Session 7: The Pitch

For session 7, we will break into groups and meet with the site editors. To successfully prepare for this meeting, students are required to complete the following tasks by next week:


Conduct a site visit and spend 1 hour recording observations. If you'd like, you also can use this as an opportunity to also interview people who inhabit your site. It is preferred that you do this observation individually and compare notes following your visit. For a site like NYC Flood Map or Water Tunnel No. 3, be creative in how you identify a location to observe (there are many).

Please post to the blog your observations by midnight Thursday, March 1. Do not feel the need to edit your observations--images of your notes/drawings (if applicable) are fine!


Part I - Interviews (carry-over)

Please post your notes from your interviews by midnight on Thursday, March 1. We understand that you may not be able to secure and conduct the three interviews by next class, but please post what you have completed by that time.

Part II - The Pitch - Take 1

Before meeting with your editors on Friday, March 2, you are required to produce a written pitch that will provide a basis for discussion. Your pitch is an opportunity to express the basic premise of your narrative, highlighting the importance of your story and of your reporting plan. Pitches are concise summaries of a story, often just paragraph or few. That said, be sure to focus in on a story—do not pitch a topic. Most of the issues you identified in previous exercises were issues or topics, and that was on purpose. Now is the time to focus!

Here is a link to successful story pitches to the radio show “This American Life”--pitches that are short and conversational, sometimes not very formal. And here is a link to a pitch database curated by “The Open Notebook,” a science journalism site. These letters provide examples of more formal pitches. Use these sites to explore the difference between a story and a topic.

Things to convince your editor of when you pitch:

  1. That you have a story, not a topic.
  2. That you have already done reporting and you have a clear sense of your future reporting and sources.
  3. That you have considered logistical details—such as access to sites or sources.
  4. That you can be concise and logical when you write. (In other words, your pitch should be three paragraphs at the most, and should be compelling.)
  5. Since your project involves mapping, you will also need to show that you have thought about visual representation.

This should be no longer than 3 paragraphs. It is due by Wednesday, February 28 at midnight.

Part III - Map - Take 1

By midnight on Wednesday, February 28, your group needs to produce as well an initial narrative map that supports your pitch. Use examples from Grga’s lecture on Friday, February 23, as the basis of, or inspiration for, your approach. This is only a first pass, a sketch of the seed of an idea that can provide some visual underpinnings for your narrative pitch. Keep in mind that the remaining classes will be focused on teaching GIS techniques, so we do not expect extensive use of those tools at this stage.

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