We've moved! Come join us at Watchdog Arena, where you'll continue to find the same quality articles that expose waste, fraud and abuse as well as examine policy issues at all levels of government.

Please visit our new home and follow us on social media: Facebook & Twitter

We've moved!

Come join us at Watchdog Arena!

Sign Up for Watchdog Updates!

7 Ways to be a Relevant and Timely Watchdog

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.

SPN Graphic.JPG

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.

Googele News Search.JPG

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.

Watchdog Quiz Image.JPG

Click here to take the quiz now. Are you a social sharer, town crier, investigator, government watchdog, or content creator? Only one way to find out!

Contact info@watchdogwire.com with any questions. 

Josh Kaib

Josh Kaib is the Assistant Editor of Watchdog Wire. Twitter: @joshkaib

More Posts

Categories: Quick Tips


  1. 6 facts every watchdog should know about libel and slander
  2. 9 Ways to Shed Light on Election Season with Citizen Journalism
  3. Citizen Spotlight: Chris Delamo, Grand Prize Winner of Watchdog Video Contest
  4. You Can Do “Man on the Street” Interviews Like the Pros
  5. It’s August Recess: Ask Your Question and Demand Answers!


comments powered by Disqus