45 minutes

Goal or purpose

To explore how a group could use or adapt their actions to enhance their work with the media.


A large piece of flip chart paper and markers – draw a 'spectrum' cross, marked with 'newsworthy/not newsworthy' and 'core message/not core message' (see diagram).

How it's done/facilitator's notes

On a number of small pieces of paper, ask the participants to brainstorm some of the actions or activities that they have done – or plan to do - as part of their campaign. Encourage a broad view (for example, if the group has moved offices, or bought a new printer, or done a survey, write these down too – they are activities relevant to the group or campaign) Each action should be on a separate piece of paper.

A spectrum exercise for deciding whether something is or isn't newsworthy, and does or doesn't hit the groups core messages

After collecting a number of actions (5 to 10 should be enough), add to each piece of paper, in a different colour, brief descriptions of what the 'message' that each action was setting out to give, either explicitly or implicitly: What's the story going to look like? How would the action or activity have been 'read'? What is the message?

Now, turn to the spectrum. Explain that the group has to place the different actions and activities on the spectrum, depending on how 'core' the message being given is to their campaign, and how 'newsworthy' that particular action has been (or could be) seen in the eyes of the media. Encourage debate, discussion and specificity. Hopefully, you will have a broad spread across the spectrum, of different activities with different messages. Use the results to reflect on the group's activities, how attractive their actions might be to the media, and how they could adapt their actions to make them more so.

  • Is the group putting media energy into 'core message' actions that are not newsworthy? What could the group do to make the action more newsworthy?
  • Are there any 'newsworthy' actions which are not carrying the 'core message'? In what way could the group make sure that their core messages are being heard in these types of actions?
  • Is the group trying to get coverage of any actions that are neither newsworthy, nor core message? Why? Would their media activity be better placed elsewhere?
  • What about the 'newsworthy/core message' actions; What could the group learn from these? Are they getting the coverage the group would like? If not, this might mean they need to improve their media work.