As the new year begins for scholastic broadcasters across the country, the annual search for story ideas begins. My students have said for years that it is their biggest challenge. Not learning the cameras, mastering the editing software, or managing their time. It is that constant struggle to find the story—the idea—that stresses them the most.
So here are some ideas that might work, or at least lead to a good topic, for your students as we all struggle to find compelling content. Feel free to share more ideas in the “comments” section. We are all in this together!
*Fall sports that are not football deserve coverage. Have you tried doing a feature on the lonely cross country runner? Lots of repeated action and some great camera angles (think W-A-L-L-D-O) are possible. Why do they do it? What keeps them going? Coaches love to talk about dedicated runners. This one practically edits itself.
*Instead of the usual “meet the new teachers” story, how about visiting with the veteran teacher starting his/her 25th year in your building? How has the school changed? Your yearbooks provide a lot of b-roll possibilities. The changes in wardrobe, hairstyles, and such will be evident. As the veteran teacher talks about the school then and now, you can give great texture with the old photos.
*Election coverage seems appropriate, but find the most passionate teens who are actually participating in the process. Get past the same old sound bites about the candidates and see what motivates the teens to volunteer at headquarters, or help post signs and such for their candidate. This is a great opportunity to cover both sides—get supporters of each candidate for your primary sources, but maybe find a surprise such as a teen committed to a third party candidate.
*Changes—every school year there are changes. How about drilling down on just one of them? Pick out the change most kids are talking about. A new bell schedule—new procedures at lunch—rules about parking. The “newness” of the changes makes them perfect fodder for a news story, especially on a daily or weekly show. Note: Some changes are actually well-received. Students should be allowed to talk about the changes they like as well as the ones they question.
*Seniors are entering their final year of high school. What’s in store? Talk to a school counselor about all the milestones ahead—from taking the ACT or SAT, applying for colleges, ordering graduation announcements, planning for prom, all the “last times” ahead. What makes the senior year special/expensive/exciting/hectic?
Those are just five ideas that might get your pitch meetings going. Have a great year, and find some great stories!