Story Ideas Week: “Never Have I Ever…” (CSU’s Rocky Mountain Collegian)

This CMM series features a sampling of crazy cool, highly relevant or offbeat stories by student journalists that can be localized for different campus audiences- along with suggestions on ways to create and present that content. Next up…

Never Have I Ever . . .

The trio described it as a venture into the unknown, “a world where archers, jousters and warriors band together.” In a piece published earlier this summer in The Rocky Mountain Collegian at Colorado State University, two student reporters and a photographer describe their first foray into battlegaming, an unconnected offshoot of the live action role playing (LARP) community.

The battlefield report is the opening feature in a new Collegian series: “Never Have I Ever…”.  It documents staffers’ experiences with an activity they have never tried before.  For “Never Have I Ever…Battlegamed,” the student team aligns with a battlegaming group one afternoon in a local park to engage in a war game. They describe the basic scene, the rules, the costuming, and the rush of the battle, with “each army destroying the other side a few times before stopping for a water break.”

There is a subtle snarkiness to portions of the write-up, but an overall tone of respect, appropriate for this type of open-minded feature. As one member of the trio admits, “Who knew that hitting each other with foam swords could be so much fun?”

The series has the potential to be effective for numerous reasons. It is lighthearted without being silly. It wisely recounts the adventure from a personal perspective, including the students’ occasional awkward thoughts and actions. And it offers a full multimedia package, in this case with a write-up, photos, and even a video recap.  The team also engages readers by requesting ideas for future activities in which they should take part.

Other student press outlets should follow the Collegian‘s lead.  Recruit a team with the requisite skills (reporting, photography, multimedia) and personalities (including a sense of humor and sense of adventure).  Interact with student readers to determine their adventures.  Make the series regular. (This team plans a weekly set of excursions.  That may be too ambitious.) Establish a consistent tone- whether it be serious or semi-tongue-in-cheek (just don’t mock).

Think outside the box on potential experiences- and utilize the university’s many resources, vocations, and activities.  Attend a random class/lab/sports practice.  Serve as an admissions tour guide.  Work the janitorial night shift. And play to the human element.  A feature of this type should be built atop the people participating in the activities- the student journalist first-timers and the experienced individuals acting as their guides.

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