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November 08, 2005


I never realized before, but our "Crime Reporting" lab exercise provided me with a breakthrough in crime writing. Prior to "speed-reporting-writing," structuring crime stories were perplexing. Should I write chronologically? What are the most important details- the crime or describing the perpetrator? Which quotes matter and does the emotional content outweigh the event's within story?

Limited writing time forced me to made immediate decisions. Time wasn't granted therefore I couldn't over-analyze the evidence. Instead, I choose an angle and went with it. Whatever pieces connected to that idea, I used.

Because these time restraints constricted my writing process (which surprisingly helped me more), I wrote a better story. Likewise, when I had the time to work on another assignment, I had the tools to locate the necessary facts needed to produce a balanced crime story.

Posted by BethanyHutira at November 8, 2005 04:17 PM



Even if you don't see journalism in your future, you will almost certainly see yourself taking minutes at a meeting, or writing an article for a newsletter, or justifying a complex decision in a routine e-mail to your supervisor.

This kind of exercise -- along with the "write two biased questions and a neutral question" exercise -- is designed to get you to emphasize just one particular area of judgement, which you wouldn't typically stop to think about because you're worried about pushing out a 400-word article.

One of the things I really love about blogs is that it gives students a chance to reflect on what they learned, as they are learning it or a little while later, when they've had the chance to apply it.

There will be a few bumps in the road, but that's okay.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at November 9, 2005 01:03 AM

So true Dr Jerz! It's interesting because I've used some journalism skills in my education class. I wrote about it on my blog "Eye Spy." Check it out, because I discuss some of ideas which you mentioned in your comment.

Posted by: Bethany at November 9, 2005 09:41 PM

You're right Bethany, speed-writing is a very important skill...one I have yet to master. I am well-known among my peers for working extremely slowly. I also try to over analyze everything and think about things perhaps a bit too much. While exercises like this one tend to just frustrate me, I do feel that they are helpful in learning practical skills.

An exercise which I think helped me even more was when we had to go back and decide what parts of the jumbled up facts were news, background, details, and then of course, part of what should go in the lead. This helped me even more because I often have trouble deciding what is most important.

Posted by: Lorin Schumacher at November 10, 2005 07:23 AM

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