October 27, 2005
"A startling number of American children in danger of starving. Dan Rather reporting. Good evening. One out of every eighth American children under the age of twelve is going hungry tonight."
Chapter 4 in It Ain't Necessarily So begins with this statement by Dan Rather. This finding would most likely tear at the heartstrings of viewers, but is one out of every eighth child going hungry? This statement came from the finding made in a two-year study by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). Proxies were used for hunger, which is hard to define, because how can hunger be measured. Also, the study said one out of every eight children had been hungry once in the past twelve months, so saying that on a given night one out of eight children go hungry is misrepresenting the findings.
One problem I noticed with hunger proxies is that hunger is usually associated with poverty and low income. As a result of having a stay at home mother, I grew up in a low-income family. This did not mean that I was hungry. As a child, I can not remember a day when I would come home without finding dinner on the table, so by no means was I ever hungry. Poverty does not necessarily equal hunger.
Another problem was the questionnaire used by FRAC. One question asked if children went hungry because there was not enough food in the house. Sometimes I will go to bed hungry because I do not like the food in the house or I am not in the mood for what my mother made for dinner, so in essence I could say yes there was not enough food in the house. Once again I should not be considered hungry, but instead picky. The survey though would consider me hungry.
A proxy should not be used to measure hunger, because how can you really even measure hunger?
October 26, 2005
Journalists are not Scientists
Dr. Jerz made an interesting comment today about the difference between an article in a science journal and one in a regular newspaper. Often times a journalist will report on the findings done in a scientific experiment. We have already learned in journalism that a journalist often tries to entertain or shock the audience. When a journalist analyzes a science report to make it into an article, they can not include every detail so they pick and choose what they think is important and what will grab the attention of the audience. If journalists included all of the results, scientific language, everything that went into the experiment, etc. a normal audience would probably not even read it. In the book It Ain't Necessarily So, three examples of this are included that illustrate the way a journalist manipulates scientific findings to make them more exciting or interesting. Below I discuss the rape and domestic violence reports.
Rape- The article about rape shocked people with the statistic that one out of every four college women have been raped. As we discussed in class that is very alarming, because that means female students have a one in four chance of being raped. A headline providing that information would definitely attract the attention of most females. The book discusses that the statistic is so high, because of the broad definition of rape in the study. One question in the study asked, "Have you had sexual intercourse when you didn't want to because a man gave you alcohol or drugs?" This is a very ambiguous question. A woman may have sex while drunk and regret it later. Does this mean she has been raped? Or maybe she wouldn't have done it when she was sober, so does that mean she was raped? According to the study the woman would be a victim of rape. When the women labeled as rape victims were asked whether they thought they had been raped, almost 50% said they felt the intercourse was a "miscommunication" and not rape. So although the newspaper reported on the statistic found in the science findings, the ambiguousness of what rape really is affects the results.
Domestic Violence- Another article reported on a survey done by The Commonwealth Fund that found 3.9 million women were physically assaulted by their male partner. I know personally when I hear physically assaulted I think of an innocent woman covered in bruises given to her by a violent uncontrollable person. If 3.9 million women fell into this description that would be extremely alarming, but the questions asked on the survey considered physical assault differently than what I thought and probably differently than what most people think. In the survey if a women answered yes to any of the questions 3-11 then she was a victim of violence. The questions asked women whether their partner had :
threatened to hit you or throw something at you
threw or smashed or hit or kicked something
threw something at you
pushed, grabbed, shoved, or slapped youThe remaining questions are more extreme and clearly examples of abuse. As far as the statements above, are these all really physical assaults? I believe that constant threats are abuse, but what if the threat was an isolated event. A few weeks ago my VCR wouldn't work so I gave it a little tap. My boyfriend was at my house, so does that mean I physically assaulted him by hitting my VCR. If he were asked to take the survey he would be labeled as a victim of physical assault.
What you read in a newspaper is only selected details from an actual study. A journalist wants to attract readers so they choose alarming statistics. Before you become alarmed by a statistic do research of your own, and find out what you are not seeing in the newspaper.
October 24, 2005
Feature Stories and Profiles
I am really excited to do a feature story, because I think this type of writing gives me more room to exercise me literary writing skills. I like to incorporate emotion into my writing, and I like appealing to the readers’ emotions. I think I will have slightly more freedom to do that in this piece. Chapter 11 in The Associated Press Guide to News Writing focuses on feature writing and profiles. I want part of my feature to be a profile, because I think people relate better to stories when they contain a real person. As the book shows a feature story will draw more readers if it begins with an anecdote or personal story, than if it begins with giving research or statistics.
I really thought it was interesting and humorous on page 104 when they say celebrity profiles are not very important, because celebrities have stock answers to give reporters that will make them look like "good" people. The book said that celebrities "like people. They think the city they're in is wonderful. They like sports. They like music. They like babies." I think you get the point. I decided to look at an interview and went to thecelebritycafe.com to see if an interview fit in the category of "stock answers." I chose Leann Rimes the country singer. Many of Rimes' answers were positive and upbeat. She told the reporter this was the best time of her life, it was a positive time for her career, and she was happily married.
I do not think it is the fault of a celebrity for having to answer questions in this way. Everything a celebrity does or says is picked apart by the media, so giving stock answer sis one form of protection for the famous. I do think the book did a good job of making this also humorous. I think I will automatically laugh anytime I read a celebrity interview from now on.
Reflections on It Ain't Necessarily So
While reading through Chapter One of It Ain't Necessarily So, I found numerous placed in the text when the information given was similar to my own thoughts.
In the Prologue it discusses journalists providing the audience with reality. The audience of a newspaper or television news thinks that what reporters tell them is reality and the truth, but sometimes this may cause problems. I think an example of this is gas prices during Hurricane Katrina. The Hurricane aftermath was greatly televised and reported in papers, and reporters told viewers that because of the Hurricane gas prices were going to rise, and that there might be a gas shortage. As a result of this everyone thought they needed to get gas right away before gas ran out. This caused long waiting lines and a larger number of people getting gas than normal, so the prices also went up.
This book also indirectly references the inverted pyramid. On page three the authors give an example of a water hydrant. There is plenty of water in a hydrant, but the amount of pressure makes it impossible to drink the water. In a newspaper there is an abundance of news, but it would be impossible to take it all in, so most people will just pick and choose articles or just read a little of each article. That is why the inverted pyramid is so important in news writing. Since your audience will not be able to take in all the news, give them what they need in the beginning.
Finally, in chapter one it discusses that often times news is pessimistic. The book says that journalists report on bad news because it is "exciting." This has always bothered me about the news. If you were new to this country and picked up a newspaper or watched the news, you would probably wonder what you were getting yourself into. Many headlines talk about crime, murder, drugs, the poor economy, etc. The book also exemplifies this when they talk about the stories about things such as AIDS and crime rates. News is when the rate of AIDS or crime rises, rather than when it goes down. We also talked about this in class. I personally would love to read a news article about something that is good. There are many good people in this world doing wonderful things that deserve praise and attention.
What is libel?
Pages 338-368 in The AP Stylebook discuss the issue of libel. Libel is when one commits injury to another’s reputation. Through reading the book it is obvious libel is not very clear cut, for many states have adopted their own definition of what libel is. When one is accused of libel, the two parties enter into a battle because many states have different ideas of what libel really is. Honestly I found the book to be rather confusing, and after reading 30 pages I still am unsure of what libel really is. Parts of the book say an opinion can not be libel, because there is no way of proving it is true or false. In some states a person can only be accused of libel if damaging information is written down. The book also says that if the statement accuses someone of doing something illegal then it is libel, if it is just a negative statement about the person then it is not libel. The example in the book was that accusing someone of being a "flashy entertainment lawyer" was a negative statement, but not libel because being a flashy lawyer is not illegal. On the other hand if you accuse someone of hiring a prostitute that would be libel because prostitution is illegal. As you can see this is a very tricky subject. To better understand libel I went to news.google.com to try to find real life cases dealing with libel.
David, Victoria Beckham Seek Libel Damages- This article discusses that the Beckham's are filing charges against the News of the World newspaper for reporting that their marriage was "on the rocks." They are taking this to court in December. They claim that there is no truth in the story and that it hurt their reputation, which is the definition of libel.
N.M. Man Charged With Libel Against Police- A man is being charged for libel against a police officer. The man made a petition calling the officer a liar. The man's lawyer also wrote a report accusing the officer of committing 11 felonies, but the man accused of libel never signed the lawyer's document. Based on the information above, since committing felonies is illegal this would be an example of libel.
Football chairman sues for libel- A football chairman is accusing The Times of libel for saying he "shabbily" dealt with another coach who had been accused of child abuse. This example reminds me of the one calling a lawyer "flashy," which the AP Stylebook says is not an example of libel.
Crime Writing Exercise
Being able to think on your feet is something a journalist must be able to do. During Friday's class, students in EL227 were given scattered details and asked to turn those details into a crime story. Students did not have the details in front of them, but instead the information was read two times by Dr. Jerz.
It was very intimidating to write when you know you only have a short amount of time. Also, since we were writing a crime story, the details were especially important. I had to try to get all the names right, because if you screwed up a name you might be accusing the wrong person of committing a crime.
I also had trouble because the information was being read to me. I am a visual learner, and I need to read the information to comprehend it. When a teacher reads something aloud to me I can not digest the information.
October 17, 2005
Reflections on The Crime Beat by Dave Krajicek
The Crime Beat
In the introduction to The Crime Beat, Edna Buchannan quotes that the crime beat "has it all: greed, sex, violence, comedy and tragedy." When I first read this statement I thought that I might really enjoy writing crime stories. I often write short stories and the elements listed above are present in many of my stories. When I put more thought into it I realized this was a bad thing. When I write a crime article, I am not writing a fictional short story, but instead reporting on real events. The embellishments that I do in my own writings might seep into my news article, which would not be positive. Although I agree with the quote above, because all of these elements appear in crime stories, I think it is important for a writer to remember they are not writing a sensationalized story. They are really writing true events that happened in real peoples' lives. There are real victims, families, etc. affected by these stories.
Fame and Infamy
This chapter touched upon the fact that often people who commit crimes become famous because of journalists. It even goes as far as placing some blame on journalist for the incidents such as Columbine. The proof of this is the videotapes made by the shooters prior to Columbine. I do not think this is a reasonable argument. We have learned over and over that it is the job of a journalist to provide information. As long as they are not glorifying a killer, how could they be blamed for what people do. Sole blame should be placed on the perpetrator of the crime and no one else. Often times books are also said to have influenced killers. I think this is another illogical battle. A book cannot hold a gun in a shooters hand, in the same way that a journalist can't either.
Lori Dorfman argues that the minor details such as what a victim was wearing are not relevant or important. I understand her argument that the media should focus more on epidemiological risk factors, because then people will know the factors to stay away from. I do think though that the small details are also important. If you write a crime article such as a murder story and made it contextual and scientific it would sound like a lab report. By giving details about the victim the reader is able to visualize the person and in return will be more influenced by the article. The victim is a real person with a life, friends, and family and should not be reduced to "specimen #1" or something along those lines.
Getting prepared to write crime articles
In Newswriting Dr. Jerz posted a handout about the criminal justice system. I believe this handout is extremely beneficial. When you write a literary essay about a topic, you try to find sources that will help you better understand the topic and in turn make your paper better. News writing should be no different. When a person is assigned the crime beat they should become familiar with the criminal justice system. Before in class we discussed different terms used in crime writing such as accused, arrested, victim, culprit, etc. You can not say someone actually committed the crime until they are found guilty. Becoming familiar with the justice system will protect writers from publishing statements that could get them in trouble.
If you are planning on writing a crime story I would strongly suggest checking out this handout.
Another lesson from Newswriting confirmed.
In Newswriting we have learned to be prepared for interviews and to be professional. On Sunday after the Steelers game (of which I will not get into) Bill Cowher held a press conference. After making a brief statement he asked for questions from reporters. The first reporter asked him if he had considered removing Maddox from the game and also why didn't he remove him from the game. Cowher answered the questions. After a few more questions another reporter asked him the same question over again. Cowher seemed to be irritated by the reporter’s mistake, which in turn made the reporter look unprepared and unprofessional.
October 14, 2005
Blog Portfolio II
Below are all the entries I have created since the last blog portfolio was due. This time most of my entries focus on the class readings, since there have been many chapters assigned. I tried to analyze each chapter and provide examples to make it more understandable.
Coverage: "a brief response to each assigned reading"
“Journalese: Be very afraid!”- This entry reviews the language of journalese that should not be used in newswriting.
“Tone in the Tribune Review”- I analyzed an article from the Tribune Review after reading the AP Guide to Newswriting.
“Asserted, stated, shouted, claimed, admitted, explained, etc. do not equal SAID”- This entry takes a look at some of the words people commonly use in place of “said,” that do not really mean “said.”
“Understanding the three major forms of journalism (Chapter 6)” This entry includes definitions and examples for the three different kinds of journalism.
"Journalism as a Public Forum"- Often times journalists provide information to the public. I discussed how it is necessary to make sure the information provided is verifiable.
"Infotainment"- A discussion on trying too hard to make news entertaining.
“What do maps have to do with journalism?”- After reading the text, I discussed how all news is important, and all areas should be represented.
“Reporters Should ‘have a responsibility to conscience’"- I sometimes think journalists lack a conscience. In this article I analyzed the text, and gave my beliefs on the coverage of Hurricane Katrina. I was also able to see various perspectives through the comments people listed.
"Speed Kills" Tribune Review 10/11/05- A discussion on an editorial that appeared in the Tribune Review about the influence of speeding.
Depth: "ability to engage critically"
“How many deaths will it take until people get the message?” In the past few weeks there have been several fatal accidents in which speeding played a part. I wrote this information to express the feelings I have been having and to show people the harmful side effects of speeding.
Interaction: "ability to use weblogs to interact with peers"
“Another way to use a Newspaper in the English Classroom”- I recently developed a grammar lesson that uses a newspaper instead of a textbook.
Discussions: "your blog sparked a conversation"
“Not knowing made me unbiased, but that didn't really help.”- This article discusses the difficulty in writing an article when you are not familiar with the subject.
“How many deaths will it take until people get the message?”
Timeliness: "written early enough it sparked good discussion"
“Not knowing made me unbiased, but that didn't really help.”
“How many deaths will it take until people get the message?”
“Asserted, stated, shouted, claimed, admitted, explained, etc. do not equal SAID”
Xenoblogging: "the work you do that helps other people’s weblogs"
"AP Guide Chapters 5-7" by Katie Aikins- Katie and I discussed the difference between newswriting and literary writing.
"A question" by Mike Diezmos- A reflection on western influence in eastern writing.
"Super Size those laughs, please" by Bethany Hutira- A comment on the thoroughness of Bethany’s article.
"Supersize Me" by Ashlee Lupchinsky- I provided guidelines for eating healthy fast food.
"Big Homecoming Article" by Jason Pugh- I reflected on Jason’s homecoming article.
"Critical thought and investigative reporting" by Chris Ulicne- Chris describes the the second form of journalism.
October 12, 2005
"Speed Kills" Tribune Review 10/11/05
I was very disappointed when I looked through yesterday's paper. In class I discussed how there have been many fatal accidents recently that involved speed and I even made a blog about it. I thought this would be the perfect topic for my editorial, because it was something that has really been consuming my thoughts. I opened up yesterday's newspaper and there was the editorial "Speed kills," also done in reference to the recent accidents.
The editorial was only approximately 75 words, and did not include any research. I have conducted research since class on Monday. I am unsure whether I should still go with my idea or change it. I originally planned on submitting to the tribune Review, but I think it would be pointless since they already printed this article. Should I still write my more in-depth article?
The editorial itself focused on a person's opinion that speed is deadly. I also share this opinion. The persons only research or support was the 10 fatal accidents in 8 days. The author stated that wearing a seat belt should be "common sense." The author also says the risk of wrecking increases when you are going 20 or more miles over the limit. The article I plan to write is much more comprehensive then this. I was able to find research on Pa speed limits, statistics on car crashes, and reasons for why people speed.
October 11, 2005
I am not sure if this is an appropriate blogging topic, but I can't get it off my mind. This morning as I walked outside my house I was greeted by a little gray fur ball, that turned out to be a cat. It is probably a month or so old, and it was nothing but skin and bones. It is a stray but it immediately came to me and ate an entire dish of cat food. I went to work and tried to call it when I came home. All I could hear were leaves and sticks cracking and then it actually dove from the ground into my arms. It is all charcoal gray with big green eyes. As I sat with big puppy dog eyes petting it, I heard another whimper. I looked into my yard and saw another calico cat. I adore cats, but unfortunately I already have two and would probably be kicked out of my house. My parents are away right now so I have the cats, but I need to find homes by Saturday. Please help!
Reporters Should "have a responsibility to conscience"
I was really satisfied that The Elements of Journalism ended with a discussion of conscience and morality among journalists. Essentially a reporter must feel confident that they are providing facts and not embellishing a story. Of course the more graphic, scandalous, or intriguing a story the better the feedback from the audience will be. But, if you are reporting you must make sure you are not misrepresenting the facts just to sell the story.
In Chapter 10 the book gives the example of Michele Gillen. She was reporting on a claim that General Motors trucks had the tendency to ignite into flames when in a crash. Gillen had seen footage of this happening, but she also knows that NBC then tested the vehicles out and the same results did not occur. When a small fire did start it went out in 15 seconds. Gillen found out that the company was setting up a dramatic crash to use with the report. She called her boss and discussed her uneasiness with giving the report. Her boss decided that he would call the study "unscientific," but he continued with the rigged explosion which ended up being a major embarrassment for NBC. The boss believed the dramatic footage would "add to the report." That is not the job of a journalist; a journalist should provide the real factual news and not add to it.
In my own personal experience, I some times become aggravated by those journalists or news companies that lack conscience. I think so many issues are sensationalized to sell papers and get people to watch the news. One example is the recent Hurricane Katrina disaster. For a while this was the hot topic for every media group. Since so many companies were covering the same story, they had to try to make their story stand out. Often times I think this is done through the use of visuals. For weeks the television and newspapers were plagued by graphic pictures of deceased people, missing children, fire, etc. Was showing those pictures really a way to provide information, or instead to pull at heart strings so people would continue to watch a certain station? In my mind the dead bodies are a selling piece to the media, but what about the families who have to see these pictures of their husbands, wives, children, mothers, etc. Like I mentioned before this is a private opinion I have. I just do not think it is necessary to show dead bodies on television. A news reporter can say the number of fatalities and get the same message across, without using a deceased person as a selling tool.
What do maps have to do with journalism?
In Elements of Journalism, I think Kovach and Rosenstiel made the concept of proportionality clear through the map comparison they used. The authors discuss that during the Age of Exploration cartographers would create maps and embellish the size of lands that were popular at the time. The size on the map did not represent the real size, so the maps were essentially useless. If you wanted to know the size of one continent in comparison to another an embellished map would not be helpful.
This same idea is relevant to journalism. If you choose a place that is popular such as a large city and only give the news for that area, then many other areas are being completely ignored. A news company may choose to cover a big scandal because it will help the company financially, but throughout the book it stresses that the primary focus of a news company should not be to make money and the audience should not be considered consumers. The primary focus is to provide information that is complete and proportional.
Throughout the chapter the similes and metaphors continued. The book discusses that standing on the street and doing a striptease receives immediate attention, much in the same way that a celebrity story or scandal would. But soon that gets old, because local news is mroe relevant than celebrity news(Michael Sichok discusses the publics' unwarranted obsession with celebrities on his blog). Instead a man playing a guitar might start off with a small crowd that may grow into a larger crowd as long as the guitar player is "diverse and intriguing." If a news report covers different areas of subject and location, the crowd will continue to grow instead.
By nature human beings want to be entertained. Entertainment is the reason to attend plays, sporting events, movies, watch television, or listen to the radio. Compared to these other forms of entertainment, news doesn't quite add up in the interesting category. Chapter 8 in The Elements of Journalism discusses how news writing is often boring to the public. Journalists are afraid they may lose their audience if they do not try to add some entertainment. This fear creates what is referred to as "infotainment."
Infotainment is when a journalist strives to turn the information they have into something entertaining. As a reader this is beneficial, because it makes news reading easier. But why does everything in life have to be easy? Children play video games because it is easier than reading a book. Adults watch television news instead of reading it in the newspaper. Professionals often hire employees to do the jobs they do not want to do. People have an obsession with trying to find the easy way out. If infotainment is the easy way out, the public must realize that in a chase for easiness and entertainment, they are losing the essentials of news. Primarily news should give the public factual information to keep the people informed.
In the book there is an excerpt from an interview between Barbara Walters and Monica Lewinsky. Monica Lewinsky became nationally recognized when her affair with President Clinton became public. Since Clinton was President this became a major concern of the public, who viewed this issue in terms of politics and morality. In the Walters interview the focus had nothing to do with the harmful side effects this affair produced, but instead was something comparable to the plot of a soap opera. Walters asked questions about the President's kissing ability, passion, etc. Providing this information about the "bedroom" secrets of the President does not benefit the public. At the most it is cheap entertainment.
There needs to be a distinction between providing information and providing entertainment. There are writings intended for entertainment. As Katie Aikins mentioned in a comment to one of my blogs, magazines such as Cosmo provide information. This information is entertaining, but it should be because I do not think or at least hope that people don't turn to this magazine in an attempt to be informed about what is going on in the world.
Basically a journalist should not insert a song and dance into their news. Instead they need to find a unique angle. If a story is covered from a unique angle or an interesting viewpoint, then the story will not be boring. In EL227, Dr. Jerz requires students to develop an angle before covering any story. By spending a great deal of time on angle, each member will have a story different from that of their peers, which will make it interesting and entertaining without striving to insert entertainment.
"Journalism as a Public Forum"
Chapter Seven of The Elements of Journalism begins with a skit from the Hardball show with Chris Matthews. Matthews is interviewing Kathleen Willey. Willey is a woman who claimed President Clinton made advances at her. After going public with claims, Willey was threatened by a man to keep silent. A rumor developed that the man who had threatened her was Cody Shearer. On the night Willey appeared Shearer was watching the show. He was outraged when he realized that the real focus of Matthew's questioning and the show was to make Shearer's name public.
Matthews kept pushing Willey to expose the name, and even went as far as asking if Shearer was the man. In a way Matthews was using his show as a public forum to expose Shearer's name and involvement to the public.
After the show Shearer was bombarded by angry telephone calls. This amount of calls became even greater when the interview was referenced again on the show. Shearer argues that he was not involved in threatening Willey, but now he had to deal with because of Matthews giving his name on the show.
Journalists who expose information to the public must be accountable. As far as the book states Matthews based his claims on a rumor in Washington. He decided to expose this rumor to the public, which greatly effected Shearer's life. Before providing information a journalist must be sure the information they are providing is factual. Matthews later apologized for the claims that he made, but that does not take away the harassment Shearer had to face after the show.
October 10, 2005
Understanding the three major forms of journalism (Chapter 6)
Journalism is broken down into to three major forms in The Elements of Journalism. The forms are original investigative reporting, interpretative reporting, and reporting on investigations. Although these forms may appear similar, they are different.
In the book original investigative journalism is defined as journalism that "involves reporters themselves uncovering and documenting activities that have been previously unknown to the public." This is an example of the press being a "watchdog" protecting the public. I am a normal citizen with no political or large corporation connections. I depend on journalists, who have the means to find the information, to keep me informed on higher institutions.
After reading the example of the man who posed as a Ku Klux Klan member to investigate, I thought of Morgan Spurlock who visited Seton Hill last week. Spurlock directs and stars in the show 30 days, in which he lives lifestyles different from his own. Based on these thirty days he informs the public of how it is being a member of a certain gender, religion, economic group, etc. Spurlock is doing a type of original investigative reporting.
The second form of journalism is interpretative reporting. Chris Ulicne gives an excellent reflection on this type of jouranlism on his blog. The difference between this form and the prior one is that interpretive reporting is continuation of the former. In the first the reporting is original, but in interpretive reporting the original report is expanded upon or made more comprehensive and complete. I think the comments we post on others blogs could be an example of this. As a commenter we look at the article or information formed by another person, and then we look into the issue and provide more detailed resources or research.
Finally, is reporting on investigations. This form of reporting refers to journalists who report on "the discovery or leak of information from an official investigation already under way or in preparation by others, usually government agencies." I believe one example of this would be the President making a statement on television about something that happened, and then a journalist looks into what the President said and creates a more comprehensive report about it.
October 8, 2005
Asserted, stated, shouted, claimed, admitted, explained, etc. do not equal SAID
After reading Chapter 7 in The AP Guide to Newswriting, I feel extremely guilty. When I first started writing articles for this class I felt that it was boring to only use said. In my own mind I considered it repetitious and bad writing. I realize now that in newswriting "said" is most of the time your best choice. The reason for this is that not all words that you may think mean said really mean it. I have listed examples from the book below:
Asserted, stated, and declared: all of these words are sometimes used for “said”, but they mean something much stronger. Think of when you use these words in everyday life. "Assert" is usually used when you are forcefully stating an opinion. "Declare" is usually used when you are forcing something. Example: You declare war. My mother declared that I was grounded for the rest of my life. You would not "declare" that you like cats.
Snap: I thought this was an interesting one because I never thought about it before. The book explains that when you snap it is usually one word, and not an entire statement. I now believe this is true. Look at the statement, "You are completely and totally wrong." You may use "snapped" after this, but try to say this whole sentence while "snapping." Most likely the only word you snapped was "wrong."
Admit: What types of things have you admitted to doing in your life? Moat likely the things you are thinking about are not very good things. Admit has a negative connotation. You admit to lying, cheating, stealing, etc. Go through a newspaper and insert "admit" for "said" and it will not work.
Tone in the Tribune Review
After reading Chapter 6, in The AP Guide to Newswriting, which focuses on tone and the inner meaning of words, I analyzed the article Shouting match preceded vote on Export hiring" in the October 6th Tribune Review.
The chapter focuses on the tone an article should have, and also problems with tone. The chapter is broke down into several sections:
Avoid Sudden Shifts:
During the Trib article there was a change in tone, but it was foreshadowed by the headline. The first two paragraphs simply stated facts about the meeting including when it was, what they were voting on, and the result of the vote.
In the third paragraph this informative tone shifted to shed light on an interesting occurrence at the meeting: "The vote came after an almost one-hour executive session during which Councilman Dave Pascuzzi abruptly exited after a shouting mach with Mayor Bob Campagna."
The shift in tone slightly altered the way I read the article. At first the writer just discussed facts, which provided unbiased information. He then commented on the man's outburst. When someone has an outburst it is usually a negative thing, so after I read about the outburst I formed an opinion about Pascuzzi, which left me with a bias for the rest of the article.
Dealing with Motive:
The example above also has to deal with motive. When preparing for this article, the writer might have planned on just providing details about the meeting and the result, but when Pascuzzi began shouting in the meeting, the writer might have realized this was a more interesting angle. I thin this presented a problem in the article because the motive was unclear. Was this article to provide facts about the meeting, or was it to discredit Pascuzzi who the council voted to replace.
Watch it, kiddo:
This section discusses not using too informal of words. The author says, “don’t get too chummy with your reader.”
In the article the writer decided to call the occurrence a “shouting match.” What visual comes to your mind when you hear this? I think of a petty fight on the playground between two bullies. I do not think this is the correct visual to have for a man who is upset and speaks out, because he is about to lose his job.
Another way to use a Newspaper in the English Classroom
I am currently preparing for student teaching. Last week I had to create a teacher-directed lesson for my Pre-student Teaching Lab. I decided to focus on grammar, which is often looked upon negatively by students.
I tried to think of a way to make the lesson informative, but also enjoyable to the students. I decided that grammar does not necessarily need to be taught in a book, so instead I went to the Tribune Review.
I chose sentences to illustrate the use of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. I thought using a newspaper might interest the students because it is an example of using grammar in real life, and not from a book with exercises. Here is my completed lesson plan:
Daily Lesson Plan for Student Teachers
SWBAT- Students will be able to:
SWBAT write examples of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs
SWBAT define noun, verb, adjective, and adverb
SWBAT identify examples of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs
SWBAT locate various sections of the newspaper
Pennsylvania State Academic Standard(s):
1.1.8.F. Grade 8 Understand the meaning of and apply key vocabulary across the subject areas
1.6.8.D. Grade 8 Contribute to discussion
Materials and/or Equipment:
“The Confused Boy” Handout (7)
Definition Handout (7)
Assignment Handout (7)
“Parts of Speech” Transparency
The Tribune Review (7)
Modifications for Individual Differences: (Hearing Impairment)
The teacher will remember to talk loudly when lecturing
The teacher will stand near the students when giving any directions for assignments, and ask the students if there are any questions before they begin working on the assignment.
The teacher will use an Overhead Projector for notes, so that the teacher does not put her back to the class.
If the projector is loud, the teacher will turn it off when going over examples.
Activities and Procedures:
The teacher will inform the class they will begin working on parts of speech.
The teacher will pass out “The Confused Boy” Handout, and read the directions. Students will have two minutes to complete the sheet. The teacher will ask for volunteers to read their stories.
Use any Mad Lib exercise
The teacher will distribute one copy of The Tribune Review and one Definition Handout to each student.
The teacher will ask students, based on their exercise, how would they define “noun.” The teacher will show the definition on the transparency and lead students through examples in the newspaper.
The teacher will define the word “verb.” The teacher will show the definition on the transparency and lead students through examples in the newspaper.
The teacher will ask students to define the word “adjective.” The teacher will show the definition on the transparency and lead students through examples in the newspaper.
The teacher will define the word “adverb.” The teacher will show the definition on the transparency and lead students through examples in the newspaper.
The teacher will write a sentence on the board and have students pick out one noun, verb, adjective, and adverb.
Students will be given participation points for completing “The Confused Boy” Handout, and also for participating during class.
Students will be graded on a ten-point homework assignment.
Students will be given a “Parts of Speech” Handout Assignment
Journalese: Be very afraid!
In The AP Guide to Newswriting, chapter 5 focuses on Journalese. What is Journalese? Journalese is quoted as being: "When the facts by themselves do not make the reader's pulse beat faster, the journalist thinks it is his duty to apply the spur and whip of breathless phrases. Since these exist only in finite numbers they get repeated, and repetition begets their weakening, their descent into journalese." -Wilson Follett
Based on this I see it as a journalist trying to make their writing and word choices more fancy, instead of just writing in plain, understandable English. The book gives the following example of a conversation in Journalese:
Smith: Joe, I'll note candidly that my concern has been escalating for weeks, and the latest incident has really fueled my ire. What's triggering our area youth's, who keep sparking confrontations down by our tranquil duck pond?
If you were saying this to your neighbor, is this how you would say it? How would you really say it? "Joe, this latest incident has pushed me too far. Why do these kids continue to start fights at the duck pond?" Does that not say practically the same thing?
If you have the book, I recommend looking at this comical scene on page 44. I have also seen the issue of Journalese in another book in my journalism class. It is from The Workbook for News Reporting and Writing. I have also included it below, because I found it informative and entertaining. The following passage needs to be translated into plain English:
The party of the first part, hereinafter known as Jack, and the party of the second part, hereinafter known as Jill, ascended or caused to be ascended an elevation of undetermined height and degree of slope, herein after referred to as "hill."
Whose purpose it was to obtain, attain, procure, secure, or otherwise gain acquisition to, by any and-or all means available to them a receptacle or container, hereinafter known as "pail," suitable for the transport of a liquid whose chemical properties shall be limited to hydrogen and oxygen, the proportions of which shall not be less than or exceed two parts for the first mentioned element and one part for the latter. Such combination will hereinafter be called "water."
How many deaths will it take until people get the message?
What is the fascination people have with driving fast? Is speed a rush? Does it impress people that your car will go over a 100 miles per hour? Is it fun to disobey speed limits as a form of rebellion? Are you really in so much of a hurry that you can't abide by the limits? Can you not leave a little bit earlier so that having to speed is not an issue? Does 10 deaths in 8 days not prove speeding has fatal effects?
I am a resident of Westmoreland County. I know people who consider how fast a car will go before they even purchase it. I have often heard people brag, "My speedometer goes up to 140." Wow, since the majority of Pennsylvania speed limits are 65 or less, why is that so important? The Tribune Review reported that in a span of eight days, 10 residents of Westmoreland County have been killed in vehicle accidents. The Deputy Coroner reported that speed was an issue in all of these wrecks. Aside from these ten there have been three more if you branch out another week.
The victims were not older people dying from disease or old age, but instead young people with their whole lives ahead of them. The first accident was Eric Dunaway,23, on September 14. He wrecked his motorcycle and was pronounced dead at the scene. They analyzed the scene and estimated Eric was going over the speed limit. You may think "this will never happen to me." But it could. Eric was not some statistic, he was real person who I rode dirt bikes with as a child. He loved to go trapping, ride his bike, and was a friend to many.
There were also the Cavalcante brothers. Clarence, 19, and Daniel, 16, were both killed on September 25. Speed also played a part in this crash. Both brothers had friends and a bright future ahead of them. If you are a parent it would be impossible to imagine having to deal with the loss of two of your sons. If you do not have kids, think about how your parents and loved ones would feel losing you at these young ages.
Mark Brady, 28, was pronounced dead after his motorcycle hit into the back of a truck on September 29. How long do you think it will take Mark's family and the driver of the truck to recover from this tragedy?
Charles Brown III, 45, was killed October 2 in a vehicle accident. My family owns a bait shop and I can remember Charlie getting bait many times to enjoy an afternoon of fishing, a hobby that he will never be able to enjoy again.
Of all the wrecks I chose these 5 victims to discuss, because all 5 men lived within a few miles of each other. The wrecks have left not only the victim's family, but also the entire community devastated. When you realize that speed contributed to these wrecks, it almost makes you angry that people are not realizing the harmful side effects of speeding.
Speed limits are created and enforced for a reason. They are not a way for police officers to reach a certain number of tickets a month; they are a way to make sure this high number of fatalities is not reached.
I wrote this because it is impossible for me to ignore what has been happening where I live lately. If this article scared you, then I succeeded because you should be scared of what can happen when you drive your car too fast. Many things in life are out of our control, but when you get behind the wheel you are in control. You decide how fast you go. Next time you feel like experimenting with speed, think of how it would feel to lose your own life or the life of a friend, brother, sister, boyfriend, girlfriend, son, daughter, parent, etc.
October 2, 2005
Not knowing made me unbiased, but that didn't really help.
I am just finishing up writing my article about the soccer game. We have learned through reading and discussion that being unbiased is what to strive for when writing an article. Based on that principle the soccer game was the perfect story for me to cover. I had no original feelings about women's soccer or any of the players on either team, so I should be able to report on the game without including my own bias. I was able to succeed, for I find very little if any opinions in my paper. The problem was I don't really think I provided very helpful news either, because I lack the knowledge I previously mentioned about soccer.
I do not know positions, techniques, game structure, etc. I talked to people at the game and I also contacted a friend from high school who had been a soccer player. I researched both our soccer team and also Daemen's soccer team, but I still feel as though I shouldn't be writing about this game. This places me in quite a predicament. Had I known about soccer and been a fan, my article would be biased. Not being a fan and not knowing much about soccer, I feel as though I am not providing a detailed useful article.