Learn to Localize

Localizing stories is key to passing Reporting. I had been told several times about how localizing an issue works extremely well for story ideas, but I never fully grasped how to do it and didn’t get around to trying until the end of the semester. Don’t make my mistake! My best stories were ones that I localized.

Localizing is actually pretty easy. The first step is to read national papers like The New York Times and USA Today. Many articles written on a national scale or about a certain area can be applied to your own area. While many stories can be localized, some of the best are stories about trends and recent studies or findings. A trend going on in one area might be going on right at home. Also, when new information is discovered or revealed, stories capturing the reactions of the locals can also make a good story.

Localizing is a great way to find story ideas.

When you have an idea, make some calls to see if there’s a story at all. For example, if you read this article and decided to localize it, you would have to call local candy stores to see if they’ve noticed a similar trend. Even if a trend isn’t the same in your area, the absence of the trend may be a story in itself.

Once you’re sure you have a story, call everyone! Get every side and even switch up the angle if the story is taking another direction. Also, make sure you cite the original article or source you use to localize. For example, if you did the candy story, you’d say something like, “The candy industry seems unaffected by the downturn in the economy, according to an article in The New York Times, and Gainesville’s no exception/but Gainesville’s an exception.” My favorite sources for this type of localizing were USA Today, CNN and Time Magazine, but many others would be helpful, as well. Also, the sections that gave me the most success were technology, science and health.