College Media

A story idea to localize: Student fees

ProPublica story

Friday, ProPublica released a story about the growing use of student fees by colleges and universities across the U.S.: Course Load: The Growing Burden of College Fees.

I’m posting about this not just because the story contains some interesting anecdotes from around the country and some pretty brazen quotes from higher education administrators, but to plant the seed for localized stories.

Every college journalism outlet can do this story about their college or university. An enterprising reporter could even expand the reporting beyond their campus to their state, or their athletic conference, or to peer institutions.

And there are numerous ways to make the story more interactive: a sample tuition bill with pop-ups explaining what the various fees pay for; a graph showing the rise of fees as compared to tuition over a period of time; a sample calculator to add up the costs of fees; a poll about individual fees.

This is the type of story that can be a crown in the portfolio for a young journalist and an award-winner for a student media outlet, if done well.