September 2009 Archives
Derek’s blog entry “The Importance of Information at a Glance” made me pay attention to one thing I neglected to notice in my own critique of the front pages of the newspapers. This little thing that make a big difference is the font.
Font can convey, like body language, an attitude depending on how it moves. The masthead print of the Chicago Tribune is very official-looking. The font has an old style to it as if to convey that they’ve been around and have enough experience so you can trust them. The main stories on this newspaper all use a font similar to Times New Roman that has seraphs on it. Fonts with seraphs, as Dr. Jerz revealed during the first week of school, are fancier and usually convey a more serious message. Although “Breaking down the Bears’ victory over Seattle” still has the seraphs (because to the sports fan, football is a serious subject), notice that the font is more blockish and gray. It’s a bit more playful because the story does not carry the same weight as say “Fear, grief as classes resume at Fenger.” Thanks for making me think, Derek! (Here I use script in order to convey my sincere thanks to you.)
1) The front page from the West Hawaii Today was fantastic and bad at the same time. I think the bottom half of the front, or “below the fold” as Dr. Jerz told us during probably the first week of school, is the great part. I especially like the whale hopping out of the picture and into the newspaper print. However, I do not think the story and picture “‘Onday’ Leaves More Than 100 Dead, Missing” belongs above the masthead. I think this looks extremely tacky. It takes everything the editors did to make the whale picture so awesome and negates it.
2) Daily News “New York’s number one newspaper” does have a nice photo on the front with a LOT of color, which of course immediately catches the eye. You can see all of the little champagne droplets spraying all over Derek Jeter. It's a magical photo. One of those ones that only comes along every so often. Notice how the weather is still present in the upper left-hand corner.
3) Daily News from Los Angeles (original name huh?) is quite nice. I like how the editors Photoshopped President Obama’s face into the picture. This all worked nicely with the whole “Operation Health Care” directly above it. This is a great way to take a picture that would not normally have a visual and give it one. It is also interesting how the picture does not have a clearly defined bottom; instead it fades into the article itself. The pictures on the bottom of the page are just ok though, leaving the visual appeal entirely up to the picture above.
4) Duluth News Tribune’s page made me laugh a little. The pictures are great, all of them. The thing that I found so funny is the fact that the way the pictures are laid out looks like Mickey Mouse’s head. You have the ears (the two sports pictures), the face (the picture of the inside of the house), and the tongue (the family posing in their newly renovated home). I usually like when things are symmetrical, but this time I don't think it works.
So what did all of these front pages have in common? The answer is bits of texts, but not too much. The story isn’t what is important. Yes, it’s what the people will read but if you walk by a newspaper vender selling two papers (and you have no personal preference as to which one you will read), it is human nature to go for the one that is more aesthetically appeasing. The stories are secondary on the front page. Also, I thought that the newspapers that had the Masthead near the very top or somehow integrated into the picture (2) worked better. It looked tacky the further down the masthead got. The most important thing is COLOR!
This entry is a little different than most of my entries. I found a lot of useful information so I’ve compiled it into a sort of study guide for myself and anyone else who may need it. Chapter 8 was especially helpful in clarifying some of my subconscious questions about news writing.
From Cappon’s The Associated Press Guide to News Writing:
1) “The furthest you can go is to fix minor grammatical errors and omit pure padding or meaningless repetition” (66).
I’ve often wondered this about quotes. Now I know that you can fix a person’s grammar, but just don’t take it too far.
2) “Good quotes should summarize what’s on a person’s mind, crystallize an emotion or attitude or offer an individual perspective of some sort—preferably in a concise and interesting way” (66).
Quotes are all about the person. Their opinion is what is supposed to be captured because, as the writer of the article, you can’t put in your opinion. You need to put some sort of emotion in for the audience to relate to while still being objective. A simple fact isn’t quotable because it’s known. If you want to say that someone informed you of a certain truth, there is no need to quote them. Paraphrase them instead.
3) “But an ellipsis is seldom required in the ordinary run of conversational and interview quotes, which readers know to be excerpts anyway” (70).
I was wondering about this. When I was interviewing people for my spot article, I would fall behind when they were speaking. I either had to ask them to repeat or I just let go of what they said all together because they elaborated a lot more than I’d ever put in an article. In the places where I lost them which occurred at the ends of sentences, I would put an ellipsis and pick up again. I guess Cappon is saying that I don’t need to do that. (Correct me if I’m wrong.) Also, if my interviewee says something before what I end up quoting, an ellipsis isn’t necessary. What a nice little trick!
4) “You can also skew a quote by converting a long, involved question into the subject’s answer:
Reporter: Do you feel the verdict was wrong, that it was a gross miscarriage of justice?
A: Well, yes.
Copy: He said he ‘felt that the verdict was wrong and a gross miscarriage of justice.’”(73)
Now to me, this doesn’t feel right. I get the point in doing it but it just seems like a dirty little trick to get people to say what you want them to say. This means that if you ever talk to a reporter you better make sure you listen to their questions.
1) “The proposals have drawn criticism from Golden Gate regulars such as Tom Nuckton.
The University of California San Francisco Medical Center doctor regularly visits the botanical gardens to decompress after long hospital shifts and write in his notebook. He said if there were a fee to visit the gardens, he’d just find somewhere else to relax. “
This may be a picky English major thing but I do not agree with the way she has split these paragraphs. The first paragraph references a park regular Tom Nuckton. It almost seems as though the reader should know who he is. This brings to my mind the whole, “When in doubt, cut it out” saying. The sentence does not need to identify Nuckton instead just concluding after the word “regulars.” Also, the way it is, it takes the reader a few seconds to realize that Nuckton and “The University of California San Francisco Medical Center doctor” are the same person. If the name had been left out of the first paragraph as I suggested and moved to this paragraph it would be much clearer.
To me it seems more likely that people would be more likely to read Matthew Baker’s article:
2) “Steve Zadig’s auto racing career had never been higher, but his passion for the sport had never been lower.”
Now this is interesting. Someone who is good at something and hates it intrigued me and I’m guessing many other readers as well. Immediately, I was curious as to why a fellow who is prospering would hate what he was doing. Then we find out Zadig is “a man who perfects his patent on clean wave energy Monday through Friday” but is harmful to the environment on the weekend. The rest of the paragraphs fall nicely to support what this man did to clean his conscience (no pun intended). The only thing I thought was missing was an interview with some of his fellow racers commenting about the switch. This would enhance the credibility of Baker’s claims. (This is one thing House did very well is include statements from numerous people who are affected by the issue she writes about.)
1.From “Would-be robbery victim fights back”:
“State police said the man sprayed Mr. O'Neil with pepper spray and attempted to grab the the deposit bags.
Mr. O'Neil fought back. State police said he struck the assailant, who then began to run away. Mr. O'Neil gave chase but the unknown man was picked up by someone in a silver or gray vehicle described by police as a "hatchback-type SUV." The vehicle fled the scene.”
So I know that I’m not perfect. I have a hard time wrapping my head around directions like a breaking news crime story is “filed quickly, and free of errors” (Jerz). But I’m obviously not the only one with problems in this department. According to AP Style, titles such as Mr. or Dr. are to be left off. I could see slipping once, but three times as in this story is quite a lot for a professional. Also, the mistake with “the” is a little bad, especially being that once plugged into Microsoft Word, the problem becomes apparent because it is jaggedly underlined in red.
“The Tribune-Review does not name alleged victims of sexual assault.”
I’m sure that most people know that these days, we have issues with confidentiality. It is an invasion of privacy to name a victim of sexual assault because being assaulted, especially in a sexual manner, would be embarrassing.
April Minerd also found a few mistakes in these articles. Check out her blog.
From Crime Reporting Tips:
“Always try to tell a crime story in human terms. Do not concentrate all the time on the police or the criminals. Look at what has happened to the victim. Your readers or listeners are more likely to be victims of crime than they are to be either police officers or criminals.”
I had never really thought about this before but it is true. Usually, the focus is on the victim of the crime. As we talked about in class and online, it’s all about the emotions. If someone can report that the victim cried as they talked about their house being burned to the ground, it is more newsworthy. The newspaper would mention that the cause of the fire was arson and someone has been taken into custody by a police officer, but it is doubtful that either the policeman or suspected arsonist would be focused on. The importance lies in relatability. It seems that the more relatable a story is, the more newsworthy it is. Of course, something big has to happen. Obviously, “Angela brushes her teeth” isn’t news. But most people can relate to the loss of a loved one.
I do recognize that the opposite is also true. Sometimes the completely unrelatable makes the news as well. If say an alien spaceship came to Louisville, Kentucky and abducted 30 farmers on one night, I may read it just because it’s completely bizarre. I can’t relate to being abducted by aliens but it sure makes for an interesting story.
I can’t even believe that it is time for this already. News writing, so far, has been good. I’ve relearned some of the finer points about journalism and had some fun along the way. I love the laid back nature of the class and the activities like the fake press conference. Here is a display of blogs exhibiting what I’ve been reading and more importantly, what I’ve learned.
· Fantastic Journalism Tips the material is covered well. I go through several tips to help a novice journalist.
· Subject+Action Verb=Good Lead gets to the point but really helped me understand something important about leads. You wanna know what it is? Read it.
· Mixing Up Dates I cover all the material. It is an in-depth analysis of what Dr. Jerz asked us do.
· I Was Impressed discusses what I thought about the 11 o'clock news. Surprisingly, it was mostly news.
· Writing with Personality discusses the dryness of some news writing. I really liked the examples Cappon gave that allow the writer to draw the reader in.
· Making an Old Story New basically just covers the information presented about the lead of a story. Just like many of my classmates, I talk a little about the reporting on death of Michael Jackson.
· Children's Author Tortured by Own Genius is a brief, but in-depth analysis of a little detail included in the article about Dr. Seuss. I really enjoyed the author's portrayal of him and thought that her interviewing skills were great.
· The Painstaking Process of Producing Details is about my "Aha moment" in this class.
· Good Quotes Can Win Awards is a fun entry but I do analyze a great article in it. I also received nine comments on it so it is also in the discussion section below.
· What Makes a Story Newsworthy? displays that I am able to take the information presented to me and apply it.
· Here ducky, ducky, ducky. I'm going to kill you. I disect the article. I was disappointed in what I read and was confused because the article wasn't flattering.
· A Necessary Characteristic for Journalists: Self-Confidence I commented on Greta's blog and spurred a conversation.
· Josie's blog All Together Now...Remember Your Audience is another great one. I left a long comment there because she made me think about journalism in a way I hadn't thought about it before.
· Journalists can change the world! is Derek's blog. My comment is not lengthy but Derek and I have a nice little back and forth exchange here. I took the concept that Derek talked about and further applied it to a new example and concept.
· Clark and Scanlan conTribute to our learning- I wrote a long entry about the Tribune Review. Greta made an intriguing comment that made me think.
· This reminds me of something... spurred a conversation. I talked about the fact that the news always tries to make a story out of nothing. Then we started to talk about the LA Fitness shootings.
· Stop Toying With My Emotions obviously struck a chord with my classmates. I talk about how the news exploits people when they are feeling really upset about a certain event.
· Good Quotes Can Win Awards also appears above. It is down here too because, as I said, I received nine comments. People seemed quite interested and a good conversation was started.
· The video is so much like real news it borderlines not even being funny was turned in the same night we had class. It was a Friday night. (Yes, I know I don't have a life.) I had all weekend and I put your class, Dr. Jerz, at the top of my priority list. I know you feel special. :)
· Group Presentations was posted the day of the group presentations.
· Magnitude and Proximity Take Center Stage was on time and in depth.
· Short names go in headlines was turned in the same night we had class.
· Chop. It. Up. was turned in early and has to do with putting periods in sentences.
· A Grimm Outlook was written on time and is cleverly named if I do say so myself.
· Is This Alright? is a Link Gracious. I've linked my blog to Richelle's blog because we wrote about similar things.
· And Greta said, "Let there be light." is also a Link Gracious. I'm selling Greta's blog here because it inspired further thought in me. It could also be considered part of the discussion grouping because I'm reacting to a peer's blog although it's not on that blog.
· Let's face it. This whole blog is a Xenoblog that is linked graciously to my
· Journalists can change the world! is Derek's blog. I made the first comment on it.
· The News and I Presentation is my post about our in-class presentation. We didn't have to post it but I decided to anyway.
· breakin da rulz this entry breaks the rules...ok not really. This is one of my reflections that I posted.
“ ‘Garage sales’ is not a story idea. These are topics. A fully fleshed story idea has a news peg and answers the question, ‘Why are we doing this now?’ The answer ‘because we never did it before’ is lame. A story idea has news elements -- currency, importance, conflict or resolution.”
Phhhhew! Problem averted. I would have totally have done that. Sometimes I have a problem with being indecisive. Pitching a story may help me conquer this a little because I’m going to have to be specific. I already have a story idea, but it doesn’t apply to everyone, only English majors really. I’m going to have to probably do as Grimm suggests and work it and rework it until it gets accepted.
I also liked how Grimm started and ended on the same point: the fact that he’s been in the business for 25 years and still doesn’t always hit a homer with his pitches. He lets us know that sometimes in life, what we may think is an awesome idea, others may not. But that’s ok even if it may make you mad or frustrated. It has been my experience that sometimes good things stem out of frustration.
From Rene J. Cappon’s The Associated Press Guide to News Writing:
“But the longer the sentence, the less readable it’s likely to be, and the more exposed to mishaps of syntax. The remedy is simple: Chop up long sentences into their functional components and aim for an average sentence length of 16 to 17 words” (37).
I think this advice is extremely helpful. I’ve said this a number of times and I’ll say it again, I like concrete answers about things (hence why I’m an English major. Lol) If there is a formula about how to do something, I’m all ears. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rules; I understand that. But when someone tells me that there is a pretty fool-proof way to do something, it excites me.
Cappon’s advise is great. She has a way of putting it that you feel that an expert journalist is taking you under her wing and showing you the little tricks of the trade that she uses. I appreciate the help and will certainly keep her directions in mind when writing articles of my own.
From Cappon’s The Associated Press Guide to News Writing:
“You can avoid mumblers by being specific and concrete, giving the reader a picture. A clever phrase, a touch of humor, and an ironic contrast help.
MADISON, Wis. (AP)—State Sen. Clifford “Tiny” Krueger eased his 300-pound frame into a witness chair Friday and said fat people should not be barred from adopting children” (26).
I have to admit that newspaper writing does not really appeal to me. The writing is flat and for the most part devoid of personality. I mean no disrespect to journalists because I think being so concise is a great skill to have. Often times, people just want the news. They don’t want to be entertained. They can watch the TV or read a book for entertainment. And certainly, the ability to be concise is a good trait to have sometimes as an English major. Sometimes your professor doesn’t want a long drawn-out paper so he/she limits it to only a few pages. For me, this is tough because I have to be conscious of what phrases I choose so I don’t run over the page limit. In a case like this, packing my sentences with meaning is important; I’m learning a little more about that by taking this class.
But back to the quote, I picked this because it is packed with personality. It’s funny while still delivering the pertinent information. The reader gets entertained a little but still is presented with the facts. In other words, reading leads like this is heartening for me because I realize that there is a little room to make someone laugh. I also love this lead:
“YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio—A car sliced through a fast food restaurant Tuesday, killing an elderly couple who had stopped for lunch on the way to a family member’s funeral. Six other people were injured” (27).
Atlantis Morissette would have a ball with this one. Only this is actually quite ironic, unlike her song. The only thing that stumps me is this; would you mention the fast food restaurant in the lead or wait to give this information later in the article as it appears this one did?
From Dr. Jerz’s blog:
“Not all bus plunges were judged equal by the foreign desk, according to Siegal. ‘It was better when buses plunged in countries with short names,’ he says. ‘A bus plunge in Peru was infinitely easier to deal with than a bus plunge in Argentina or Paraguay.’”
Haha. I noticed this while reading through the titles of the bus plunge articles that are due on Wednesday. There was an article about a bus plunge in Nepal called “20 die in Nepal bus plunge: police.” Although it lacks in creativity (but who said it had to be pretty?), it gets to the point. The articles that had longer country names didn’t choose to include them in their headlines. Now I know why.
“Officer-in-Charge of Hathazari Police Station Mohammad Ismail told The Daily Star that the bus was salvaged but they did not find any body inside it.”
This is from the first of the two articles. I found this sentence largely entertaining because it was so bad! How about a comma? And since when did “anybody” become two separate words? I’m also pretty sure that “charge” does not need to be capitalized, either. I wish this example would have appeared in our quiz today. This just seems like an article that was published quick, just trying to be the first reporting on the accident, or at least I hope it was. And as far as newsworthiness, the magnitude is small for the accident only affected a small number of people who were only injured and not killed. I mean, I’m glad that nobody was killed but that also makes people less drawn to the story. The worse the conflict, the bigger news it is. Also, the story isn’t in close proximity to us.
The second story is far more newsworthy. Although it remains far away, the fact that 20 people were KILLED and many more injured immediately boosts the newsworthiness of the story. In fact, the slight addition that “many others [were] injured” is just s side-note of no real importance to this story. Because of this, this article eclipses the other because the injured people of the second story are barely mentioned whereas the injured completely composes article one. I can actually believe that the second story would make national news (on a slow day).
Both articles depict the bus plunge very differently. One story is urgent, the other, less so. Neither story is wonderfully written. The structure is elementary and there is almost a complete lack of quotes. The only quote that appears is a bad one: “’We are yet to receive reports of any person going missing in the accident,’ the OC said.” This quote just makes the “OC” look stupid because it barely makes grammatical sense. This phrase would be better if it were paraphrased.
From the AP Style Tips:
"Every article in the paper should handle dates the same way.
The contest begins Wednesday, Nov. 19, after which
· Note commas on either side of the month and date.
· Never abbreviate the day of the week.
· If you aren’t mentioning a specific date, spell out the name of the month."
I know that when I wrote my obituary, I did this wrong. Who would ever think that there is a correct way to properly represent the date? I don’t really know why it is necessary to abbreviate the month, after all the unabbreviated months (August, September, October, November, December, January, February) are just as important as the unabbreviated ones (March, April, May, June, July). The longest month is only nine letters long. It’s not like it takes up that much room. It just seems sensible that you’d treat all of the months the same way; if you abbreviate one month, you abbreviate them all or if you don’t abbreviate one month, you shouldn’t abbreviate the rest. This just makes me think of linguistics. These rules were just created by some people sitting around a table deciding what is and is not standard for our language/writing. But regardless of my personal beliefs, this is the way it is. Now that I wrote about it, I think I may remember it.
As for the examples, this is what’s wrong with them.
Assistant News Editor, Anne O'Nymous read the article.
· There shouldn’t be a comma between Anne O’Nymous and her title or, of course, it could be like this, “Anne O’Nymous, the assistant news editor, read the article.”
She was highly appreciated by Jameson for solving the problem. "I really appreciate her work ethic and problem-solving ability," said Jameson.
· The first sentence isn’t necessary. The journalist does not need to state it, just use the quote.
Spunky Inkworthy has only written for The Setonian this year, but Obituaries Editor, Lazarus O'Mortigan, was very complimentary towards Spunky's contributions.
· There are multiple things wrong with this. Again, there shouldn’t be a comma between Obituaries Editor and Lazarus O’Mortigan. Also, saying that O’Mortigan was complimentary is telling. Instead of this sentence, there should just be a quote. Something like “Obituaries Editor Lazarus O’Mortigan said, “Spunky is the most talented writer I’ve ever seen. I strive to be more like him” would be better.
In a telephone call from Head Librarian Marian Paroo, she discussed Inkworthy's contributions.
· This is a mess. I’m not even sure what is trying to be communicated here. I’m assuming that the journalist contacted the head librarian and got information. The journalist would not need to discuss, and should not discuss, how the information was acquired. For the rest, it is just like the previous example following the who said it and what they said format.
"Here is a quote", said Bill Jones freshman.
· I’m pretty sure that the journalist here was Yoda. It’s just common sense to not quote the phrase “Here is a quote.” Also, the comma belongs inside the quotes. An adequate quote should be found and then it would be as follows: “Quote,” said freshman Bill Jones.
I really liked how Josie put this blog entry. I may even dare to call it beautiful. She is witty in her use of metaphors: “It is unlikely that someone whispered to e.e.cummings, ‘Hey, man, you forgot to capitalize, like everything ’” I especially liked how Josie did not capitalize Cummings’ name just to go along with her point.
What I’ve learned by Josie’s blog is to not just go through the motions of blog writing. Sometimes, because you have to write blogs so often, your entries go down in quality. Here Josie shows that you don’t have to write a book but can make your few words very meaningful by applying the same techniques you talk about to your own writing right away.
When Josie mentioned that there are people who know all of the conventions before choosing to ignore them she reminded me of Gertrude Stein. In my Linguistics book, An Introduction to Language, I noticed a quote from Stein that said, “I really do not know that anything has ever been more exciting than diagramming sentences” (Fromkin 121). That is a pretty interesting quote considering that a lot of Stein’s work, specifically in Tender Buttons, isn’t grammatical to the point that it actually makes no sense. The only reason that Stein continues to be read today would be because she started off by doing regular work but progressed into what some would call nonsense. The fact that she knew the rules but chose to break them meant everything. You have to prove yourself before you can bend the rules.
josie, i’d like to commend your hard work and maybe i’ll even take a page or two out of your book
From America’s Best Newspaper Writing:
“Good writers, like the ones included in this collection, use telling details to help us see, hear and understand” (Clark and Scanlon 296).
I have to admit that I am a little dense sometimes. I have to hear some things several times before I can understand them or fully grasp their weight. This is certainly true of the statement above. We’ve run across sentences stressing the importance of details and read stories with really good details. However, the true importance of these details didn’t really click for me until right now. As we said in Literary Criticism, this may just be my “Aha moment.”
Although the details can sometimes seem like too much information, the writer has to keep in mind that she is reporting something to a person who wasn’t there. The reader of your article is reading to find out more about the story, including the little details. It is the writer’s job to transport the reader from his kitchen table, coffee in hand, to the scene of the crime or the site of the protest. Therefore, each little detail helps paint a mental picture for the reader, revealing exactly what went on. A great example of this is found on page 297 of the text: “A hard object was pressed to the back of her skull, just below her right ear, next to her hair ribbon.” Instead of just coming out and saying, “The accused pulled out his gun and pointed it at the officer,” Anne Hull takes the time to describe the situation as the police officer would have perceived it. Words like “hard,” “back of her skull,” “below her right ear,” “next to her hair ribbon” paint a brilliant picture for the reader. By Hull’s description I can envision the attack and point to the exact spot on my head where the gun was on Lisa’s. Now that’s talent. I’m not so sure about the whole police officer wearing a ribbon thing though.
Another example of an amazing use of details that I could not ignore was from Rick Bragg’s piece: “She spent almost nothing, living in her old family home, cutting the toes out of shoes if they did not fit right and binding her ragged Bible with Scotch tape to keep Corinthians from falling out” (31). Bragg does not say, “The religious lady was poor.” Instead he painstakingly shows us just how poor she was. But he doesn’t even stop there! He delivers the details right down to the book of the Bible that was falling out!
After really realizing the importance of detail I think that I can begin to show more and tell less in my articles and maybe, if I’m lucky, my English papers, too.
My reflection on Josie's blog
I didn’t really realize how the details of this story add so much to it. Greta’s blog helped me realize that Cox wasn’t as bad a writer as I thought he was. His characterization kind of reminds me of Geoffrey Chaucer’s descriptions of his characters in the General Prologue of The Canterbury Tales. Both of these authors (obviously Chaucer being the more talented of the two) don’t come out with “the doctor was nice.” Instead they would describe the doctor’s actions or what he looks like giving him soft features or describing his broad smile. As Greta points out, the quote from Cox about Water’s “shin-length charcoal dress” and her “multi-colored scarf” say a lot about Mrs. Waters. She seems to be more upper-class because of her dress. It is bland yet the scarf shows that she has the confidence to wear a scarf when scarves are generally for cold weather. This description adds credibility to the fact that Cox describes Waters as a perfectionist.
I also never thought of the effect the reporter’s honest use of quotes have on the reader. Because the true persona of Waters is packaged and delivered with a few dings it somehow makes Cox more trustworthy as a reporter. He delivers the truth to us. And, as Greta points out, giving the reader some of the details that do not necessarily make Waters look bad “but like a real person.”
From Guide to News Writing: The Resource for Professional Journalists by Rene J. Cappon:
“A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a machine [should contain] no unnecessary parts” (7).
This little metaphor really helps me understand why it is important to keep our work concise. Yes, I understand that we should keep it simple but in order to make a sentence sound nice, we may want to throw in a few extra words. That seems logical to an English major. But this metaphor drives home the point that extra words (in a journalistic sense) is like putting another emergency break in a car. The first one is for safety, but another one would just be pointless.
So we should stay away from things like too many adjectives for example because “strong writing should rely on nouns and verbs” (13). If I said, “Jim Jones’ house burned down as a result of a dropped Marlboro cigarette catching his rug on fire” the word Marlboro would be unnecessary. Who needs to know what kind of cigarette he was smoking? All the reader would be interested in is how it caught on fire.
Also, I found the advice on page 20 very useful concerning the use of the phrases “there is” and “there were.” Cappon says, “Always distrust there were and there is, especially at the start of a sentence.” So instead of saying “there were 50 people gathered at Daisy’s birthday party” you could say “Fifty people gathered to celebrate Daisy’s birthday.” The second sentence sounds so much better!
"Three times a week, a truck putters 45 miles south from a farm in Sonoma County, headed for Berkeley’s North Stattuck neighborhood, filled with plump, corn-bred, nine-week-old ducks.”
I really like how the author paints a picture with his words. He uses descriptive words like “putters” and “corn-bred,” giving you a nice little mental picture of these cute little duckies going on a big adventure but then he continues to tell us that they are essentially on the first leg of their travel to death for they are part of an organic food business. I don’t know if this sentence had the same effect on the rest of the class but I was horrified once I found out where these little guys were going. Immediately I saw Alice Waters as a murderer, not a successful, nice person. If you are trying to do a positive personality profile (I’m not quite sure if Cox didn’t like her or if it just comes off this way) leaving details about how the person you’re writing about leading baby animals to slaughter is generally a good thing to leave off, especially as your lead.
The next thing I have to say is that I was not impressed with this sentence as a lead at all. It was descriptive, yes, but after reading this first line I honestly wanted to put the article down. It was a little too creative a touch without any accompanying facts to draw the reader in. There was not one point during the reading of this article that I was like, “Wow, this is very well done.” Compared to the last personality profile we had to read, this one looks terrible.
There was one part of the article I liked. It was the part where Cox pointed out that Water’s restaurant had won the “World’s 50 Best Restaurants Lifetime Achievement award in 2007.” Now THAT IS impressive. Why is this not in the lead? Why does this information appear five short paragraphs from the end of his article. There are literally 22 paragraphs before this information is even mentioned! After all, Dr. Jerz said that a lead should be, "One or two sentences at the beginning of a news story that encapsulate the news. Write it so that the reader would still understand the main point of the story even if he or she only read the lead." This sentence had the opposite effect on me.
What was your take on the article?
I was in group number two...I think...but Katie, Kaitlin, Richelle, Jessie, Megan, Cory, Matt, April, and Ashley. Kaitlin, Richelle, Jessie, Megan, Cory, April, and Ashley all wrote informative pieces. The really interesting thing is the number of journalism majors that said that they didn’t actually like the news. I always just assumed that journalists lived and breathed the news and I’m sure some do. It’s kind of like a girl who becomes an English major who didn’t like to read lol. I can totally understand. Sometimes you are just good at something and you can learn to like it.
Katie wrote a little creative piece in story form about how the news was her friend, and then not, and then friend again. The story personified the news and was fascinating to listen to. I really enjoyed her story and felt bad for her about the fact that the news featured her team on the front page crying after a loss and not the winning team. That’s just low.
Matt did a monologue. It was dynamic, funny, and informative. It was fun seeing such a quiet guy open up like that.
Overall, everyone did a great job presenting. It was so nice to be able to get to see the different personalities we have in the class. I also enjoyed getting the chance to go outside for class (even if we were getting attacked by bugs). We should definately go outside as much as possible. I'm anxious to see what the other group did.
Ex 1:The News and I
My presentation centers around a cereal box but let me explain. It is a box of Cinnamon Life ® which I have turned into a box of Angela’s life and the news. The outside of the box has been “dolled up” to be a little more personal and news-like, but the real information is contained within the box. Inside is the following and for the following reasons:
1) A picture of my parents, grandparents, and me- The real purpose of this photo is to draw attention to my grandfather. About three years ago, on his 80th birthday, a news crew came. The reason for this is on this day, my grandfather Angelo Palumbo (name sound familiar?) was reunited with a friend from the U.S.S. Missouri for the first time since they separated after WWII. His friend was watching a documentary called “Kennywood Memories” in which my pap makes an appearance. He found his number and came down for the party. A news crew came out and filmed the encounter. It was also featured in the local paper. To read the story as told by the professionals see item two.
2) An article giving the details about the encounter
3) The front page of the “Cougar Pride”- I worked at Chatham University’s Music and Arts Day Camp this summer. There I taught a class called Press Time which was basically journalism. This is the first page of the paper we produced. I did all of the editing and layout. The students wrote the articles.
4) The Setonian- This paper represents two things. First, it represents my past. Because I do not have a copy of my high school’s paper handy it is acting as a stand in. I took Journalism for two years, my junior and senior year. I wrote frequently for the paper. The Setonian also represents my future. Although I haven’t written for it yet, once soccer is over, I plan on writing a few articles for this paper.
5) A monster- Sulley from Monsters Inc. represents my fear of the TV news. I used to watch the TV news a lot more but stopped as a result of my fear. Watching the news honestly makes me paranoid. I hear of women getting raped, houses getting robbed, and other, more heinous crimes. The TV news makes every story so personal it scared me into not watching it.
In class, of course, there will be a cereal box containing the items.
From an article in America’s Best Newspaper Writing titled “Tastykake Retiree Marie Byrne” by Jim Nicholson:
“Her house was a gathering place for all of her children’s friends and occasionally would be a refuge for the youngster who had a rip at home.”
Although I really appreciate how the author pays homage to the deceased, I think that this sentence seems inappropriate for an obituary. An obituary, as I see it, is a formal article. What does he even mean by “who had a rip”? And the fact that the book said that the “down-to-earth language” was good confounded me more. What do you think? Dr. Jerz, is this kind of language really alright in an obituary?
On the bright side, I do think that some of the little details were nice. It did not “sugar-coat” Marie yet did not make her sound bad either. I really liked the sentence, “Nor was it her ability to tell a good joke; she usually popped the punch line first, if she remembered it at all” (70). This sentence is really endearing and it is something that most people can relate to. Everyone has met a person at one point or another that constantly messes up when they attempt to tell a joke. This type of detail really makes Marie seem like a person who should be mourned and celebrated.
To read more, check out Richelle's blog entry. As she said below, we both had similar ideas about the Nickolson's writing.
Information based on a voice recording by Dennis Jerz on Newsworthiness:
I’m not an aural learner so I’m doing the best I can with this one. I picked out the “big points” out of the voice recording only to discover that you outlined them for us the end. But to help my classmates that may not have caught it, here they are again.
What makes a story newsworthy:
· Extraordinary events- Something that does not happen on the regular basis like an out-of-control 18-wheeler careens down Route 30 into Joe’s Truck Stop. Well it’s definitely stopped now.
· Notable people- If the story contains a notable person like President Obama, it is more newsworthy. Note: Just because you see yourself as notable, you most likely aren’t newsworthy. Nice try.
· Significant impact- If a great number of people are affected, it’s more newsworthy. A door-to-door salesman who duped 100,000 elderly people by selling them faulty dentures at a large “discount” would make the news.
· Scary and violent stuff- The scarier and more violent, the more interesting it becomes. It’s gruesome but true. I won’t go into further detail for this one. Use your imagination.
· Proximity- If the event occurs in the area. If the denture salesman sold the dentures in the Greensburg area it would be more newsworthy.
· It has to be news- Seton Hill student writes blog entry isn’t news. See the second bullet.
· Current and recent- If the story’s old, it’s no longer news.
Did I miss any? Would you like to come up with an example for one of my bullets?
From “Profile Article of Delancey Street’s Director, Dr. Mimi Silbert" by Halle Stockton:
“’She’s like an angel. She does it because it’s truly in her heart. She could be anywhere in the world but Mimi chooses to live here with us, be here with us and teach us,” Munoz said. “I want to be just like her.’”
This quote gives support to the reason why quotes are needed in a work. In fact, I would venture to say that this woman won based on her ability to obtain awesome quotes (not to say that her writing isn't good). I suspect steroids were given to the interviewees because in my high school newspaper days the only quotes I could get were “It was good” and “I really like football because it is fun.” These kinds of quotes make for a boring article. But when you can get people to give quotes with this kind of emotion, you really have something to be proud of. The journalist has gathered quotes from (as far as I counted) three ex-convicts Mimi’s directly helped and four people who are on the outside, know and have worked with her. The number and quality of these quotes are fantastic.
This quote in particular makes me as the reader want to know Mimi. She seems like a wonderful person who really loves and enjoys helping others, something we should all strive to do just a little more. Kudos to the writer of this piece on her exemplary writing.
From English Essay vs. News Story by Dennis Jerz:
“The revision begins with the subject and an active verb, a sure fire way of emphasizing the main idea.”
This tip is very straight forward in both its directions and its form. It is as close as one will ever get in English to a math formula. (Some days I miss plugging numbers in to the good old quadratic equation and coming out with a definite right or wrong answer. Sad I know for an English geek.) A good example of this kind of writing would be “The college student labored over her homework until she literally worked herself to death.” Lol. (Don’t worry Dr. Jerz. This time I’m not referring to your class.) This sentence gets to the point. It has an action that is not accompanied by a simple linking verb like is or was and a clearly defined (yet unnamed) subject. I heard the press didn’t want to release her name yet.
Can anyone else come up with a good example of this?