News Writing (EL 227)


WTAE-Pittsburgh Channel 4 TV newscast

Watch the an hour of TV news on WTAE, at 5pm, 6pm, or 11pm, on August 30. I don't have cable TV, and channel 4 is the only one that comes in clearly for me. (If you don't have access to cable TV, and you can't pick up ABC in your area, you may watch a different network -- but make sure it provides you with local news -- CNN won't qualify.)

The 6pm local news is only a half hour long. If you watch it, stick around for World News Tonight.

Permalink | 31 Aug 2005 | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Tribune-Review (Aug 30 edition)

Be prepared to discuss all front-page articles; lead editorial; all articles "above the fold" in other sections; one full section of your choosing. Skim through whole paper and read whatever interests you.

Permalink | 31 Aug 2005 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Reporter's Notebook

Read up to page 28 -- it will go fast. Note especially the vocabulary (p8-9). Complete the "Future Book" through December. The "story ideas" (p14-15) are obviously geared towards a younger audience, so come up with some better ideas that fit your peer group. Jot down about 10 ideas, and be prepared to toss out all but your two most original ideas. Be prepared to discuss the "news hook" -- that is, why do people need to read another article on parking woes, alcohol policies, bookstore prices, or cafeteria food? Even a humor column on such overdone topics needs a unique approach (or stellar writing).

Permalink | 31 Aug 2005 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Elements of Journalism (Intro, Ch 1, & Ch 2)

How are journalism and democracy linked? What is "journalistic truth"?

Update, 31 Aug: This book isn't in the bookstore. I've spoken to them about the problem. I'll try to cover some of this material in lecture, but we'll need to return to it when the book comes in.

Permalink | 2 Sep 2005 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

AP Guide to News Writing (Ch 1)

Use plain, powerful words.

Update, 31 Aug: There are a few copies of this book on the shelf with my EL 200 books (on the top of the shelf). It's extremely important that you know this material before you start writing your next assignment, so I'll distribute photocopies on Friday, and make arrangements to get future readings to you somehow. It's still a required book.

Permalink | 2 Sep 2005 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

AP Guide to News Writing (Ch 2)

Tell stories that make important things seem interesting.

Permalink | 7 Sep 2005 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tribune-Review (Sep 8 edition)

Be prepared to discuss all front-page articles; lead editorial; all of "Local" section. Skim through whole paper and read whatever interests you.

Identify and analyze one article that covers the same kind of event you are planning to write for Exercise 3.

Permalink | 9 Sep 2005 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

AP Guide to News Writing (Ch 3)

How does a lead differ from a thesis statement? What's a "delayed-identification lead"?

Permalink | 9 Sep 2005 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

AP Guide to News Writing (Ch 8)

Simply sticking quotation marks around lifeless, routine words won't give your story life. "You can put your boots in the oven," said Dennis Jerz to his news writing class, "but that don't make them biscuits."

Permalink | 16 Sep 2005 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Elements of Journalism (Ch 3 to 5)

Newsroom gems: "Provide news without fear or favor."... "If your mother says she loves you, check it out." ... "I don't care if you f--- elephants, but if you do, you're not covering the circus."

Permalink | 19 Sep 2005 | Comments (5) | TrackBack (3)

Tribune-Review (Sep 20 edition)

Be prepared to discuss all front-page articles; lead editorial; front page of both Sports and Entertainment sections; all of either Sports or Entertainment. Skim through whole paper and read whatever interests you.

Permalink | 21 Sep 2005 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (2)

AP Guide to News Writing (Ch 5 to 7)

What clunkers and cliches will put your readers to sleep? Should a journalist write, "The president rebuffed the naysayers and re-asserted his commitment to his campaign promises, " or "The president ignored mounting objections to his rigid ideology"?

Rules Grammar Change

CNN Should Be Named The Crappy News Not-Work

Amazing New Hyperbolic Chamger Greatest Invention in The History of Mankind Ever

Permalink | 5 Oct 2005 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (4)

Tribune-Review (Oct 11 edition)

Be prepared to discuss all front-page articles; all of the opinion and editorials section, including letters to the editor. Skim through whole paper and read whatever interests you.

Identify one column, editorial, or letter that makes you want to write a response.

Permalink | 12 Oct 2005 | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Crime Reporting Background Info

Materials on crime and accident reporting.

Glance at this department of justice handout. You will refer to it for an upcoming assignment. http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/cjsflowco.pdf

Covering Crime and Justice (I'm assigning three short excerpts from a longer work.)
Introduction
Crime Beat Issues
The Arrest Process

Permalink | 19 Oct 2005 | Comments (5) | TrackBack (3)

AP Stylebook (p. 338-68)

Briefing on Media Law.

When should a reporter use the word "alleged" when writing about a crime story? If you accurately quote a person who utters slander, and you have tape that proves your quotation is accurate, can you be sued for libel? Compare: "Students of music teacher John Doe are angry because he sexually assaulted them," "Students of music teacher John Doe say they are angry because he sexually assaulted them," and "Students of music teacher John Doe are angry because they say he sexually assaulted them."

Permalink | 21 Oct 2005 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (5)

AP Guide to News Writing (Ch 11)

Read this in order to help you determine what would make a good topic for Paper 2.

Permalink | 24 Oct 2005 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (4)

It Ain't Necessarily So (Prologue, Intro & Ch 1)

Whoops -- intially this page said "Ch 11". That was a typo.

Permalink | 24 Oct 2005 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (3)

It Ain't Necessarily So (Ch 2 & 3)

Permalink | 26 Oct 2005 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (7)

It Ain't Necessarily So (Ch 4 & 5)

Permalink | 28 Oct 2005 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (8)

It Ain't Necessarily So (Ch 6 & 7)

Reminder -- although class won't meet today, the work isn't cancelled. I'll expect you to spend an extra hour blogging. This would be a good time to focus on peer interaction -- get together a small group, and form a pact to comment on substantial entries on each other's blogs, and carry on a good discussion that demonstrates your developing understanding of journalism.

Permalink | 31 Oct 2005 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (2)

It Ain't Necessarily So (Ch 8 & 9)

Oral Presenters:

Lorin Schumacher
Nancy Gregg

Permalink | 2 Nov 2005 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (6)

Tribune-Review (Nov 08 edition)

Be prepared to discuss all front-page articles; lead editorial; front page of all sections. Skim through whole paper and read whatever interests you. If there isn't a good court-related story in the paper, find one in another online paper.

Permalink | 9 Nov 2005 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (3)

We the Media (Intro, Ch 1 & Ch 2)

Introduction:

Today, citizen journalism is mostly the province of what my friend and former newspaper editor Tom Stites calls “a rather narrow and very privileged slice of the polity—those who are educated enough to take part in the wired conversation, who have the technical skills, and who are affluent enough to have the time and equipment.” These are the very same people we’re leaving behind in
our Brave New Economy. They are everyday people, buffeted by change, and outside the conversation. (xvii-xviii)
Chapter 1:
Thomas Jefferson famously said that if given the choice of newspapers or government, he’d take the newspapers.
True, but Jefferson went on to say that every man would have to be able to read, and that every man would have to get a copy of the newspaper. Jefferson was speaking of the kind of educated, involved citizens that seek out news on their own. A common fear of the educated elite was, what the uneducated masses would do, if they were to fall under the spell of a charismatic but power-hungry leader?"The push for profits has crowded out depth" (6), as news organizations (which used to be the money-losing but respect-building core of broadcasting companies, but now that broadcasting companies are owned by entertainment and media companies, the bottom line is more important than serving the public trust, so news organizations have to compete for the attention of people who zone out if the news doesn't include explosions or sex (preferable both).

I like Gillmor's inegration of Usenet (discussion groups) and the desktop publication movement (how many of those horrible fan-fold banners did I create in PrintShop?).

Blogs are, of course, part of this change, but as Gillmor notes, the change wasn't sudden. (The orators of classical Greece were horrified at this new technology called writing, that gave people who were untrained as orators the ability to recite a long speech written by someone else. That seemed like cheating!)

On free, open-source software: I use The Gimp (a free replacement for Photoshop), Firefox (a free replacement for Internet Explorer), and while I use the school's installation of Microsoft Office at work, at home when I work on spreadsheets and slide shows, I use OpenOffice.org. Like the cable TV owners who don't let you choose the specific channels you want, the big software companies throw huge amounts of code at you, sometimes gumming up your system with "suggestions" that you upgrade. While MovableType is not open-source, it is engineered to encourage the development of third-party plugins, which really help expand the tool's usefulness.

I remember Tamim Ansary's essay, written a few days after the 9/11 attacks (21).

Gillmor's introduction to wikis (Chapter 2) is also worth examining, since Gillmor's career with traditional print journalism has conditioned him to see precisely how a wiki is different. I do introduce wikis in my "Writing for the Internet" class, and of course I regularly refer my students to Wikipedia for routine definitions and context.

The wiki is an interesting implementation of the read/write concept that undergirds the internet, but the idea of giving away your writing for others to edit and revise is a concept that many professional writers find difficult to comprehend. Plenty of people play sports or sing or act for free, simply because they want to. And plenty of coders program and debug for free, because they feel their contributions to the common good are worthwhile.

Gillmor's introduction of the "many-to-many" and "few-to-few" are useful ways to think of the liminal space between public thought and common domain, where new media forms of communication are emerging. Give people the tools to use your creations in a creative way, and who knows what they'll come up with.

On 26, Gillmor misues "comprised". He should have said "composed of" or "comprising," not "comprised of." A mistake so common it will probably be listed as acceptable use in another generation.

Permalink | 14 Nov 2005 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (4)

We the Media (Ch 3-5)

Permalink | 16 Nov 2005 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (3)

We the Media (Ch 6 & 7)

Permalink | 18 Nov 2005 | Comments (6) | TrackBack (1)

We the Media (Ch 8-10)

Permalink | 21 Nov 2005 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (1)

We the Media (Ch 11 & 12, Epilogue)

Permalink | 28 Nov 2005 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (3)

Tribune-Review (Nov 29 edition)

Be prepared to discuss all front-page articles; lead editorial; front page of all sections. Skim through whole paper and read whatever interests you. Look for a feature article with vivid, colorful human interest.

Permalink | 30 Nov 2005 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

AP Guide to News Writing (Ch 12)

Permalink | 5 Dec 2005 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
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