Show up before the start of the school year to assess your journalism needs

Hush. I’m not really there.

I just popped into your inbox to whisper ‘Hi! how was your summer? are you ready for fall? me neither!'”

I slowly reconnected, collected resources for you, and thought about what you might need for an engaging and authentic semester. No one knows that better than you. So this is a reminder to let me know if you need anything from Poynter to start this fall. Click this link to reply to me directly – I’ll do my best to fortify your heat shield when you attempt to re-enter academia. (A few examples: I need more sample DEI stories! I need good investigative video clips! I need more queso! OK, that last one might be tricky, and I want say really, when have we had enough queso already?)

Next week I’ll have a great roundup of Poynter resources with my regular fare. Until then, here are 10 story ideas for homework or student media. I hope this helps you finalize your semester plans.

  • What are races and what are the implications for local, state and national politics?
  • What is the deadline for students to register to vote?
  • Have you explained to them how and where to do it, and explained to them why it is important?
  • Do they understand the difference between registering at their campus address and at their permanent address? How should they decide which address to use?
  • Have you provided a voter’s guide?
  • Will you have access to politicians? (Here is some interesting information.)
  • Have you checked with local Republicans to see if your students will be allowed to cover them?
  • Any chance local Democrats have something to say about any of this? Will they follow suit?
  • The national media is abuzz with both the nationwide housing shortage and campus shortages. Does your university have a similar problem?
  • What are housing officials saying they plan to do about it?
  • Can you find students impacted by either a lack of on-campus availability or finding off-campus housing?
  • Do you have resources for students to help them find affordable housing — do they know where to look?
  • How are private and off-campus apartments doing – are they at full capacity or are they planning further construction?
  • Do local plans reflect the national drop in new home construction?
  • Are there conversations about using private partnerships? What might be the pros and cons of these decisions?
  • Students might feel empowered to report on this latest health threat, applying the lessons they have learned from COVID-19. This could be a great area for students to play an important role in planning a project versus handing out an assignment. A word of warning: misinformation about monkeypox can and will impact LGBTQ people and communities. The media should strive to avoid playing a role in stigmatizing people who would discourage them from getting vaccinated, tested and treated.
  • Many universities have promised change since the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police. did they deliver?
  • Gather documents related to statements, working groups, committees, etc., then check their progress. Have the promises been kept?
  • What do stakeholders such as students, faculty and staff from traditionally marginalized backgrounds think of the action and the results, if any?
  • #BamaRush is back, and it’s myopia to imagine it’s just a Deep South tradition.
  • There are many ways to handle reporting on Greek life, from giddy photo essays on bid day to deep dives into fairness and hazing.
  • It’s worth talking about coverage across the board, though, as Greek life dominates the social and political scene at many American universities.
  • What impact has this had on your campus?
  • What are the students saying?
  • What kinds of costs are rising, from tuition to student convenience store protein bars?
  • Another great opportunity for explainers, and remember to resist the urge to oversimplify complicated reasons for inflation – talk to not just one economics professor, but three.
  • How is it at your university?
  • Does the state attempt to monitor the discourse and curriculum of teachers and professors?
  • What does your faculty government say? Administration?
  • The CRT Forward Tracking Project should be helpful.
  • They might not be OK. There have been several high-profile articles in the national media about athletes who have committed suicide and others who have contemplated or attempted suicide.
  • How do universities deal with this threat, both for athletes and non-athletes? Remember to refer early and often to the Suicide Report.
  • Heartbreaking and harrowing accounts of the treatment of Indigenous peoples in Canada have rocked this country, even leading the Pope to call what happened “genocide.”
  • Students would be advised to familiarize themselves with and report on the indigenous peoples who lived on and around campus before there was a campus.
  • Here’s an example from the LA Times and here’s a site that builds such maps.
  • Don’t forget to chat with these communities before, during and after the story.

Watch how this reporter found ALL the people in the story. It’s amusing and funny, but running through the veins of this story is admirable tirelessness and tenacity.

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