1 Million Story Ideas Special: The Happiness Challenge

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 on my blog 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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Happiness Challenge

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One of the most high-profile social media crazes this past spring semester was 100 Happy Days. Participants attempt to engage in things that bring them joy for 100 straight days, snapping and sharing 100 related photos along the way. The gist: “Can you be happy for 100 days in a row? . . . It can be anything from a meet-up with a friend to a very tasty cake in the nearby coffee place, from a feeling of being at home after a hard day to a favor you did [for] a stranger.”

Any students on your campus willing to play along? If not, consider diving in yourself. Or brainstorm ways to build on or shape-shift the premise — collecting photos of 100 people doing something that brings them happiness on the same day; posting photos of things that make students UNHAPPY; or having a student keep a tweet-sized list of EVERYTHING that makes them happy during a single day, week or semester.

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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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