Finding story ideas

Req: A, N

Our Advanced Newswriting class has been struggling to find story ideas in recent days, prompting several class discussions about what the media cover, what they should cover, where they find stories and how they develop news angles.

With that in mind, I thought I’d share some articles pertaining to the subject.

First, is Steve Padilla’s “21 Ways to Find Story Ideas.” Steve’s best piece of advice is his first… establish a “story-hunting mindset.” If people you know are talking about something, it might be newsworthy. If it’s something local, it almost certainly is.

In Writing Matters, Lee Enterprises writers and editors point to another key bit of advice… be curious. Talk to people. Think about things. Ask questions, of yourself as well as others. Observe the world around you and ask why things are the way the are and how they came to be that way. Look for the unusual, but also discover the unusal side of usual things.

The Student Newspaper Survival Blog offers a list of suggestions geared specifically to college journalists, such as studying bulletin boards (print as well as electronic), paying attention to in-class announcements and just opening your eyes as you walk around campus.

I’ve posted some other suggestions earlier this semester, including checking out other college newspapers and trying to focus on writing “must read” news.

Just ask yourself… What bugs you? What excites you? What scares you? What entices you? What interests you? What do you just want to know more about? If the answer is “nothing,” then ask your friends (and, maybe, consider whether or not journalism is really the right career for you).

*Edit 3/25/09: Interesting story in this morning’s Times-Tribune about the University’s growing footprint in the Hill Section. It’s definitely worth a story in next week’s Aquinas. So is the fact that President Obama has endorsed the proposed Scranton-NYC rail line.

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This blog is maintained by Dr. Matthew M. Reavy as a service to journalism students at the University of Scranton.

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