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Lecture 7: Finding Stories
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Lecture 7: Finding Stories


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  • Welcome to lecture 7, finding story ideas.
  • Today we’re going to continue getting ready for your first project by talking about ways to find stories. You’ll learn how to take big ideas and boil them down into a story that is more manageable to write and report.
  • Finding stories can be one of the most difficult parts of journalism at the beginning. To start, you have to do a lot of legwork…
  • Some other suggestions include…
  • Here are a couple of places you can look online for tips on where to find stories that you can localize wherever you are.
  • So, how do you get started? First you can start with a broad subject, such as…
  • Once you have a topic in mind, it’s time to start narrowing your focus…
  • Next, you need to think about who to talk to so you can narrow your story further…
  • News features can be overwhelming, as they require a lot of interviews and reporting. That is why it is important to stay organized as you go to write your story…
  • It is usually a good idea to write your nut graph first so that you can make sure your story is focused…
  • Even though your first project isn’t due until July 27, there is a lot of work to do…
  • Here are a few more tips…
  • You will need to email me your idea for a story topic before we talk on Thursday. If you haven’t already set up a conference with me, please make sure you do.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Finding Story ideas Jennifer Cox
    • 2. objectives• Discuss ways to find stories• Discuss ways to manage “big picture” ideas to make them more workable• Go over project one requirements
    • 3. Finding stories• READ • Calendars • Web pages • Newsletters • Blogs • Other articles• Have a time peg • Awareness months • Upcoming events (races, fundraisers, festivals) • Seasonal (fall, winter) • Historical milestones (anniversaries, etc.) • Recent findings/studies
    • 4. Finding stories• Attend meetings/look at agendas • What items are committees working on?• Talk with school teachers/administrators/kids • Professors love to talk about their research!• GET OUT THERE!
    • 5. Places to look online•• Al’s Morning Meeting • morning-meeting/
    • 6. Getting started• Paring down your idea • Draw a Web Obesity and Obesity Obesity at summertime SU(Broad subject) (Find a smaller audience) (Find a time peg) Obesity – Obesity – how Obesity – are people does it affect how doesworking out students’ mental summer more to fit health to see heat affectinto bathing swimsuit models obese suits? people
    • 7. Where to begin • Start with a question; not a statement • Don’t use a question as a lede, though! Obesity – are people • Don’t generalizeworking out • Most obese people feel pressure to more to fit slim down during bathing suit season.into bathing • Let your source generalize suits? • Nutritionists at SU have noticed an influx of obese students beginning in June. They attribute the rise in clientele to a need to get in shape for bathing suit season.
    • 8. Who to talk to • Find an expert first to get an overview • Call them often; they have no obligation Obesity – to call you back Obesity – the health are people clinic is • Ask the expert general questionsworking outoffering low about your topic more to fitcost traininginto bathingsessions for • From what he/she tells you, try to suits? obese narrow it down further students • Ask the expert for “real people” this month sources • This could take time to find, so start early
    • 9. Starting to write• Organize and highlight your notes • Figure out the order in which you will tell the story• Identify your good quotes• Write your nut graph FIRST • Will help you focus your story and stay on track• Remember – you’re writing an article, not a research paper• Figure out your lede: • Summary or feature lede?
    • 10. Nut graph• Two parts • What is the main point of the story? • Why are you telling me this now? (“time peg”)• Main point of your story • Don’t over-generalize • Stay on topic – don’t veer too far from the nut graph• Why is this important to the reader?
    • 11. Some tips• Start EARLY! Call OFTEN!• Stay objective – present all sides, when possible• STAY FOCUSED• Look at examples to establish a rhythm to your article • Narrative • Sequential/chronological • Inverted pyramid• Establish the conflict • Some people say this; others believe this
    • 12. Some tips • Show, don’t tell • Remember, you are NOT the expert; let your sources tell the story! Working out is a good way to lose weight… • Statement, evidence, quote • Group like ideas/sources together Experts agree working out can help students lose weight whencoupled with Karen Smith lost 20 pounds when she began a YES: a healthy diet. strict workout regiment this summer… SU student Karen Smith, 20, said she used to work out multiple daysa week but wasn’t losing weight. When she started making better dietarychoices, she lost 20 pounds in five months. “I felt great, and it really wasn’t that hard,” Smith said.
    • 13. tips• Your story MUST have a time peg (no evergreens)• Color stories • Live event coverage • Preview of an event (preparation)• Reaction piece • Take a larger issue and get local reactions • How are people reacting to local items?• Trend story (tricky!) • Look at trend affecting locals/students • Need sources to identify trend – not hearsay!
    • 14. project• DUE July 27, 5 p.m.• 2-3 pages• At least three quoted sources • NO friends, family or work sources • Turn in phone numbers for all sources• Focus on one topic – don’t write an essay• Aim to publish!• Email me topic and set up phone conference with me for Thursday
    • 15. announcements• Homework: email me story idea• Current events/readings quiz tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. • You will have 10 minutes• No lecture tomorrow – phone conferences