Get your big ideas to work in small newsrooms

By Karishma Asoodani
ONA Newsroom

You want to work on your big ideas but lack resources. Anika Anand of the Seattle Times and Evan Wyloge of AZCIR want to help. They pitched strategies and discussed creative solutions for making your story work out without vast resources.


What’s the key to a perfect story? “Planning and tracking,” according to Anand and Wyloge, who spoke during a panel called “Big Ideas, Small Newsrooms.”

Anand says it is important it is to have an interesting idea that caters to the needs of its audience and then the tools required to run with the ideas.

So what’s the big idea anyway?

A clear vision and concept require a well-designed pitch worksheet:

  • What’s the problem we are trying to solve for readers?
  • What’s the idea that you have to solve it? What will we give readers?
  • Who needs to see this project or product?
  • What are the success metrics?
  • What is the next better version of this project or how can it appeal to its readers’ attention?

“I really think this is useful for our journalists about a project idea that they have or an upcoming idea that they came up with,” said Anand. “Hoping that it will be useful to people.”

Having spent five years in a small newsroom, Wyloge suggested goals and strategies that small newsrooms can employ to pull off their big project.


  • How will you know it worked?
  • How do you know it got to your audience?
  • How will you know the impact on future endeavors?


The story sounds right, but what about the shortage of resources? Wyloge provided a few strategies.


  • Connect revenue to your project – maybe even foundation funding.
  • Identify the talent you don’t have but you need by using good pre-research through universities, development incubators, even through talking with co-workers.
  • Use a project management tool to manage features of the story.
  • Just like an external FAQ, get an internal FAQ that brings about easy understanding and successful cooperation among the team members.
  • Make time for a project debrief.


Wyloge said that often huge events and conferences like ONA feature famous journalists and their big stories. He wants to make the point that even small newsrooms can do great things. “Putting structure to the process is critical. Dealing with your big ideas is like a product, and applying product management methods will pay off. Share your ideas and get your publisher totally into you.”