Why do different news media have similar stories?
May 6, 2009 12:46 PM   Subscribe

How do different news media (radio vs. television) end up doing the same news stories?

I'm not talking about the big news stories (i.e., the economy, politics) or even celebrity gossip. I'm talking about seemingly minor, human interest stories.

Case in point, this past Monday (5/4/09) both the Today Show on NBC and NPR (National Public Radio) did stories on children getting hurt by heavy furniture falling on them, and ways to prevent it from happening. As far as I can remember, this wasn't the result of a major study that had just been published. It was just one of those "keeping our kids safe" type of stories. Is it just a coincidence?
posted by Hanuman1960 to Media & Arts (10 answers total)
Probably wire services - AP & Reuters.
posted by torquemaniac at 1:07 PM on May 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Common routes:
1) A press release or report by someone (safety organization, industry, whatever)
2) New York Times story
3) Post on highly-read blog (eg Huffington Post, Kos, etc.)
4) post on web aggregators (Metafilter, Boing Boing, Reddit, etc.)
5) Journalists who work at more than one place (or their spouse does)

If you want to place a story in the press, Sunday press releases to fill the slow news cycke work great.
posted by msalt at 1:09 PM on May 6, 2009

Well, this one did have its' origin in a study:

Researchers at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, studied 17 years' worth of injury data to find that an average of 15,000 kids under age 18 wind up in U.S. emergency rooms each year because of injuries sustained when a piece of furniture tipped over. There were 300 deaths during the study period.

posted by downing street memo at 1:10 PM on May 6, 2009

Best answer: In some markets, electronic media (radio / television and, to a lesser extent, internet) have agreements with newspapers that they will break stories at the same time. In Montreal, for example, La Presse and Radio Canada often cover stories together.
posted by OLechat at 1:57 PM on May 6, 2009

For some stories, there is an embargo preventing someone from reporting on the story before a certain date.
posted by melodykramer at 2:13 PM on May 6, 2009

While this story does seem to have its origin in a study, a lot of information comes to newsrooms through press releases. Reporters then take on the task of making calls, personalizing the story and expanding research to make it their own. But the story's genesis usually comes from a centralized place, like a government agency or organization that sends out a blitz to all their media contacts.
posted by I could but I won't at 4:11 PM on May 6, 2009

Thank something called "PR Newswire".

Every TV newsroom in the U.S. uses AP for almost all of its news (that's why it's so easy to manufacture public opinion in the U.S.)

PR Newswire sends content through the AP news wire.

Producers trolling for news are bound to see them in the queue along with real news stories.

posted by Zambrano at 6:18 PM on May 6, 2009

them = "PR Newswire stories"
posted by Zambrano at 6:20 PM on May 6, 2009

Most radio and television news just clips it out of the newspaper. And the newspapers just get it from a wire service.
posted by gjc at 4:00 AM on May 7, 2009

In this day and age, there are barely enough reporters to track down and break new stories. Also more news media is affiliated with a large corporations. Both of these things encourage stealing stories from other news outlets and relying on PR releases and the wire.
posted by Gor-ella at 12:39 PM on May 7, 2009

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