Finding story ideas for your TV news presentation


Journalists often have to seek a certain amount of inspiration for in their job. Writing stories to fit the news format often requires creativity as well as skill to find a fresh (or alternatively a new angle) on a topic, that is engaging, concise and that will entertain your target audience.

In the previous lesson many students were still in the process of brainstorming ideas for their TV news presentation assignment. Below is a list (somewhat paraphrased from wikiHow) of ideas and tricks of the trade for finding story ideas for your assignment.

  1. Listen to everyone, from co-workers, friends and family, to the chit-chat in the doctor’s office.
  2. Talk to experts in their field and ask them what their largest challenge is.
  3. Browse bulletin boards in your community.
  4. Think seasonal, as every publication does holiday-related and weather-related stories.
  5. Take a national topic and localise it with quotes and information from relevant local sources.
  6. Keep your eyes open for new business signs.
  7. Read other publications, including newspapers, magazines and popular websites, and borrow topics and ideas.
  8. Check out newsletters or blogs that cater to a niche audience if you are writing for a specific market.
  9. Keep track of anniversary dates.
  10. Flip through a university course catalog.
  11. Consider reviewing a product or service.
  12. Mine social networks such as Facebook and Twitter to find out what people are talking about.
  13. Set up a Google Alerts on a specific industry or topic.
  14. Use your own personal experiences to come up with story ideas for news writing.
  15. Subscribe to your alumni newsletter or the newsletter from the college where you live.
  16. Go back through old stories and notes and see if there’s anything you didn’t use that could spark a new story.
  17. Keep public relations officials in your inner circle and read the press releases they send out.
  18. Check out websites that track trends in all sorts of areas such as business, lifestyle, fashion and others (e.g Buzzfeed, Gawker Media, Reddit)

Please remember that I ask that students submit their drafts at the beginning of next week in Lesson 1/2 Monday (Week 3) and that your completed copy of Task 4 is due on Wednesday 5th November (Week 4).

TV news presentation

Some interesting discussion on TV news presentation from the BBC College of Journalism. Each lecture focuses on six aspects of TV news presentation: Tone, Voice, Emphasis, Breathing, Style, Speed and Pace.

These discussions will be helpful for when you present Part D of Task 4!

A Close Study of Feature Writing


As this style of writing is the culmination of a process of investigation by a journalist on an issue (as well the requirements outlined in the criteria of Task 3) we can expect certain important elements to be present in feature writing reporting:

1) careful considered explanation of the issue and problems

2) how it impacts on the community and individuals

3) some background information to the problem

4) reference to several informed sources of information citing the names of interviewees and relevant organisations

5) discussion that reveals differing points of view on the issue to provide a balance

6) use of significant direct quotation from your sources

7) balancing of writer’s analysis with the quotation

8) setting out of quotation can vary somewhat from hard-news reporting style – see examples

9) variation in the length of paragraphs

10) use of rhetorical questions is OK – but don’t overdo it

11) use of poetic devices – e.g. striking imagery and dramatic language – see example

12) a catchy clever headline

13) appropriate structure – with engaging introduction and conclusion that in some clever way uses headline idea or a ‘grab’ from an interviewee or source of information

14) ‘break-up’ the body of the text with a short ‘grab’ from a quotation or other source of information

In the lesson today (Wednesday 15th October) and for homework you will receive two samples of feature writing. Read and analyse each article and respond to the questions in your workbooks.

You will also receive your next summative assignment Task 4 on TV News Scripting and Presentation.

Newspaper article formatting and reminder!

Some important points to consider when writing your newspaper articles (whether you have chosen to interview a sitting member of parliament or a community issue for Task 3) is that you clearly format your work in the appropriate style.

Hard news stories contain…

  • Inverted pyramid structure; 5 Ws and H (Who, What, When, Where, Why and How) in lead, other details in descending order of importance
  • Adheres to accepted grammatical conventions
  • Objective, facts-only reporting
  • Purpose is to inform

Feature articles also…

  • Personal writing style
  • Adheres to accepted grammatical conventions
  • Reporting of facts, with interpretations often included; result of extensive research; longer than hard news story
  • Purpose is to inform and explain


Another way to look at what you should prioritise in your article is the inverted pyramid for news writing.



Also just a friendly reminder to remember to hand up your drafts of either your interview with a sitting member of parliament or community investigation today for me to look at otherwise I won’t be able to get them back for you until next term!

Teacher presents for extensions are still not accepted!

Journalism and Digital Writing Boot Camp for Teens at the SA Writers Centre Inc.


Interested in journalism and want something to do during the upcoming school holidays?

Do you have students or teens who are unsure of their future career path? Or have they expressed an interest to work in journalism? Then send them our way!

In the school holidays we’re holding a three day Journalism and Digital Writing Boot Camp for Teens which will help them learn how to effectively break into this industry and to develop quality skills, whilst having a bucket load of fun!

This adventuresome boot camp will include sessions on Creating the Best Blog, How to Interview Like a Journalist, 12 Reasons Why Journalism Will Change Your Life, Writing Reviews, Autobiography plus more!

If you’re interested in attending, click the link for further information.

Please note this event is not compulsory to attend – just thought some students might be interested in the opportunity!

Guest Speaker: Samantha Prendergast


Hope everyone enjoyed the talk on Monday morning with freelance writer Samantha Prendergast.

The article we discussed ‘New Zealanders in Australia: neglected and vulnerable’ can be found in full at The Guardian online by clicking the link.  Here is also the link some of Sam’s collected articles for Frankie magazine.

If you have lost your sheet you can also download a copy by clicking the link below.

Task 6

Look forward to hearing more of your discussions about Samantha’s presentation on Wednesday.

Interview Techniques

In preparation for your next summative assignment you will need to understand the common interviewing techniques used by journalists, including techniques for different scenarios, preparing an interview, follow up questions as well as conducting an interview at short notice. Watch the BBC College of Journalism video on how to conduct an interview.

Below are some links to various techniques used and some ideas and tips to help you with your practice if you’re unsure!