How to generate story ideas for broadcast

Ideas are everywhere for our students to generate stories for school broadcasts. Everybodyhasastory to tell! SteveHartman, one of the best storytellers I have even known, makes a living by proving this every week on CBS television.

So how do you begin? Your students tell you, “I don’t have any ideas for a video.” They may believe that, initially, but I always tell me kids, “Don’t edit your brain!”

I always encourage my students to brainstorm all the ideas they can think of, and them write them down. Type them in their phone. Discuss their ideas a class. Conference one on one in a safe environment for your students to express their thoughts. Whatever it takes to begin visualizing and building their ideas.

Ultimately it takes curiosity, passion, and interest to generate an idea and be creative right? So let’s encourage that process.

Here are some tried and true methods to help students generate solid story ideas.

1. School Announcements
Find out what’s happening in your school or school community. But make sure to find something unique about the teams, clubs, or individuals involved. Everybody has a story. Avoid the easy “facts” about the upcoming homecoming dance, and search the angle that has never been covered.

2. School, Local & National Publications
The ideas are right there in print. Now go build a video around it. Take a larger story from your city, state or country and find a way to localize it. Contact local experts, get reaction from students and teachers, or interview people on the street to get their opinions.

3. Utilize Social Media
Hop on Twitter and see what’s trending. Again, search locally or localize a national trend. Reach out to followers and find out what they are talking about or what they want to know more about. Or create a poll on Facebook to gauge your audience’s interests.

4. Research SchoolTube, YouTube or other Video Websites
Students all over the country are posting thousands of their videos to these sites everyday. Have your students take those ideas and customize them to your community. Or deconstruct a visual technique they saw in these videos and have them recreate them in their personal own way.

5. Community Outreach
Contact local nonprofits for upcoming events, walks, marathons, fundraisers, or causes and ask them if they would like a student to help them promote their organizations. These groups love working with students and always have activities on their calendars.

6. Talk
This is the simplest of all methods. Get your students talking to everybody! Family and friends. Or how about getting out of their comfort zone and talking to the isolated, awkward student in the corner of the cafeteria who seems quiet, but probably has amazing ideas to share. Always, always, always be looking for story ideas. Watch people waking in the mall, eating at a restaurant, observe interactions wherever you go and think, “Hmm….. there might be a story there.” Everybody has a story to tell.

This is only a beginning. I wrote an earlier post with a few other details that may help.

Finding Story Ideas and Successfully Preparing for your Student Television Show

What methods do your students use to find great story ideas? Please share with us in the comments. I look forward to reading what you do!

Don Goble

Don Goble is an award-winning Broadcast, Technology, Multimedia and Film Instructor at Ladue Horton Watkins High School in St. Louis. Journalism Education Association’s National Broadcast Adviser of the Year in 2015, Don is also an Apple Distinguished Educator, PBS Lead Digital Innovator and author who advocates for media and digital literacy for all learners. Don masterfully engages students to author and craft media messages to build their voice and share their story.

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