News Writing (EL 227)


19 Sep 2005

Spot-News Roundup

Journalism students at Seton Hill University (SHU) “took some risks, had some fun, and learned plenty” in last week’s a spot-news exercise, their instructor said Monday.

The 33 students in “News Writing” attended one of several university events, and were expected to use the traditional inverted pyramid, as well as direct quotations from news sources. “These are basic tools they’ll rely on all semester,” said Dennis Jerz,

In comments posted to their academic weblogs, several students noted the rapid pace of covering events and the difficulty of taking accurate notes during interviews.

At the opening of a new dorm, sophomore Leslie Rodriquez “felt like everything was happening incredibly fast.” On her blog, she wrote that she learned to be “confident and a little bit aggressive at times because there is always another reporter trying to get in front of you.”

“I had to be the eyes and ears of people unable to attend,” wrote freshman David Denninger, who covered a student awards ceremony both for class and for the student newspaper.

Senior Jenna O’Brocto covered SHU’s first-ever home football game. “In my head I planned on writing this article about how Seton Hill triumphed,” she wrote. But the Griffins’s 28-9 loss to McDaniel College taught her an important lesson: “A good journalist should be flexible, due to these unforeseen changes in news.”

Jerz is pleased with the progress his students are showing. “We have a lot of good writers in the class,” he said. “Some of them are more used to literature essays or short fiction, but they’ve got transferable skills.”

“Some of what I’d prefer to call ‘enthusiasm’ might have been ‘panic.’” said Jerz. “When I told them to think of the assignment as a diagnostic, and set up an optional two-hour draft workshop, I think most of them approached it with the right attitude.”

“If a student turns in a personal narrative or a sports analysis, it’s often well-written and entertaining,” Jerz said. “But if they aren’t following the format of a news article, well, I just hope they’ll take another look at their notes.”

Besides routine workbook assignments and readings, the next major assignments in “News Writing” are pitching ideas for covering SHU’s homecoming weekend, as well as a weblog portfolio.

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