Going into my fifth week of my internship. I’m of course looking for ways to better myself, find new responsibilities and prove my worth. One of the things that both my editors said they would like me to do is begin coming up with my own story ideas (thus far tasks that others are too busy for have been thrown at me, which I’ve definitely enjoyed).
It can be hard to come up with good ideas that haven’t already been cover, among the experts who know the area and have covered their beats for quite some time—especially at a small community newspaper where the editor knows everyone who is everyone who come to him with their good stories.
So here are a couple of techniques I’ve learned in order to help get your foot in the door with new ideas.
1. Keep Your Ear to the Ground: When covering meetings and panel discussions, listen to any and all tangents from the particular topic. It may not seem important, but they might turn you on to a current struggle in the community. If it’s distracting them, it may be of interest to you.
2. Make Contacts: Whenever you’re out on an interview, don’t blow them off when they want to introduce you around. Meet as many people as you can and pay attention to how these new contacts could help connect you to new subjects. Always ask for a business card and keep a nice little holder for them on your desk.
3. Reach Out to Citizens: If you work for a community newspaper in an area you’re not familiar with, seek out those who are. Visit your town’s website and look for neighborhood associations, read the minutes from their last meeting and call to chat with their chairs about what topics have been of conversation.
Being able to quickly adapt to a new community and come up with great new ideas is something that will make you even more invaluable to the company—and the stack of contacts you’ve made can’t hurt either.