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West Virginia Public News Service
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by Paul Wilson (editor) | 2007

This is a GREAT new service we have access to from the national Sierra Club Media Team. Let's learn how to use it!

In late 2006, the Public News Service (“News in the Public Interest”) launched the West Virginia News Service (WVNS), a proven vehicle to get progressive and public interest voices into mainstream media on a daily basis. The Service will produce stories on a wide range of social, community and environmental issues that are too often ignored. Supported by nonprofit organizations and other contributors, the WVNS will provide mainstream and alternative radio in WestVirginia, and across the nation, with high-quality news that lifts up often marginalized voices.

The national Sierra Club is a client of the Public News Service, so the Chapter has access to this progressive service without paying the annual financial requirement. A number of Chapter leaders are serving as contacts for the News Service, so if you have a story to pitch, use the contact information below or contact the Chapter Chair, or Bill Price (EJ staff in Charleston), Beth Little, Jim Kotcon, or David Milan.


Why a “Public Interest” News Service?

The West Virginia News Service is being founded for two reasons:

1. Media consolidation has resulted in far fewer voices in mainstream media, and particularly on the radio. Reporters now often rely on material that is provided to them. In a competitive environment, the WVNS provides high-quality news that gives journalists what they need to include progressive voices in the public debate on a regular basis.

2. Too often, nonprofit organizations’ issues don’t get covered. Press releases frequently end up in the wastebasket, and press conferences eat up staff time for limited results. The West Virginia News Service is managed by seasoned journalists, and our reporting on the progressive and public interest beat makes it very easy for nonprofit organizations to dramatically increase their impact as well as visibility.


Why Radio?

The average person listens to radio three hours a day, mostly in the car. The West Virginia News Service will produce high-quality, timely news stories, ready to be plugged into a station’s newsbreak in various ways: using either the digital sound bites that accompany each story, or the complete voiced package. According to a recent Pew Research Center study, 41% of the public “listened to the radio yesterday.” Unlike with newspapers and TV, when people listen to the radio they do not “scan” or “skim” looking only for their interests. In addition, other journalists listen to drivetime radio, and hearing our stories adds to the media buzz that triggers additional coverage in other outlets like print and television. Therefore, radio is an excellent medium for getting your message across, and leveraging your access to people who are hard to reach in other ways.


How the West Virginia News Service Works

An organization pledges support for the West Virginia News Service on an annual basis. The group earmarks its participation to cover specific issue categories with the understanding that it is contributing to an independent news service committed to the public interest. The organization pitches story ideas to the WVNS producer, who likewise will stay in touch to keep on top of issues and spokespeople. Each completed news script with sound bites is sent out to radio stations statewide, and national networks when appropriate. Shortly thereafter, a detailed electronic list of all the stations that used the story is available, to easily track usage.

The West Virginia News Service is part of the Public News Service, a growing  network of committed journalists providing public interest news in 16 states (OH, CO, NM, IA, ID, MA, MN, WI, WY, MT, ND, NV, NY, OR, SD and WA). Public News Service also offers TV coverage in Idaho and a bilingual service in New Mexico.

More than 300 public interest organizations support the Public News Services— from those with fully developed communications programs to all-volunteer staff. For more information, please call 888-891-9416 or email us at wvns@publicnewsservice.org or visit the Public News Service website at http://www.publicnewsservice.org .

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