Remembering the Groundwork

Today will we remember the groundwork — the basics — of journalism. This is adapted from Ch. 5 from your textbook.

All of you have some experience with these basics from COJO 2100 (Newswriting and Reporting). It never hurts to refresh our memories about some key concepts of journalism, writing, and reporting.

Brainstorming for news ideas and finding your story focus can be difficult. But, it is necessary before you jump into a story.

How Can I Think of Story Ideas?

  1. Try to go beyond your “college backyard” and suggest a story that is relevant to more than young people. However, if you’re looking to publish your story in the BI or Boomerang, then perhaps you want to go the university-route.
  2. Feature story about interesting people, professors (read faculty bios on various department web pages), or organizations that the community might want to know more about.
  3. Events calendars:—
    WyoCal
    —Albany County Public Library Events
    Albany County, Wyoming Government
    City of Laramie Events (LaramieLive)
  4. What are people talking about on social media websites? Is there a story idea there?
  5. Bulletin boards. Always read them for interesting events, speakers, and meetings.
  6. Problems, controversies, or major issues going on in students’ lives or the community.
  7. Anniversaries and trends
  8. Profile on a business or organization you find in the Yellow Pages.

 

Don’t Suggest a Topic. Suggest an Angle.

What would you rather read about? (1) Student stress during finals week or (2) How a student organization offers massage, pet therapy, comedian performances, and healthy food during finals week to ease stress?

I bet story #2.

Story #2 has a strong angle, where story #1 is a general, vague topic.

I want you to write a story with a strong, specific angle.

 

Where Can I Find Sources?

  1. Expert sources: UW has a vast sea of experts in areas. Check out faculty members’ web pages in various departments.Journalistic sources: Consulting other media outlets’ past articles and issues can be helpful to locate sources and get ideas.
  2. Institutional sources: Social, cultural, professional, bureaucratic, or political organizations with particular special interests. Examples include political parties, government data, community volunteer groups, student groups, and sports clubs. You can find human sources as well as data from these sources.
  3. Scholarly sources: These are oftentimes highly credible and respected sources, and they are oftentimes undervalued and underused sources as well. Universities, scholarly research from the library, and medical and scientific research centers are examples. Detour –>Let’s learn how to find scholarly peer-reviewed research from the library! 🙂
  4. Informal sources: Observations about your surroundings. Take notes about what you and your subjects see, hear, smell, feel, experience.
  5. Sources to beware of: Wikipedia and other wikis, lesser-known blogs, and convenient sources like friends, neighbors, and family. Why?

 

Brainstorming Session

Before we move on, I’d like to have a brainstorming session. You should be thinking of story ideas for the first assignment. I’ll go around the room and ask for your thoughts.

About The Author

I'm a faculty member in Communication & Journalism at the University of Wyoming. At UW, I have taught online journalism, advanced new media, introduction to mass media, politics and media, and alternative media. At Ohio State, where I got my PhD, I taught research methods, news reporting and writing, visual communication, and persuasion. My reserach focuses on political communication, emerging media platforms, and entertainment media. In my spare time, I love to play with my daughters, hang out with my family, cook, hike, jog, read, and blog.