College Media Story Ideas: Branding and College Watergates

Forget Soundsliding, podcasting, vlogging, geotagging, and a-Twitterin’. New media tools are important, but without kick-ass content Journalism 2.0 is still deader than Cuba Gooding Jr.’s acting career (seriously, what happened to him?). Everything journalism was, is and will be rests on our ability to tell a story. And every story starts with idea.

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Below is a brief list of what I’ve found to be timely, pertinent, and interesting recent reports from student and professional media that I hope you might be able to localize, adapt, or otherwise draw inspiration from for story ideas of your own:

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COLLEGE WATERGATES: The recent death of Watergate’s famed anonymous source Deep Throat led me to wonder about the biggest and most scurrilous administrative, athletic, and student scandals at universities worldwide over the years, especially those exposed only through student journalists’ shoe-leather reporting.  Maybe the symbolism of his death and the term break provides a decent timeframe for your media outlet to look back at your own college’s Watergates and what, if any, impact they continue to have on your school today.  By the way, apropos of nothing, here’s a snippet about Deep Throat’s death in a Washington Post appreciation piece: “Felt had breakfast Thursday at his home in Santa Rosa, Calif., he took a nap and disappeared into the evermore. As we in the newspaper biz say, he took the buyout. Good for him, and thank you.”

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LAST LECTURES: On Christmas Day it was exactly five months since the passing of famed “Last Lecture” professor Randy Pausch at Carnegie Mellon University.  He was an inspirational figure for many in large part due to the YouTube-sensation of a lecture he gave about pursuing dreams after learning his cancer was terminal.  Again, possibly with the added time of reflection provided by break and in the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, get professors’ (or even students’) take on what their own last lecture topics or even simply their last words to the world might be.

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BRANDING IN BAD ECONOMIC TIMES: A recent Salt Lake Tribune piece touts the near-ubiquitous branding efforts carried out by universities across the U.S. in the past decade via advertisements and larger marketing strategies.  The economy has turned.  Schools’ finances are tightening.  What does it mean for your school’s brand and the behind-the-scenes work done to project it?

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CAMPUS SPORTS SECURITY INCREASE: A governmental push to increase security at college athletic events and a related $3.5 million Homeland Security grant is funding workshops on sports event security training for officials at roughly 1,000 colleges and universities in the states.  Is your school involved?  What’s the current security plans in place at your school for various athletic events?  What have been the biggest security lapses or concerns at athletic events over the years?

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