In Journalism, what is a Scoop?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A scoop is an exclusive news story broken by a single journalist or a group of journalists working together. Good scoops will attract a great deal of attention for the journalists and newspapers involved, with most major papers urging their staffs to get as many scoops as possible to add to the paper's prestige and perceived value. When a journalist manages to swoop in on a major story ahead of other journalists, he or she is said to have “scooped” the competition.

Competing papers will try to scoop each other by being the first to break a story.
Competing papers will try to scoop each other by being the first to break a story.

Scoops can take a wide variety of forms. Many relate to scandals and secret information, which by their very nature tend to be greeted with intense interest when they are exposed on the news. The story may also simply be important or particularly exciting; major breaking news is often a scoop. For example, the first newspaper to report on a major natural disaster may consider their reporting to be a scoop, as will the public, which will flock to the paper for more information while its competitors scramble to keep up.

Radio journalists may be able to scoop newspapers, as they have a quicker turnaround.
Radio journalists may be able to scoop newspapers, as they have a quicker turnaround.

Getting scoops requires a great deal of effort, and a very large support team. Many papers station journalists all over the world in the hopes of getting scoops on unexpected major stories, and they supplement these journalists with stringers who sell content to the highest bidder. Having foreign correspondents in place is a crucial part of running a successful major paper, and many news outlets dedicate a large chunk of their budget to maintaining such correspondents, along with their contacts.

TV reporters may report on events directly from the scene with the latest scoop.
TV reporters may report on events directly from the scene with the latest scoop.

Scoops can also be more local in nature. Journalists typically follow local politics and events closely, in the hopes of getting a scoop, and many cultivate extensive connections with local officials so that they are the first to know about major events. Without such connections, a journalist may flail behind the pack when big stories break, becoming a liability to their papers.

Scoops are often related to public scandals.
Scoops are often related to public scandals.

Numerous examples of scoops can be found in the news since 1874, when the word was first used in print. These scoops range from celebrity scandals to the publication of the Watergate Papers, and for the journalists involved, a scoop can be a substantial career-maker. If a journalist becomes known for getting high-quality scoops, he or she will typically be in great demand from major papers, and this may allow the journalist greater leeway to pursue projects and stories of personal interest.

Being the first correspondents on the scene of a disaster area often provides the opportunity to get a scopp.
Being the first correspondents on the scene of a disaster area often provides the opportunity to get a scopp.
Journalists might camp outside a courtroom in order to get the scoop in high profile cases.
Journalists might camp outside a courtroom in order to get the scoop in high profile cases.
Aerial coverage of a disaster site may be part of a scoop.
Aerial coverage of a disaster site may be part of a scoop.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

anon1003725

Scoops have been running the news these days and getting people excited. Now the mentions around the world go regarding the US political scenes and the presidential election. I hope that it will change the fate of the world. The recent scoop about Donald Trump will bring him down. Especially his response to the Floyd death and the coronavirus crisis.

Burlap

As an avid newsreader, I can tell you that I don't like when journalists pay so much attention to what a scoop is and making sure that they get. As the previous comments are mentioned, it is often this rush that can lead to the miss information inside of report.

Because people put so much trust into the information that they receive from media news outlets, it is imperative for these editors to slow down the process enough to be able to evaluate the information for its truthful nature.

Caution must be taken to ensure that this information is absolutely correct. Journalists should get over the idea of scooping information from one another and be more involved with the accurate reporting of this information. Only when this direction in media has been taken will I rely more upon the news outlets where I get my information.

spreadsheet

While it is an honor to get a scoop in the world of journalism and media, it is absolutely imperative that we remember the validity of information when reporting a scoop is absolutely valid. Doing fact checking is essential. The problem with reporting on the scoop is that we are rushed to do so because we want to be the first people to actually report information to the general public. This can often result in the reporting of false information or not all of the facts.

Editors in the world of media must make decisions on whether or not to publish the information and how fast do so because you have to be certain that the complete story is being told. This is less of a problem with an online report because the articles can be changed almost instantaneously. If a new piece of information comes in from the police department about a suspect's name, or descriptions, a newspaper organization that reports news will be able to more effectively get that information out immediately online.

If the scoop is printed in an actual paper format for the first time, the news organization must wait until the next publication to be able to update the article. This is one example of how online publishing has actually overcome the constraints of paper publishing. At the same time, paper publishing also has the reliability needed for absolute certainty because of the fact that it is only published on paper once. This is something to take into consideration when you evaluate the quality of news that you received from organizations they seek it from.

GraniteChief

When I was in college and on the student newspaper, it was always a challenge among my fellow colleagues and I to get the scoop on the local newspaper. This spot of competing with the professional level journalists really enticed us to work as hard as we possibly could. And when we did manage to get the scoop, we would always get the praise of our fellow journalists. It would also keep the local newspapers journalists on their toes. After all, if a local student newspaper could get the scoop on something that they were being paid a salary to cover, it would seriously question their effectiveness as a professional reporter.

Be a small scoop or large scoop, if it's a scoop you've done well. By putting your feelers out among your sources you are more likely to get these kind of first information that people cherish in the world of media. I'll never forget the first group that I ever got, it was actually about the local mayor. He had planned on setting up a major event for the city on a cleanup day that would help publicize the city's efforts to make the city clean and green.

Because of my diligence and efforts to communicate with the Mayor's office I was able to come across this information before the local journalists covering city governments were able to. My only disadvantage of the student newspaper was the fact that we only published twice a month. Luckily because of our online website we were able to get the article out before the local newspaper was able to print the next day. This can just show you what technology can do for scooping information and get it to the public as fast as possible.

ronburg44

If you ever watched a movie that describes a journalist or a newspaper getting the scoop on a specific event or action, you may wonder what this is. Well in the world of journalism, is the holy grail of all things, Except maybe for the Pulitzer Prize. The reason that this group is so important, is that it means you are the first person to get this information and are able to report on it before anyone else.

This can often lead to a good deal of publicity not only for your publication but also it can greatly enhance your reputation as the ability to fact find as well as the dedication that you have to your reporting skills.

Sometimes these groups, are overrated in movies. But in the real world, real scoops do exist and they can make or break a journalists career. It makes me laugh I think about these movies, but this really does happen in the real world.

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