Developing megawattage
story ideas
NHSPA Fall Conference
2013
Why story ideas are important
• Good idea = good story.
• Harder to turn a lame idea into a good
story.
Cultivate creative thinking
“Nearly every good story idea begins as a
question.”
– James B. Stewart in Follow The Story

•...
A question.

Forbes story on Sy Syms
A question.
James Fussell | Kansas City Star
KANSAS CITY, MO. — Carrie moves objects
with her mind. Wolverine's skin heals instantly.
And Darth Vader and Batman use li...
A question.

NPR story
A question.

Fatal Distractions,
Pulitzer Prize, 2010
Types of stories
•
•
•
•
•
•

Issues
Profiles
Trends
Breaking news
Reaction
Localization
Where do you get ideas?
Where to get ideas
• Talk to people
• Who:
Friends, classmates, teachers, secretaries, peo
ple in lines, store clerks.
Talk to people
• Questions:
– What’s on your mind?
– What gets you mad?
– What would you change?
– What issues are you pas...
Talk to people
• Create your own panel of experts
– The notable and quotable
– The people who really know what is going on...
Talk to people
• Use them to get story ideas (speak with them
for background in a relaxed setting)
• Use them to bounce of...
Where to get ideas?
• Eavesdrop – locker room, rest rooms, lunch
room coffee houses, restaurants and school
events.
• Moni...
Where to get ideas?
• Read everything you can get your hands
on about the world and your locale.
– Need to read as many ne...
Read, read, read
• Read stories with a critical eye.
– How did the reporter develop the story?
– Who did they interview? W...
Using social media strategically
Using Twitter to develop ideas
• Picking the brains of smart people; reading
great journalism.
• Great way to monitor news...
Twitter lists
• A great way to organize
– Who you follow
– Who follows you
– Accounts you may not officially follow but
wa...
Beat reporters’ nirvana
Twitter lists
• You can make your list private or public.
• You’re the only person who can see your
private account.
• You...
Your goal
• You’ll want to focus on creating one place
where you can stay current on events and be
inspired.
Who to follow?
Who to follow?
• When you follow someone, Twitter will
suggest others
• You can add the followers of the people you
follow...
Finding helpful people to follow
– Topsy – idea-generator
– WeFollow – can search for experts, influencers
– Twellow – a m...
Who to follow?
• Twitter hashtags
– City
– University
– State government
– Schools
Some hashtag examples
• Twitterfall
• Hootsuite
The great amazing Twitter list race

The person who comes up with the most Twitter
accounts for their list wins!
Brainstorming
• Who do you want in your list?
Twitter lists
• Have your entire staff put together their own
list.
• Go shopping in one another’s lists.
• Or compile a m...
Cultivate creative thinking
• Spend quality quiet time thinking about ideas
and how you’d develop them.
• Quiet, off-the-g...
Cultivate creating thinking
• If you set aside some time each day or each
week to scroll through your list, you’ll start
t...
Story ideas
• Garden coach
• Lincoln Secret Supper
• Ambulance fatality
From a hashtag search
• “I don't appreciate being kicked out of a class
after the first day because I was sick and
emailed...
Story idea?
• from Daily Nebraskan
• Financial Counseling Sessions
• When: Thursday, Jan. 12, Tuesday, Jan. 17,
Wednesday,...
One million story ideas!
@MichelleHassler
michellehassler.wordpress.com
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Developing megawattage story ideas

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A presentation for the Nebraska High School Press Association fall 2013 conference in Lincoln, Neb.

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  • NELeg unicam Huskers OMA Nebraska
  • Local news outletsnewspapersTV and radioblogsSources,Government agenciesAdvocacy groupsFellow journalistsCalendars – university, local government, state LegislatureGreat for scheduling but also good for inspiration
  • Developing megawattage story ideas

    1. 1. Developing megawattage story ideas NHSPA Fall Conference 2013
    2. 2. Why story ideas are important • Good idea = good story. • Harder to turn a lame idea into a good story.
    3. 3. Cultivate creative thinking “Nearly every good story idea begins as a question.” – James B. Stewart in Follow The Story • Work on your curiosity skills. • Get in the habit of asking questions
    4. 4. A question. Forbes story on Sy Syms
    5. 5. A question. James Fussell | Kansas City Star
    6. 6. KANSAS CITY, MO. — Carrie moves objects with her mind. Wolverine's skin heals instantly. And Darth Vader and Batman use light sabers and grappling guns. Only in the movies? Not anymore. Hold on to your comic books, nerds. Science "fiction" is becoming science "fact."
    7. 7. A question. NPR story
    8. 8. A question. Fatal Distractions, Pulitzer Prize, 2010
    9. 9. Types of stories • • • • • • Issues Profiles Trends Breaking news Reaction Localization
    10. 10. Where do you get ideas?
    11. 11. Where to get ideas • Talk to people • Who: Friends, classmates, teachers, secretaries, peo ple in lines, store clerks.
    12. 12. Talk to people • Questions: – What’s on your mind? – What gets you mad? – What would you change? – What issues are you passionate about? – What are you talking about today?
    13. 13. Talk to people • Create your own panel of experts – The notable and quotable – The people who really know what is going on – The gossips – The listeners – The wise people
    14. 14. Talk to people • Use them to get story ideas (speak with them for background in a relaxed setting) • Use them to bounce off story ideas
    15. 15. Where to get ideas? • Eavesdrop – locker room, rest rooms, lunch room coffee houses, restaurants and school events. • Monitor social media – Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Tumblr – Follow other schools’ social media accounts.
    16. 16. Where to get ideas? • Read everything you can get your hands on about the world and your locale. – Need to read as many newspapers and news websites as you can. – Keep up on current events. – Back issues of newspapers and yearbooks. – Good journalism, writing.
    17. 17. Read, read, read • Read stories with a critical eye. – How did the reporter develop the story? – Who did they interview? Who should they have interviewed? – How could the story have been better? – Are there more questions than answers? – What’s another way to tell that story?
    18. 18. Using social media strategically
    19. 19. Using Twitter to develop ideas • Picking the brains of smart people; reading great journalism. • Great way to monitor news, events and happenings in your community. • Inspiration for story ideas.
    20. 20. Twitter lists • A great way to organize – Who you follow – Who follows you – Accounts you may not officially follow but want to keep track of.
    21. 21. Beat reporters’ nirvana
    22. 22. Twitter lists • You can make your list private or public. • You’re the only person who can see your private account. • You don’t have to actually follow the people who are in your list.
    23. 23. Your goal • You’ll want to focus on creating one place where you can stay current on events and be inspired.
    24. 24. Who to follow?
    25. 25. Who to follow? • When you follow someone, Twitter will suggest others • You can add the followers of the people you follow • You can follow the lists of others
    26. 26. Finding helpful people to follow – Topsy – idea-generator – WeFollow – can search for experts, influencers – Twellow – a mixed bag – Listorious – find followers and experts. – Twiangulate – discover inner circles. – Socialmention – real-time search – Advanced Twitter search – by subject or location
    27. 27. Who to follow? • Twitter hashtags – City – University – State government – Schools
    28. 28. Some hashtag examples • Twitterfall • Hootsuite
    29. 29. The great amazing Twitter list race The person who comes up with the most Twitter accounts for their list wins!
    30. 30. Brainstorming • Who do you want in your list?
    31. 31. Twitter lists • Have your entire staff put together their own list. • Go shopping in one another’s lists. • Or compile a master list.
    32. 32. Cultivate creative thinking • Spend quality quiet time thinking about ideas and how you’d develop them. • Quiet, off-the-grid time – unplugged. Where to do that? • Create a routine. Get in the habit of devoting a certain amount of time when you won’t be distracted or interrupted.
    33. 33. Cultivate creating thinking • If you set aside some time each day or each week to scroll through your list, you’ll start to see trends, recognize experts and develop story ideas – GUARANTEED!
    34. 34. Story ideas • Garden coach • Lincoln Secret Supper • Ambulance fatality
    35. 35. From a hashtag search • “I don't appreciate being kicked out of a class after the first day because I was sick and emailed the professor. Thanks #UNL” • Can easily contact the source
    36. 36. Story idea? • from Daily Nebraskan • Financial Counseling Sessions • When: Thursday, Jan. 12, Tuesday, Jan. 17, Wednesday, Jan. 18, Tuesday, Jan. 24, Thursday, Jan. 26 and Monday, Jan. 30 .
    37. 37. One million story ideas!
    38. 38. @MichelleHassler michellehassler.wordpress.com

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