January 2002
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What to write about?

Coming up with story ideas and things to write about is perhaps one of the hardest things. But really it can be very simple. Watch your local news, read the newspaper, watch teen talk shows such as Streetcents and TALK TV. They are good sources of information.

Brainstorm with classmates, family and friends. Professional journalists do it in their 'daily' or 'weekly' story meetings in their newsrooms. Here are story ideas ~ ~

  1. Your school. Recycling; drama, sports team, spirit days, concerts, etc.
  2. Your community: where you are from - name of community, location, special features: businesses, tourism.
  3. Your family: your father, mother, grandparents. Who they are? What they do?
  4. Activities you are involved in. Sports - tennis, hockey, softball, soccer; arts - dancing, drama, music, singing; youth groups - scouts, guides, church group, etc.
  5. Pets/Animals: talk about your pet or favourite animal.
  6. Something out of the latest news, ie. Canadian astronaut walks in space.
  7. Sports: favorite hockey player; views on a recent hockey game or other sport.
  8. Music: favorite cd, singer, group; views on a recent cd you listened to.
  9. Movie: favorite actor, movie, views on a recent movie you’ve seen.
  10. Opinions on teen issues: clothes, how advertisers target young people, drinking, smoking, dating, bullying, harrassment.

Keep a Journal. A journal can help you build ideas which can lead to great stories. Most professional journalists have a book/journal they write it. It is basically a notebook where they write about things they have seen or heard about from friends/acquaintances and things they have seen in newspapers and television/radio.


  1. From brainstorming and your journal write down what you believe to be three good ideas.
  2. Then take one of those ideas (ignore the others for now) and write down several ideas or things (sub-topics) that relate to your main ideas. Write down as many things as you can think of.
  3. List the three or four important related ideas from the above list. Then, brainstorm these ideas. In other words, flush out your ideas as much as possible.
  4. Write down a couple of people or groups you can contact to get quotes or information.
  5. What is the most important idea/sub-topics you came up with. That's the one you want to be the major theme for your story.

NEWS Articles: The 5 W’S of News

  1. Who is involved; who did what and to whom; was anybody affected. If someone visited your school – their name and where they are from (city, organization). Someone you admire: who they are where they are from, etc. If it is a school event, game, etc. Who they are.

  2. What happened? Concert, new program, school event, etc. If it is about a person, what happened to them. If it is a concert, school event – what occurred during the concert, game, fundraiser, spirit day, etc. If it is about a program at school or something else you are involved in, what is it about, what happens in the program?

  3. When did it happen? Date, time, – the order of events.

  4. Where did it happen? What city, school, street, mall......

  5. Why did it happen? What caused it to happened? School fundraiser – need to buy new computer equipment; books etc. School spirit day – to add fun activities to the school’s daily routine. New program in school was begun because....

OPINION Articles

  1. Research the topic . Come up with a variety of information that can be used to build a compelling argument.
  2. State the facts of the case.
  3. Quote the opinion of experts and other people who know a lot about the subject.
  4. Offer examples and anecdotes from his or her own life or other people's experience.
  5. Use statistics to back up parts of argument.
  6. Compare the situation to something that people can readily understand.
  7. Give logical reasons for his or her opinion.
  8. Anticipate and deal with any opposition to his or her argument.


  1. How do you feel about this activity?
  2. Who introduced you to this activity?
  3. Has someone taught or is someone currently teaching you the skills you need, and what do you know or remember about this person? If you taught or are teaching yourself, who or what inspired you to learn this?
  4. What tools or instruments do you use in this activity, and how is each important?
  5. What important words or vocabulary are involved in this activity?
  6. What "lessons" have you learned from this activity? What has your participation in this activity taught you about yourself?
  7. What "lessons" about one's self and about others can one learn through this activity?
  8. What skills, both physical & mental, can one acquire through learning this activity?


  1. Think about what does it mean to admire another person.
  2. What qualities do you find particularly admirable?
  3. Whom can you think of, either alive right now or not, who embodies these admirable characteristics, and how?
  4. What obstacles did this person overcome in his/her life?
  5. What personality traits are attributed to the person, and how might they have helped him/her to succeed in the face of adversity?
  6. What qualities does this person exemplify?
  7. How did this person fulfill their dreams?
  8. Specific stories, examples and facts about the person to support their statements.


  1. Talk about your provincial leader/government and key businesses in the area.
  2. Where are you located?
  3. People (different ethnic groups that live there; traditions of different peoples, how cultures of these peoples are evident in different aspects of life in the territory or province)
  4. Landscape/scenery – describe what it looks like, is it close to the ocean? ponds? parks?
  5. Tourist attractions: museums, galleries, parks.