How Do Journalists Find Stories?

How Do Journalists Find Stories and Sources Online?

When writing an article, good stories and reliable sources are crucial. They make your content compelling, authoritative, and trustworthy. Traditionally, journalists find stories and sources by getting first-hand information, building relationships with PR companies, searching for people and companies, and investigating in person.

In this digital age, many journalists have turned online. Brands ramping up their content marketing efforts can learn a lot from how journalists generate story ideas and find sources. How do journalists find stories and sources on the internet?

Social Media Platforms

A survey among journalists revealed that 78% find their stories using social media platforms, particularly Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. How do journalists find stories through these? You can look at the latest trending topics among social media users. You can also post a question on your status update and ask for recommendations.

For example, if you want to use case studies on how small business owners are coping with the pandemic, you can ask: “Hey, friends! Is anyone here a small business owner? I’m writing an article about how the pandemic has impacted SMEs and what are their coping strategies. I’d love to hear your stories.”

You can also join social media groups and follow official pages. Hang out and engage with the community, and you’re likely to get topic ideas and potential sources.

Using social media platforms can help you create original content rather than relying solely on existing research published online. Story finding through your network is a good starting point for your research.

Search Engines & Blogs

Previous surveys also indicated search engines and blogs as top sources for story finding. Around 91% use Google and the like and 89% use blogs for idea generation and expert sources.

You can check Google Trends to see the latest topics people search and talk about online. You can also stay on top of your beat by setting up Google Alerts. Meanwhile, reading established blogs can help you when you’re looking for relevant topics.

How do journalists find sources through search engines and blogs? For instance, if you’re looking for sources on personal finance in New York City, you can type in “New York City personal finance expert.” The search results will give you a list of recommended experts in the area. Then you can reach out to them for possible interviews.

Online Forums & Communities

Some journalists also use forums and online communities to get story ideas. For instance, you can check Reddit and see what people are discussing. You can scroll down through comments or subreddits and find questions that you can answer through your article.

This method can help you create unique topic ideas. You can also post questions on online communities for things that you are naturally curious about and want experts to answer. You can share what you found out through your articles.

Online Sourcing Services

Aside from social media, you can find online platforms today that connect journalists with expert sources. One example is HARO, which aptly stands for Help a Reporter Out.

Journalists post questions and experts from related niche or industry send them their pitches or answers. In turn, these experts get to tell their brand stories and boost their link building efforts.

Other platforms you can check out include Expertise Finder, ProfNet, NewsBasis, and

Online sourcing services

Official Websites

Real figures and statistics add substance and value to content. How do journalists find sources of reliable numbers? Official websites. You can start with government agencies, like the US Census Bureau. You can also look into published academic research, reports from charities and support groups, and pollsters, such as Gallup Poll, Pew Research Center, Nielsen Ratings, and YouGov.

Other Published Articles

If you need more information about a topic you’re writing about, reading other published content can help you get more ideas. Some journalists also track their original sources and interview them. However, be careful about using all of their sources or rip-off their original content by getting direct quotes.

Wrapping Up

The internet offers vast opportunities for journalists to find story ideas and expert sources. Going digital has made it easier compared to traditional means that require actual footwork. However, you need to ensure that you still follow ethical practices and you verify the information you get.

For brands that do their content marketing in-house, these strategies are quite useful as well. You get ideas for unique content and how to make them compelling enough for your target audience through social media, search engines, forums, official websites, online sourcing services, and other published content.

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Mushfiq Sarker from The Website Flip

Mushfiq is a prolific investor that buys, grows, and sells online businesses, specializing in content websites. He has done 180 website flips to date

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