Friday, December 28, 2007

Friday's story ideas

Hybrid tax credits combined with high gas prices... are people buying cars this week to beat the deadline?

What will the assassination in Pakistan do to the economy here?

Weird environmental story... biodegradable coffins. Lotsa luck getting b-roll on this one.

How safe is our local zoo? And is the tiger incident hurting attendance?

The IRS says tax refunds may be late this year. What will this do for those "instant refund" companies?

Thursday, December 27, 2007


O wise and noble grape,

What's your take on personal websites for reporters looking for jobs? Does this make things easier for News Directors, and is there a downside?


Dear T.L.,

There are two schools of thought on this. One says that any way you can get your work out there is worth it. The other (mine) says that while marketing yourself via the Internet can be a good thing, you have to be very professional about how you do it.

Bear in mind that many NDs these days will google job applicants because, quite frankly, you can dig up some valuable stuff that might raise a red flag. I'll give you an example. A few years ago a reporter brought someone else's personal website to my attention. The site featured a female reporter in a rather suggestive pose wearing very little in the way of clothing. Of course this photo was right next to her resume. Whatever credibility this young woman may have had went right out the window. And once you post something on the net, forget about ever taking it off.

If you're going to create a website, keep it totally professional. One picture, your resume, and something an ND can click on to view your resume tape. That's it. No party photos, no list of "friends," no rambling about how hammered you got on New Year's Eve. Keep it simple and easy to use. And keep it modest. You don't want anything that screams "ego problem" on your site.

The other problem is getting an ND to actually click on your site. NDs get hundreds of emails each day, and the odds that they'll open one from a stranger and click on a link aren't very good. You know, fear of computer viruses and/or lack of time. It is actually a lot easier to post your work on Lots of NDs go there to look for talent.

Best of luck in your search.

Thursday's story ideas

Tree mulch. Many communities are doing a "green" Christmas by grinding up the holiday tree and offering the mulch to gardeners and landscapers.

Meanwhile, the guys who have to pick up all that stuff are having a busy week. A ride along with a garbage truck is a fun feature right after Christmas.

Census. Check out to see what's happening in your market. Looks like high taxes and cold weather continue to drive people south.

Some food kitchens are starting to offer free medical care. Check out the ones in your market.

Movie downloads. Are they putting your neighborhood rental stores out of business?

Immigrants return to their home countries. Between the crackdown on illegals and the slowing economy, many are leaving the US.

Bayer recalls diabetes test strips. Ask a doctor... how accurate are those things?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Wednesday's story ideas

The stock market's annual "Santa Claus" rally. Get a broker to explain it... and should it happen this year?

Holiday weight gain. More people join health clubs around January 1st than any other time of the year. (And if you're stuck working New Year's Day, put this idea in your back pocket.)

Chinese tactics to make us think we're buying American. OK, so I set out to buy some crawfish tails to add to pasta the other day, and I found a package of "Boudreau's crawfish" in the frozen food aisle. Imagine my surprise when I saw "product of China" on the label when I expected the mud bugs would be from Louisiana.

Boston's Big Dig is finally done after many years... which brings up the question of cost overruns for public projects. What are some projects that never seem to get finished in your market?

Last minute tax strategies. Sell loser stocks, charity donations, etc.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Tuesday's story ideas

(Admit it, you thought I'd forget you, right?)

One of the best Christmas features I ever did took a bit of planning, and sorry I didn't mention this sooner. I borrowed a bullhorn, went to a nice neighborhood, and yelled, "This is Channel 10. Come out and show us your toys." The kids poured out of their homes and showed off their hauls. Of course, now you've got find find a bullhorn...

Unloading stuff you don't want on ebay. You'd be amazed at the great deals you can find from people desperate to get rid of unwanted gifts.

Flying on Christmas. It's a bargain, so the airport isn't as dead as you might think.

People who have to work. Visit a hospital, firehouse, police station... talk to people who keep the peace when everyone is off.

Christmas movies. Tons of people on family overload head for an escape at the local theater.

Homeless Christmas. Where do the people go after they've had the traditional photo op holiday dinner? Back out into the cold?

And finally, after watching "A Christmas Story," just wondering if there's anyone named "Bumpus" in your market.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Monday's story ideas

Christmas Eve bargains. Several years ago my wife scored a gorgeous artificial tree at 90 percent off on Christmas Eve. Incredible bargains abound as stores hope to squeeze every nickel out of the holiday.

Christmas Eve traditions. There are bound to be plenty out there. Opening one gift. Midnight mass. Our is "The Feast of the Seven Fishes" in which you have dinner with seven different kinds of fish. It's an Italian tradition. Find some more.

Holiday politics. The ads don't stop. Do people find this rather offensive during the holidays?

Holiday travel. Considering the bad weather over much of the country, what are your rights if you get stuck?

Political movies. Once again Hollywood finds out people want to be entertained at the theater as "Charlie Wilson's War" isn't exactly a blockbuster. Find out what people want to see this time of year.

And finally, a health story I always meant to do but never did. Stuffing a turkey vs. "dressing" in a pan. Being from the North, I stuff the family bird and always get comments that it is "unsanitary" or "unsafe to eat." What's the real deal?