28 Days of Story Ideas, #8: The Sochi Olympics, Stray Animals & Humans vs. Zombies

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 odd example: A pest control company will be killing stray dogs throughout the Olympics, in part to keep the large amount of unclaimed pooches roaming free in the city under control.

An Associated Press report confirms, “Stray dogs are not uncommon in Sochi and the surrounding area, and many tend to gather near construction sites where they are likely to get food and shelter from workers. They have even been able to get inside the Olympic Park.”


A variety of stray animals similarly invade campuses on a regular basis — from cats and dogs to deer and squirrels. How does your school deal with these creatures? And what about students who sneak in animals secretly to their dorms?

For example, a report last semester in The Duke Chronicle at Duke University stated, “Duke’s campus is home to a surprising number of student pet owners, all hiding a myriad of creatures from the eyes of the law. Ball pythons … dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, ferrets and hedgehogs … about [round] out the surreptitious Duke zoo.”

Animals aside, the Olympics also features 12 new sports, including the ski halfpipe, ski slopestyle, snowboard slopestyle, snowboard parallel slalom, women’s ski jumping and a luge team relay. The events — many with an X Games flair — should serve as inspiration for a closer look at the newer and quirkier interscholastic, intramural and unofficial sports played by students at your own school.

Put together player, coach and team profiles for the sports that don’t grab as many headlines, fans in the stands or conference championships. And look far outside the box including to competitions that may even strain the definition of sports.

For example, Quidditch and paintball are rising in popularity on many campuses. Video game competitions and fantasy football are also evermore buzzworthy. And debate teams, cheerleading squads and Humans vs. Zombies deserve their own feature reports.

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.




28 Days of Story Ideas, #1: Beyonce, Jay-Z & ‘Celebrity Courses’

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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