1 Million Story Ideas Special: ‘What I Be’ Project

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.


‘What I Be’


1“I am not my weight. … I am not my suicidal thoughts. … I am not my sexual assault. … I am not my race. … I am not my apathy.” These are a scant few of the ginormous number of statements individuals have shared with photographer Steve Rosenfeld for a special photo series “What I Be” aimed at capturing intimate glimpses of people’s private fears, thoughts and doubts.

As Boston College senior Michelle Tomassi writes in The Heights, “The ‘What I Be’ project has four steps: individuals have their insecurities written on their hands or faces; pose for a headshot without smiling; have it uploaded to Facebook; and provide a caption with their insecurity, preceded by ‘I am not.’ Each photo follows the same format, but the ‘What I Be’ project is anything but formulaic — it allows participants to be open and honest about themselves in the hopes of encouraging and empowering others who are experiencing similar struggles.”

Consider adapting the formula and sharing the internal struggles of individuals connected to your own campus with a candid photo-confessional spread or regularly-updated special site.




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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