For some reason, I pick up story ideas everywhere I go. It helps, of course, that I actually live in this town. I get my hair cut here, go to the dentist here, take my dog to the dog park here, go to the Farmers’ Market here.
I just listed some “Third Places,” and the more time you spend in places like these, the more likely you are to find out what’s going on in ordinary people’s lives.
Wherever I go — especially when I have to wait — I tend to yack it up with people. Obviously, I’m not carrying a notebook, and I don’t always tell people I’m a journalist because I’m just picking up ideas. But as soon as I can, I make notes in my phone or on the back of a receipt. So I won’t forget. And later, I do a little research to see where that idea takes me.
That’s what Thursday’s reading/viewing is about: how to operate effectively in Third Places (first step is knowing what they are). Next Tuesday, we’ll talk abouthow to pull ideas out of your day-to-day life, by “noticing what you notice,” as Beth Macy puts it in this fine piece.
Watch the video. Read the Macy piece. Thursday, we’ll talk about the video, and next Tuesday we’ll have a conversation about story ideas — where they come from, and some habits you can develop that are likely to help you stay ahead of the news and be a great story generator.
I’m sure once you’ve watched the video (sorry, it’s a little hokey — blame Kansas), you’ll be able to think of the places you go either here or where you live that could be categorized as Third Places. Maybe it’s the barber shop. Or a cafe. A gym, or a yoga studio. The more time you spend at places like these starting now, in Columbia, the more likely you are to pick up that random, newsy tidbit. As you do the orientation assignment over the next week, you’ll have a chance to think more about where these places are in the city.
Tell me (be the first to comment this summer!), are there any Third Places you frequent on campus or in Columbia where the conversation is informal and you get a sense of what’s on people’s minds?