Thursday, September 27, 2012

Notes from fifth class (9/27/12)

Code of ethics
·      Seek truth and Report it
·      Minimize harm
·      Act independently
·      Be accountable

Violating code of ethics is how journalists lose integrity & credibility!!!

JR Moehringer Story
·      Name misspelling K-e-l-l-e-y instead of K-e-l-l-y
·     Demonstrated the importance of being correct

·      Review of comma abuse
    • use a comma to set off a direct quote.
    • use a comma to separate parts of a compound sentence. Use comma before the coordinating conjunction.
    • use commas to avoid misreading.
    • use a comma to set off interrupting words and expressions.
    • use a comma to set off words of direct address.
    • use a comma with names and titles.
      • but no comma when title comes first
    • use comma to set off items in a series.
    • use a comma after an introductory prepositional phrase.
    • use a comma after an introductory participial phrase.
    • use a comma after an introductory subordinate clause.
    • use comma after phrases that show contrast.

·      If your not sure look it up.

The Shipping News 
·      Active verbs are important to telling a story
·      Importance of finding the heart of the story

Midterm coming up
·      3 fact sheets and pick two to write stories from it

·      Find a blog that you like and write a guest post for it
·      Invite people to comment on what you have written
·      250 words
·      bring print out copy to class next week
  •  need some help here are some tips from Janine Warner
    • develop a writing style and voice.
    • Post often, even if your posts are short.
    • allow your readers to comment on your posts.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Post Reporter Visits Class

Taylor Shapiro (thumbs up) writes obits and covers education.

Taylor Shapiro, one of the Washington Post's youngest reporters, spoke to Writing for Communication students on Sept. 20. Student reactions follow:

Sarah M
I thought Taylor Shapiro was great! Easy to talk to, had some really valuable points about the industry (getting your foot int he door, starting at entry level, inserting creativity in little ways), plus he was funny.

I really liked Taylor Shapiro. I thought his advice on really having to dig and take the initiative when finding stats for stories was great. Working from the bottom up was a good lesson he explained too. Plus, he was a very funny person.

The humor he had in person was able to come through when writing obituaries. In addition, he had a good understanding of who his audience was.

I thought Taylor Shapiro was a really good speaker. He seemed a lot more passionate about obituaries than main stream reporting but I liked how he stressed that you have to take any opportunity to "get your foot in the door" that is presented to you.

Taylor was a great speaker: very enthusiastic, engaging, and really knew his stuff. He gave me a sense of comfort and inspiration due to his two main points: dedication and persistance will get you anywhere. Thank you for bringing him in.

I thought Taylor was great -- fun and engaging but extremely informative as well. I think his casual, humorous style helped us relate to and identify with him. I learned a lot from his explaining how obituaries and news stories get written and how they differ. For example, the different writing styles and processes of finding stories and sources.

Funny and insightful!

Sarah W - I really enjoyed Taylor's discussion with the class. It was really interesting to have a perspective from someone who hasn't been in the news business since everyone wrote on typewriters. I think it was helpful how he described his process getting a job, and how that even now, that it's still possible to get into the newspaper business starting from the bottom. I think his tip about learning how to do coding or something not everyone is able to on the computer was a useful tip that people in our class should heed if they'd like to have a future in journalism. 

I really enjoyed Taylor Shapiro's guest speech.  He was very insightful, and open to any and all questions.  He brought a certain amount of humor to journalism that you often don't see, which I found very refreshing.  I also found it interesting that his background was in English.  You could tell through his writing that he appreciates style, and holds his writing to a relatively high degree of creative integrity.  Awesome all around!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Notes from Fourth Class (9/20/12)

Scott Forsythe Story: Key Takeaways for Leads

  • Do not mix headlines with leads.  A lead must always be a complete sentence.
  • The attribution is rarely the most important part of a lead.  "According to D.C. Police," should be one of the last things said.
  • To avoid any confusion, use the name of the day.
  • Scott Forsythe is not a celebrity.  His name does not need to be introduced in the lead.
  • Numerals beginning a sentence must be spelled out.
  • 8:45 on Thursday morning should be replaced with 8:45 a.m.
  • When citing a police report in the attribution, say which city it is from.
  • Use the past tense.  The article should say "the police report said," rather than "the police report says."
  • Since there is no address, "road" should be spelled out and not abbreviated.
  • Answer as many of the 5 W's as possible in the lead.
  • Follow the AP stylebook (22-year-old).
  • Use "said" instead of "reported."
  • Do not begin leads with long clauses.
Homework for 9/27
  • Rewrite lead for the Forsythe story.
  • Write lead for Samuel Pinckney story (#2 on "Stressing the Unusual" sheet).
  • Complete Ali Rhami story.
  • Email all three assignments to Prof. Piacente no later that Saturday at noon.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Notes from the third class (9/13/12)

Review of News Values

  • Proximity
  • Unusual
  • Prominence
  • Immediacy
  • Impact
  • Conflict
*memorize these!
*not all stories will have all of these values but the more they have the more likely they will be on the front page

US Ambassador Killed In Libya
  • story started on A10 when those killed were unknown
  • story moved to front page with death of US Ambassador
  • international/national prominence
  • ups the ante
  • high position in government
Arrested Hero Story - Sentence Review (Main Points)
  • "home-cooked" dinner: necessary because it covers all the angle of the story, element of appreciation
  • we are striving for PRECISION AND CLARITY
  • "evening" irrelevant: when else do we eat dinner?
  • you don't know what anyone "believes"
    • correct: "Neuman said he believed" or "Neuman said"
  • there are times to paraphrase and times to quote
  • we quote when a quote is unique or said uniquely
  • this writing is more of an art than a science, all situations are unique
  • home-cooked meal "at her house": unnecessary, where else would it be?
  • tip: don't turn something in until you've read it out loud
  • what is a "water rescue attempt": say it in plain English
  • organize the W's in order of importance
  • it is more descriptive to say "a 48-year-old man" than "Neuman": no one knows Neuman
  • attribute information to your sources! don't put yourself in the story
  • refer to days of the week, not "yesterday"
  • don't shift the focus of your sentences to unimportant points
  • leads can only be 1 sentence, 25 words or less, containing as many of the W's as possible
  • when there's a natural pause, put a comma
  • factual errors are bad!
  • "said" is the preferred attribution word
    • other words hint/suggest things to the reader
    • back to back quotes need transitions ex: "Neuman replied"
  • don't make yourself a focal point, there will  be a time and a place for that (not here and now)
  • no need to explain what a quote is saying, readers find this condescending/irrelevant
  • you don't know anyone on a first name basis
    • exceptions: Cher, Madonna, etc.
  • "Mr." unnecessary
Rules and Regs
  • numbers 1-9 are spelled out (unless they start a sentence), numbers 10 and above are not
  • keep leads to 1 sentence, 25 words or less
  • stress the unusual
  • stay in past tense for print as much as possible
  • use "said" when quoting someone
    • use the title and full name on first reference
    • use last name only on subsequent references
  • keep subsequent graphs to one or two sentences
    • "short and punchy"
    • set off all quotes by making them their own grafs
  • use a new graf when you introduce someone new, quote someone else, etc.
  • don't engage in linear story-telling
    • use the inverted pyramid
    • punch line comes first
    • you should get the gist of the story from the first 25 words
  • don't try to summarize or force a clever ending
    • no conclusions!
  • keep your opinions out of your stories
  • why do we use headlines?
    • takes the place of a lead
    • extra place for information
    • cheating of sorts (no extra 10 words to work with)
    • "let's walk before we run"
  • read aloud
Stephen King excerpt
  • use active voice, not passive
  • "I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs..."
  • to do: re-read the excerpt on your own
Homework due next class
  • Read Ch. 5,6
  • Do P. 11 "Rewriting" exercise, 1.12
  • Do P. 32 "Agreement" and "Comma Splices" exercises 2.10 and 2.11

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Notes from the Second Class

News writing basics in the digital age
 -In the past it could take more than 40 minutes per story in order to write and put a story on the wire.
-Now stories can be written quickly and through the use of email quickly sent out and utilized.

-There are certain elements that make up a good story.
-These are the impact it has on your audience, an engaging plot that makes sense, a simplicity that makes the story make more sense to the reader, a conflict of some kind, a hook to draw readers in, and finally good characters that the readers can relate to and root for.

-One of the most important things that you need to know is who you have to talk to for your story, no matter what it is.
-Take for example the story that the trucking industry has done extremely well since the drought of the Mississippi River has driven the barge industry into decline.
-An important group to talk to is the heads of the Trucking industries and barge industries respectively. Their positions allow them to give you an excellent overview of the problem.
-However you have to remember that only through good characters can a story really progress. You would need to speak with the truckers themselves and the barge crews as well to get the full effect of the problems and opportunities facing both groups.
How to find a good story
-Ex. Hurricane Isaac.
-When the hurricane struck it affected thousands. Good stories that can be drawn from a disaster like this are stories of the survivors, how the government is responding, how the storm affected the town and the local economy, and how the storm affected other states.

-Each of these stories has at least one element from the list above. They matter to the people reading because it shows the conflict between man and nature, how the government reacts here will have an impact on their lives should they ever be in a similar disaster situation, businessmen and women will have an interest in how the local economy of the area hit by the storm would be affected and they will have a definite interest in how the national economy is affected by the hits the affected areas suffer.
-Judging your audience is important in what stories you choose to focus on and what parts of the story you will deem important over others.

Articles in the Digital Age
-Now in the modern world we have new and profound abilities to spice up the story and get more people involved in it than ever before.
-Ex. Some methods could be including a timeline and graph to illustrate a point, show images of those affected by the storm, or post a video interview. These mediums allow journalists to expand their stories beyond the reach of the core facts.

Homework Assignment due 9/13:
-Read Ch. 4, 10.
-Do P. 12, 1.13 (brevity), P. 51, 3.1 (AP Style/do in workbooks).

Posted by James Duffy