18. Added-value

Editorial content can always be improved. There is always something you can do to make your text clearer, more precise, more complete, more interesting. Fastidious journalists always worry about adding value to their work. The clock may be ticking, but there is still time: content can be added right up to the last second.


* When you mention someone’s surname, make sure you also give their first name, to avoid any confusion with people with the same name: “Mark Pesos…”.

* When you give the name of a politician, make sure you also give their mandate and political party as they are a public figure: “John Harris, Democratic Senator for the state of…”.

* When speaking about someone for the first time, give at least their age and job: “Marcus Vitruvius, 40, military engineer…”.

* When using an acronym for the first time, explain its meaning out of consideration for the readers who may not know. “The United Nations (UN)”

* When the coverage of a news item refers back to historical facts or past events, use footnotes to refresh the memory of older readers and inform younger ones: (1) “Mark Pesos, a British businessman and banker, and founder of Dosh bank, was born in London in 1947. 


 “What can I do better?”  “What can we do better?”  “What can you do better?”  Whether you are asking yourself for your personal agenda, asking out loud during a department meeting or whether raised during an editorial meeting, the questions – how can I improve my news coverage and how can I go further – have four possible solutions: reverse angle, counterpoint, wrong foot, and lock nut coverage

Reverse angle. The added value of reverse-angle coverage lies in creating a reverse mirror effect. This involves supplementing the coverage of the main story by covering it under a radically different angle. I decided to cover Mark Pesos’ rapid rise in the banking sector in my main story. For the reverse angle, I will also cover the repercussions of his governance at the top of the Dosh Group, which the employees believe has been detrimental…

Counterpoint. The added value of counterpoint coverage lies in creating a background effect. You juxtapose the coverage with a secondary story, one that may even be a little offbeat compared with the main coverage. I decided to dedicate my main story to the obstacles encountered by the Dosh bank in its attempts to move abroad. For the counterpoint, I will give a profile and interview of one of the Group’s prospectors, unknown to the public, who is responsible for scouting out locations and settling any administrative problems encountered along the way…

Wrong foot. The added value of wrong-foot coverage lies in producing a contrasting effect. Offer a counter-investigation to the main investigation, a counter testimony to a witness statement, a counter report to an expert report, a counter example to an example, etc. My editor in chief has decided to contrast my serious investigation on the construction of Mark Pesos’ new high-security building on a protected nature site with a counter-investigation from our permanent correspondent in the south, which covers the ecological investments made by the banker… I have no objection to this. The reader will be faced with two contradictory views of Mark Pesos’ practices – his dark side on the one hand and his light side on the other – we’ll let the public be the judge…

Lock nutThe added value of lock-nut coverage lies in creating a strengthening effect. You consolidate your main story with several secondary contributions. I will consolidate my investigation on the construction of Mark Pesos’ new high-security building on a protected nature site by adding three informative elements to the main text: a small interview (3 questions and answers) with the former mayor of Moray, who, having not been re-elected in the last election, is now much more forthcoming with the stories he shares; an inset offering a reminder of the specific laws that apply to protected nature areas; and a graph showing the development of the island’s natural resources, which are threatened by the banker’s enormous building site,…


The news is so often depressing that forward-thinking journalists are always on the lookout for an “antidote” to the doom and gloom. The most effective “antidote” is to add “smiles” to the pages with the saddest stories. A “smile” is a journalistic genre that takes various forms, but which always has content that is slightly, and deliberately, offbeat. It can be a cartoon, an opinion piece, a profile, a short interview, a witness account, etc. The point is that it has to be funny enough to get the reader to relax, crack a smile, or laugh. This will be the profile of a small grocer who is quite happy going about his business in the middle of an investigation into the crisis. It will be an interview with an eternal optimist positioned below a catastrophist analysis. Or even a satirical cartoon, etc.


There are always new readers to win over. A newspaper that knows its readership well knows how to spot their weak points. Once these have been identified, it is sometimes enough simply to create new reading spaces to win over the readers. I’ve increased the sales of my newspaper overnight by publishing, right in the middle of the domestic politics pages, a weekly poetry section signed by a famous writer from the region. My newspaper has also found new customers since I published the letters from readers written in their local dialect.