News Stubs: a way to get into a developing story

WikiTribune is using a story method we are calling “News Stubs” to increase the frequency of headlines and the percentage of stories which cover the basic facts of an event but are a less forbidding gateway for community members to add what they can to a story which is emerging over time. The staff team often uses them to buy ourselves time to get emerging stories out and published for later development.


Drill (aimed at staff team but great if community members can adhere to this too)

  1. Headline: Active and SEO-worthy description of event [What?]
  2. Summary: Event plus context [Who? What?]
  3. Intro with source/citation/attribution [Who? And When?]
  4. Second paragraph with context. Why we should care. [Why?]
  5. Story type: Emerging.
  6. Categories: Likely to include CURRENT AFFAIRS if news but PRIMARY likely to be specific.
  7. Tags: names, places, concepts not covered in Category.
  8. Send to PENDING for a editor/second pair of eyes.

In most cases it is suggested that the first bite is un-bylined. If you expand with original reporting add byline.

The fundamentals are unchanged:

A News Stub is the kernel of a story and should be self-contained and stand even without expansion. It can be created by a staff or a community member to initiate coverage of an event. News Stubs are fluid – they can develop, grow or change direction thanks to staff, community input and/or both. They should, and can, be highly flexible and morph into different types of story as angles and events change.

That’s the exciting bit and key to WikiTribune, so embrace it.

Of course, some News Stubs may also shrivel on the vine. Don’t worry TOO MUCH about that, but do try and work out why – we’ll learn more about what does what, and why, as we go along.

Get it out clean and fast and pause for breath.

If we decide to do a News Stub, and the staff team are waiting for further analysis, interviews, or more developments don’t wait for that before getting the News Stub out. Publish it, say what you’re planning to do with the story next, and THEN get on the phone for the interview or whatever you have planned. This buys you time and gives a base for building on.



A key aspect to ensuring the success of a News Stub is that staff “own it” after publication. When a community member makes or suggests an addition, staff should send an encouraging note in TALK, hopefully encouraging other community members to contribute. Respond to all TALK or EDITS to it, we need to listen, take action and respond.

Staff should also write a note in TALK as soon as a News Stub is updated, indicating briefly what has been added or changed. Editors need to take the same care with News Stubs in DRAFT or PENDING and get them out fast to that they remain current and we encourage participation. News Stubs should be featured in both the BRIEFING and NEWSLETTER.

News stubs should be shared on our social media channels – just like briefings and longer stories. When an audience member contributes to a news stub, we should take advantage of our followers and share the news stub with them on social media.

It is not just items in the Briefing which may warrant a News Stub: ask yourself if there is a realistic prospect of the community being able to develop a story from a News Stub in a way that adds value to what is out there already – same as our core questions. Can we add value?

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