3.5 Formats / Channels

The Blaze Dallas Studios

The Blaze Dallas Studios – CC BY-SA 3.0

An important consideration when developing a research plan is the ultimate delivery method for whatever will be produced. You will learn a great deal in your reporting or strategic writing classes about how the format and channel(s) used for your message affect the actual creation of the message. For the purposes of clarifying your information task, consideration of format and channels can help define the scope of information needed.

For example, if you are assigned to cover a trial and expected to simply tweet ongoing developments, the information you need will be gleaned from your eye-witness account of the proceedings. But if you are expected to develop an in-depth story to run online and in the newspaper that will comprehensively explain the case, you will need deeper background, sources that can help you describe and explain facets of the cases from different perspectives, advice or insight from experts. Producing the story for a video news report will require finding sources you can get on camera or researching locations that can give visual appeal to the story.

A Kermit the Frog billboard.

Jan Tik – Eats Flies, Dates a Pig – CC BY 2.5

If you understand from your assignment that the ultimate output of your work will be recommendations on a key message to display on a billboard it will make the scope of your information seeking different than if you are creating a multi-channel campaign.

All of these message context issues must be analyzed at the start of an information search. In upcoming Lessons we will begin to develop techniques for asking, and answering, questions about the audience for the message, the facet or angles of the topic or product being researched, and who are the likely sources of information on the topic. But it is only after asking and answering the basic questions about the initial task assignment that you can begin to delve into the creative work of developing a more clearly outlined information process. The rest of the information strategy is highly dependent on the parameters of the information task.