OLD Media Moves

Writing the same story from different angles

December 8, 2005

One of the interesting discussions at the American Press Institute business editors’ seminar that I attended earlier this week was how the same story could be written in different ways but still have an angle that was of interest to readers.

The discussion leader was John Edwards III, no relation to the vice presidential candidate and current UNC professor. This one is actually an editor at the Wall Street Journal, and he used as his example how his paper had covered the story of gas prices in the past three months from various angles.

For example, a Sept. 24 front-page story in the Journal focused on how Hurricane Rita was affecting oil and gas supplies and why hurricanes were having a bigger impact on prices than before. “The cheap gas prices of the 1990s promopted oil producers to cut costs, limit investment on explorationa nd production and consolidate through mergers,” noted part of the story.

On Nov. 9, the Journal was looking at the story from a different angle — allegations of price gouging. “Over the years, federal investigators have regularly looked into complaints about gas prices and never brought a charge,” it stated.

On Oct. 25, a story in the Journal noted that the oil companies were reporting record profits, but also downplaying their results to avoid public and regulatory backlash.

On Oct. 4, the gas price story took another turn when the Journal wrote a story on D1 about the decline in sales of SUVs related to the higher gas prices.

And finally, on Sept. 24, the Journal ran a story titled “Take a Hike” about how higher gas prices have resulted in a lifestyle change for some people. “Fast-paced lifestyles — and rising gas prices — have prompted more people to take quick half-days off instead of long, leisurely vacations. Outdoor-equipment makers say some of this is reflected in growing sales of day-trip-related gear.”

What’s the point here? That business stories, particularly major stories, should be looked at from all angles, particularly those that have appeal a broad audience.

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