Thursday, April 29, 2010


Writing for Mass Communications is a class that definitely takes dedication. Writing is hard. Professor Piacente does a nice job at teaching fundamental writing skills so it's crucial to take his advice to heart. Writing news stories may seem simple but it's very meticulous so it is up to you to practice, practice, practice. Don't be afraid to question your feedback!

Advice for Next Class

Don't be afraid to say something in a few words- you're not writing an essay.

Get the Washington Post headlines sent to your email- it'll be a great way to study and remember stories by the day of the exam.

Deadlines might be on weekends...Don't submit things late!

Good luck,

Advice for Noobs

If you find yourself stuck on an assignment, just start writing, even if it doesn't sound perfect at first. It's easier to write and rewrite rather than trying to get it perfect the first time.

Always be short and succinct. Go through your sentences word by word with a scalpel if necessary.

Try to read the Post with an eye for how their reporters write their stories. The best way to improve your writing is just writing more and reading more.

And when you get an assignment on a deadline, do it ASAP, because missing your deadlines by mistake is the best way to pull your grades down.

--Mike Conte

Advice for Newcomers

Be prepared every class and practice, practice, practice!
  • Prof. Piacente is very helpful if you talk to him and will give you helpful feedback on practice stories you do on the side if you give him fair notice.
  • Keep up on your current events and if you get behind check the website for the 'todays newspaper' link at the top of the main page.
  • You tackle all the types of written media so be careful and don't get your styles mixed up with each other.
  • Be short and quick to the point on all your stories but at the same time don't leave anything unusual or catchy that the reader might enjoy and can make your story better.
Good Luck,

David Grant

Advice for Next Class

  • Take all comments given by Professor Piacente seriously because they will help your writing and get you more in the mindset for the type of writing being asked of you.
  • You don't have to read every story in the paper, but read the ones on the front section pages, as well as others that peak your interest.
  • Cherish the advice and time of visitors that come in because they know what they are talking about from experience and have words of wisdom to impart.
  • Don't be afraid to say what you think and be open minded!

Advice to Incoming Class

Take the opportunity to do extra practice assignments. It will really help! (Kelsey Callahan)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Advice from Nick Krosse

Prof. Piacente is probably one of the coolest professors I've had, and he's helped me make this one of the most useful classes I've taken. Here are some things that have helped me gain as much as I did from this class:
  1. Articles are due a day or two after class for a reason: deadlines matter in the real world, no matter what your job is. Don't be late!
  2. Writing for mass communication is different kind of writing: use your words sparingly, say what you mean in the fewest words possible. Also, always use active voice (this is true for most writing anyway). This can be hard to master, but if you keep at it, you will do well in this course.
  3. When you are reading the paper, pick at least two or three stories you won't think will be on the quiz. There is always a bonus point on the quiz for identifying a story not on the quiz. I think the best way to do this is pick the most interesting stories from the week: they will be the easiest ones to remember.
  4. When guest speakers come in, pay attention! They have valuable insight into what the real world is like, especially in communications. Ask questions too. They all have really cool stories!
  5. Employers value people who can communicate (i.e. have the skills you will learn in this course). Do well, and you will be seen as extremely useful by many employers!
Good luck!

-Nick Krosse

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


  • As you read the paper, underline the main ideas of the article. That way, when you review the paper before class for the quiz, you can be reminded of what you need to know faster
  • If you have a question or just want more practice with your writing, just ask! Prof. Piacente is really great about helping out
  • Prof. Piacente always asks on his quizzes for one article not mentioned earlier in the quiz. Try skimming the articles on the inside of the paper to make sure you have an article. It's an easy extra credit point.
  • When writing a story, keep it simple and get straight to the point. This isn't like writing an essay, where you have to analyze and use big words; you're writing for the average Joe. Just say what you need to say.
  • Read your stories out loud before you submit them. You'd be surprised what kind of dumb, little mistake you made that could cost you major points.


Always think about the newsworthy concepts as you write any news story - Unusual, Immediacy, Conflict, Impact, Prominence and Proximity. They will help you to prioritize your information and compose an article that grabs the attention of your audience.

Monday, April 26, 2010


1.) Be as direct and simple as you can with your writing.

2.) When sorting through a dense fact sheet, prioritize the story using common sense. For example, someone's death should be more important, and featured earlier in the story, than someone's house collapsing.

3.) In print writing, just use "said" when quoting someone - not "exclaimed" or "boasted" or anything that might offer a slant to the story.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


  • Take notes on the Post throughout the week or you'll have no chance of remembering all of the current events on Thursday.
  • Read your story out loud, even if it isn't a broadcast story. You might look strange muttering to yourself at your computer but you'll catch mistakes.
  • The Metro section is never interesting.
  • Leads are like puzzles. Strange, hard puzzles that make you angry because you can't find the corner pieces immediately. However, like puzzles, leads are do-able. Play around with them and don't be afraid of rewriting them.
  • This class isn't nearly as bad as you think it's going to be. Take the advice you're given, follow directions and you'll do just fine.


Make yourself a road map of where you want to go with this story. Prioritize the events in your story. Once you determine what's most important, you'll be able to write more fluidly and cohesively. Don't get caught up in extraneous details. If you're feeling overwhelmed, just stick to your road map.

Also, the simpler the better. Learn to cut out extra phrases and words. Be direct. Don't over think it.

Friday, April 23, 2010


1. Read the Washington Post everyday and take notes. Review your notes before class, and understand why each story is newsworthy.

2. Read your stories out loud. This is an effective way to catch any grammatical errors and wording that may not work with the flow of the story.

3. Make sure all broadcast stories are in present tense. Reread the story over and over to catch errors because it's easy to mistake tenses.


Read the Washington Post everyday, but then on Thursday, skim the stories again. You want to make sure you remember the most updated information on stories that run throughout the week.

Also, read your stories aloud -- especially with broadcast. If it doesn't sound right to you, it won't sound right to anyone else.

Good luck!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Advice from Marley!

Hi all!

First of all, I whole heartedly agree with Craig. I have always been told that I am an extremely strong writer, and this class was totally unexpected for me in terms of writing style. Open yourself up! Don't be afraid to fail, because you'll get the hang of it eventually.

My advice is this: In terms of the current events quizzes, don't sweat it. It's not as bad as everybody makes it out to be. Every day, I get the Post, and I outline the headlines for the Front Page, Metro, Style, and Sports sections. If the story is not obvious from the headlines and captions, read a little bit more (reading the whole story won't kill you either ;D)! Having the headlines to study from at the end of the week made the quizzes soooo much easier. Also, you will eventually be able to guess the kinds of questions Prof. Piacente will put on there, so grab a highlighter and review!

Advice: Craig

Forget everything you think you know about writing if this is your first journalism class. Clinging to old habits will almost definitely get you into trouble. Also, I had a Video Production teacher in high school that used to tell us to KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid. Try that.


Take notes on the Washington Post during the week for the current events quiz, and if you are having trouble with writing, Professor Piacente is always willing to email you practice stories.