1 Million Story Ideas Special: A 24-Hour News Production Project

Over the past decade, digital tools and mobile platforms have rocketed journalism to a universe of innovation, interactivity and immediacy once unimaginable. Yet, without stellar content, journalism 2.0 is not worth the effort to read, watch, click on, scroll through, contribute to or connect with. Everything journalism was, is and will be rests on our ability to tell a story. And every story starts with an idea.

So let’s brainstorm.

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To help get you started, I have set up and regularly update the special page 1 Million Story Ideas for Student Journalists here on College Media Matters. It is aimed at inspiring student journalists to localize, adapt and reinvent a range of stories — quirky and mainstream, text-based and visual, interactive and investigatory.

Here is one example.

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‘A Day to Create’

1Once or twice a year at the University of Minnesota, theater students join forces in pursuit of a common goal — “to create a production in 24 hours using their creative talents.” It’s meant to be spontaneous, low-pressure, high-fun, socially-bonding, confidence-boosting and innovative, set against the backdrop of what one student performer calls “a common enemy — time. We’re all fighting together to beat time and this tired thing.”

The production also makes an end-run around student apathy. As the same performer explains to The Minnesota Daily, “It’s like when you’ve been given a paper and you’ve got four months to do it … You’re going to do it in one night anyway, right? … So why don’t we just create this piece of theater in one night too? … It gets you doing instead of just sitting back and being like, ‘I’ll deal with it later.’ It makes you deal with it for 24 hours without being able to procrastinate or put it off.”

Embrace the all-in spirit of this artistic endeavor by staging a similar production — one focused not on drama but news. Unite with other student journalists to create an entire special issue, section, project or series from scratch in 24 hours — brainstorming, reporting, writing, editing, designing, publishing/posting and promoting.

For those working on daily news outlets, this is not meant to resemble a typical production night or a normal edition. Instead, pick a single newsworthy theme or timely event to tackle. Stitch it together in a way that turns the news gathering portion or final product on its head. And ENJOY the process — with pizza, music, behind-the-scenes tweets and lots of selfies. (The Minnesota Daily, University of Minnesota)

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For 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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