1 Million Story Ideas Special: ‘Sell Us Your Major’

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.


‘Sell Us Your Major’


1“Taking down crime, one comma at a time. … Considering the power of history. … The world needs journalists. … Improving your education by studying it.” These are among the taglines for a unique set of student sales pitches published in The Diamondback at the University of Maryland. As the paper explains, “With 90 undergraduate majors at this university, having yours stick out from the crowd can be difficult. This week, The Diamondback asked opinion columnists to ‘sell’ their majors to our readers.”

Recruit a similar sales force from your own school’s student body, faculty or alumni ranks. Compel them to pitch their chosen academic program to prospective or current students — publishing the competing rundowns in a special issue, special section or a permanent spot on your website. Along with text ‘sells,’ consider complementary video pitches. The key: While focusing on the positives, ensure writers are courageous enough to point out the flaws or quirks of their programs — either in general or at your school specifically.

By the way, here’s a portion of UMD freshman Samantha Reilly’s pitch for the journalism major: “People think studying journalism is about learning how to sit for makeup before a broadcast or how to print facts on a page, but it’s about so much more than that. I spend my time learning about the incredible effect of the media on people, consuming news articles and reports as though they’re candy and, best of all, writing. Journalists have so much to do with people’s everyday life. We entertain, we inform and we put in a lot of work for little monetary compensation. Journalists are expected to be there. Whether that means snapping a photo of a riot in Washington, submitting a column on time or throwing themselves into a completely new realm of reality, journalists are there.”

I’m sold, although I may be biased. What do you think?




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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