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A free summer seminar for experienced high school journalism advisers

From the 23 teachers who attended this workshop in July 2019, we have included Solutions Journalism Story Ideas, other Story Ideas for a whole range of topics and Tech Examples of something they learned, many of these for data visualization, plus some resources anyone can use in the future for these topics.

Collins story ideas

Story Idea 1 (Institutional) – Pie Bake

  • Report on the recipients of the hundreds of pies baked at UPrep’s annual pre-Thanksgiving pie bake for charities.
  • Mission and need: Students spend hours making the pies. It would be nice to help them understand the results.
  • Newspeg: Obviously, this is only a timely story around the time of Pie Bake, an annual event every November.
  • Essential question: What happens to the pies after they leave UPrep?
  • Sources:
    • Anne Bingham, NHS sponsor
    • Staff member from at least one charity (shelter, food bank) assisted
    • Pie recipient (shelter resident or food bank client)
    • Possibly pie bake students
  • Potential issues with sources:
    • Finding a charity representative willing to talk on the eve of a holiday
      • Solution: Plan ahead
    • Convincing a homeless person or food bank client to tell their story publicly
      • Solution: Make the story about more than the person receiving charity. Really tell the person’s story.
    • Media to best tell the story
      • Could make for a compelling podcast or video piece—plenty of visuals and sounds. Could also be a good character-centered narrative article.
    • Visuals: students making pies, pies being delivered, eating of pies (maybe?)
    • Angles: tell from the point of view of a pie recipient or a representative of one of the charities—giving context about the organization; or do the story from a traditional approach—talk to students about the experience of making the pies
    • ASF possibilities:
      • By the numbers breakdown (lbs. of ingredients, organizations served, number of years, number of students, number of pies)
      • Pie recipe
      • Map of pie destinations
      • Bio box of charities helped
    • Legal, ethical, social responsibility concerns: Obviously you are dealing with telling a story of a private person, so it will be important to make sure they understand where the story will go and consent to their name and/or picture being used.
    • Other: Doing this story well will require a student to have transportation.

Story Idea 2 (in-depth expanded coverage) – Vaping Ban

  • Idea: Examining the potential effects of banning vape product sales in Seattle
  • Mission and need: After San Francisco passed a law banning the sale of e-cigaretttes, Seattle’s mayor tweeted that it was “time to have this discussion” in Seattle
  • News peg: First issue since the tweet; could also be done when the law takes effect in early 2020
  • Essential questions: Will Seattle seriously pursue banning the sale of vape products? (Since the law has not taken affect in SF yet, a solutions piece on this topic would be impossible.)
  • Sources:
    • Mayor
    • Students who vape (anonymized)
    • Business owner (who sells vape products)
    • Health dept. representative
    • SF city documents
    • SF city official
    • Potential Seattle city documents
  • Potential issues with sources:
    • Seattle mayor and SF city official will obviously be hard to interview
      • Solution: Is there a spokesperson or other public official (with less seniority) who could speak? Could we do an email or phone interview?
    • Students may not want to talk
      • Solution: Conduct interview off campus; reporter is the only person who knows the identity
    • Depending on the documents we seek from the cities, they might not be readily available
      • Solution: Submit records requests
    • Media to best tell the story: Online or print
    • Visuals: Photo, photo illustration, ASFs
    • Angles: Do students and health officials think that a ban in Seattle could make a difference? Why does the mayor think this would be effective? Why did SF make this decision? What has been the fallout since the city approved the law?
    • ASF possibilities: Timeline of SF law, social media collection (tweets by public officials), polls, charts/graphs of vape sale statistics
    • Legal, ethical, social responsibility concerns: Making sure we do not reveal the identity of any vaping students, as it is illegal
    • Other:

Story Idea 3 (social media) – Buff Puff and Power Puff

  • Idea: Live coverage of the annual Buff Puff and Power Puff games during homecoming week.
  • Mission and need: Event is popular with students (who might appreciate the real-time recap); alumni could also follow online
  • News peg: Cover as it happens
  • Essential question: Who wins?
  • Sources:
    • Team captains
    • Team coaches
    • Competitors
    • Spectators
  • Potential issues with sources:
    • Unable to interview players during the games
      • Solution: Conduct post-game interviews
    • May want to interview multiple people in a limited amount of time
      • Solution: Employ mutltiple reporters
    • Media to best tell the story: Live Tweet, Instagram Live, Instagram stories (We don’t have a Facebook page)
    • Visuals: Images and video of the game
    • Angles: Play by play, sideline coverage, fan reaction
    • ASF possibilities: Twitter poll, Instagram story with user-submitted photos
    • Legal, ethical, social responsibility concerns: Concerns about possible inappropriate language by participants during live coverage
    • Other: Unable to use multiple platforms on one device; multiple reporters would be needed, and because of that, we’d need a clear coverage plan with well-defined responsibilities for all reporters
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