Complete the Pitch Form for each of your five planned stories. (No need to complete it for the spot news story. We’ll talk separately for election story pitches.) If you make a mistake or need to edit your pitch, you can do that in Airtable. We’ll grade the latest version submitted before the deadline. As always, you can discuss your pitches with us before submitting them for a grade.
(20 points total)
Newsworthy idea with research (10 points): Describe how the story will be unique and interesting. Have you discovered original content which may attract the attention of a professional news publication? Is this a story that fits within the greater coverage of The Wash? Why does this story matter now? What new coverage are you providing? What research and info-gathering have you already completed? What do you already know? How feasible is this idea? How are you best positioned to get the story?
Writing (5 points): Grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, active, accurate & engaging vocabulary. Do both the pitch and subject line grab our attention?
Sources (2 points): List of at least two quality, clear-to-identify interview subjects. Ideally, you have already communicated with them. If not, describe how you will contact the sources and get them to reply before the deadline.
Images, sidebars, and graphics (2 points): Lay out your ideas for memorable pictures and/or graphics that add to the article’s written content.
Singular idea (1 point): If the initially approved pitch (or any topical pivot) turns into a published article, you get this point. If the first pitch falls apart, you may still get all the above points by resubmitting additional pitches in Airtable. Please discuss the idea changes with your editor.
The following are examples of pitches from Fall 2021. They do not include all the fields, but you’ll get a better idea of what we’re looking for by reading them.
Demand for Kidney Donors Escalates Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
Jan Maxwell grew up a healthy young girl. Now, she is fighting for her life. Maxwell is just one of 100,000 Americans in need of a kidney transplant. And COVID-19 has caused this number to escalate.
To begin, these transplants are difficult to obtain (factors include: finding a match, lack of living organ donations, cost, etc.) Moreover, between 2019 and 2020, kidney transplants dropped 5.5%. This story matters because COVID-19 has exacerbated an already difficult issue.
I will focus my story on Maxwell’s personal experience as someone on the kidney donation waiting list. Then, I will hone out to show the larger national issue. This story is newsworthy, especially to people in the Bethesda area, because of its health focus.
In all, I hope to show this large-scale issue at the local level. I hope to learn more about why the list is so long, why many (like Maxwell) stay on the list for years, how COVID-19 affected transplants and when change is expected.
Jan Maxwell, resident of North Bethesda who has polycystic kidney disease and is looking for a kidney donor; Susan Smelin, Jan’s sister with the same condition who already received a kidney transplant; Smelin’s donor; health expert at the National Kidney Foundation, National Institute of Kidney Disease and/or George Washington University’s Kidney Transplant Center
I plan to include a chart showing the demand for kidney transplants before COVID-19 versus the demand now. I would also like to include a photo of Maxwell to humanize my story. I also may take photos of people walking into George Washington University’s Kidney Transplant Center.
https://unos.org/data/transplant-trends/ ; https://www.kidneyfund.org/news/news-releases/akf-commends-maryland-governor-hogan-for-signing-living-organ-donor-protections-into-law.html ; https://www.kidneyfund.org/kidney-disease/kidney-donation.html ; https://amp.theguardian.com/society/2021/aug/30/huge-decrease-in-organ-transplants-as-covid-took-hold-across-world ; https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpub/article/PIIS2468-2667(21)00200-0/fulltext
MPD uses education and enforcement to curb spiking auto thefts in Georgetown
Auto theft rates are on the rise in Georgetown. Just last weekend four cars were stolen in the historic neighborhood, and there was a 250% increase in auto thefts between the months of August and September.
At a Coffee with a Cop event in Georgetown, the second district police department said most of these crimes are committed by opportunistic juveniles. Lieutenant John Merzig said the police department is working on education and enforcement campaigns.
The education campaign aims to create awareness within the community so that citizens can be more cautious with their vehicles. Every two months Commissioner Duncan Bedlion hosts events with the community to discuss safety. But because the victims are leaving their cars unlocked with the keys inside, often illegally parked, the police are forced to ticket them, hence the enforcement campaign. The victim’s negligence is often a major contributing factor to the crime.
Lieutenant Merzig said it’s a difficult problem to solve because most victims will never fall prey to this crime again, but the new people to the area (especially delivery drivers, are usually unaware of the spike in crime and are just trying to get on with their day.
I also spoke to a longtime Georgetown resident who had her car stolen twice 30 years ago, but she has been lucky since moving back to the area, even though she leaves her car running all the time. And I spoke with a FedEx delivery driver who said he never leaves his car unlocked, although he had when I spoke to him.
-Second district Lieutenant John Merzig: John.firstname.lastname@example.org
-MPD Commissioner Duncan Bedlion: email@example.com
-Assistant Chief Stuart Emerman: Stuart.firstname.lastname@example.org
-Georgetown resident Colleen Girouard: 1414 34th St. NW
-FedEx delivery driver Dwight Pauling: 202-965-1414
-Colonion Garage Operations Manager Simon Alam: email@example.com
Photos from the Coffee with a Cop event where the police handed out literature on auto thefts. Photos of delivery trucks unattended on the streets of Georgetown. Videos of unattended cars and trucks. And possibly a graph showing the rise in auto thefts over the last month.