Finding Enterprise Story Ideas


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How to develop enterprise story ideas in journalism

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Finding Enterprise Story Ideas

  1. 1. By Prof. Mark Grabowski
  2. 2. Enterprise reporting • Enterprise reporting involves stories not based on press releases or news conferences. Instead, enterprise reporting is all about the stories a reporter digs up on his or her own, what many people call “scoops.” Enterprise reporting goes beyond merely covering events. It explores the forces shaping those events. It provides in-depth examinations of people and issues.
  3. 3. How to find story ideas • So how can you develop your own enterprise stories? Most reporters will tell you that uncovering such stories involves two key journalistic skills: observation and investigation.
  4. 4. Observation • Observation, obviously, involves seeing the world around you. But while we all observe things, reporters take observation one step further by using their observations to generate story ideas. In other words, a reporter who sees something interesting almost invariably asks himself, “could this be a story?”
  5. 5. Example • You’re sitting in class and notice that a few of the students look old enough to be your father. The college used to have mostly 18-to- 22-year-olds populating its student body. Now the college seems to have hundreds of non- traditional students. Again, most of us would take little notice of this, but a good reporter would ask, “Why are so many older students attending this college?”
  6. 6. Changes & trends • Notice that example involves change – changing demographics. • Changes are something reporters always look for. A change, after all, is something new, and new developments are what reporters write about. • Enterprise reporters also look for changes that occur over time - trends, in other words. Discovering a trend is often a great way to start an enterprise story
  7. 7. Example • Maybe you’re walking around campus and, now that the weather is warmer and people are wearing less, you notice that lots of people have tattoos. When you were a freshman, you only knew one person with a tattoo. Now, everyone in your sorority has a tattoo. Could this be a new trend? What percentage of students have tattoos? What types of tattoos do they have? Are they visible? What are people’s opinions of them? Are they cool? Do they turn off employers? There are all sorts of questions you could explore within that issue.
  8. 8. Why ask why? • You’ll notice that both examples involve the reporter asking “why” something was happening. “Why” is probably the most important word in any reporter’s vocabulary. A reporter who asks why something is happening is beginning the next step of enterprise reporting: investigation.
  9. 9. Investigation • Investigation is really just a fancy word for reporting. It involves doing the interviews and digging up the information to develop an enterprise story. An enterprise reporter’s first task is to do some initial reporting to see if there really is an interesting story to be written about (not all interesting observations turn out to be interesting news stories.) The next step is to gather the material needed to produce a solid story.
  10. 10. Example • Let's say you're the police reporter in your hometown. Every day you're in police headquarters, checking the arrest log. Over a period of several months, you notice a spike in arrests for underage drinking among students from the local high school. • You interview the cops to see if beefed-up enforcement is responsible for the increase. They say no. So you interview the principal of the high school as well as teachers and counselors. You also talk to students and parents and discover that, for a variety of reasons, underage drinking is increasing. So you write a story about the problems of underage drinking and how it's on the rise in your hometown.
  11. 11. Where to look • Get out of your dorm room or house. Look around and see if you notice anything interesting, unusual or surprising – for example, is everyone wearing a nose earring? • Chat up strangers. Strive to talk to someone new everyday. Go beyond the usual suspects, like the mayor and police or the vice president of student affairs and campus security director. • Also, eavesdrop. What are people talking about at parties, in the school cafeteria, in dorm hallways? There’s probably at least one thing you’ve overheard this past week that could make a good story.