1 Million Story Ideas Special: Warning, This Class May Offend You

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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Collegiate Trigger Warnings

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Should some college courses or campus events come with a warning? Academia is currently abuzz over “trigger warnings.” The growing debate among administrators, educators and activists centers on whether schools should be required to give students a heads-up whenever more explicit, offensive or possibly traumatic material appears in an assignment, lecture, article or work of art.

The goal of the warnings appears to be very idealistic — simply striving to protect survivors of “racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism and … all forms of violence.” But in reality, many questions abound. For example, how should the warnings be worded? How much warning time is needed? How is something deemed warning-worthy? And what about whole classes or seminal books that grapple with more macabre or dismaying subject matter?

As Rebecca Brewster reports for the Emerald at the University of Oregon, “Colleges around the country, including some departments at UO, are struggling to define the boundaries between challenging course material, students’ well-being and free speech. … Warnings are becoming more and more common — and more and more controversial.”  (Emerald, University of Oregon)

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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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