Student journalism often works best when it focuses on issues at the heart of its readership and when the stories can’t be read elsewhere.
The most successful stories in the news section of a student publication are those which are original and have a clear focus on the institution at which they study or the location they are based in, or of the student community.
Less successful stories tend to focus on issues which have been reported elsewhere and fail to add anything new.
Here lies the problem for sections of student media that focus on international news: obviously it’s not possible for students to be on the ground in Afghanistan, or reporting from the White House.
It makes it very difficult for these sections to report on news they aren’t just re-writing from another news source.
However, that doesn’t mean these sections shouldn’t exist in student publications.
Most of our member publications are based at a specific university. The beauty of this is they have departments where academics have spent years researching specific subject matters and have become experts in their fields of study.
Interviewing these people can provide a fantastic way of providing original insight on a topical subject.
Take for example the news about the US Government shutdown, where the failure of the Senate to agree a budget has led to federal services across the country being cut and staff being forced to take unpaid leave.
The issue has been reported by all the national news outlets and students interested in the issue are likely to have already read about it somewhere other than their student publication.
However, an interview with an academic expert from your university may give you a new angle to the story not reported elsewhere.
For example, you might ask an expert based at your university: “what was the worst US Government shutdown in history? What effect did it have? Could it happen again?”
These simple questions could give you an entire article looking at what could happen if the US Congress fails to agree a budget, and by using an academic from your university it remains relevant to the readership.
In fact, one good interview could give you enough content to make four our five stories spread out over a number of days (if a pressing subject), or a number of issues (if an ongoing conflict).
International affairs is an area of news many students love to report on. Finding a way to report original content on these areas is certainly a challenge. But, by making use of the academics at your university, there are certainly ways of writing stories that can rival the content produced by national media outlets.