Ever wish you could get inside the minds of journalists to watch how they think?
Puzzled about what journalists consider news because it bears no resemblance with what you think is newsworthy?
How would you like an inside track on what could be the next hot story of the day? And wouldn’t it be cool if you could pitch that next hot story to journalists in your own community?
Start reading Al’s Morning Meeting, the online column filled with story ideas that journalists can localize for their own print and broadcast media. It’s written by Al Tompkins of The Poynter Institute, the school for journalists in St. Petersburg, Florida. And it includes not only his own ideas, but items about great stories reported elsewhere that could be localized by just any other media.
I left the newspaper business 10 years ago, but I still read Al’s Morning Meeting fairly regularly because it’s chock full of story ideas I’d love to assign if I worked as an editor.
Al posts several ideas each week. Here’s a sample of recent items:
–A report that some schools offer high-speed Internet access and lightning-quick computers, while others have outdated machines and no Internet connection. Much of the determining factors have to do with how much money the PTA raises or whether a benefactor steps forward.
–The Detroit News found that more than 100 dead people “voted” in the last election.
–WTVF-TV in Nashville reviewed more than 136,000 parking tickets for the past two years. Of those that have been adjudicated–88,000 were guilty–the drivers paid the fines. But almost 16,000 parking tickets were dismissed or, in court language, retired–and no one can say why.
–Police are upset about a video game that allows players to shoot officers.
—The Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all levels in counting birds and reporting their results to create a mid-winter snapshot of the numbers, kinds and distribution of birds across the continent. Participants count birds for as little or as long as they wish during the four-day period and tally the highest number of birds of each species that they see at any one time.
–For parents who want to spy on their kids, Wired.com gives parents a “cheat sheet” on how to see what their kids are posting on their MySpace.com pages.
If you read Al’s ideas regularly, chances are good you’ll find something that ties into what you do. Then you can pitch the idea to reporters in your own community, in 30 seconds or less, and look like a hero. If they cover the story, guess who they’ll probably quote? This column is for serious Publicity Hounds only.