Consider situation and audience together. In your mind or on paper, answer the situation and audience questions listed above. Ask yourself how situational factors affect your audience, and vice versa. Suppose that you work as a general assignment reporter for your city’s television station, a local CBS affiliate. You have been covering a story on funding for local school districts and how the state legislature’s new funding formula is devastating their operating budgets. Recent school board meetings have been emotional and heated.


You know that many of your viewers are parents, families, and community members who have children in the schools or work there. Creatively envision the final story. Try to form a mental impression of what your final piece will look like in a major publication. Think about how it will look, feel, and read in finished form. Envision the characters and what they might say or do. Which visual elements can you see alongside the story?


Visualizing in this way is a powerful technique professionals in other fields frequently use to break through to their best work. Just as a professional composer envisions a beautiful piece of music or a tennis player can see that winning shot, you can envision your finished story headlining The New York Times or your ad copy selling 100,000 new energy-saving solar panels.