Brilliance is born in journalistic enterprise

15 Feb

I agree that the best reporters are those that generate their own original story ideas. Reporters will be more invested right from the start if the story idea is theirs. Having an assignment thrown at you by an editor makes reporting on the story seem like a daunting task. If you formulate the idea, it is only natural you will be more interested and excited about it. I know I am inclined to put more effort into one of my original story ideas because I feel more invested in them. Typically, if I come up with the idea, it has something to do with a topic that interests me. On the whole, I am likely to do a better job.

For example, this past summer I had an internship at the UF Health Science Center Office of News and Communications. Now, I am a journalism major, and the medical field has never interested me. But, it was a good, paid internship that allowed me to get hands-on field experience, so I happily took it. I liked being paid to write stories, but some of the topics I was assigned at first bored me. My editor assigned me to write on things like a dentistry shadowing day and a profile on a research professor. These topics didn’t exactly exude passion from me, but I did my very best to write good stories. My editor gave me praise for my work, and yet I searched for ways to make my job more entertaining. I finally decided the answer was to come up with my own story ideas before my editor could assign me just any story. It was the best decision I made that summer.

I started opening my eyes on campus, listening to others and looking for anything that would make a good story. Finally, one day in my psychology class, I found a great idea for a story. A young girl, who was my age and a UF student, came to speak to our class about her battle with an eating disorder. She was a wonderful speaker. She shared so much with her class about her battle and even said she was working to open an Eating Disorders Anonymous group at UF in the fall. Until now, the community had been lacking one. Her struggle had inspired her to fill this void and help others with their eating disorders. With my reporting cap on, I saw a source who would be great to interview and a story with a news angle. I had always been fascinated by eating disorders and had previously taken a course specially on them. I was captivated by this girl and her story. I wanted to know more. I pitched the story to my editor, and she loved it. She was also impressed that I had taken it upon myself to come up with an original idea. I wrote the story, and it was published in the POST. It was one of the best stories I wrote during the internship because I was wholly invested in it. It had been all mine from the very beginning, and it was something I actually wanted to know more about. Working on that story was my favorite experience during my internship, and I think it had a lot to do with the fact that it was an idea I had generated. I had a certain sense of pride associate with that story, and I think it showed in the finished product.

Taking the initiative is what makes the difference. You have to go out and look for great stories. You can’t just expect them to fall into your lap. Today there is no excuse not to generate original ideas. With the Internet there are so many resources at your fingertips to help inspire a new idea. Of course, there are always the old reliable forms of scouring notices, bulletin boards, news stands and eavesdropping. But, journalists today should be using new online resources to their benefit. We will achieve the best results as, if we merge the old and new ways of creating stories. Some new sites, such as HARO and Listorious, provide excellent resources when trying to find reliable sources. Reporters are even becoming quite innovative today in creating story ideas. Some have started writing stories based on studies. It really is about using your resources to your advantage. The more leg work you do in conceptualizing your story, the better it will turn out.

Story Ideas:

1) The new TLC show ‘Sorority Girls’ premiered recently and caused a lot of uproar. The show, which follows five American sorority girls as they try to bring Greek life to the UK, offended many people. People were outraged and began using social media tools like Facebook and Twitter to protest. A petition was started to take the show off the air. People used their Facebook to advertise the petition and their disgust with the show. We could get reactions and opinions from women in sororities. What do they think the show says? Do they think the show is an accurate portrayal? We could try to talk to someone at TLC. I feel like this could be told online with visual story telling. It might be good to make a video with clips from the show and clips of different sources giving their opinions.


2) The impact of social media on Whitney Houston’s death- How did most people first hear the news? A study or research could be conducted to find out. My guess would be some type of social media. Facebook is where I first saw it. People made statuses honoring her and condemning her for drugging herself to death and leaving her young daughter. Do people think social media took away some reverence in dealing with the deceased star? Get reactions from people. Did the like seeing all of the talk about it on Facebook or do they think it’s inappropriate? We could get the opinion of a social media expert to comment. This could relate to the bigger picture of how social media is impacting and changing our world. This story could be told online in blog form, maybe with screenshots of different Facebook statuses and tweets.


2 Responses to “Brilliance is born in journalistic enterprise”

  1. Ronald R. Rodgers February 15, 2012 at 5:39 pm #

    I like how you use your experience to inform this post – but could you not have linked to the stories you wrote.
    Well edited – could use more outside links.

    • marissaklyons February 15, 2012 at 6:26 pm #

      I tried to find my story on the website, but I had trouble locating it. It was published this summer, so I thought I’d still be able to find it… but I couldn’t. I just have it in print. I wanted to link to it. That was the plan!

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