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  Activity: Why does a story matter now?

You've explored the ingredients that make a science story newsworthy, but it is also crucial to consider the context in which your research occurs. This lecture explores this idea, in the form of ‘news pegs’.

A news peg is what makes the story timely or newsworthy — the reason why you’d communicate it now rather than in a month.

For example, you might be doing research on how the climate affects glaciers. Talking to journalists about your work when a big climate change event like the UN’s COP summit is going on would be timely and increase your chance of getting exposure.

Perhaps your research focuses on sugar’s effect on human behaviour. If a government announces a tax hike on sugar, you might have something to say about it.

If you are communicating your research to non-specialists, always consider what the news peg is. Ask yourself why this matters now?

Doing this will give your work more relevance, will put it into context for people and may generate more interest.

Scan today’s news and identify one or two news pegs for your research. Share these in the comments section.

Here are two examples:

News story Area of research and example news peg
New virtual reality headset released by a video games company Virtual reality: implications of virtual reality in sports science
World’s obese ‘outnumber underweight’ Malnutrition: ensuring people don’t forget that malnutrition is a serious global issue

In the next lecture, we’ll consider the six burning questions that journalists try to answer.