Advice column. This, of course, is dependent upon getting letters from students. Same goes for Letters to the Editor. Whatever you do, do not make stuff up. Recruitment ads can be entertaining and fill leftover space. I like the one below because I wanted to show students that you don’t have to be a writer to work for a newspaper.
Awards ceremonies. For example, I made sure to pull my favorite line from each winning piece in our college’s annual literary contest. Even though newspapers typically don’t publish creative writing, they can publish about creating writing.
Careers you can have as an English major. (This falls into the “Useful Information” category.)
Columns. We had an “Old Geezer” column by a student in her forties, a “Veterans’ Voice” column (briefly), and a travel column called “Postcards from Sparrow”; I wrote a few columns that profiled different organizations where students could volunteer.
Comics (about current events and what’s going on at the school) and editorial cartoons (preferably one that leans left and one that leans right, for balance).
Events, such as plays, book talks, poetry readings, etc. And it doesn’t have to be a review of the play; it can also be a preview, which is better because you can get quotes from the students. You want to get as many student names and faces in the paper as you can.
Green living. I always thought how to repurpose/upcycle old issues of our school’s lit mag would’ve been a good one.
Hybrid humor. This can be a mock resume, horoscope, or even a syllabus. I also wrote a couple of humor pieces—one about Student Poetry Night, where I read a poem about my crazy family, and another about finding the cleanest bathrooms on campus (both of which won awards).
Internships. Advertise these opportunities to students. Internships help students gain experience in their field so that they will be more employable after graduation.
Intramural sports. These are underrepresented; for example, there is a “fastest student” contest at our college as well as archery on St. Valentine’s Day.
Jobs for students. This might help other students find work outside the restaurant or retail sector. The federal work-study program is flexible around a student’s school schedule, so if you’re going to work a minimum-wage job, you may as well work one where you can work on your school work.
Not just the product but the process. I wrote a story on how our Lit Mag, Hurricane Review, came to be. This is where being involved in something, be it a club, organization, etc., can help you write a great story, because it’s like you’re undercover (except you’re not).
Opinion piece. I wrote about how an algebra teacher finally made me understand why math was important. (The answer: To make you think and pay attention to detail.)
Student and club profiles. Youngest/oldest student, students with weird talents, student who has clocked the most volunteer hours, students who work in the Writing or Math Lab, etc. We did a feature, based on “Humans of New York,” called “Pirates of PSC,” where a “man/woman on the street” goes around and asks students thought-provoking questions. Do not ask how someone’s summer was, as that is something elementary school teachers have their students write about. If they say someone is their favorite teacher, ask why. Do not ask yes or no questions, always ask their name (and to spell it out), their major, and get their picture right then.
Surveys. For Banned Books Week, we went around to different classes (particularly English, Ethics, etc.) five minutes before class started (clear this with the teachers first) with surveys about banned books. We used the strict answer (yes or no, multiple choice, etc.) questions to create our infographic, and the comments section for our quotes.
What I don’t suggest: Articles on study tips (as that falls into the “Who Cares?” column), stories about how damn high textbooks are (we all know this), crosswords (students never do them), recipes (students don’t make them), and music playlists. If you have a reviews section (book, movie, music, board/video game, app, etc.), put that in the online version of the paper, as that is what I call “bloggy” material.
For more ideas, check out: http://ecorsair.com/