Endless hunt for story ideas

Pamela London

Every Thursday, you pick up the latest copy of The Pioneer and-in a perfect world-read it cover to cover. You carefully scan each article and linger over every mesmerizing photo. You intermittently find yourself ROTFLOL-ing when you think about one of the jokes on the back page.

Yet you wonder: how on earth can one small newspaper dig up so many different types of stories every week without repeating the same things over and over again?

The simple answer: the Pio editors are boss.

The more descriptive answer: the Pio editors-although definitely boss-spend many of our waking minutes searching for potential story ideas. We are on countless list servs, which keeps us tapped in to new events or updates. We represent a number of majors so we hear about changes in the academic circle across campus. And do not think that those 50 flyers you put up advertising a poetry slam or guest speaker goes unnoticed by us; wherever we go, we are always keeping our eyes peeled for those almost obnoxiously bright pieces of paper.

I have been a sports writer since I joined the Pio as a first-year, so my experience with finding story ideas is strictly with sports. I am fortunate enough to be a varsity athlete at Whitman, which certainly helps with my job as sports editor for the Pio. I have a closer, more personal relationship with the athletes on campus because I am part of the varsity athletics community. This connects me with myriad people with fascinating, inspiring stories to tell, which can turn into profiles or features on the sports page.

One of the quickest and most reliable ways for me to get story ideas is the Whitman athletics website. This site is familiar to many members of the greater Whitman community, from students and faculty to alumni. I use the athletics page to find out about upcoming big games that deserve coverage, especially home events. I personally read almost every article on the website not only because I am interested in what happens in the athletic community, but also because I do not want to repeat what can be easily accessed, usually within a day of the event happening. Knowing the basic play-by-play and statistics of what happened from the athletics page helps my writers and I come up with unique angles to use in the paper, which is not published until four or five days after a game. Sports with a twist that keeps you guessing and, hopefully, reading-that is how we roll on the sports page.

I primarily use the Whitman athletics website in conjunction with two other sources: the website for the Northwest Conference and my fellow student athletes. The NWC site is great for finding out about conference-wide headlining events, or even something as simple as the season standings for tennis to see Missionary domination in print.

Despite the usefulness of these websites, my favorite source is always my fellow student athletes. These are the people who read the sports section every week and these are the people who have ideas about cool things we can research and write about. Four of my five staff writers either are or have been varsity athletes, and the other writer is a serious IM sports participant. These connections point me directly into the heart of each team, so I can dig up the best stories and put them in print.

This is what editors do: use our ever-growing network of connections to find out what is going on around campus and then put our writers to work to tell those stories. Everyone deserves to have a voice-what is great about the Pio is that we want to be a (printed) voice for the Whitman community. If you have something you want to see written about, shoot us an email ([email protected]) or drop us a line in our suggestion box. If your pen is mightier than your sword, put it to use and write a letter to the editor, then see it in the paper if it is awesome.

And if you are the kind of person who wants to be the one doing the digging, instead of just reading about it, put down that copy of the Pio you have been perusing for as long as I have been writing this post and apply to be on our staff! You could share your opinions in a weekly column or informally blog about whatever is on your mind.

The Pio is your paper. A voice for your college. Now use your voice to tell use what you want to read. We editors may be boss, but we cannot possibly know everything. Help us get one step closer to eternal knowledge.