New story formats are a good tool to use to inform readers about stories you may traditionally cover but that offer newsrooms the opportunity to present the content in easier-to-digest formats.
What stories are ASFs best used with? Stories that you report on year after year, such as festivals or annual events. ASFs also are a good fit for process-oriented stories, such as the opening of a business or a new facility.
When should ASFs not be used? If you are reporting an issue for the first time and it’s a significant story, don’t use an ASF. Readers will be left with a lack of depth. An ASF is a good choice for an update on a story that you have already reported to explore a specific topic in greater detail. For example, if you’ve published a story on the fact that your city council is considering discontinuing curbside recycling, a follow-up to that story could be a Q&A answering questions readers might have about the impact that eliminating the service would have and what they would have to do with their recycling. A Q&A is an excellent example of an alternative story format.
How many alternative story formats should be in your newspaper? There should be a mix of ASFs and narrative reporting in your newspaper every day or week. Good decisions should be made concerning which format is most appropriate for individual stories, but narrative reporting is likely to be used more than ASFs. Find anchored places in your newspaper to offer ASFs, such as a Q&A on the bottom of your front page with a newsmaker on Mondays or a Volunteer of the Week on Tuesdays on your community page.