How to fill a newspaper’s front page

Where did great journalists like Edward R. Murrow get story ideas?

Where did great journalists like Edward R. Murrow get story ideas?

By Ren LaForme

Journalism may be a shifting industry, but one thing remains the same – journalists still need to come up with story ideas to entice readers.

Where do the majority of journalists get their stories?

Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein had to work to get their story. They trawled through interviews and stalked sources until they got to the center of the Watergate scandal.

Other journalists get big stories delivered directly to their notebook – like when Washington Post op-ed columnist Robert Novak was given the name of an undercover CIA operative by a member of the Bush Administration.

At The Spectrum, we get our ideas from a variety of sources. Some of the most common are:

  • Press releases from the University at Buffalo, Student Life, the Student Association, clubs, recording companies, artists, authors and the government
  • A weekly safety report we get from the University Police Department
  • Local newspapers, Web sites, radio stations and other publications
  • Other campus newspapers, such as the Syracuse Daily Orange or the Harvard Crimson
  • UB student leaders, such as SA Acting President Ernesto Alvarado, former President Hassan Farah, College Democrats President Kinsey Davidson and College Republicans President Robert Matthews
  • Outspoken professors, such as Jim Holstun and Gerald Finnegan
  • Blogs like the UB Freethinkers

One of my favorite sources  is the Student Newspaper Survival Blog and its corresponding book. The site, and especially the book, offer a multitude of links that any journalist can utilize to find great story ideas.

Where else can journalists get story ideas?

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One response to “How to fill a newspaper’s front page

  1. Content: 4 Great post Ren. Good sources here.
    Do you ever use Google Groups to get sources/story ideas? I’ve had success with it.

    I’d love to see the Spectrum cover more city news – how do UB’s 27,000 students affect Buffalo? Where do students spend their free time? There are lots of great profile/trend pieces that can come from this. How about focusing on under reported sections of the city.

    Send a group of writers to report on University Heights or the East Side. UC Berkeley’s graduate J-school has a program I’d like to emulate at UB. I’m working on getting grants for it right now. Check it out at: http://missionlocal.org/about/
    Maybe it will give you some ideas.

    I’d be happy to brainstorm for ideas with you and others sometime.

    Links: Great. Thanks for the tip on the Student Newspaper Survival Blog and the Freethinkers.
    Grammar: 3

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