1 Million Story Ideas Special: Campus Tour Guides Gone Wild

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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Tour Guides Gone Wild

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1The Old Gold & Black at Wake Forest University recently ran a three-part series featuring student tour guides gone wild. In guest op-eds of sorts, the guides offered the type of honest perspectives about the university and their work that you would never actually hear them say on a tour.

As OG&B EIC Molly Dutmers tells me, “From the room I lived in this year, I could hear tours go by and I heard one of the tour guides mention our gym, which is less than spectacular. This got me thinking about what tour guides have to say versus what they really want to say.”

For example, one anonymous guide writes, “As someone who grew up around people of many different cultures, I am getting tired of everyone looking and acting the same. It gets old. … Everyone is so caught up in being the best person that they let their ego get so large and hide who they really are. … As I ramble more about the problems I find with this school rather than the positives, I can’t help but question why I am a tour guide.”

Give some student guides at your college or university similar freedom (via anonymity) to express themselves. Focus on their true thoughts about campus and if, when and how they have been forced to fudge, withhold or flat-out lie about more sordid school happenings. Also hone in on a sure reader favorite: What are the weirder questions they have been asked by tour-takers? (The Old Gold & Black, Wake Forest University)

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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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