What's Hiding in Your Newspaper?

Monday, May 16, 2011

The other day I read a two paragraph item in my local paper about a mysterious break in at a gas station. No money, tools, or other valuables were taken. Just a gumball machine—an empty gumball machine. Most people would say “Teenage prank” and move on to the weather or the sports scores for the local softball team. Of course, I’m not most people. I’m the type of person who says, “How cool would it be if there was a treasure map hidden in the empty gumball machine. Something people were willing to kill for?”

As a writer I’ve found that my local paper has been an endless source of ideas and sources—and not just for murder mysteries. When was the last time you dissected your local paper? Here are a few of the things I’ve found in the last week:

Rowing and Reactors

Again this was a two paragraph item buried in the sports section about a Naval Academy cadet who was on the female rowing team. Naval Academy and rowing team are two things not popular in my landlocked section of Pennsylvania. I emailed her coach who set up an interview and not only did I learn about crew but also about being a caring for the nuclear reactors on aircraft carriers—her specialty.

Drug Expert

Another teeny notice about a presentation at a local high school about bath salts(the drug kind not the actually put in your bathtub kind) given by a Pennsylvania State Police Drug Recognition Expert. Where else would I get to meet a Pennsylvania State Police Drug Recognition Expert? Who knew this position existed?

Old Fashioned Food

Several ads about an environmental festival for kids held at the county fairgrounds. I went and not only did my son have a great time but I learned about shagbark hickory syrup(like maple syrup but made from tree bark) and met a man who makes bread in an outdoor oven who is teaching the art of breadmaking to his grandson.

Anyone of these interesting things I stumbled across with the help of my local paper could turn into an article. So after you read through your local paper to find out if you need an umbrella today and if your favorite store is having a sale go through again. Read everything from sports to meeting notices to advertisements. Chances are you’ll find something quirky that would interest people outside your local area. Don’t overlook all those stories right in your backyard.


Melissa Ann Goodwin said...

That was a great post. A lot of TV shows certainly take their storylines from the high profile news, so why not look to your local paper for inspiration? There is plenty of real life drama, humor and just plain head-scratching stuff to keep us busy!

Sioux Roslawski said...

Jodi--You gave us some marvelous places to start looking for story ideas. Thank you.

Donna Volkenannt said...

Hi Jodi,
What a great way to come up with ideas for stories.

Very interesting and thought-provoking post.


Juliann Wetz said...

Thanks for this reminder, Jodi. I used to do this more often and have forgotten how inspirational blurbs in the newspaper can be. When I think about the lively debates that some news articles spark, it only makes sense that they would inspire lively writing, too.

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