Advice from Advocate Magazine Dallas Editor (and Shorthorn ex) Emily Toman. She visited the newsroom Oct. 14.
– Go sit on a bench and listen to what people are talking about around you. That’s what you should write about.
– Keep in mind that at The Shorthorn, you’re essentially a community or hyper-local publication. You’re it for coverage … so small things matter, too.
– Look for the unexpected.
– Explore subcultures: gaming, cycling – stories exist within each. Think about your interests and explore them.
– Go to coffee shops, bars … other places where people on your beat hang out. You’ll see the same people over and over and be able to form relationships with them.
– Try something new: Take a different route, attend a club meeting you wouldn’t necessarily otherwise.
– Every time you meet a person, ask them – just as a person – what they want to read about. Ask, “what do you really want to know more about?” Level with people – what do you want to know about the world around you?
– The day-to-day stories can seem like a grind. Try to think about different angles within that story. Every person involved could be a story with that you can slice out.
– Meetings: In addition to listening to the meeting and reporting it, pay attention to what people are talking about (side conversations, reactions, etc.). Talk to people.
– Try not to have tunnel vision. Who is there? Who has a different stake in it?
– Ask, ask, ask. Stick with it.
– Everyone has a story. Don’t be a story snob.
– Cultivate sources/friends everywhere. Get involved with groups. Be involved with the community you cover.
– Red obits, fliers, classifieds…these all can include story ideas that are waiting to be told.
– There’s no magic formula: Stories are staring you in the ace.
– Covering events: Get the stories behind the event – people put it together.
– Ask yourself: Who would ever _________? Odd jobs, strange volunteer work, etc. Pose those questions and seek out the answers. Go look for them.
– Focus on a person and his or her personality. People in the shadows have the most interesting stories.
– Think of events as communities – issues that affect the community and the assets of their culture.
Above all else: You must read other people’s work. Inspiration has to come from somewhere.