English translations are clear and make sense so that the source’s intended meaning is conveyed.

 

Producing audio and script

You should have not only understandable but good sound quality (PLEASE READ TECHNICAL GUIDELINES BELOW FOR MORE INFORMATION);

  1. Be factual
  2. Have a timed out script
  3. Be able to quote at least two or three sources for each fact
  4. Finished pieces must be the appropriate length
  5. Send us a script with suggested cuts if the story is too long
  6. Include ambience when possible
  7. Whenever possible record your interviews in person instead of on the phone
  8. And, we always like to remind our reporters to avoid excessive microphone popping in your narration tracks by paying close attention to your narration in your headphones.

When narrating, avoid sounding flat. Think about getting the words off of the page and talk to us as if you’re telling a story. Be conversational and authoritative rather than authoritarian. Mark up your script so that you emphasize key information and words without being overly dramatic. Make sure to add marks (commas work well) for breathing so you don’t find yourself taking a breath in place that breaks up a sentence inappropriately. Rehearsing your script before recording makes a huge difference in delivery on a tight deadline. At this point, communicating your script well is more important than spending 5 minutes more on editing the writing.

For headlines ONLY: be ready to record your script by phone at the time agreed to with you and the editor.

After you file, be on call after you are done with your story in case there are problems. If you don’t meet these criteria the production team reserves the right to reconsider accepting your pitch or airing your story.

 

Technical guidelines and uploading

Encode your mixed story as an mp3 file at 128kbps MONO at 44.1 MHz.
upload to: www.fsrn.org/upload
ask your producer for the password.

Finally, send an email confirmation with the filename and TRT (Total Run Time) to the appropriate producer.

DEADLINES:

  • FEATURE SCRIPTS — 7 AM US Pacific, 10 AM US Eastern (or set by editor)
  • HEADLINE SCRIPTS — 10:00 AM US Pacific Time, 1:00 PM US Eastern
  • AUDIO UPLOAD — 11:30 AM US Pacific Time, 2:30PM US Eastern (or set by editor)

*(www.worldtimeserver.com shows all time zones)

 

FIRST STORY ON SPEC

The first headline and feature that FSRN commissions from you will be done “on-spec.” You will be paid If your story airs. If at any point during the reporting, editing, production or technical editing process, FSRN determines the story does NOT meet our standards, we may reject the story. Some of the reasons to reject stories include: if a reporter turns in a script that does not reflect the story pitch commissioned, if a reporter misses deadline, if the sound quality is poor, or if story goes through multiple rounds of edits without making progress toward improving reporting, script, and sound quality. A new reporter whose story is rejected is invited to pitch again, but subsequent stories will be on-spec until reporter successfully goes through editing and production process and the story airs.

 

INVOICING

Invoices should be sent to payables[at]fsrn.org.

Reporters must invoice for their first story with FSRN and any time their address or payment method changes.  The invoices need to include the amount being invoiced, the reporter’s full name, current mailing address, social security number or tax identification number, the story slug/title, total length of story, and the date the story aired.

After the initial invoice that gets reporters in our billing system, their subsequent stories are “auto-invoiced” — that is, payment is processed without reporters needing to send an invoice to our bookkeeper after each story.

Reporters can expect to receive payment for their work within 2-3 weeks of the story’s airdate.  We strive for prompt and accurate payment to our reporters who supply the terrific news stories that make up our show.  That said, there are very occasional glitches in our payment processing system.  If you have not received payment for a story within 30 days of its airdate, please let us know by emailing admin[at]fsrn.org.

 

PAY RATES

$200 for a full-feature (approximately 3:30-5:30 minute reporter package; includes a minimum of 3 different interviews/sound clips)
$100 for a mini-feature (approximately 1:30-2:59 minute reporter package; minimum of 2 different interviews/sound clips)
$50 for a tiny-feature (approximately 1:00-1:30 minute reporter package; 1 interview/sound clip)
$50 for reporter 2-way with FSRN anchor (reporter’s voice recorded and uploaded; FSRN mixes)
$40 for a headline with sound bite
$30 for a headline voicer only
$50 Vox Pop/Street Beat
$50 Reporter’s Notebook
$50 Q&A Interview
$30 Raw Tape (for features)

Read more about these types of segments here.

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