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Advice for Students

News Journalism: Finding Stories

4 August 2022
Photo by Roger H. Goun via Creative Commons license on Flickr.
Photo by Roger H. Goun via Creative Commons license on Flickr.

It can be a scary thing production days, especially if you don’t have a story. In the first term you only have to write one story per week, by the second term you have to write two. While this may seem like a lot, journalists at WalesOnline and The South Wales Argus have to write around 5 a day… let that sink in.

 

  1. Facebook is your friend, as is twitter.

The best thing to do when you start is to join all the Facebook groups you can find for your patch and any subjects that interest you. I joined the Grangetown community page which not only gave my many of my stories, it also introduced me to the Grange greening group at the Community centre. Twitter is also good if you use Tweetdeck to search specific hashtags. These social medias can also introduce you to the big community leaders which if you can meet them and form a relationship early on, can also give you good stories.

 

  1. Next door

Another form of social media but a different user base. This can provide you with good tip offs for things happening in neighbourhoods you don’t live in. However don’t do what I did and not register as living at the address you actually live at because otherwise you cannot post or comment which severely limits your ability to contact people.

 

  1. FOI

This was my favourite, and I wrote an article about each step of this here.

 

  1. Speaking to people

This is the least favourite of most of the newsroom but after doing a few vox pops (when you ask random people on the street questions) you get over the social anxiety of going up to people. You just have to be polite and very smiley. I found that having a line to enter a conversation was useful, for example if there was a sign for a festival or event I hadn’t heard of. Perhaps go into how their day was or what’s happening in the local community that they think is important.

 

  1. Council surgeries and meetings

Looking at the subjects that are being raised and spoken about is important to stay in tune with what is happening in your patch, but more importantly what is important to the community. They are your audience so writing about things they have raised with the council is great.

 

These are the main tips, the trick is just getting out there and creating a network. Some of the first people I made contact with were key article contributors for the rest of the year. Shout out to Keep Grangetown Tidy who saved the day with important environmental comments for some of my articles.