Generating Story Ideas: Seeing Stories All Around You

Course Overview

Generating Story Ideas: Seeing Stories All Around You
Seminar Snapshot
Time Estimate:
About an hour

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About Seminar Snapshots

A Seminar Snapshot features video highlights that capture the key learning of a seminar presentation.

Does it seem to you that good story ideas just fall into the laps of certain reporters? Do you sometimes think that one story leads to another story — which leads to a better story?

Truly great journalism goes beyond these passive approaches to finding story ideas. Hone your story radar; sit and work in the white noise of your beat. This presentation will teach you four habits and four truths about the nature of finding and identifying good stories.

This presentation is part of a workshop that covers five important steps in the writing process: generating story ideas, collecting the facts and details, finding focus in your story, structuring your work and revising your writing.

The other presentations in this series are:

Hunt and Gather Details for Your Stories: Tom French, teacher and facilitator at The Poynter Institute and at Indiana University's journalism school, teaches you to research and report the kinds of human detail and vivid scenes that will make your writing come alive.

Finding the Heart of the Story: Tom Huang, Sunday and enterprise editor at The Dallas Morning News and adjunct faculty member of The Poynter Institute, presents essential writing techniques that produce compelling, sharply focused stories with strong underlying themes.

Planning and Drafting Your Story: Roy Peter Clark, writing instructor since 1979, vice president and senior scholar at The Poynter Institute, teaches you how to draft your story using a quick plan and outlining its most important parts.

Mastering the Craft of Revision: Chip Scanlan, reporting, writing and editing faculty affiliate at The Poynter Institute, offers revision techniques that will help you identify problems in your stories and make the changes, big and small, that will make your writing stand out.

Check out the Training Package to purchase the entire five-part series!

What Will I Learn:
  • Going beyond what other reporters are writing
  • Honing your story radar
  • Identifying great stories
  • Building relationships within the community and exploring subjects that aren't normally covered
Who should take this course:

Reporters, editors, freelance writers — and anyone who wants to learn to uncover compelling story ideas.


Alexandra Zayas

Alexandra Zayas is a senior editor at ProPublica. She spent 12 years at the Tampa Bay Times, ultimately as the newspaper’s enterprise editor. As a reporter, her investigation into abuse at unlicensed religious children’s homes across Florida won the 2013 Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting, the Livingston Award for Young Journalists and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. She has served on the National Advisory Board of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies.