Not knowledgable about your new environment? Find someone who is

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).ID-10061779

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.

Kylie Wray


About kyliewray

I'm a first year pre-journalism major at the University of Oregon. I'm writing this blog for my Journalism 201 Class. It's subject will be mostly of the media and how it effects me and the world around us.
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10 Responses to Not knowledgable about your new environment? Find someone who is

  1. Nick Smith says:

    Kylie, there is a ton of greta info here. As a PR person it’s always interesting to me to hear about how the other-side works. I think I would have a horrible time trying to come up with new and exciting topics to write about. Thanks for sharing.

  2. littlebrittanyb says:

    Much like Nick, I am fascinated by how things work at your internship. Coming up with good ideas is also difficult in advertising, especially when your client is well-established. I definitely agree with you about keeping your ear to the ground. It’s amazing what you can learn if you just listen for and to little things. Being adaptable is also a great thing, since as interns our world is constantly in flux. I’m sure this is probably even more true to your position since the news never stops. Great post and fantastic advice!

  3. Great post! I really like your tips for working with a small publication and trying to harvest ideas. Again, I think networking is beneficial in any situation. Not only will this help for writing an article and having resources, but also for the future when reaching out the community for job-related assistance. You’re right, being able to quickly adapt to an environment is a great tool. Ultimately, this will help show your worth to any company!

  4. Austin Marie Foster says:

    That’s awesome to get an inside on how the other side of journalism works. I am learning the importance of networking and making meaningful connections and I know what you mean by collecting the business cards. I never thought about researching a city before to gain insight on the people, but that makes sense. Thanks for the tips!

  5. lockerobster says:

    I agree with our PR cohorts, it’s great to read about a super-J point of view. Even though our tasks might not be exactly the same, we are all in the communications field and build similar skill sets. Also, we might not be coworkers, but as public relations practitioners and journalist, we will rely on each other to convey our messages to the public.

  6. I liked your post.

    Coming up with new stories and ideas for a newspaper sounds like a difficult task. Have you been able to come up with any fresh new ideas that they want to run with? If not, I’m sure you will! I’m sure it’s a little stressful, though. Luckily, you bring a new perspective, which will probably lead you to some things your colleagues have not thought of. If anything, it is always good to practice your brainstorming skills, an important skill to have.

    – Nick

  7. andrewsch90 says:

    Kylie, that is some great advice. No matter your profession, networking and keeping your ear to the ground are invaluable skills to have. You never know who you will meet and what kind of opportunities may be available. We should all be willing to meet people from any type of profession. As you mentioned, it’s imperative to pay attention to how these people could connect you to new subjects and opportunities. Value comes from who you know.

  8. Summer Luu says:

    Kyle, that’s the third time I’ve heard the term “ear to the ground” this week! So that’s definitely a sign for me to keep mine to the ground if I hear of anything that might help me move forward in any way. And I also agree with your outreach to the community and the local places around you, I wish I could have more time to explore the area that I live in now and more areas in Portland. Can’t believe we only have 5 more weeks left!

  9. In the editorial field, I know EXACTLY what this is like. I’ve also found that remembering to think of everything I hear around town as a potential story helps a lot. I’ve started carrying a notebook around with me to make sure that none of them slip my mind.

    You’ll have to let me know how this progresses. Starting a beat where so many vets have already established themselves is a very tough thing. I’ll be coming to you for advice before we’re out of PDXSX.


  10. pdxsx says:

    Well done, Ms. Wray! Outstanding advice!

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