Right now, I’m sort of between stories as I wait to hear back from a few fundamental sources for my next piece (about RISE apartments.) So I’ve found myself doing a lot of pitch trolling in my downtime… looking for stories, thinking of ideas, concocting potential narratives in my head… pitching cool story ideas, I’ve found, has always been one of the most frustrating and gratifying parts of news writing.
So how do I go about this? My number one most quality source of pitch ideas is my intuition- I see or hear about something, and my gut-reaction is that for some reason, whatever’s happening is newsworthy, and I’ve got to write about it. But being that plugged into the community is hard, and sometimes it can be awhile between those momentary spurts of inspiration. So I’ve turned to a couple of tools.
Aside from mining CoMo.gov, local newspapers, municipal information sources and local press releases, one of my favorite things to do is hop on TweetDeck and punch in some search parameters like “mizzou,” “columbia,” or “missouri.” Or if there’s something more specific, like budget cuts for example: “mizzou budget.” I’ve also used other social media analytics tools with a limited degree of success, like hashtag maps to see where things are trending and Snapchat heat maps.
I’ve also got some ideas that I have yet to try… I thought that a simple way to find some cool community stories could be to email organizations like churches, nonprofits or even some more business-minded entities a simple question: “do you know of any impactful stories happening in your community that could benefit from being told?” I think that would put the source in a good place to begin with- the coverage I’m looking for appears to be positive, and they would possibly have the hope of being portrayed positively in the story (not that that’s how I would write it up. Just saying, could be a way to get a foot in the door on some new leads.)
But I haven’t tried that yet. But I probably will soon, as creative juices lapse… and deadlines mount.