1. Find the story here:
Let’s begin this column with a quiz, one designed to test your story-generating talents. If the answer comes to you within 10 seconds, you, too, could be an editor or TV news producer. If you are an editor or producer and don’t see it instantly, you need better radar.
First, read the opening two sentences from a story that appeared in the Financial Times a few weeks ago:
Europe’s most senior justice official is adamant she will fight US attempts to water down a proposed EU data protection and privacy law that would force global technology companies to obey European standards across the world. Viviane Reding, EU commissioner for justice, said that the EU was determined to respond decisively to any attempts by US lobbyists – many working for large tech groups such as Google and Facebook – to curb the EU data protection law.
What’s the story that screams out to be written or televised based on these two sentences? Hint: It’s all about how Washington has been brought to its knees by special interests.
The answer: Let’s compare lobbying practices and regulations in the United States to those in other venues, including the European Union and its constituent countries. This story – with its reference to the EU commissioner vowing to fight “attempts by U.S. lobbyists,” which are the words that rang the idea bell in my head ‑ presents the perfect backdrop for reporting I’ve wanted to see for years comparing how lobbying is done, if at all, in other developed democracies to the way lobbyists and big money have come to dominate the agenda in Washington.