One source can = many story ideas

After spending the afternoon with Mickie MacKenzie when she was a speaker in my classes, I was ready to grab my reporter’s notebook and iPod (with microphone) and go cover some of the stories she talked about.

“The story” that she was in class to talk about was the Great American Cleanup event for Alachua County on April 19. The students collected information about time and activities of the event, what participants should wear, and the variety of cleanup projects that volunteers could help with.

But in talking about the Great American Cleanup, Keep Alachua County Beautiful, and her job, she talked about a dozen interesting story possibilities.

The Children’s Vegetable Garden in Woodland Park that is a project of the Boys and Girls Clubs. The project was the inspiration of California chef Alice Walker — The Edible Schoolyard. I’d heard Alice Walker interviewed about the project on the Sierra Club News but hadn’t realized we had an outgrowth of the project in town.

Current Problems is a partner for the Great American Cleanup and will be cleaning ponds, creeks and rivers. I wonder what kinds of trash gets collected and how that’s done safely in water that can be populated by alligators.

The 34th Street Wall and graffiti cleanup – A landmark in Gainesville is the 34th Street Wall, which is the designated area in town where graffiti is tolerated. In any given week, the stretch of wall can include painted birthday wishes, congratulations to winning Gator teams, and comments on political or social issues. Mickie talked about special efforts that are taken to quickly restore any of the three memorial sections of the wall if are defaced.

In class, I’ve talked about the value of beats for media outlets. Beats are the on-going area that a reporter covers, such as the public schools or city council or environmental issues. By having a beat, a reporter can cultivate sources in that specific area and, just like with Mickie MacKenzie, can be reporting on one story but then identify other possible stories.

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