Desperately seeking stories

I sometimes wonder what journalists do nowadays. For those of you who subscribe to the various news feed and online journalist query services you might wonder what the journalists actually think we do.
They certainly don’t appear to think that PR is a profession aimed at managing the reputation of our clients and their products. Indeed, judging by the requests below they seem to think that we have access to the sort of people the Red Tops usually have on their front page. And I don’t wish to point the finger at the Red Tops because we get similar requests from the broadsheets, women’s magazines and others.
Here are just a few of the genuine requests we have had from journalists currently on deadline:

Hi, we're looking for genuine members of the Mile High Club for a feature.
They need to be in their 20s or early 30s and quite photogenic.
We need a 15 minute phone interview with them about their experience - why did they do it, how was it, and would they do it again?
We also need a pic of them.
We pay £100 on publication and £25 tip off fee.

I would like to speak to women who have had at least two abortions. They can be photographed in silhouette and their identity can be protected. I need three women - one in her 20's, 30's and 40's. The case studies would be used along side a report of government figures that state an abortion is carried out in the UK every three minutes. I am interested in why the women had the abortion in the first place, how they feel about it now and their reaction to the figures mentioned earlier. There would be a payment of £100 to each study and I would endeavour to mention any organisation that has helped.

Possible magazine feature on drugs and the physical harm.
Are you a woman of 25-35 who does or has taken coke? Has doing so damaged your nose causing septum erosion? How has this changed your life and are you still using despite this? Tell us your story by contacting…

I'm looking for women in their 20s and 30s who've made a conscious decision to give up sex for a year or so because they are fed up of ending up with the wrong men, choosing blokes who only want sex but nothing more, or even having one night stands which they've later regretted. The idea is that these women are taking a breather from dating and sex to work out what they really want from a man and how best to get it. I'd require a telephone interview and studio photoshoot.

Urgently looking for a holiday for x2 journalists for feature to be written later in the year. Full credits given

And yes the last one is for real. What happened to old-fashioned, get up and go find a story for your self? I wonder what some editors and news desks would think if they knew their staff were doing this? Perhaps they do?
Or perhaps this is just one of the inevitable by-products of the internet which celebrates its fifteenth birthday this week.
Any views?


Linda said...

That's hilarious - and depressing.

There's one particular website where journalists can appeal directly to the public, that cracks me up every time.

Current requests:

Are you looking for a sperm donor?

Did your boyfriend recently commit suicide?

Has your boss attacked you at work?

These aren't as good as your list, I don't think but the best ever was: Does your boyfriend have no limbs?

Sam Oakley said...

I'm not subscribed to any of these query services but they sound interesting, I'm assuming there are some sensible requests as well right? can you recommend one?

Ian G said...


There are several on the market - check out Response Resource and PRNewsWire. There are many others out there - they are a useful tool in gauging the media agenda and what journalists are looking for.
We do make use of it - usually for product requests for tried and tested columns. However, the bulk of the requests are often for "real life" dramas. The women's magazines are the worst.