A hook is a technique to make your story engaging, going beyond the ‘five Ws’ of journalism: who, what, when, where and why. Put simply, it answers the question ‘So what?’. Another perspective relates to narrative technique to open your story to hook attention in order to keep reading/watching/listening. Here we deal with the former one. These can be, for example, various events or reports.
A hook is a storytelling technique to get attention – first your editor when making your pitch and later the audience watching, listening or reading your finished work. It goes beyond the ‘five Ws’ of journalisms – who, what, when, where, why – and responds to a more fundamental question that journalists are asked all too often: ‘So what?’
Scheduled events, reports and other developments can all provide a good hook to hang a story on. There are, of course, many different hooks possible and it is up to you to determine which you will use. For example, an abnormally hot summer might serve as a hook to discuss climate change and the likelihood of more and more heat waves in the future.
Some examples related to migration and development might include:
- A relevant UN summit, including side events and other activities that may not be widely covered. Some of the summits on global issues such as migration or climate change are considered newsworthy. But with a few exceptions, summits are long and not really dramatic. So to make the obligatory coverage less boring (because it can be really boring if not approached in a considered way) you can try to find some unique perspectives – for example, the views of migrants on climate change or the role of indigenous peoples in natural conservation and sustainable development.
Look closely at the schedules of any forthcoming summits on your radar and check the lists of side-events for their topics and speakers, and you will definitely find some hooks there. Check List of events for coming period.
- Various relevant – and if possible regularly published – reports. There is, for example, a UNHCR report on forcibly displaced people published each year just before World Refugee Day 20th June) and there are other recurring publications such as OECD’s Global Economic Outlook and UNDP’s annual Human Development Index Ranking of countries. See List of reports and publications.
- Annual datasets. Check out websites such as IOM’s Missing Migrants Project: https://missingmigrants.iom.int/ drawing out a time frame to provide the hook, such as the number of people who have died or gone missing at sea in 2020. Or the number of stateless people whose nationality was finally recognized. You can use these figures as a starting point and then develop concrete stories related to the hook (see post Change the routine behind the table – collecting own findings – tips and suggestions).
- World Refugee Day. On World Refugee Day, held every year on 20 June, the United Nations commemorates the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees. NGOs and refugee groups in your country may well plan activities to coincide with the day. It is a good opportunity for coverage of the issues. The website includes a lot of resources and information. (http://www.un.org/en/events/refugeeday)
- EU Development Day. An annual forum on international development cooperation. A newsworthy event in its own right, and a potential trigger for stories exploring wider questions around development. (https://eudevdays.eu)
As you build contacts in civil society and migrant communities, ask them for news of upcoming events and key dates, and consider any potential hooks for stories.