Friday, October 16, 2015

Writing for Communications--10/15/15

Wow! What a class, right? That developing story activity was exciting--we learned how quickly news can change, and how complicated it can be for journalists to keep their writing clear and accurate in the face of new information. Below is a detailed summary of today's block. I've separated the class into sections for clarity.

Part 1:

  • We started class by discussing news stories we'd seen that may have violated the code of ethics we studied last class. We talked about the coverage of the Lamar Odom story, and how CNN's possible conflict of interest affected its coverage of the Democratic debate.
  • We also turned in the homework and graded our AP Style take-home quizzes. As many of us guessed, the quiz was meant to help us find the AP Stylebook.
Part 2:
  • We edited passages from last week's news story. Most of our time was spent on leads (with good reason--they're the hardest, at least for me!), but we read a few quotes and middle paragraphs as well. Some of the main takeaways from the exercise:
    • Always be precise. If a baby was left in a hot car in a parking lot outside of a casino, a reporter cannot write, "The baby was left in a hot car in the casino." 
    • Be "ruthless" in your editing, as Professor Piacente said. Eliminate all unnecessary words.
    • When you begin a sentence with a numeral, spell it out. Example: "Sixteen people came to the rally on Saturday." 
    • Read your writing aloud before turning it in--the inner ear hears differently than the outer ear.
    • Quotes absolutely cannot be changed. They can be shortened or paraphrased, but we must be able to explain every decision we make. 
    • Identify what is newsworthy about an event: The fact that an autopsy was performed is not news. What the autopsy showed is news. 
Part 3:
  • We read a hilarious article on how to make sentences unintelligibly long. It identified common ways in which writers muddle their writing by adding unnecessary words.
  • I recognize that I could do with a peek at this document now and again, because of the fact that my sentences are often extremely more lengthy than they could be. Yeah, I should really start keeping that thing handy.
Part 4:
  • We worked on a rapidly developing news story. We started writing an article with one set of information, then updated it twice as more facts came in. This modeled what it is probably like in a real newsroom, where reporters must adapt to constant change. 


  • For next week, complete the "Watch or Read?" assignment. Don't forget to keep reading the Washington Post and the Skimm! 
Have a good week, everyone! 
-Elli Bloomberg

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