28 Days of Story Ideas, #3: Groundhog Day & the College Routine

Although lost a bit within the Super Bowl babble, Groundhog Day played out like normal yesterday in Punxsutawney, Pa. Surprising no one who has endured the recent “polar vortex” climate, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, metaphorically saddling us with six more weeks of winter.

The festivities of course always remind me of the fantastically wonderful Bill Murray film “Groundhog Day,” focused on a local news weatherman living the same day over and over and over. Engaging in some brainstorming fun, let’s play with that repetition angle, delving into related stories focused on your own campus.

Start with OCD. Profile students, staff, faculty, administrators and alums living their daily lives with some type of obsession or compulsion, the type that causes them to repeatedly do or desire the same thing. Possibly branch out from there with a look at sheer addiction — and not simply the standbys (though certainly important) of alcohol and drugs.

Interesting potential addictive story focuses abound: food, online fame, FarmVille, exercise, stealing, sleeping, note-taking, web browsing and “The Hunger Games.” Below is one especially offbeat example: a snippet from the TLC show “My Strange Addiction” about a woman obsessed with licking her cat and eating cat hair. Yikes.

Beyond personal OCD-addiction stories, think academic. What are the longest-running courses at your school? What course has been taught the most by the same professor? What creative class assignments do profs say have stood the test of time? And, on the other side of sameness, what courses or programs have been updated or radically altered most often — and why?

In general, college life is built around “Groundhog Day”-style routines. In that vein, put together a fun hashtagged Twitter free-for-all, engaging students to suggest traditional things that need changing at the school — maybe in respect to the course registration process, homecoming weekend, final exams, commencement, orientation, class schedules, wait-lists or dorm fire drills.

5For more ideas, check out 1 Million Story Ideas for Student Journalists, a quick-hit, unending, hopefully indispensable, fun, fun, fun digital story ideas fountain.

Also order a copy of my book Journalism of Ideas: Brainstorming, Developing, and Selling Stories in the Digital Age. Dubbed “the next new mandatory text for college journalists,” it features advice from hundreds of contributors, lots of digital storytelling tips, tons of story ideas and more than 300 games aimed at sparking you to come up with endless ideas of your own.

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28 Days of Story Ideas, #2: Super Bowl Commercials & College Ad Campaigns

1 Million Story Ideas for Student Journalists

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