Improving strategy for a BBC news story

College admissions scandal: The extreme lengths parents go to

This is the first article released on BBC world news about the US college admission scandal which is exposed recently. It’s an integrated article created under the pressure of pre-release and there seem to be no actual interviews carried by the BBC staff in this story.

The video has no definite attribution. The lead doesn’t indicate “who”, “what” clearly.

The headline and the lead don’t indicate “who”, “what” and “how” clearly. The headline is opaque and unappealing. Through this headline, we don’t know who are the defendants of the scandal and the scale of its influence. The party of the scandal mentioned in the lead are “the rich and famous”, but the range is too broad. The video in this story has no definite attribution.

The photos about the cheating in India are an anonymous information source, and there aren’t any links to these photos.

In the last two paragraphs, it mentioned the photos about cheating in India. But these photos are an anonymous information source, and there aren’t any links for these photos.

To improve this story, I will change the title to “A Massive College Admissions Scandal: more than 40 people charged for cheating and bribing, including CEOs and celebrities”.

The lead: In a national college admissions scandal exposed on Tuesday, more than 40 people were charged for cheating and bribing, including 33 rich and famous parents, like CEOs of major companies, Full House actress Lori Loughlin and Desperate Housewives actress Felicity Huffman.

This scandal is about a crooked way to go to elite universities. I think it is a little far from the teachers cheating in primary school. The transition between these two topics is unnatural and limited. I intend to delete this part.

Add more details. Introduce more defendants and what they did in this scandal. Which colleges are the destination of the relevant students? What is the institutions’ reaction to this scam? Delete the “teachers cheating” part and change the examples in the final section to some instances of cheating scams about the admissions to prestigious colleges in other countries.

About Yanan Yin 4 Articles
Current postgraduate student of the University of Sydney, doing the Master of Strategic Public Relations.

1 Comment

  1. Interesting remarks Yanan. I agree that the headline needed more news focus, but this story is actually a news feature, not daily news. You can tell because it’s well over 500 words and doesn’t have the 5w’s and an H focus, and it has a columnist byline. BBC News doesn’t generally attribute reporters. I agree on some of the suggested improvements though – the SEO headline and the link to verify the Indian cheating claim. I’d also add a linked bio for the reporter. I’m also interested in your suggestion that a news story about the U.S. should include details about college admission scams in other countries. What’s the audience rationale?

    On your web-writing: You could have added college admission scandal to your headline for better SE impact. Your feature image needed a caption, copyright details and alt text, and you have posted it twice, which is unnecessary – always check your post for such glitches once you preview it. You also needed keyword tags for story discovery. In future, please embed any links instead of spelling out the URL. Finally use your precede (subheading field below post) to promote your post.

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