A changing world creates opportunity for journalists

15 Feb

It is becoming more and more apparent that times are changing for journalists. New technology and new generations are changing the media. Subtle changes have already taken place. Before we know it, the media world is going to be completely different, from how we find stories to where we get sources. New journalists entering the news world need to be ready to adapt to these changes and learn how to stand out in a new world of journalism. There are a couple of ways to accomplish this.

First of all, we live in an age where journalists really need to be coming up with their own story ideas. While it’s true that editors do still hand out assignments, coming up with their own ideas allow journalists to stand out among their peers. Any journalist who takes the initiative to pitch their own ideas to their editors is sure to impress. Also, journalists who just accept the stories their editors assign usually complain that they get stuck with the boring or mundane stories. If a journalist is really passionate about a topic or story idea, chances are other people are too. The journalist should go ahead and pitch the idea to his or her editor.

There are plenty of places to look for story ideas to get ahead. Everywhere you look in everyday life has the potential to contain a story. There are lists of places you go every day where you can find hundreds of story ideas. Just keep your eyes peeled and your journalist cap on as you go through normal activities. Story ideas are hiding in the grocery store, at the bank and even in school or church newsletters.

Another option for story ideas is to find a national story and localize it. This is easy to do once you get the hang of it. There are even resources online to help you understand the process. Journalists can always consult a list of study-based stories for more ideas of how to localize.

In addition to coming up with their own story ideas to share with their bosses, journalists should utilize new tools the Internet offers. A lot of journalists hear this and immediately think of social networking sites or archives from other newspapers and organizations. But there is so much more out there.

There are a variety of classes open to journalists to help them improve their writing or reporting skills. Many of these classes are online and a lot of them are offered for free. One major site journalists can go to for this is the Poynter Institute. They offer training classes, tips and tricks from other journalists.

Finding sources online is another way for journalists to use the Internet to their advantage. The Internet is an excellent place for crowd sourcing, since millions of people all over the world can be reached instantly. Sites like Help a Reporter Out enable journalists to quickly and easily find just the sources they were looking for. A lot of sources can be found on Twitter, but it can be a nightmare to sort through Twitter on your own. Twitter database sites like Listorious help with that. By searching for a keyword here, any Twitter users related to that topic will pop up.

Finally, journalists can use other sites to help them with story ideas. Places like Reddit can be excellent resources for both story ideas and finding sources. Journalists can use the stories on Reddit, apply them to their community and write similar pieces catered to their audience instead.

If journalists keep their eyes open and remember to be a journalist 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, they will find that news is all around them.

Examples of Story Ideas

Valentine’s Day trend story

For this story, I would look and see if poor economy and the fact that the holiday is on a Tuesday have affected it at all.  As far as sources, I would talk to local people to see what their plans are for the holiday are. I also would talk to florists and restaurants see how business has been around Valentine’s Day. The article would be a fun piece so it probably wouldn’t be too long. Photos could include local florists, since flowers would make for a nice, colorful picture. If it were to go online, I could also include links to the sites of local places I’m talking about. I could also include ideas for saving on Valentine’s Day but still making it special.

USF Budget cuts affecting UF?

Currently, the state Senate has a proposal that would slash USF’s budget in half. I could take this article and localize it to Gainesville and UF. I could see if the proposal would affect UF at all and how it might in the future. For sources in this story, I would try and talk to people on both sides of the issue. I would hope to talk to someone in the Senate or related somehow and then I would talk to people at USF. Finally, I would talk to both students and faculty at UF and see how they feel about it. As far as photos, I would probably have to use some sort of pictures of Criser or other recognizable buildings on campus. If it were to go online, I would link it to the article about USF and include more information about their situation for people who are interested.

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