How The Collegian discovers news

MARC ALLAN | | Public Editor

I tell my Writing for Print Media classes that news is “anything you don’t know.”

When that is your definition, news is everywhere.

And that, editor-in-chief Marais Jacon-Duffy told me last week, is how The Collegian approaches newsgathering.

“The easiest thing for me has always been to keep my eyes open around campus and look for weird and new things,” she said.

Jacon-Duffy said The Collegian’s story ideas also come from social media,—“a godsend for finding out what people are passionate about and concerned about”—as well as beat reporters who cover one particular subject and get to know their sources, news releases, and tips or questions from readers and administrators.

In today’s edition, for example, the story about sexual violence came from an idea that Sarah Barnes-Diaz in the Health Center suggested. BUPD detective Bruce Allee recommended doing a story about the social host law.

Jacon-Duffy said in last week’s issue, the story headlined “A light at the end of the tunnel”—about the Streetscape construction—started out as something observed and complained about. “A few of us said, ‘We have friends who live on Sunset and they can’t back out of their driveways. When is this supposed to end?’”

The other two front-page stories, about grants from the Butler Innovation Fund, started from a university news release about the newest recipients of those awards.

Other story ideas came from Collegian staff members and their friends, and one started with a conversation with a news source. The brief last week about the dead body found near the Carillon Tower resulted from inquiries by several people on campus who saw a coroner’s car and wanted to know what happened.

Jacon-Duffy said the 39 Collegian staff members—students representing all six colleges—are always coming up with story ideas. The editors meet Wednesday evenings to discuss the ideas and begin the process of assigning stories for the next edition. Not every story pans out, and sometimes the stories turn out different from what the reporter initially expected.

The Collegian, Jacon-Duffy said, looks for stories of interest for students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, visitors, prospective students and the Butler-Tarkington community.

“We are always happy to have people give us story ideas,” Jacon-Duffy said. “We get a lot of great ideas sent to us, or questions. We love looking into that kind of stuff.”

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