Where do our story ideas come from? (Editor’s notes)

HR stories can come from most unexpected places
By Todd Humber
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 07/19/2011

One of my favourite activities as editor of Canadian HR Reporter is getting out of the office to talk to HR professionals. Invariably, during the conversation, someone will ask me, “Where do you find your stories?”

The honest answer: anywhere and everywhere. We never know where the next story is going to come from. Some of the sources are obvious — like any media outlet, we’re inundated with press releases and calls from PR agencies. We also frequently hear from HR professionals and readers interested in sharing their success stories — and those are some of our favourite sources.

But, sometimes, HR stories come from the most unexpected places.

When thugs were trashing the streets of Vancouver during the June 15 Stanley Cup riot, it sure didn’t seem like an HR story.

But as hooligans smashed windows, burned police cars and looted stores following the home team’s loss to the Boston Bruins in game seven, a different picture began to emerge. When the city awoke in the morning, it had a serious hangover that quickly transformed into contempt for the rioters.

People began flooding Vancouver Police with photos and videos to help identify the boors. The city’s finest are now sorting through more than one million photos and thousands of hours of video.

Websites such as identifyrioters.com were set up to out the culprits. Pictures of hooligans were broadcast on local news and around the world.

That’s where the HR angle for the story comes into focus, because many of these people had jobs. Some employers, disgusted by the riot, fired staff who were clearly identifiable in photos or who bragged about their exploits on social media.

Canadian Employment Law Today, a sister publication that looks at employment law, carried a story that outlined some of the cases where workers were fired, including:

• A university student who worked part-time at Burrard Acura was fired after video of her emerging from a store with looted merchandise surfaced. Customers recognized the employee and started emailing and calling the Vancouver dealership. She admitted her part in the riot after being confronted by her employer.

• A carpenter was fired after posting status updates on Facebook, calling the riot “awesome” and saying the city needed a makeover anyway. He listed the name of his employer, RiteTech Construction, on his Facebook page.

I didn’t expect the rowdy aftermath of the final game of the NHL season to translate into an HR story. But it goes to show you never know where the next story will come from… and perhaps you’re sitting on a great story.

If you have an interesting tale to tell, or if you’d like to write an article or opinion piece for Canadian HR Reporter, please email me at todd.humber@thomsonreuters.com or drop me a line at (416) 298-5196.

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