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How To Hunt Down New Stories To Cover As A Journalist?

As a journalist, it is your job to find and report stories that matter to your readers. But finding new and compelling stories to cover on a regular basis can be challenging. Developing a consistent system for uncovering potential scoops and leads will make your job much easier. Here are some of the top ways journalists hunt down new stories.

Cultivate Strong Sources

Build a network of sources who are well-connected in the areas you cover. Nurture these relationships by occasionally meeting for coffee or lunch and getting updates on what they are hearing. Let them know the types of stories you are looking to cover so they can keep their ear on the ground. Sources often become aware of new developments or events before they are public knowledge and will tip you off if they have a scoop. Just be sure to protect anonymous sources when needed to avoid legal issues.

Scour Public Records And Reports

Government agencies, businesses, and organizations frequently publish reports, data sets, and records that contain stories waiting to be told. Study records related to areas you cover to identify interesting statistics, changes, or details the public may not be aware of. Compare historical records to spot emerging trends. Track upcoming reports so you can analyze them as soon as they are released. Digging into public records is a proven way to find stories your competitors may miss.

Monitor Emergency Radio Frequencies

Emergency responders dispatch calls provide real-time updates on newsworthy events unfolding in your area like fires, accidents, crimes, natural disasters, public health issues, or other urgent situations. Monitoring police, fire, and EMS radio frequencies – either through a dispatch scanner or mobile app – will alert you to breaking news you can then rush to cover as the story develops. Be sure to verify all details to avoid reporting incorrect information in a rush to break the news.

Set Up News Alerts

Establish news alerts for topics, organizations, locations, or names related to your beat. Alerts monitor thousands of local and national news sources and websites for any new mentions. You will receive notifications immediately whenever a new and potentially newsworthy story publishes that fits your parameters. Enable alerts for print newspapers, TV and radio stations, online media, press releases, and social media. Alerts capture stories soon after they release so you stay on the cusp of the news cycle with the agility to pivot and cover emerging events and announcements.

Conduct Interviews

One of the best ways to uncover new stories is by talking to people. Interview experts in the areas you cover to get their insights on issues and learn about the research they are conducting or projects they are involved in. Discuss trends they are observing and where they see room for improvement or growth. Review the key highlights from interviews, you may find several story angles worth pursuing in greater depth. Look for people doing innovative or unusual work in your community that would make an interesting feature story. Interviews provide material for new stories and help build valuable connections with your audience and community.

Check Event Listings And Community Calendars

Scan event websites, community calendars, library listings, and local organization pages to find story opportunities. Unusual or milestone events, talks, meetings, or fundraisers in your area may be worth covering or at least be a chance to connect with story sources. Look for announcements of events far enough in advance that you have time to request media access, schedule interviews and pitch the story to your editors. Be on the lookout for any events of historical significance given your area of focus – for example the Southampton, NY historical society may be hosting an event highlighting little-known facts that would intrigue readers.

With a consistent dedication to relationship building, research, and staying on the pulse of your community, a journalist can achieve that holy grail of always having a juicy story lead to chase. Strong story-hunting skills distinguish truly enterprising journalists able to root out the news in their area and report stories that would otherwise remain hidden. Pursuing all potential leads and angles with curiosity and vigor is how investigative stories are born and meaningful change comes about. Keep hunting, the stories are out there waiting to be told!