Developing a series can solve story slump

“But there’s nothing to write about!”

Any good editor or adviser knows that simply isn’t the case. But if winter blahs have staff members struggling with generating story ideas, developing an ongoing series can help lead to a stream of related posts.

Take, for example, this simple “What it’s like” series on Whitney Update. The editor-in-chief wanted a way to show readers a realistic look at the Advanced Placement courses offered on campus as students make their class selections for next year. The idea stemmed from her observation that way too many students were overloading themselves with APs. She felt students needed to have access to balanced reporting on what each class entails and how students currently enrolled feel about the workload.

She kicked off the series with a post about AP Calculus, and when others felt stuck on story ideas, the series led to a natural list of options. In other words, until every AP course has been covered, there is something to write about.

So far, the series has five posts from three contributors.

Are these Pulitzer-worthy? No. They’ve started to feel a bit formulaic, honestly. But the series provides a valuable service to our readers. The “What it’s like” idea not only led to more academic-related content but also sparked the idea for other sections, such as a series of upcoming entertainment posts in which staff members review each of the four new bubble tea shops in our community. (Side note, they’re thinking of calling that series “Spilling the tea.”)

What new series can your staff develop to open that door?

Media Now Summer Journalism Workshops Drake University and Webster University

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