Friday, August 31, 2012

Notes from the first class:

"Keep it simple and get us there quickly" was a motto introduced to the class by Professor Piacente on Thursday, 8/30.  In newspaper writing, we use the "inverted pyramid" model for writing, meaning the writer starts with the most important information at the top and less important/crucial information at the bottom of the story.

Stories should always begin with the lead sentence, which should be approximately 25 words.  Be sure to include the 5Ws (who, what, when, where, why) in order of most important to least important.  For example, if the writer is discussing someone who collapsed in class, the "what" happened would be most important.  However, if the person was Obama, then the "who" would become the most important question. It is important not to start a story with the "when."

Each story should begin with the writer's name, the slug (which should never be more than 2 words), and the date (written in the format mm/dd/yy).  Each should be on its own separate line, in all caps, Arial 12-pt font, and double spaced.  Leave 6-8 single spaced lines between the heading and the body of the story.  Paragraphs should be kept short (usually 2 sentences long and double spaced).  Each page should be approximately 250 words.  For multiple-page stories, the word "MORE" should be written in the center of the bottom of the page.  On each corresponding page after the first page, the heading should read: writer's last name, slug, and the phrase "ADD #" depending on which page it is (start with 1, even though it is technically the second page).  Do this for each page.  Again, each part of the header is on a separate double spaced line and each word is written in caps.  To indicate the end of the story, write "-30-" in the middle of the page under the story.

There are six important news values that each story should have.  These are the unusual, conflict, immediacy, impact, prominence, and proximity.  These values were part of an activity with "Marty the Dog," which helped to illustrate the importance of each of these values.

Current Events quizzes will be taken each Thursday promptly at 5:30 pm.  Prof. Piacente gave a handout in class explaining how to log on and how to take the quiz.  Each quiz will focus on the headlines/main stories from the A Section, Sports, Style, Metro, and Obudsman's section of the Washington Post from the Friday after class until the following Thursday's class.  One question that is guaranteed to be on the quiz each week is what the Obudsman wrote about that week.  The Obudsman writes his pieces on Sunday, which can be searched online.  The Obudsman for the Washington Post is Patrick B. Pexton.

Handouts from Class: Syllabus, "Friday Morning" Blog Instructions, Top 10 Mistakes, Trade Secrets by Joel Achenbach, Quizstar Student Instructions, Colonic Study story assignment, and instructions for how to properly construct a story.

HW due next class, 9/6:
-Read Stovall chapters 1-3, P. 9-11, Do. 1.1 (Autobiography), 1.4 (Incident), and 1.10 (shoelaces)
-NOTE: Beginning next class (9/6), each class will begin with a current events quiz