1 Million Story Ideas Special: ‘My First Panic Attack’

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.


‘My First Panic Attack’


1Last year, out of nowhere, Iowa State Daily editor-in-chief Stephen Koenigsfeld “felt like something snapped in my chest and my heart was going 160 beats per minute.” As he writes in a courageously candid column, “I was overwhelmed with a feeling of doom. … Chest pains, sweaty hands, hyperventilation and dizziness all followed. As I made my way into the emergency room, my heart rate had slowed, my sweaty palms began to cool and I was starting to be able to breathe again. Little did I know I had just experienced my first panic attack and was on the road for a troubling bout with general anxiety disorder.”

GAD affects close to 7 million people in the U.S., according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, including college students. Follow in Koenigsfeld’s courageous footsteps by sharing the stories of students — and staff — at your school who are coping with the condition or related forms of severe anxiety. Break down the counseling services and other support available on and off campus. And explore the larger sociological underpinnings impacting student stress in the modern higher ed universe.

A description of what a panic attack feels like, given to Koenigsfeld by an ISU medical doctor: “Picture yourself in a room with no air and a window at the far end and you will do anything you can to break through that window to get to the air. You kind of shut everything else out.”




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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