Sign up as a Citizen Journalist and get involved in Information Activism.
Sign Up for Watchdog Updates!
Sometimes it’s tough to find something interesting or newsworthy to write about. When you’re faced with a case of writer’s block, here are a few tips for finding timely and relevant topics to cover.
1. Look for policy analysis that applies to your state–and the nation.
There are a lot of policy organizations out there. Most states have at least one think tank, so check out this directory from the State Policy Network for links to them. You can write about their policy analyses, attend their events, and more.
For examples of what kind of stories you can do, check out this listing of all the stories Watchdog Wire writers put together based on a Rich States, Poor States policy briefing.
2. Search the Latest Headlines
It may seem obvious, but Google News is a great tool for finding the latest news in your area.
When using it to search, the more specific, the better. Otherwise you’ll be sifting through sports and human interest stories.
As you can see from these examples, the most specific search, “Mayor Frank Jackson,” yielded in the most relevant results.
3. Holidays and Other Milestones
Coming up on Tax Day? Write about tax policy in your state. Independence Day? Write about how dependent your state is on the federal government. Christmas? What “gifts” have your legislators given you in the latest budget?
All you have to do is look at your calendar and brainstorm ideas!
4. Get Emails From Groups
Check your inbox! If you haven’t already signed up for emails from citizen groups, policy organizations, or campaigns– even ones you don’t agree with– do it now. You might want to create a separate email account for all your mailing lists, otherwise you’ll be constantly flooded with emails in your main personal account.
While you’re at it, make sure to sign up to get our emails. Just click here to sign up.
5. Campaign Season
Every November there’s an election. If your U.S. Senator, Congressman, or state legislators aren’t up for reelection, your local leaders, school board officials, or ballot initiatives are up for a vote. These are important local issues, so they are worth writing about.
Interesting in covering a campaign or election issue? We have a tip sheet on covering elections.
6. Legislative Sessions and Local Meetings
Is your state legislature meeting? What about your county, city, or town council?
These meetings are a great way to find timely topics to write about. Visit your local and state government websites for meeting dates and times. Want to track a bill? We have a resource for that.
7. Take the Watchdog Quiz
Have you taken our Watchdog Quiz yet? If you do, you’ll find out where your strengths lie and how YOU can make the most impact with your unique set of skills. We’ll then send you story ideas based upon your category.
Contact email@example.com with any questions.
- 6 facts every watchdog should know about libel and slander
- 9 Ways to Shed Light on Election Season with Citizen Journalism
- Citizen Spotlight: Chris Delamo, Grand Prize Winner of Watchdog Video Contest
- You Can Do “Man on the Street” Interviews Like the Pros
- It’s August Recess: Ask Your Question and Demand Answers!