Sharing Your Stories with Mainstream Media
Until fairly recently, submitting stories to news channels was very low tech: you had to call or contact a specific person, hope they would be interested in your pitch, and figure out how to give them your content in a format they could use.
Today, there are quite a few platforms through which you can directly submit content to major news channels. While some offer freeform submission options, most news sites present requests or assignments for specific types and themes of content.
These sites are an excellent avenue if you have content related to:
- A breaking news event
- An upcoming holiday
- Some other issue heavily covered in mainstream media
There are also several independent websites to which you can submit media that maintain active relationships with media outlets. Should you have content that you wish to share with or sell to media outlets that is not necessarily related to one of those outlets' open assignments, such platforms offer a useful alternative.
Several examples of each option are profiled below, along with tips on submitting content that is more likely to be picked up.
Major News Submission Platforms
- Individuals may submit content to various assignments, which are grouped by shows and partners as well news beats
- iReport news beat assignment groups include politics, food, news, international, weather, health, and tech and science
- One must create an account to submit content; no social connection options are offered
- Photos, videos, and text may be submitted
- Additional resources are offered, such as sound clips participants may add to video footage
- Includes additional gamification elements, such as awards
The Guardian: Guardian Witness
- Audiences are invited to submit content associated with various assignments presented by editorial staff
- Though many assignments revolve around soft subjects like consumer products and recipes, a relatively high proportion are associated with politics and other substantive issues (when compared to other news publications' submission sites)
- Account creation is required for submission; Facebook, Google, and Twitter connect options are available
- Submissions may include video, photos, and/or text
- Submissions may be upload through the website or a mobile app
Fox News: uReport
- Fox News visitors are invited to submit content based on various assignments (e.g. what makes you proud to be American, what you're paying at the gas pump, etc.)
- One must have an account to submit content; a wide range of social media connection options are offered
- Both photos and videos are accepted
NBC News: FirstPerson
- Content is requested around various themes, some of which appear to be commercial (e.g. inquiries for stories and pictures about specific brands)
- Content may be submitted without creating an account (though personal information is requested as a part of submissions)
- Depending on the nature of the request, written text, in addition to photo and video files, may be submitted
- Submission requests revolve around contests; none are associated with substantive news (they tend to revolve around holidays and decorating)
- Account creation is required for submission; no social media account connections are offered
News Submission Platforms Not Affiliated with a News Channel
There exist several news media submission platforms that are not explicitly affiliated with traditional news channels. Some feature the content exclusively on their own properties, others shop it around to news outlets.
- An app through which one can shoot and upload video footage that is offered to news and media outlets
- Members can set minimum prices for their work and make 80% of the revenue
- A website and app designed as a marketplace between professional photographers, amateur photographers, and news outlets
- News outlets can quickly establish contracts with members to send them on assignments, however contributors can also upload original content independently
- A Korean news submission site; not even remotely relevant unless you speak Korean (or live in South Korea)
- Runs on an open source news model: editors accept and publish content from readers and only a minority of the site's content comes from paid editorial staff
- A mobile app through which one shares news footage and stories
- Works to get content uploaded by members published in news outlets
- Incentivizes members with rewards and contests
- Is more focused on hyperlocal reporting- things that are going on in your local hometown
- Members are incentivized with badges and prizes
How to Share Content that is Likely to be Used
To increase the likelihood that your content is actually picked up:
- Only submit high quality content (no blur, no intense shakiness, no backlighting, careful framing)
- Make sure your content is directly related to any assignment through which you are submitting it
- Provide up-to-date and usable contact information
- Present succinct, unique, and compelling stories and footage (you're not the only person who can take blurry camera phone shots of a storm)
Before submitting anything, ask yourself: "Why would someone who neither knows nor cares about me want to see/watch this?"
If you can provide a sound, logical answer: submit. If not, you might want to keep your content within your personal web properties and feeds.
Using Proprietary News Platforms as an Online Journalist
Generally speaking, we do not recommend that journalists submit content to news outlets through the submission platforms outlined above (with the exception of Rawporter and Scoopshot), as most are intended for viewers and untrained individuals. For more information on destinations appropriate for professionals, visit our lesson on platforms for online journalists.