What to write? 100+ Story ideas with Lori Brooks

Writings stories is easy—once you know what you’re writing about. It’s coming up with the ideas that’s often the hardest part of being a news editor.

Earlier this afternoon, Lori Brooks, from the University of Oklahoma, led a fantastic session called “100-plus story ideas.” Brooks’ ideas were intentionally vague–one-worders, like abortion, salaries, relationships, holidays, seasonal, profiles, plagiarism–and she offered some great ideas for how they can be localized to fit the audience of any college newspaper. I came up with ways to use nearly every story idea she mentioned, and I’m excited to share them with my co-news editor and the rest of our staff.

She also suggested we all pay attention to bulletin boards, Facebook groups, classifieds, sidewalk chalkings, mass e-mails, polls and surveys, posters and the community newspapers in order to easily come up with dozens of ideas on our own.

Here are some of my favorite ideas, inspired by Brooks:

Squirrel fishing—As a club for students who chase squirrels with acorns in order to get close enough for a picture, the squirrel fishing club is apparently one of the most interesting clubs on University of Oklahoma’s campus. What other interesting clubs can you find on campus? How and why did they start?

Building names—Most older buildings were named for influential people, Brooks said, while the names of newer buildings stem from significant financial contributions. How many buildings are named for minorities?

Landscaping—Landscaping is a particularly relevant story at Elon, where students swear they’ve people vacuuming the paths and spray-painting the grass. How much money is spent each year on making the school look pretty? Brooks also suggested putting numbers in perspective to make them more understandable. For example, how many full-tuition students does it take to fund our green grass and fancy flowers?

International news—Brooks reminded us that at any given time, there’s likely at least one student or faculty member associated in some way with nearly every country. Track them down, she said, and get their take on international events like the earthquake in Japan, the recent protests in the Middle East and the genocide in Darfur.

-Kassondra Cloos

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