Listen and Be Aware

Story ideas are all around you.

Not surprisingly, people tend to talk about things that interest them. Listening to what your friends (or even what random people) say can give you amazing clues as to what to write about. I’ve heard my friends talk about interesting events around town, about new restaurants opening and about behaviors they’ve noticed on campus. All of these things can lead to stories. There’s also usually a guarantee that the topic will be timely. It’s uncommon for people to talk about things that are old news, and if they are, it’s pretty clear.

An extension of listening is reading. (OK, that isn’t exactly listening, but you know what I mean.) When you see fliers, banners, posters or any other sort of advertisement, read it. Read the scribbled chalk on the sidewalks outside of Library West and the text on the pamphlets handed out on Turlington Plaza. All of these things are potentially newsworthy, and these are also events and topics that people obviously care about and would be willing to talk to you about.

But don’t just read. Be aware. If you overhear someone talking about a new restaurant downtown that they love, go downtown and look around. Don’t just give up if they don’t reveal the name. On your daily wanderings, take notice of what’s around you. Try to find what’s different or new, because these things are almost always newsworthy. This is also something to consider during preliminary interviews when trying to discover if something is newsworthy. Ask questions like, "Is anything different about this time?" or, "Is anything new happening or going to happen?" These kinds of questions will be clear indications of how newsworthy the topic is and will also probably get you your news hook.