For the next seven weeks the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute will showcase innovative ideas that were shared at the 2014 Walter B. Potter Sr. Conference for community newspapers. If you like ideas such as these, we encourage you to attend the 2016 Potter Conference, which will be held April 14 and 15 at RJI in Columbia, Missouri. 

Walter B. Potter Sr. ConferencesRoad trip enthusiasts enjoy the opportunity to explore the sights, meet new people and learn new things. As the newsroom staff at the Norfolk (Neb.) Daily News have learned, a short reporting road trip can do the same for journalists, offering them the opportunity to change up their daily reporting habits. The Daily News road trips have resulted in an abundance of enterprise story ideas and photos, as well as much-needed advertising revenue. 

Once a year, reporters are assigned a town in the newspaper’s coverage area and given two hours at their destination to find newsworthy stories, says Kent Warneke, editor and vice president. News organizations could also opt to send reporters to various neighborhoods within a city instead, says Warneke.

Daily News reporters aren’t told where they’re headed until the day of the road trip. Each one is given a brief opportunity to look through the archives before leaving the newsroom to see what articles have been written before about the designated communities. Local towns are alerted beforehand so citizens can be armed with story ideas, says Warneke.

The idea proved popular enough after the second trip to warrant the creation of a special section, filled not only with stories and photos from the reporters’ adventures but with more than $9,000 in local advertising, according to Warneke.  

The outings also give staff the opportunity to spend time in various communities in their coverage area and shine the spotlight on rural areas that might not be covered every day, says Warneke. 

“What we were most pleased by was how receptive they were and excited about the fact that we were paying attention to them,” he says.

Learn how to plan and execute a reporting road trip for your newsroom.

More ideas like this will be presented at the next Walter B. Potter Sr. Conference April 14 and 15 at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute in Columbia, Missouri. Register today.

Jennifer Nelson  
Senior Information Specialist


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