Journalists find stories through the internet and initiative

15 Feb

Finding something to write about can be one of the most terrifying aspects of journalism to a new writer. However, with a little initiative and a bit of practice journalists can find stories everywhere they look. In today’s connected world, journalists can find stories without leaving their desks.

The internet can provide reporters with story ideas and even clue them into what topics are important to people at the time. Sites like Reddit have a built in system to track what people are reading and what they think about it. Another way to track trends on the internet it to check out the trending topics  page of Twitter.  Government websites are also great online resources for story ideas. Government organizations, from the local to the national level, keep documents and produce reports on statistics that can become unique stories. All a reporter has to do is access theses great resources and take advantage of them.  However, do not forget to interpret the information properly, some of the government jargon and statistics can get confusing. A great way to write an interesting story on a community level is to localize studies. Groups of all kinds produce studies on everything from the impact of curfew to how safe bikers are in particular cities. Taking these kinds of studies and relating them to a local community can make for a popular and informative story. The internet is such a good resource for story ideas that some people think it will completely change the way journalists find and report news. Already journalists have switched from referencing archives to searching the web for previous stories on a topic. It is only a matter of time before consulting with your community online is a basic part of the story finding process. There are resources online now to get sources and answer questions. Some of these resources are specifically designed to help a reporter out while others are aimed at a broader group.

While the internet is a critical source for reporters to find story ideas, reporters should not limit themselves to the web. Stories can be found anywhere if reporters keep their eyes open. One of the basic elements of reporting is remaining aware of what is going on in the world. While this means leaving the desk once in a while it also could be the key to a ground breaking story. Listening to the people on the bus or questioning the new traffic pattern on the way to the store is the kind of awareness to the small details that can make for some of the best reporting.

Story ideas are everywhere. Sources and trends are easily located on the internet if a reporter knows where to look. Vast amounts of information are available through the public records of government agencies and studies. Though finding an original idea may seem daunting, the resources are all around.

Story idea 1: using the advice to check studies, I located a press release on research being conducted at the University of Florida. The press release states that researchers are working on a new gene therapy for people with epilepsy that could stop seizures. The story is relevant to UF readers more because of the research opportunities than the research itself. I would locate other researchers, through traditonal means or a site like Listorious,  and get their opinion on the research being done. However, I would connect to the UF audience through talking about the research itself and ways people can get involved. The universities large medical and research community would be more interested in the story that way.  The story would transfer well into a non-print mode because Shands Hospital already created a video clip about the research. We could take screen shots of the videos diagrams and post those in the online version as well.


Story idea 2:  Using the study by Monash University, Australia, “Identifying Risk Factors for On-road Commuter Cyclists” I would write a story on the bicycling community in Gainesville. While the city tries to provide places for cyclists they are often inconvenient for drivers and dangerous for cyclists. This study is very relevant to the UF community since so many students bicycle to and on campus.  For sources I would contact the researchers behind the study. Also I would locate cyclists and drivers from the Gainesville community through approaching them on the street or through Twitter. This story would transfer to an online version if I took photos of interactions on campus between bikers and drivers. Another good graphic would be a map of the bike lanes and car lanes in the Gainesville area.



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