Story Ideas

Not sure where to find good story ideas? This post is for you!

what impact are you trying to make?

Stories should inform your audience so they can make better decisions. Stories should raise awareness and empathy. How will you use your platform?

Instead of only focusing on problems, look for opportunities to showcase solutions to empower your audience to make their communities better. Solutions journalism takes a basic story one step further by showing how people are addressing common problems. This requires understanding context and patterns. Most stories are part of a larger issue.


The refugee crisis can seem so big and overwhelming. Instead of desensitizing your audience by only showing huge refugee camps, you can humanize refugees by interviewing one of the kids integrating into a new culture by riding bikes with them. Show them as people who are just like you and me.

Here’s a great example of how Yusuf Omar showcased people cleaning up their community. These positive stories perform way better online because people are more likely to share uplifting stories than depressing ones. Focus on solutions.

Child labor is a huge problem that often goes uncovered. Here’s how he turned a problem into a solution. He showcased a shelter that helps former child laborers learn English and self defense:

Instead of only reporting on homelessness, teach your audience about resources. Where are the local shelters? Did you know there are many parking lots where homeless people can sleep safely in their cars? How can your audience donate money, clothing, or time?


I use Twitter lists and Tweetdeck all the time to find story ideas more efficiently. The great thing about Twitter lists is that you can make a bunch of different lists for different reasons. For example, I made this beat check Twitter list to help Florida Focus students find news of the day in the Tampa Bay area.

I found local officials and government organizations like the Tampa Police Department and Hillsborough County. These are great sources of information and media that our news outlet can publish.

For Hashtag Our Stories, I created this Twitter list. Hashtag Our Stories is very different than Florida Focus. For one, Florida Focus is a local news program that airs on TV, while Hashtag Our Stories is a global social media outlet. The target audience for Florida Focus is an older person who watches PBS. Whereas the target audience for Hashtag Our Stories is 13-24 year olds who use Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook for positive stories about people changing their communities.

You can create a Twitter list by clicking “lists” on your Twitter profile. This is for desktop, but you can do the same on the mobile app.

Then click the “create new list” button in the top right.

You should name your list something specific so you can organize them. If you plan on making your list public, a specific name will also help others who subscribe to your list.

Once you’ve created your list, you can add relevant accounts by typing in handles in the member search.

After adding members, you can easily scroll through all of their tweets in one place.

Then, you can take it one step further and view your lists in TweetDeck for super efficient Twitter account and hashtag monitoring.

Check out these tips from npr

USF Story Ideas

Many USF departments and colleges also have compelling content on their social media platform that can inspire great story ideas.

Tampa Bay story ideas

You can use events to spark ideas for stories you’d like to turn into a feature. Instead of covering the event itself, consider the stories inside the event. What’s the organization hosting the event? Who are the people attending the event? Do they have compelling stories your audience would be interested in? Is there a larger story that’s bigger than the event itself?

For example, February is Black History Month. You could find a Black History event and develop an evergreen story idea out of that event instead of just covering what’s happening that day.

  • Is there a relevant event you can attend where you can shoot b-roll and find people to interview about why we need to recognize this month?
  • How has education changed in local black communities in the past few decades?
  • Perhaps you can feature an inspiring person who is making a big impact on their community.
  • You could feature a black-owned business that’s a staple in the community.
  • Perhaps you can look at the increase in hate crimes these past couple of years and do a data journalism story?
  • What can your audience do to promote racial justice?
  • Explain the new gentrification in Tampa Heights.
  • Which judges are perpetuating the cycle of unjust sentencing? What should your viewers know about these judges before they vote?

There are stories everywhere waiting to be told. Let an event be a starting point, then take a few more steps, do a little more research, and find an angle you’re passionate about.

Try National Health Observances:

You can also find many timely holidays and observances at the United Nations:

Please bounce ideas off me or let me know if you have any questions.

I also encourage you to develop story ideas using these resources:

Featured image credit: USF

Published by JeanetteAbrahamsen

I am an instructional designer and TV news instructor at the University of South Florida. My passion for innovating learning led me to pursue my PhD in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Instructional Technology. I love creating media to enhance eLearning and foster online engagement. I teach students to create multimedia stories for broadcast, web and social media platforms. I lead the Florida Focus class where students produce daily news shows that air on Tampa's PBS station. My reporting classes collaborated with Tampa's NPR station to produce award-winning stories. I am an Emmy Award-winning journalist. I produced thousands of hours of TV news in some of America's largest media markets at Tampa's NBC station, San Diego's ABC station and the San Diego Union-Tribune. I also produced immersive 360-degree virtual tours at the University of South Florida and reported for Hashtag Our Stories.

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