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Posts Tagged ‘story ideas’

How To Survive The Summer News Drought: 5 Places To Find Story Ideas Online

Summer is notoriously slow for news. Sure, breaking news and summer festivals will eat up some of the local newshole. But schools are out. Sources (and colleagues) are on vacation. Elections are still months away. And you can only write so much about the weather before you and your readers give up caring or tracking how little rain or how much sunshine your has community received.

Even though important work still takes place and is worth reporting as it happens in the summer months, it’s a good idea to have some story ideas in your back pocket to get you through the news drought. Think of it as insurance against being the reporter handed the next weather story. The editor will hesitate if you can say, “Oh, well actually I was working on (or planning to work on) that story about X-awesome-idea…”

So as you craft your summer story budget, here are five places to watch for tips and good story examples that may inspire your own pieces:
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Pro Tip: Use Reddit To Find Story Ideas

Reddit is an Internet firehose, a repository of the good, the bad, the silly and the shocking.

Online journalists should make it a habit to look at Reddit from time to time. Not only can it be a great way to promote work, but there always seems to be a good story waiting there. Sometimes it’s prominent, and sometimes it’s in an obscure corner of the site. The fact that the site’s slogan is “the front page of the Internet” is telling.

While Reddit still has a niche audience, the stories that are popular on Reddit probably have some potential to be popular elsewhere. If the story fits your site, you should consider writing something similar.

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7 Places To Look For Database Journalism Stories

There’s a joke in reporting that one person’s an anecdote and three’s a trend. It’s not really funny, though, because too many stories rely on this metric to prove something’s happening or happened. There’s a better way, it just takes some digging, maybe a FOIA request, and some minimum database skills (which is another topic, but if you’re really serious look into IRE’s training or if you’re still in school, take a computer-assisted reporting course, which your school ought to require).

By analyzing databases on topics on your beat you can find the real trends and back it up with statistics. Your job as a journalist is to make those numbers and statistics meaningful. (But don’t force the story, sometimes the data doesn’t support your hypothesis. It hurts, but it happens.)

Here are a few places you can find data that will help you support your stories with facts instead of trends.

Data.gov —This site will probably just overwhelm you with the sheer quantity of information. The hard part will be picking through what’s there for what’s relevant. But you can find some interesting federal government data, including everything from military marriage trends to consumer spending to climate change, if you dig. You can sort by the type of data, the department that collected it, the category, location, topic, and more. At least try a few searches to see what’s what — and whether it leads to or fits in any of your stories.

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Where To Find Original, Local Story Ideas Online

Whether you’re an intern new to a community hoping to impress your boss or a long-time reporter hoping to avoid writing about air conditioner and ice cream sales this summer, knowing where to look for original local story ideas can be a game changer. The best way to avoid being given bad assignments is to be busily working on better ones. Luckily, there’s a wealth of such story ideas available right from your cubicle. Here’s where to look: Read more