3 Free and Instant Sources of News Content Ideas

Filed as Features, Guides on June 27, 2008 3:09 am

“What should I write about?”

I am guessing for most people that is a familiar question. For people who set out to cover the news, it is an even more pressing question.

The Blog Herald, thankfully, allows both news and more opinion/tutorial type pieces. I don’t have to be on top of the latest happenings provided I can inform. Lucky me.

What happens though when you need to write about the news as it breaks?

Social bookmarking sites such as Reddit (Digg, not so much) are good for seeing news break but once they are already on Reddit most people in your niche who are really interested will have seen it.

There are two places I get my instant news updates.

  1. Twitter – Follow the right people and you will see a breaking story before it is published. Even Techcrunch tweets often before publishing.
  2. Google Alerts – Put in your keywords and email address and get notified when those keywords are mentioned

The final suggestion only works for certain niches, and is the old traditional journalism standby; press releases.

Yes, I know, most times people like me tell you to avoid cut and paste stories. Press releases don’t have to be used that way! Often a manufacturer will allow you to subscribe to their press area, take the news but don’t take the exact wording. Add your own spin and it can be a worthwhile story.

Where do you get your news stories?

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  1. By Laura posted on June 27, 2008 at 4:46 am
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    I’m generally blogging about fandom. I find the best news sources are frequently on the front pages of a site, where company blog or forum posts that might signal a reaction from the user base can be found. This was the case for Quizilla and Wikia. I also find fandom_wank and clairvoyantwank on JournalFen to be useful as they can often give an idea of trouble brewing. Fanthropology, metafandom, and fandom newsletters on LiveJournal are also good resources for finding fandom news.


  2. By Nancy Nally posted on June 27, 2008 at 10:40 am
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    I monitor several message boards and one blog that serves basically as a message board (700+ comments on one two sentence post is not unusual there) that are relevant to my site’s niche. I find tips in those places often that lead me to breaking news stories. I will follow up with research of my own, expanding on the stories and putting them in the context of the industry’s business.

    Occasionally someone will come directly to me with something because I am known as a news outlet in the industry. I also use press releases as starting points for pieces sometimes.


  3. By Michael Johnson posted on June 27, 2008 at 11:32 am
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    I also use Google Alerts and Google Trends will let you know about the latest buzz people are looking for. I have found good items to write about watching Digg.

    Forums are one of my favorite, to find out what my niche wants answers to.


  4. By Izzysix posted on June 28, 2008 at 11:07 am
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    I didn’t think of using google alerts to get story ideas. My only problem is my blog is about how we can use ideas from one area and use them across other business or organizations. That means I’m referenceing just about evereything.


  5. By Corey Freeman posted on June 28, 2008 at 3:01 pm
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    I get my ideas from life. I’ll be playing a video game or doing some yard work and I’ll stop and be like, “how does this relate to blogging? AH!” Other times I browse forum threads and check my email. My life is pretty much my inspiration.


  6. By Simple Browser posted on June 28, 2008 at 8:48 pm
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    I use social sites and google alerts for my blogs. Well, after reading this, for the first time I am going to think seriously about press releases. Thanks.


  7. By Lana posted on June 29, 2008 at 1:03 pm
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    I blog about all sorts of news and interesting things. I choose my topic of the day, by reading a number of Google reader’s items delivered to me every day (from the sites I’ve signed up to). Sometimes, when I need a deeper research, or if I follow an unusual item, I sign up for a Google Alert.


  8. By david posted on July 2, 2008 at 12:15 am
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    Don’t forget one of the most basic sources of information: the world around you! Pay attention to billboards – they are often one of the first signs of upcoming events and attractions. Listen to snippets of conversation in restaurants and coffee shops – people are always talking about something that is blog-worthy, to some extent. Flip through the local ‘zines in your community – see what sort of community events are happening. Sit in at a local school board or city council meeting – chock full of ideas for civic-minded blog entries.

    In short – just pay attention to everything around you! Keep your cell phone handy, too — snap a picture of something that you will want to blog about later, or text yourself a brief message about something you hear and might want to blog about later.

    Go get ‘em!


  9. By Penny posted on July 3, 2008 at 2:12 am
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    hello! great post! thanks for sharing this to other bloggers..its a big help..More Power!


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