How to mine your archives for new stories

Al Tompkins / The Poynter Institute

While teaching at the IRE Watchdog Workshop last weekend in Oklahoma City, I got to hear the story behind The Oklahoman’s “Stories of the Ages” project.

The paper dug around in its archives to discover community stories that have been long lost. The paper uncovered what happened to old landmarks, and went back to tell stories about the Dust Bowl daysOklahoma’s gangsters and how Oklahoma became a wrestling powerhouse. All of the newspaper stories are accompanied by rich video and online stories.

At a time when newspapers are getting by with fewer folks, smart newsrooms will remember that they have archives that contain stories worth revisiting. Some of these stories are features and some are investigations that beg for followup.

When newsrooms turn to these “digital assets” for story ideas, they can also help younger readers, viewers and listeners learn something about their community’s history and gain context about why things are the way they are. I also think the history of a community can be an important touchstone for older audience members who remember the original event.

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Content wants to be digital

We live in a world in which content is increasingly digital. Consumers purchase music from Apple’s ITunes and consume it on their IPods; they read and view the news on web sites like, and; they read books on devices like the Amazon Kindle and Sony Reader and watch video on HuLu and YouTube. Yet articles abound with knowledgeable authors commenting on whether online will replace print. Most of these articles miss the point. It’s not about online versus print, it’s about content becoming digital. It’s no longer a question of if, it’s just a question of when  … By Kevin Boyd, Ecommerce instructor at Northwestern

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How to write an essay

Learning how to write an essay can be a maddening, exasperating process, but it doesn’t have to be. If you know the steps and understand what to do, writing can be easy and even fun.

This site, “How To Write an Essay: 10 Easy Steps,” offers a 10-step process that teaches students how to write an essay. Links to the writing steps are found on the left, and additional writing resources are located across the top. … American University in Cairo

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Struggles in newsroom …

When I heard that The Washington Post had let go two well-known video journalists, Steve Yelvington’s tweet summed up my initial reaction: “WP online layoffs are sad and self-defeating, a step backward as printies seize power.” … By Regina McCombs of The Poynter Institute for Media Studies

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The Swan Project …

LAKELAND — They had just finished lunch, were just crumpling paper napkins into trash bins, when the call came through the school speakers:

“Will the following girls please report to the conference room . . . ” … Lane DeGregory of The St. Petersburg Times

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