15 consumer story ideas

Health. Jobs. Elections. Government COVID responses.

Most of today’s biggest stories have one thing in common: they affect people’s wallets.

RTDNA and the National Endowment for Financial Education are here to help journalists cover stories about financial issues, first with a multitude of story ideas (like the 15 you’ll find below) and second, with the Personal Finance Reporting Awards, open through August 28, 2020

Get inspired by these ideas from past winners then submit your work for a chance to join this idea-sparking list!

  1. In 2019, Tracy Samilton of Michigan Radio won for a story about a little-known consumer protection law related to funerals. In a time of growing COVID tragedies, how can you help your audience navigate the funeral industry?
  2. Casey Bond of HuffPost helped her audience navigate multi-level marketing schemes. As unemployment soars, how can you help job seekers sort good from predatory opportunities?
  3. KUSA’s Chris Vanderveen’s series on surprise medical bills leading to property liens revealed the sometimes devastating world of medical bills. Have you shared with your audience who pays for COVID health care costs?
  4. In 2018, CBS News Radio Network’s Jill Schlesinger won for her series answering audience questions. How have you provided your audience a way to get expert advice on their financial questions.
  5. Susannah Snider of U.S. News & World Report shared how student loans can trap the parents who take them out. Have you asked how current students’ loans are affected by COVID-driven changes to school schedules, or how to find relief?
  6. WFAA’s Jason Wheeler’s in-depth reporting made the property valuation/property tax relationship more clear. As city and state budgets take hits, have you looked at how property and other taxes are affecting your audience?
  7. WUNC’s Leoneda Inge in 2017 shared an inside look at the Black bank movement. In the wake of recent racial reckoning, have you explored how financial systems and structures affect people of color?
  8. PBS Next Avenue’s Richard Eisenberg shared a personal story behind getting rid of a loved one’s possessions left behind. Have you explored how second hand and resale markets have been effected by COVID restrictions?
  9. The KLAS consumer team of Michelle Mortensen and Sarita Kichok are 2-time winners for their regular consumer series. Have you considered a personal finance franchise?
  10. WGBH’s Tina Martin explored the rules of debt collection. As COVID has caused incomes to dry up, what federal or state policies or protections can help those who owe rent, student loan, mortgage, credit card or other debt?
  11. KERA-FM’s Courtney Collins covered communities without banks. How have today’s economic conditions affected the unbanked? Disrupted the regular business even of those who do have bank accounts, but perhaps have more trouble getting to a physical bank?

Plus, here are 4 more examples of finance franchises local news outlets have started to help answer their audience’s key money questions – questions your audiences likely have, too.