On Wednesday, Arlington reporter John Harden’s coaching session turned into a brainstorming session. Here’s John to tell you how it turned out:
Step one: Think of eight to 10 topics you can relate to your beat. For example, when I think of “Arlingfun,” I think about road conditions, crime near campus, construction and city hall.
Step two: Close your eyes and use word associations to describe each topic. Don’t think too hard. Just write. Example: I take the topic road conditions and think of things that are affected by it. Ex: The SEC is going to be built on the east side of campus, an area that has the worst road condition in Arlington.
Step three: Group like items/terms/phrases. Think of story ideas that can come from each group and write them down. Ex: The SEC is going near an area that has poor road conditions? What is the city and UTA doing to fix this?
Yesterday, I spent less than an hour with Beth and wrote down my beat report for the entire semester.
Every beat can be overwhelming but following the 4 steps above can help you stay organized. With Beth’s help, I realized what’s most important on my beat. The best part about the brainstorming session was that all the ideas came from my head. Beth only wrote down what I said and helped to group them.
It’s something Beth wants to do with every reporter and editor. All you have to do is say when.
– John Harden
Beth here: If anyone wants to try this type of word association brainstorming, let me know. My role is just to write down what you say – you guys come up with the ideas. See me to set up a time.