November 27, 2007

Yes! The Inverted Pyramid is Back, Baby!

Ok, so I kind of have a thing for the inverted pyramid structure. It's a healthy obsession, I assure you.

Chapter 10 of ABNW could also have been titled, "Vanessa's high school journalism classes". Yes, years and years ago I took several high school journalism classes that instilled in me the the same ideas as presented in the chapter. Also, experience has made the newswriting style almost inevitable (I didn't say I was good at it- just that I can do it). However, reviews are always good.

"Reporters fall into two categories: those who get assignments and those who generate ideas. And of those who get assignments, there are also two categories: those who do what they're told and those who expand the assignment and make the story their own" (290).

I loved this quote. Journalists should keep this phrase in mind when faced with a difficult (or even overly easy assignment). Who do you want to be- the easy way out writer or the dive right in and get the best story possible one? I think we're all trying for the latter here. However, deadlines can pose problems or a novice writer might be too afraid to "expand the assignment" since they are used to just doing what they are told (I would be that reporter). However, try to do the best assignment possible, no matter what the subject, and take a risk every now and then. It might just work *cough*Onesentencereporter*cough*.

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November 24, 2007

A Newspaper Novella

Aside from the kind of disturbing title ("Metal to Bone"? Seriously? Sounds a little horror movie-ish to me), Anne Hull's article paints a vivid picture of the people involved in the story (I almost typed "characters" here, but remembered this wasn't prose, although it read like it) and gives the reader further insight than a regular article ever would.

Again, I find this to be another article that goes against the norm of regular journalism writing. Sure, it's a feature piece, and you can apparently do whatever you want in a feature piece, but the long sentences and witty quips ("Don't break a nail, honey") seem pretty different than the newswriting we are being taught. To make a reference to a class I'm currently taking, an article like this seems almost more like a personal essay, due to the description and tone of the work. Sometimes the reader just wants the stripped down information about an incident, but sometimes, we want to know the people behind the facts.

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The Amazing One Sentence Article

Oh my God, that entire article was written in one sentence. Next time I have to write a review for the "Setonian", I'm writing it in one sentence and see how that goes. I'm going to assume not well.

"Maybe Ken Fuson is the next Geoffery Chaucer" (212).

No, he's not. I spent an entire semester in a class all about Chaucer and never once did he write like this. Everything the editors of ABNW said was so great about the article truly annoyed me. I'm sorry, but it's not the way I would ever write an article, even a little piece like this one. "Repeating 'by' creates parallels". No, what it does is seem overly repetative. "Semicolon breaks the sentence into manageable parts". So do periods. This just seems to go against all the journalism writing techniques I've learned thus far. When I try to get creative like this, it backfires and doesn't get published. Maybe I'll go work for "The Des Moines Register".

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Not a Classic For Me

Um...what if none of the "Classics" really fit into what I'm doing my article on? The examples given are by far excellent pieces of journalism, but most are "hard" stories that doesn't really match the feature-ish article I'm doing. They all seem so serious, while my topic seems a bit frivolous.

If I have to chose an article though, I would say Dorothy Thompson's "Mr. Wells and Mass Delusion" works for me. While I am not writing an opinion piece, this was an article that wasn't too "hard" (like hard news). The technique I found useful was the tone of the piece. It wasn't too serious or commanding, even thought it was a persuasive essay, but read much like, and I hate to say it, a magazine piece. I've gotten used to this sort of short clipped get-it-all-in-as-few-words-as-humanly-possible style of newspaper writing that to see a longer more prose style clicked for me as something I could possibly use in my article. Since it would be more of a feature article, I could potentially have a little fun with it and use a similar style.

The part I especially liked was, "They have demonstrated...they have cast...they have shown...they have proved..." etc. (264). While I couldn't replicate this style in my article (plagerism=bad), the idea of a list of things seems like a good device to use, especially in an article like mine. A list of ways students feel they are unprepared, perhaps?

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November 18, 2007

Newspapers are Unfair...

"Newspapers are unfair when...they do anything."

Ok, while that's not a direct quote from the book, it might as well be. Ever get the feeling you can't do anything right? That's sort of how this book made me feel. The public looks down on journalists so much, apparently. Anything can be considered "unfair" through the public's perception, which makes it hard for journalists to catch a break it seems.

Apart from being a little let down at how others view journalists, the book did provide some interesting advice on how to kill these negative assumptions. It's one thing to say what the newspapers are doing unfairly, but this problem also needs solved as well. The advice given for what journalists and newspapers can do will help publications run in the best and most ethical way possible so that the negative views slowly disappear. Who knew journalists were liked about as much as lawyers?

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The Best Stories are the Bad Ones

"The public constantly asks why there is not more 'good' or 'positive' news in the paper." (37)

Sound familiar to anyone? It's the same old song- journalists only report on the bad news, bad news sells, etc., etc. However, if we keep reading about how only the bad news gets printed, or how the good stories are practically hidden on the page, there must be a good bit of truth to it, hm?

The chapter doesn't really give too many examples of what can be done to fix the problem, though. Ok, sure, report on the good things as well as the bad but after the obvious, what else is there? The media reports manin on the bad news because A) that's the interesting story that people need to know about and B) it's what sells. Bad news is generally interesting and good news, while interesting in it's own right, won't create the same buzz as a good accident. Although it might be a "best practice" to report each equally, even the book seems to know that the bad news is what's always going to be out there.

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November 13, 2007

Don't Mess Up

"Newspapers are unfair when: [insert common mistake here]"

Sometimes, you just can't win. As Best Practices for Newspaper Journalists outlines, there are a lot of mistakes that can go into newspaper well as a lot of corrections. In newswriting, correcting the error is more important than the error itself; if we don't admit to our problems and mistakes, we have created distrust in our readers, further propelling the negative journalist stereotype that is apparently so common in the public.

"They say they understand that reporters have to work very hard and fast under pressure, and they aknowledge that is not a system likely to produce perfection...but they do not believe this should exempt the newspaper from cleaning up its messes promptly and fully."

(HA! There was even an error in that sentence- can you spot it?) While, as someone going into a journalism-type field, I know first hand how easily errors can occur, I too find myself laughing at the paper when I see simple grammatical or punctuation errors and think "Shouldn't someone catch that? Wanna hire me as a copy editor? I'd find it" (Ok, I just really want a job). However, it's easy to see other people's mistakes. I, God knows, and not free from error myself- a missed comma here, a wrongly spelled word there. Rarely have I ever had any factual information incorrect, but even the little things look bad to the public. Readers expect to read something that is edited correctly and well, free from errors, neveryoumind that they were still editing at 3:00am when the words begin to blur from sleep depervation and too much coffee.

Has the chapters stated, though, it is the responsibility of the newspapers and journalists to acknowledge these mistakes and correct them in a timely manner. However, for everything? Do we really need a section for every incorrect comma splice? The big stuff- sure. The little stuff- I'm sorry that it happened, but I'm probably not going to point it out to the larger public.

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November 6, 2007

There's A Lot of Crime in Chicago

Let me begin by saying that if/when I ever do crime reporting, it certainly will not be on the caliber of Meyer's article, "Humanity on Trial". That was the longest crime article I've ever read...ever.

While Meyer did present a lot of information, I think she may have provided just a little too much. When I think of a crime article, I think of something a bit more concise and to the point; Meyer's article read more like a crime novel instead of an article about sex-offenders. I'm also not sure how I feel about the point of view she used- I don't want to be in the room with her, I just want the information. An excellent article, to be sure, but not the best example of crime reporting.

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November 1, 2007

Portfolio World- Like Disney, But Better

Ok, that's a lie. Disney World is way better than my blog portfolio. But Portfolio World is a close second...

Coverage and Timeliness- All the entries, all on time. Yes.

What's the Truth?-Heck if I know.
Digging for Buried Treasure- And I have yet to find any...
Creating Optimism- Yes, you can make it
Sink or Swim- Swim, hopefully
So That's Why I'm So Paranoid- Yeah, among other reasons
Go Ahead, Shoot the Messenger- This time, he deserves it
In Conclusion... - The end of the book

Depth- Sometimes, I go above and beyond

Creating Optimism
Go Ahead, Shoot the Messenger

Interaction- Where I play nicely with others

What's the Truth?
Creating Optimism

Discussions- Entries where I get people talking, er, commenting

Digging for Buried Treasure
What's the Truth?
Creating Optimism
So That's Why I'm So Paranoid

Xenoblogging- Totally a made up word

Comment Grande:
Dani- Only Chicken???
Tiffany- Statistics Disproven
Maddie- Americans Afraid of Risks?
Mitch- Blame O.J.- He Don't Mind, Poll Dancing

Comment Grande:
Tiffany- Frog Blog
Maddie- Whoever Will Win, the Foxes or the Hedgehogs?

Halloween Scrooge

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In Conclusion...

Let me start out by saying that the conclusion to It Ain't Necessarily So was not a conclusion at all, but rather Chapter 11. I didn't feel concluded, I felt like I was reading yet another chapter of a somewhat repetative book.

"One of the most common is that of the vilian, the victim, and the hero. If a story can be arranged in this format, it will get media attention, often without a great deal of scrutiny as to who, exactly, the respective players are and by what criteria they were assigned their roles" (188).

As journalists, we are casting people in a play and assigning them roles which they will forever keep. Ever hear of an actor that can't break out of a previous role (once Marcia Brady, always Marcia Brady)? Same goes for the "characters" in articles. Once a jouranlist have villanized a company or group, they will always been seen in this negative light. Even if they do something amazing, like donate millions of dollars to some charity, the journalist will continue to cast them as a villian and focus on the negatives becasue, well, the negatives sell.

What have I gained from this book? To make sure I know my facts...all of them. Look at both sides of the story, and report on them too. And nothing is ever as it seems.

(Sidenote: This is my 201st entry. The 200th was the Halloween one yesterday. 4 years of blogging, 200 entries. Wow do I feel old)

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