28 Days of Story Ideas, #7: The Sochi Olympics, Campus Security & LGBTQ Rights

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia is a more than two-week smorgasbord of golds, silvers, bronzes and compelling stories. Events such as figure skating, speed skating, ice hockey, curling and luge will play out against a backdrop of political controversies and security concerns. As compelling as it will be to watch, the Games are also ripe for adaptation.

One example: the LGBTQ angle. The Sochi Olympics has earned enormous amounts of attention due to the host country’s openly hostile attitude toward gay rights — manifested in the statements and actions of its leaders and the passage of related laws.

As a USA TODAY report notes, “International concern about discrimination of gays at the Games was raised after a law against disseminating homosexual propaganda to minors was passed by the Russian Duma, or parliament, last summer. In response, Russian authorities reassured visitors, but also placed limits on the right to protest during the Sochi competition.”


Protests aside, use this Olympics as the spark for a state-of-the-campus report on LGBTQ rights. Check in with related student organizations. Profile the more prominent LGBTQ students and alumni. Gauge the overall climate from the student, faculty and staff perspectives — and possibly within pockets such as Greek life and athletics.

Also examine the language in the university’s mission statement and codes of conduct. Report on the amount and diversity of courses focused on LGBTQ issues, thinkers and writers. Even count the number of transgender residence hall rooms and restrooms.

Separately, back in Russia, security forces intently focused on stamping out a “catastrophic terror attack” are hovering over the Games. According to The Boston Herald, “Sochi is now surrounded by as many as 100,000 troops and security officials, due to fears of terrorism from Islamic extremists in Russia’s nearby Dagestan and Chechnya regions, including the threat from so-called ‘black widow’ suicide bombers.”

With Sochi safety and potential criminality making headlines, dive full-force into security issues on your home campus. Report on the most frequent and dangerous threats and incidents at your school. Profile the security team hired to stop them. Assess just how secure residence halls, academic buildings and athletic facilities actually are. And report on current students who have spent time in prison and are now attempting to live their lives within the law.

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

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

28 Days of Story Ideas, #4: A Postal Holiday & Some Campus Mail Fun

28 Days of Story Ideas, #5: ‘Saturday Night Live’ & the Party AFTER the Party

28 Days of Story Ideas, #6: Reporting on Your Campus Like It’s a Foreign Country

1 Million Story Ideas for Student Journalists

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