Friday, September 25, 2015

Writing for Communication 9/24/15

Happy Friday!

Last night, we were lucky enough to have Michele Kayal as our guest professor. As an accomplished freelance writer, she was the perfect person to give us a lesson on feature writing.

After some introductions, Michele taught us about the anatomy of a feature story. Here were some of the main points:

  • News and feature writing have a common foundation (Lead, nutgraf, kicker)        
  • Both are like houses; The news is a small house that provides a roof over your head, whereas feature writing is a mansion that has a lot more going on
  • News is short, to the point, and efficient
  • Features take an angle/point of view, can entertain, and are detailed. They include more background and anecdotes
  • Because the two have different jobs, they have a different constructions
  • As we already know, news stories are constructed like inverted pyramids 
  • Features do not have a single structure, but many look like hourglasses 

  • Once we got through that, we went over the bank robbery assignment. Michele had each of us read our lead. Here were some common problems:
    • Making the lead too "new-sy" and not creative enough for a feature story
    • Not using the name, which was important because of status
    •  Not taking a point of view/angle
    • Making the lead less than 25 words, which isn't necessary for feature writing
    After reviewing all of our leads, we went to the computers and tried to re-write them to make them more feature-like. Once again, we went around the room and reviewed each other's work. Overall, we seemed to get a better understanding of how to create an interesting lead for a feature.

    Lastly, we began the "Student Sit-In" assignment with Michele's guidance. We worked on them until class ended.

    To do for October 1:
    • Do radio story (Page 243), "Historic Document"
    • Read chapters 11 and 12
    • Read Writing to be Heard (Pages 214-216)
    • Read Characteristics of Writing (Pages 233-235)
    • Finish "Student Sit-In" (Page 208) that was started in class
    Have a great week!

    Friday, September 18, 2015

    Writing for Communications 9/17/15!

    Hooray its the weekend!!! Time to take a minute to breath but also do all that reading you’ve been holding off on. Ughh, and before we know it Monday morning and another week of the semester will be ahead of us.

    Washington Post's Taylor Shapiro fields question 

    This class started off with the first quiz which incorporated current events from the week, and grammar. Always remember to track your grades throughout the semester, that being said this is the first quiz grade out of three! Second quiz will be October 8 and the last quiz will be November 5. Be prepared and continue reading current events, especially keeping track of the Redskins record. (that seems to be a common question) 

    The main lesson for the day was to learn how to find and stress the unusual in a story. What makes it news worthy, or how it stands out. Example: The man who was speeding and got into a car crash. It is only unusual because he was on his way to his wedding. 

    Key points from Steven Kings article:
    DON’T EVER WRITE IN PASSIVE TENSE, ALWAYS IN ACTIVE!!!!! Passive is unsure and active is confident. Always wear your invisible crown and be confident. You’re a good writer! 
    • Readers must always be your main concern
    • Adverbs are not your friend 
    • Get to the point, don’t add words just because 
    • The word for attribution is always said
    • Don’t be afraid of not being understood

    Read this article over and over throughout your writing career, it will help in time of need! 

    After the Steven King article and the reminders for a great writer, we went over the comma- the most common mistake found in a piece of work. 

    Remember professor gave us a sheet with most common mistakes that can also be found in AP stye book and textbook. Use the resources given!

    Continue to practice your leads
            Key reminders
    • They should only be 25 words 
    • Can only be one sentence 
    • The one sentence can not be a run on. 
    •   The lead must include the 5 W’s and attribution.
    • Don’t ever say today, tomorrow, yesterday in your writing always say the day of the week. 

    Assignment for practice is Due Sunday 9/20/15 at 5pm. Write a story including the lead, slug, and whole story for Fridays newspaper. 

    Personal Branding Assignment due Monday 9/21/15 at 5pm. 

    We then had a Guest Speaking come to class. Taylor Rees Shapiro from the Washington Post. 

    Some Key Points form his discussion:
    • He made his big break writing about Virginia Tech shooting for the school newspaper. 
    • Every person you ever meet is important and maybe a good resource in the future so don’t be a jerk! 
    • Use the tools around you like Facebook, social media, and people to get in contact with others that may be helpful to your story.
    • It’s important to understand the power of what you can do as a journalist.
    • Always be honest , accurate, and take the time to get the story right. 
    • If you are truthful and you have evidence to all your information, criticism is easy to handle. 
    • Never be afraid to take the  lowest job there is, you can work your way up! Shaprio started as a copy aid and is now a reporter of high education. 
    • Obituaries while you may think they are depressing, are so inspirational because you’re writing about the entirety of the beautiful life.
    • Never burn bridges, everyone can be helpful 
    • Always make sure to be sensitive to the topic you are asking about. Make the person feel comfortable and safe. 

    You can only get better by reading and writing more. Practice really does make perfect!!
    The Washington post sets itself apart because they truly check all the boxes, fact checking is very important and they don’t lean towards one side. 
    If you make a mistake, own it and fix it right away.
    He said still to this day he doesn’t know what happen with the rape case and he will never know. 
    Just be yourself and the rest will come! 

    REMINDER: PROFESSOR WILL NOT BE HERE FOR THE NEXT TWO WEEKS, HOWEVER WE DO HAVE GUEST PROFESSORS. (A small bio on each professor may be found in syllabus.) 
      HW for 9/24:
    a.     Read Ch. 8, 10
    b.     Read pp. 190-194
    c.     Write Bank Robbery, p. 208, Exercise 10.15 / Be prepared to discuss in class.

    ·       HW for 10/1: 
    a. Read Chapters 11, 12; 
    b. Read: Writing to be Heard – 214-216; Characteristics of Writing – 233-235. 
    c. Do radio story, P. 243, “Historic Document”

    ·       HW for 10/8: 
    a. Read Chapter 14, 16; plus Journalist’s Code of Ethics:
    b. Bring in a front page story or a feature story of your choice

    Always Remember: 
    Check your email everyday! Get a Ap style pocket book for reference. Read Washington Post and Skimm to keep up with current events. Finally, if you have any questions or concerns reach out to the professor by gmail, he is very quick to respond and wants us all to achieve.  You’re an AU student and that already makes you great but lets strive to be awesome in this class! 

    Have a great week everyone, see your lovely faces on Thursday night at 8:10-10:40, don’t be late! 

    Thursday, September 10, 2015

    Friday, September 10th, 2015

    So today marks the end of the week, the day you finally get to kick back and enjoy. But, before we all do that I want remind you of a few things.

    First, remember that everything we read about current events starting today is fair game for Thursday's quiz. Also, there's going to be a part of this quiz in Grammar, so if I were you, I'd checkout the handouts we were given.
    Ps. If you still need help trying to figure out if you're eating your grandma, I'd recommend you swing by the writing center. (Proper grammar saves lives!)

    Second, remember to always write your pieces without including your opinion. Readers aren't really into that, if they were, they'd be reading the Opinion section of the newspaper. Remember, this will be hard at first, but we must leave our beloved comfort zone every once in a while.

    Oh, quick question, What are news? what constitutes them and what makes something worth to be known? I'll get back to you later.

    REMEMBER Marty the dog. Your number one story about the requirements for a piece. Those are:

    • Unusual (what makes it different)
    • Emotional (Does it have any emotional repercussions?
    • Prominence (is there a relevant figure in it?)
    • Impact (Did it create a certain impression?)
    • Proximity (how close is it? how long ago did it happen?)

    So.. you're saying that I need what when I write my stories?
    Well you'll need the 5Ws, that is:

    • Who
    • What
    • Where
    • When
    • Why
    The most important one should always be used first, and we may not always have a why. Also remember they are extremely important in our 25 word lead. 

    You will also need an inverted pyramid.. as in style that is. This style gives priority to the most important information and leaves the least important for the end. 

    Oh, and don't forget that According to, should always be followed by a comma (,) and it must be used to attribute official sources. You know, so people know they're reading the real deal. 

    Writing a lead for print?
    Here's what you should do:
    • Put most important information information first.
    • 25 words or less.
    • Use past tense.
    • Do not reveal your personal opinion.
    • Include attributions for the official source.
    • No spelling grammar or APA errors.

    Oh, and if you write for broadcast, you may use first person and keep it conversational.

    Oh and to answer what news are, here it goes:
    "News are subjects and events that journalists deem worthy of writing and disseminating to a wider audience." They are new, in the sense that they add new developments to prior information.

    Read Chapter 5-7,9, and do: p.12, 1.13 (brevity), 1.14, 1-5; P.63, 4.1 (AP Style/ do in workbooks)
    Read stories in the WPost by Rees Shapiro. Prepare two questions for 9/17 visit.

    Feel free to comment, and sorry for sounding like a broken record!
    See you next week.
    Lillian Then Yarull

    Friday, September 4, 2015

    Our Writing for Communication class begins!

    So, you get back to your room at around 10:47 pm, and your roommate asks you to remind them of where you were. You tell them, and they ask you to elaborate on what exactly you mean. Then, you find yourself asking yourself: what exactly is this class, and why exactly am I taking it?

    Writing for Communication is a class aimed at making you a better writer. You will learn how to organize and prioritize. You will learn how to make your writing clearer for understanding, and the emphasis put on deadlines will help to simulate a professional setting. The areas of writing you can expect to touch on are print/news writing, broadcast writing, persuasive writing, public service announcements, and possibly scriptwriting.

    Now that we've got that figured out... have we already taken our first steps towards becoming a better writer?

    Indeed, we have. We touched on the inverted pyramid style used in print/news writing. That entails starting with the most important information and ending with the least important information. Additionally, we learned what leads were.  A lead is the first paragraph of a news story. It should be 25 words or less, and it should cover as much of the 5Ws as possible as well as include attribution from an official source.

    With one class down and about 12 more to go, what all should we keep in mind while moving forward?

    Check your email frequently! Always make sure to use spell check, and keep your AP style packet at hand. Oh, and don't forget about reading the A, Metro, Style, and Sports section fronts in The Washington Post as well as your daily Skimm. Don't use phrases like "brand new"; you'd only be repeating yourself. And if you need to get in touch with Professor Piacente, refer to the syllabus or search for him on just about any form of social media.

                Bonus Tip: Do the homework! For this week, it's...
                - read
                - read chapters 1-4 of the text
                - do 1.1 (Autobiography), 1.4 (Incident), and 1.10 (Shoelaces) on p.9-11 *hardcopy*
                - read The Washington Post section fronts and the Skimm daily

    Posted by: Miah Murphy
    Thank you for reading, and I invite you to comment on my post :)