Thursday, May 8, 2008

Friday's story ideas

Postage goes up Monday. Check to see if there's a run on forever stamps, as people revolt against paying higher prices.

Meanwhile, the post office is collecting cans of food on Saturday for charity.

Mass transit. Is ridership up with the price of gas, and are cities that don't have it now considering it?

Comcast considers "download fee" to Internet customers who download too much stuff. Is this something that will come to all Internet providers?

New law making way thru Congress to prevent foreclosure abuses.

A Mother's Day survey said stay at home moms would be paid $117,000 if they were given a fair salary for their duties.

Airlines add another fuel surcharge to tickets. Any chance prices might drop this summer or should you just buy now?

Thursday's story ideas

People who get too little sleep have a tendency to be obese.

Gambling industry finally takes a hit from the economy, as revenues are down. What are casinos doing to lure people back?

Check with retailers to see if those tax rebate checks are finding their way into the economy. Is the "economic stimulus" plan working?

The Catholic Church is turning to the digital age to attract young people, as the Pope will begin sending daily text messages soon.

Websites to save money on groceries. There are tons of Internet sites with coupons, so show your viewers where to find the best ones.

Do-it-yourself genetic testing. Online kits are out there, but how accurate and safe are they?

How's the kid's birthday party business? Are parents still throwing lavish affairs, or have cut backs trickled down to the little darlings. Check with people that rent those inflatable things, party stores, etc. Then show how to throw a fun party on the cheap.

Laptop prices are going up, since the prices of cobalt and nickel, two elements used in making batteries, are going up.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Diction lesson: Sing along with Sinatra and Cole

Voice problems are some of the most common among young reporters. (Of course, while they were in college it never occurred to most professors to correct any speech problems.) In any event, one of the big problems has to do with diction. Many young people tend to slur their words, and accents don't make things any easier.

If you'd like to improve our diction and start getting rid of your accent, I'm going to make what sounds like a bizarre suggestion, but trust me, it will help. It might also improve your music appreciation.

In the history of recording, the two singers who had absolutely perfect diction were Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra. Listen to their records; unlike the ones produced today, you don't have to look up the lyrics because you can hear every word distinctly.

Sinatra was such a fanatic about diction that he is known to have complimented newscasters on their speaking ability. Who would've guessed Ol' Blue Eyes watched local news? And Cole's voice smoothed every word perfectly.

OK, to the record store you go. (If you can still find one) If your diction needs help, start listening to these two singers. Cole's greatest hits will do just fine, and you'll want some Sinatra from the mid-50's to late 60's. Then start singing along. ("Yeah, Grape, like we know the words.") Preferably in your car.

Pay attention to the phrasing of each singer, how he manages to string words together while letting each one speak for itself. After awhile you'll pick it up, and your improved diction will trickle down to your speech.

Wednesday's story ideas

Chrysler's gas freeze tactic. The car maker is offering deals that will allow you to buy gas at $2.99 for three years if you buy a new car. Or you can take a rebate. Interesting.

Feature: high cost of copper has the mint thinking about making pennies out of steel. Do people really care about pennies? You might visit a bank and get them to run a bunch through a coin counter.

Prescription wars. Many pharmacies now promoting three month prescriptions at significant savings. But in many cases, Medicare won't allow more than one month.

Food programs for the needy. What are the options for those who can't afford food anymore?

Medical identity thefts. People are stealing medical records, then making fake claims to insurance companies.

Saving money on your cell phone upgrade. My cell died after three years so I went shopping for a new one, and was told there was an $18 "upgrade fee." When I asked what it was for, I was told, "It's a fee." "How about waiving it?" I asked. "OK," said the woman. Apparently if you've never been late on your bill, companies will waive the fee.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tuesday's story ideas

Drunk driving members of Congress. One of New York's is all over the papers. Might be interesting to dig into the police blotter and see how the pols in your market fare. Who has a police record?

Georgia sets first execution for this country in quite some time.

People can actually get addicted to nasal spray.

Rental car companies like Enterprise, Alamo and National, are offering "carbon offsets" to customers if they're willing to pay a little more.

The number of welfare recipients is on the rise for the first time since 1996.

Prisons are being hit by the economy and are saving money by releasing inmates early.

New bill being proposed requiring all American flags purchased by government agencies be made in the USA. Might be interesting to check the labels on some flags in prominent places in your market.

Bill being floated in Pennsylvania to restrict political "robo-calls" and put them in the same class as telemarketers. Will your state do the same before the next election?

And later today... tease writing

Monday, May 5, 2008

Monday's story ideas

It's Cinco de Mayo. How about a little history piece on what that means?

Gas tax rollback. Where does the money for federal gas tax actually go? Then do the math for a regular consumer and a trucker and find out how much each would save this summer.

The science of political polls. We get a new one everyday, based on an incredibly small sample. How do these work? And how are the questions phrased? Talk to a few pollsters and a stats professor.

Switch from plastic bottles to cans. It's a lot easier to recycle cans and you can sell them. Only a few states recycle plastic bottles, and plastic lasts forever in a landfill. Are people making the switch?

New student loan legislation working its way thru Congress. What would it mean to the average student?

School is almost out. Will more kids be looking for jobs due to the economy, and will there be any to be had?

The EPA proposes new legislation to limit lead in the air.

"Payday lenders" are people who offer short term loans for high interest rates. (In my old neighborhood they were known as loan sharks.) Some states are looking into the legality of these businesses.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Coming attractions...

Later this week...stuff for producers.

How to write a tease...

How to produce a newscast and have plenty of time to eat lunch...

Stay tuned.