Story selection: how The Land decides what articles to publish

Managing editor Sharon Holbrook discusses where The Land’s story ideas come from, how The Land chooses what to cover, and how readers can weigh in.
(Photo illustration by Hannah Mosley)

Have you ever wondered how we decide what stories to cover at The Land?

First, we encourage you to read about us on our website, where we dive into what we’re all about and which may answer some of your questions.

Next, let’s walk through some of the ways our stories originate – where they come from. Here are a few of those paths:

  • Our community journalists pitch ideas and write stories from their neighborhoods. As residents, they are best equipped to find news stories that media organizations might overlook. We value this insight, and these stories are a key part of our coverage.
  • Our freelance writers pitch us ideas, and our own team comes up with ideas. We pay attention to government proceedings, to what neighborhoods and nonprofits are doing, to what we hear and see in our daily lives, and to what we hear through our personal networks.
  • We share stories with certain other news organizations. Some are through one-to-one partnerships (like this article series in collaboration with Ideastream), and some are through broader networks of news organizations with similar goals (like this article in collaboration with Northeast Ohio Solutions Journalism Collaborative). They may run our stories, and we may run theirs. We always note at the bottom of an article if the story has come through one of these partnerships.
  • We receive many press release emails from organizations or public relations representatives wanting to share something they’re proud of. Sometimes we cover these events or programs if they otherwise fit with our coverage.
  • Sometimes an organization provides financial support to The Land, and we agree to run a certain number of stories relating to the work of that organization. We maintain editorial control and ensure that those stories meet our usual high standards of journalism and ethics. Here’s an example of a story we did about the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District. We note at the bottom of an article if it has been sponsored in this way.
  • YOU. You can always submit a story tip through our website. What should we be covering? We want you to tell us, and we count on you to help us cover the stories that matter.

Now that we’ve talked about where our stories come from, how do we decide what to cover?Our mission is to report on news that affects Cleveland neighborhoods and Clevelanders, so that’s our starting point for whether a story is a fit for The Land.

But how do we choose which stories? Here are some factors we consider:

  • Is the story in one of our core coverage areas of economic development, government, community development, health and social equity, or environmental impact? We can’t cover everything, and we don’t try. Typically, we leave breaking news, criminal justice reform, education, service journalism (“how-to’s”), and news outside of Cleveland to other outlets.
  • Is it newsworthy? If we’ve covered this before, what’s new here, and how does it impact our readers?Does it do more than point out a problem? Can the story put the problem in its greater context – why the problem exists and, ideally, what solutions are possible in Cleveland? We’re not just whistleblowers. Whenever possible, we’re solutions seekers.
  • Does the story impact everyday Clevelanders and neighborhoods? We strive to explore and explain why our stories matter to residents and to include resident voices.

Once again, please reach out if you have any story tips, suggestions, or questions. We want to partner with you!

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