This idea came to me as I was looking for a story idea to write about today. When searching my usual news outlets, I thought, "Man, nothing is going ON."
Not surprising during a shortened holiday week, of which summer has a few. This may be a good time to brainstorm and start to work on some enterprise pieces to create some beefy papers in the coming months.
-- Have your staff compile lists of the stories they'd write if they had the time. Is there a big city issue they could uncover if they just had more time to report it? What are some leads they haven't had time to follow-up on, or stories they'd like to return to for some more digging? Plan time for these projects. Also, invite readers to a forum at your offices or a community meeting place. Get their feedback on stories they'd like to see.
-- A good weekly ASF, CPJ or PSJ may also help you get through summer with full newspapers. While school-related information may be hard to find, consider features like What's your problem to highlight road construction progress (or lack thereof or crime-ridden areas and what police are doing about it. There's also an Eyesores template that gives readers a look at what's being done about the area's messiest properties, abandoned buildings and construction projects that stopped mid-build. Look through past stories or readers' online comments and use the Follow-up template to come back around on stories that fell off your radar.
-- As for CPJs, police and fire officials usually are out and about more in the summer -- especially at community events -- so bring out the Public safety official profile and let your readers know who these people are. Coaches and athlete profiles are still easy during summer, when softball, baseball and other summer sports are in full -- ahem -- swing. Use our church, religious leader and mission trip profiles to keep tabs on your local church community, and the evergreen Meet your Neighbor and Meet a Veteran profiles may be a bit easier in summer, with troops returning and people out in their yards. Don't forget about the 4-H profile, too, which could be tweaked to highlight youth in other clubs in town.
-- Finally, the upcoming elections might be a good source of news this summer. There is a Fact-checker PSJ template to use now or in the fall on politicians' claims, and it's a good time to start collecting the bio info of people running for office now -- you'll need it soon enough.