Friday, October 19, 2012

Notes from Eighth Class

Midterm Review:
-Determining the correct lead. Don't put previously reported news in the lead. Stress the new info.
-News judgement. Deaths are the most important. Everything else is always secondary.
-Stress the WHO in the lead. Precision and clarity in the bulldozer story.
-Utilize quotes that create a vivid picture in the reader’s mind, as well as unique and unusual quotes.

Review of Press Releases:
-Make sure to follow AP Style in press releases
-Capitalize every word in headlines except prepositions
-No period at the end of headlines

Homework: Gorilla Press Release-Due Monday (10/22) at 5 p.m. Also, research the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Bring two questions to related to PR for the festival to class. The questions will be handed in.

Journalism Ethics and Editorial Decisions-How would you run a sensitive story, or not run it at all?
The class broke into small groups and analyzed seven cases.

Case 1 dealt with a Child Protection Services Director whose husband was convicted of child molestation in Oregon, but failed to register as such upon their arrival to Virginia. The victim is their daughter. The Director used her former position in the Oregon Human Services Department to get lenient treatment for her husband upon his conviction.

Do you do a story? Why or why not?

Case 2 concerned a popular Sheriff in a small town who made sexist comments about female prison inmates during a public meeting. When asked to clarify his comments, the Sheriff responded with more misogynistic remarks.

Do you do a detailed story that tells all? Why or why not?

Case 3 concerned a well-known special education teacher who was found hanging from a tree in his backyard. Rumors are swirling around the small town. It is revealed that the man died from autoerotic asphyxiation.

Do you do a detailed story that tells all? Why or why not?

In Case 4, the paper has run a story honoring a 17-year-veteran of the fire department who died fighting a blaze. It is revealed that he was very drunk when he arrived at the fire, and that his intoxication played a role in his death, as he walked into a marking meter, fell over, and was promptly crushed by falling debris.

Do you run a detailed story that conflicts with your earlier praise of the firefighter? Why or why not?

Case 5 concerned a veteran police officer. Early reports say that he was killed in the line of duty. It is revealed through an autopsy that the officer committed suicide. He was under investigation for embezzlement of authority funds at the time of his death. But, you also learn that he was a father of four whose family had been devastated by death, illness and mountainous financial problems in the months prior to his suicide. If the story gets out that it was sucide, the family will be denied a $225,000 death benefit awarded when an officer dies in the line of duty.

Do you do a detailed story that tells all? Why or why not?

In Case 6, you get a call about a local family saddled with huge medical bills. The parents are unemployed, there’s no insurance, and their four-year-old daughter has a rare form of cancer. A fund drive is being planned. You write and run a story. But then, the phone rings again. Another family in a similar situation wants you to write a story.

Do you say “yes” to one stricken family and “no” to another? If “yes” to the story, what should it say? Should you give uniform play to all similar future stories?

In Case 7, you are sent out to do the annual story about the first baby born in the New Year. The mother tells you that she is single, lives upstairs from her parents, receives welfare checks, and wouldn’t change the situation for anything. She says “I don’t have anything else to do. I’m not married and I don’t work and I love kids, so why not have a second baby?”

Do you run a detailed story that includes the facts about the mother? Why or why not?

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