I’m often asked how we in a small, rural community find enough news to report. “Nothing ever happens in a small town” some people say.
Well, that’s not quite right. In fact, it’s not true at all. Lots of things happen in a small town. Some good, some not so good and some bad.
There is always something for us to go and cover.
Add to that the fact that we’re trying to cover all of Faribault County, not just Blue Earth, and well the reality is that there’s so much news that we can hardly get it all each week.
We get much of our news by covering meetings of the local city council, school board, and district board, as well as some committee meetings of these entities.
Then we also hear a lot of news, just because we are out and about in the community. People tell us a lot of things. You might think some of this is gossip, but in the news business we call it tips.
Of course, some of these tips are really just gossip, and we ignore all those things that aren’t really newsworthy for print in a newspaper. However, some of this news is really a great idea for us to develop into a story for the Faribault County Register.
We get many story ideas from administrators, law enforcement officials, business people, officials, and other sources.
But I also love getting story ideas from friends, neighbors and you, our readers.
Take this week’s front-page story about Joe Salisbury, who was in New York City during 9/11. The idea for this story came from Joe’s neighbor Andrew Hunt Bittinger, who overheard Joe telling about his experiences. Andrew called me with the suggestion that it could be a great story.
He was right. It is.
Sometimes we’re out covering an event, or a game, or a meetup, or at church, or, well, you come up with the idea and someone says, “Hey, you should do a story about….” (Fill in the blank). Sometimes it’s an idea that we’ve already made a story about, or it’s something that’s actually already on our list of story ideas but we just haven’t had the time to look into it…yet.
That’s right, we have story lists. Publisher Lori Nauman, reporters Kevin Mertens and Fiona Green, and I meet on Friday mornings each week to discuss story ideas, do story assignments for the week ahead, and share news tips we’ve heard about. As editor, I then decide what we will follow up and which of the three authors (two reporters and I) will write which stories.
It’s been an interesting few weeks news wise. While there have been few meetings over the past two weeks, we’ve been busy with back-to-school stories, fall sports preview stories, and the opportunity to catch up on other story ideas.
Not all of our news tips work. We meet people who don’t want to tell their story in a newspaper and we respect that. We come across instances where the tip isn’t right, or there really isn’t enough information to form a story.
This happened last week when I received a call from someone saying Kwik Trip had closed. It turned out to be, but only to check if there was a gas leak. Another tip involved a woman camping at Blue Earth City Campground. A local bike enthusiast had met her at Giant Park. Originally from New Zealand, she spent three months traveling across the United States with her two young children. However, she was already packed and leaving when we had a chance to look.
Right now I count five different story ideas on my list that came as tips from people I know, or that publisher Lori Nauman knows, or that our two reporters know, or people like you, ours to register Reader. This is great so please keep up the good work with these ideas.
Believe it or not, one of the ideas on the list came from a to register readers in California. So you see, we never know where these tips come from. The story is about something in California, but it has a local Blue Earth connection.
Stay tuned to learn more about this story idea.
We are currently looking for story ideas for a Farm Magazine we will be publishing, our annual Our Heroes Magazine, the Medical Guide, a DIY section, a Bridal Edition and of course our annual Good News issue in December. Yes, we plan that far ahead.
Do you have an idea for a story we should do? You can use it to call me at to register at 507-526-7324 or email [email protected] Or stop me in the street and tell me personally.
Like I said, some of the tips we get turn out to be great stories, like the one about Joe Salisbury this week, but some just don’t quite add up for one reason or another.
Anyway, I love getting news tips from our readers. As do I, all of these loyal weekly readers of the to register.