September 26, 2005

The Reporter's Notebook

I have mixed feelings about Mark Levin's The Reporter's Notebook. The majority of the text was extremely helpful, especially for someone who has little to no journalism experience. However, some sections were obviously tailored to younger journalism students, minimizing the amount of help they could give college students.

The first section, "Journalism Basics 101" was extremely helpful. It gave a nice overview of all the topics we are discussing as we write our stories: Leading questions, the inverted pyramid, and the journalism vocabulary. The section on the inverted pyramid could have gone into a little more depth, but it was satisfactory as an overview.

The sections "Ten Ways to Find Stories" coupled with the "Future Book" were helpful in starting the brainstorming process, but the "Story Ideas Bank" wasn't as helpful since it was obviously geared toward younger students. While some of the ideas listed may prove helpful, others, such as "Bubblegum" probably aren't appropriate to collegiate level journalism.

I felt that the "Stock Interview Questions" were not very helpful, even for younger students. While questions such as "How would you change things about this school?" and "What has been the hardest obstacle you've had to overcome to get to where you are today?" may proove helpful in some feature stories, there just didn't seem to be enough ideas or starter questions that would prove useful in a harder news story. For someone who has always found the interview process difficult, I really would have appreciated a better guideline than the one provided.

The "Editing Checklist," "Commonly Misspelled Words" and "Top 10 Punctuation Tips" are useful for writers of every age and discipline.

While many parts of this text proved helpful, I would have preferred a different edition that specifically targeted university students.

Posted by JohannaDreyfuss at September 26, 2005 10:45 PM | TrackBack

I agree that this particular guide would probably be of better use to a younger student. I mean, really, "Allowances" for a story idea? *shrugs* I guess I did read an article once in Good Housekeeping or some other magazine about how much allowance you should give your child.

Still, I do wish I'd had this book in say, early high school. It would have been a HUGE help back then!

Posted by: Valerie Masciarelli at September 27, 2005 01:56 AM

I disagree. I happen to think that bubblegum would make a fabulous news story. Everybody likes bubblegum and if they don't they're a filthy liar and probably a commie too. ;o)

Posted by: Kayla Sawyer at September 27, 2005 04:46 PM

Haha, I think you've found your story pitch for Media Lab, Kayla!

Posted by: Valerie Masciarelli at September 27, 2005 05:34 PM
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