Tuesday, January 12, 2016

First Blog Post: 1/11/16

Jan. 11 marked the first day of the Spring semester at American University and the first day of our Steve Piacente’s Writing for Communication course.
After a brief introduction, the class began with a discussion of a USA.gov PSA. The short video provided a touchstone that linked Piacente’s personal background, a typical first-class topic, to themes of writing for communication. A reflection activity asked students to practice writing in three major styles we will be covering in this course: objective relaying of facts, persuasion, and (somewhat) creative.
We then moved to broader topics: what students want to improve in their own writing, personal introductions, and an overview of the syllabus.
Takeaways from the syllabus that I found stood out from other courses include the following:
-       We are required to read the cover of the Washington Post, as well as the covers of the sections Sports, Style, and Metro every day. The print paper can be accessed online via the e-Replica but requires a subscription.
-       We use AP Style in this class. Piacente recommends that we purchase an AP Style book. The content can also be found at http://www.apstylebook.com/american.
-       We will sometimes be assigned odd due dates to simulate a professional environment.
-       Class will often be structured so that the first half is lecture and the second is writing practice, separated by a short break.
We also learned about the “inverted pyramid” structure used in journalism. The idea of this technique is that the biggest ideas come first, and the smallest appear at the end of the article. Each article begins with a one-sentence lead that gets its own paragraph. The lead should be around 25 words, and should address the 5 Ws (who, what, when, where, and sometimes why) and attributing information to a reliable source.
We concluded by practicing with our first fact sheet. Discussion surrounding the fact sheet involved how to refer to people (full name and title for first appearance, and otherwise just surname) and when to use quotes (if the information is unique or uniquely stated).

Our homework after tonight is the following:
-       Read the Washington Post every day starting Tuesday, Jan. 19.
-       Read Chapters 1 through 4 in the assigned text.
-       Accept the incoming invite to The Skim, and write a three-paragraph analysis of how The Skim reports the news based on any three days of their reporting.
-       Read this blog post and any other posts on the blog so far.

-       Look through and familiarize yourself with the AP Stylebook.

EDIT:
In my initial post I failed to include the following homework items, and am including the excerpt from Piacente's email that pointed this out:
"- Do the personal branding exercise I handed out at the end of class (Bring hard copy printout)
 - Do  P.9-11, Do: 1.1 (Autobiography), 1.4 (Incident), 1.10 (Shoelaces) (Again, bring hard copy printout)"

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