I’ve been the Features Editor for a couple of months now at my local community college newspaper, and what I love about the Features section is that those stories don’t have a hard expiration date. This suits me, as a mostly fiction writer.
Though some might struggle to come up with ideas for stories, I’ve found that keeping my ears open, staying up-to-date on the school’s home page, and getting involved in extracurricular activities is one of the easiest ways to do so.
Journalism isn’t just for writers, but also for graphic designers and marketers. Every journalism student should be on the staff, because it will help you build your portfolio. You’re not just doing assignments for a grade, but you’re producing a product that hopefully, people will read. A degree means you did the work, but a portfolio shows potential employers what you can do.
If you still struggle with generating ideas, here are many that will help you get started and will hopefully lead you to coming up with your own:
1. Student Success Tips (10 long tips or 20 short tips; humor is always good). Some editors prefer listicles, others, articles.
2. Volunteer column. You might find a contact through one of the clubs on campus because students who participate in extracurricular activities are more likely to donate their time. (http://www.volunteermatch.org/).
3. Easy ways to donate to charity (i.e. Amazon Smile) or corporations and companies that help students in the community or contribute to causes students care about.
4. Living Well (not limited to physical, but also financial, occupational, etc.) or Green Living (as there are many small things we can do to help the environment, or at least not contribute to destroying it).
5. Stories on student veterans, married couples, international students, etc.
6. Great jobs for students (with at least 3-5 quotes of working students on how they work-life-school balance).
7. Second generation PSC students (third would be even better); this would make a great in-depth story; it would also be interesting if mom and son, or father and daughter shared some of the same professors.
8. Helpful websites, TED talks, books available in the campus library, etc.
9. 10 Awesome Perks of Starting a Blog (I see a blog as an online portfolio, though I’m not sure many employers would agree). Another tack would be on what students (especially those in the STEM fields) use as their creative outlet.
10. Health Benefits of Coffee. (They do exist.)
11. Stress-reduction techniques.
12. Ramen noodle recipes. (Must be cheap and creative.)
13. Student discounts and deals.
14. What I learned from _____ class. (5-10 takeaways.)
15. Student success stories. (Profiles on students who’ve been published outside of the college’s publications, who’ve won awards, or been recognized in some way by the local community.)
16. Scholarship and writing tips.
17. How to choose a major.
18. Variety of ways to use a liberal arts degree, a health information technology degree, etc.
19. Best electives to take.
20. Anatomy of a Resume. (You might be able to make this humorous, but still be informative on what makes a great resume.)
21. Internships. (This type of information is helpful to students who want to solidify their soft skills, have experience to put on their resume, and get letters of recommendation.)
22. The Federal Work-Study Program. (Profile those who are participating, ask them what they’ve learned, and what advice they’d give to students seeking a position.)
23. Club Profiles. (Go to a meeting and get 3-5 quotes from students. Hopefully, club projects extend beyond the borders of the campus.)
24. How-To Article. (How to extreme coupon, how to invest $10 a week, how to become a minimalist, etc.)
What’s more, feel free to check out other college newspapers online. We learn more when we learn from one another. Just always remember to “localize” the story. If there’s something going on in town, find a student who is going or who is involved in some way. Make it pertinent to the students. Make it matter to them.