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Article Ideas from Newspapers
by Judith K. Bierman

Whether you live in a bustling metropolis or the smallest of towns, there is a wealth of article ideas readily available at your fingertips that can be used to write and sell your freelance writing.

Where can these ideas be found? In virtually every newspaper!

With a good idea and a well-crafted query letter, you are sure to find just the right magazine to publish your article. My first publishing credit was a feature article in Dog Fancy. I had no expert credentials to boast of and didn’t work with dogs. But I did own a dog and when I opened the Milwaukee Journal early one morning, a photo of a lovely Golden Retriever caught my eye.

Sadly, I learned the animal had died shortly after eating a partial bag of chocolate morsels that its owner had planned to use in baking brownies. A red alert went off in my head. "Why did this animal die from a seemingly innocent prank?" Reading the story, I learned that chocolate, especially the semi-sweet variety, can cause adverse reactions in canines that may result in death.

Like me, the dog’s owners knew nothing about this problem, known as Chocolate Toxicosis, and did not seek help for the animal until it was too late. I was determined to spread the word in the hopes of saving other dogs from this fate. A well-read magazine like Dog Fancy seemed the perfect place and I sent a query letter to the contact person listed in their entry of the current Writer’s Market.

What I received shortly thereafter was a green light to proceed with the article – not with any guarantees of it being published, but on speculation (spec). The approval to submit the article came in March and they requested receipt of the manuscript by June for consideration in their December issue.

My favorite weekend activity is to sit at my desk with the Sunday edition of all the local and major newspapers in Wisconsin, where I live, scissors in hand, to clip any news reports which I believe can be turned into salable articles. While the headline news can be quite interesting, avoid anything that identifies Associated Press just above the article. These same articles are available to virtually everyone in the country – including the magazines you want to write for. Stick with the section for local news, where human-interest stories abound. Then start sending out those queries!

Don’t know what to write about? Make a date with a pile of your local and regional newspapers and let the ideas abound.

© Copyright 2005, Judith K. Bierman

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