• 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.
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
• 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
• 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?”
Changes & trends
• Notice that example involves change – changing
• 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
• 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.
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.
• 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.
• 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.
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
• 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.