Sourcing news stories

When writing news stories with tight deadlines every journalist will have had the same thought at one point or another: “I don’t have a story and haven’t a clue where to begin looking”.

Whenever you feel like you are in this situation, don’t panic! These are some useful ways of sourcing some stories:

1.Social media

Never underestimate the power of using social media for story ideas. Searching public university groups on Facebook, trending topics in your local area on Twitter, and the general discussion on Yik Yak can help provide inspiration for stores and tip-offs. However, be warned, don’t believe everything you read on social media! It is a good starting point but make sure you follow it up first before you publish anything.

2.The websites and publications of your uni/union

Often you will find there are great ideas for news stories buried away on your university or union’s websites. Minutes from meetings, new policies, changes to finance… they may be very boring documents to have to sieve through but when you find something worth reporting they can often lead to front page scoops.

3.National news

You will find there are some things reported in the national media that you can adopt for a local or a student angle. For example, if tin government here was a re-shuffle of the cabinet, you could write an article focused on who was now in charge of universities. Alternatively, if a well-known awards ceremony (ie, the Baftas) are taking place, look up where those shortlisted went to university to see if you can write about it from that angle.


It is always looking back at what your publication reported in previous years. There may be important events that took place which are worthy of a follow-up.

5.Student publications from other universities

Sometimes you can find inspiration by looking at what journalists have done at other universities. If they have managed to get a story based on something affecting their students, there’s a chance it may affect those studying at your university too.

6.Freedom of Information requests

Putting FOI requests into your university can be a great way of getting an exclusive scoop. You can read more on how to submit am FOI request here.

7.Eyes and ears

Don’t forget that news is everywhere! Everything that you see or hear that you find interesting you should be thinking “is there a story here?” If you find it interesting, then the chances are other people will too.