1 Million Story Ideas Special: ‘Every PR Email’

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.


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.


‘Every Single PR Email’


1Newsweek staffer Zach Schonfeld has a confession. As he writes, “It’s not that I’m unappreciative of the PR people who score me interviews and pass along stories — it’s just that there are so frighteningly many of them, and for every inbox blast that’s relevant to me, there are four or five more that may as well be from a Nigerian prince. But what if I’m missing something?”

To see what he might be missing — and have some fun — Schonfeld spent an entire week responding to every PR email cramming his inbox. His adventure is chock full of weird wonderfulness and pure entertainment, while also providing an excellent glimpse at the many products and myths people are trying to peddle as newsworthy and the awkward ways they go about it.

Follow in Schonfeld’s footsteps with a PR deep dive of your own. Click on, check out and possibly respond to all the PR messages and general spamtasticness arriving in your news outlet’s email inboxes. As someone who blogs and freelances daily about higher ed, I can confirm there are a TON of wacky and wild messages touting THE NEXT BIG THING FOR STUDENTS. They just waiting to be explored — and maybe even reported on.




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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