102 story ideas to serve your community

Heather Bryant
12 min readSep 4, 2019
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Looking for story ideas that you can start working on today? Here are 102.

By the age of 60, nearly 70% of Americans will have experienced economic hardship. For most of us, it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Newsrooms play a vital role in reporting on issues that have an outsized impact on those with limited means.

Covering hardship as a specific topic isn’t about finding “poor” people and doing stories about them. It’s about investigating the impact of systems and processes on people experiencing hardship, which systems and processes disproportionately affect people experiencing hardship and which problems we can help people experiencing hardship better navigate through quality reporting. It also requires that we be diligent in confronting biases around class and poverty in our newsrooms and recognizing them in our sources and framing.

Some of the prompts below are expressly about hardship, others are particularly relevant for groups likely to experience hardship, but all of them can be helpful for more fully reporting out the reality in communities. Some of these are possible as pretty quick stories that inform audiences about the status of something, others may be more appropriate as an entry point for an investigation or more involved data gathering process. Some of these stories are only possible with the engagement and participation of the audience or local groups for data and information that’s not formally collected elsewhere.

For stories that feel like explainers, keep in mind that access to information about what exists and how to understand it or how to make use of it is an information need for people experiencing hardship that is often unmet or underserved. There is value in identifying and explaining such things and that falls firmly within the mission of newsrooms to inform their audiences. Obviously, not all of these ideas or framings are going to be relevant to every community or easily possible across every type or scale of locality. The goal is to identify starting points that you can potentially run with and modify for your own context.

This is by no means an exhaustive list — please feel welcome to share your ideas in the comments— but if you’re looking for some starting…

Heather Bryant

Deputy Director of Product @NewsCatalyst. Founder of @ProjectFacet, supporting effective, meaningful collaboration. The future of journalism is collaborative.