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September 2009 Archives

September 1, 2009

It's All In The Details

"'But, were I to go on with thee, how should I meet the eye of that good old man, our minister, at Salem village? . . . .' Thus far the elder traveler had listened with due gravity; but now burst into a fit of irrepressible mirth, shaking himself so violently that his snake-like staff actually seemed to wriggle in sympathy."
~pages 3-4 of Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown"

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It All Comes Down To Ethics

"A cynical school of thought would have us believe that journalists are exploiters of their sources, that they ultimately violate their confidence for the sake of an interesting story. The writers here have a different reputation . . . . They honor the privilege of access by rendering the lives of their subjects with fairness, honesty, thoroughness and courtesy."
~Clark & Scanlan, page 165

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News vs. Essay

My initial reaction after reading this list was that it all makes sense. News is much more fact based than an English essay. It is important that every detail is clear so that the reader does not misunderstand the meaning. While this is also important with an essay, it is crucial with a news article. There is room for error in an essay but not in the news. It also makes sense that the point of view should remain objective, because news articles are generally supposed to remain unbiased. It would be too easy to include a biased opinion if the article were related in first person.

Other thoughts on English Essay vs. News Story

Unusual Event = News

It makes sense that only unusual events are newsworthy as opposed to common events. Common events tend to happen everyday to the point that they are mundane. No one would be interested in that. And could you imagine if every common event of every day was part of a news report? It would take forever to report it all. Keeping the focus on the unusual keeps people interested and keeps newspaper and news shows at a reasonable length. It makes sense that that's how it is.

Other thoughts on Newsworthiness

Viewpoints

It's interesting that all of the quotes in the profile on Delancey Street's Director, Dr. Mimi Silbert are from other people talking about her. When you think about it, that does seem to be a really good way to go about it. Other people often have a better sense of a person than that person has of him or her self. By including only quotes from others about Dr. Silbert, we get a more accurate view of who she is than if the quotes were from her.

Other thoughts on Profile Article of Delancey Street's Director, Dr. Mimi Silbert

September 2, 2009

No One Is Perfect

I guess when doing a profile on someone, whether living or dead, one needs to give a well rounded view of that person. Clark and Scanlan put a side note in the "Tastykake Retiree Marie Byrne" obituary commenting on the fact that the author "Keeps it real: She's not perfect." When doing a profile then, I guess the objective is to portray the person in a positive light but to still keep it real. No one is perfect. There would be some suspicion if a person were portrayed as if he/she were perfect.

Other thoughts on Clark & Scanlan ppg. 70-72

Summer Encounter with the News

In all honesty, I haven't had much of a relationship with the news. This summer, however, I did have a certain encounter with it. It did not deal with some breaking news story that everyone would know, but it did make it into the local paper--The Almanac. This experience provided the perfect example of what not to do as a journalist. Three of my friends co-directed a fully student run show to be performed for the community. I got involved to help them out and because it was something to do. Anyways, Niki's mother--Niki was the acting director--contacted The Almanac to tell them about our show. They were interested and decided to do an article on it. Everyone was excited about it. Not only was this a big deal in and of itself, it was publicity as well. From start to finish, however, the journalist assigned to cover this story clearly did not want to do so. When she conducted an interview with Niki over the phone, she was uninterested in all of the small details, like the names of the directors, or anyone for that matter. When she came to take pictures of the cast, she took two pictures of a select few cast members towards the beginning of the rehearsal and then left. There were twelve cast members. The picture in The Almanac involved four cast members. She didn't talk to anyone while she was there, either. The only cast member she interviewed was Niki. Last time I checked, there were three directors as well as 9 other cast members. Niki wasn’t the only one.

It got even more interesting when the article was published. Right at the beginning of the article, it stated that this Broadway Revue of Sorts had a cast of 12 teens. Yes, most of the cast was comprised of 14 year olds, with a 16, 17, and 18 year old added into the mix. Then there was also a 20 year old, a 21 year old, and a 22 year old. While I realize that saying 12 teens is easier than saying 9 teens and 3 young adults, it isn’t factual. If she had written 12 students, it would have gotten the point across in the same amount of words and would have been truthful.

This showed me that one has to be selective with word choice to make sure that the correct meaning is conveyed in the fewest amount of words. Also, if you want to be a good journalist, at least pretend to be interested in what you’re doing. The final product of the article did leave much to be desired. It was obvious to even my dad, who did not know the details surrounding this article, that the author’s heart was not in it. In the end, it did do its job--we had an audience of about 170 people, after all--but it could have been better.

See other student's relationships with the news

September 6, 2009

Something In Common: Group 1 Reflection

I was in group one of the presentations. Overall, it seemed like no one in the group had a strong relationship with the news. Mostly everyone said that they didn't watch it much. Many said they didn't deal with or even like the news much. Everyone had something negative to say about it. The most common place that people in this group go to check the news is on the internet. One presenter--Andrew Wichrowski--even mentioned the radio. There were a variety of different ways that people chose to present their projects: through poetry, videos, power point presentations, a news letter, an essay, blog entries, a play, and a comic strip.

Josie Rush chose to show her interaction with the news through a short play she wrote. Her relationship to the news seems to be that she just ignores it. Diana Griffin wrote a comic detailing how she interacts with it. Considering her character self was more interested in the comic section and using her newspaper to make a paper gorilla, she seemed to be very much like Josie in that sense. It was interesting how they chose these forms of story telling for this project. These forms were good ways to get their distance from the news across.

Other Reflections & News and I projects

The Name Game

"In Song of Solomon (1977), Toni Morrison's main family chooses names by allowing the family Bible to fall open, then pointing without looking at the text; whatever proper noun the finger points to, there’s the name . . . . Morrison uses this naming practice to identify features of the family and the community."
~pages 53-4 of Thomas C. Foster's How to Read Literature Like a Professor

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Foreshadowing

"'. . . Little will she care what they put upon the bodice of her gown!' 'Ah, but,' interposed, more softly, a young wife, holding a child by the hand, 'let her cover the mark as she will, the pang of it will be always in her heart.'"
~page 49 of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

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The Scarlet Letter Is Taking Over

". . . The scarlet letter was represented in exaggerated and gigantic proportions, so as to be greatly the most prominent feature of her appearance. In truth, she seemed absolutely hidden behind it."
~page 97 of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

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September 7, 2009

The Need To Be Concise

It seemed that the main idea to take away from chapters one and two of Cappon's The Associated Press Guide to News Writing was that writers need to be concise when writing news articles. I know the previous sentence here is a perfect example of what not to do. Anyways, while I know this point is crucial to News Writing, since only so much space is available, it isn't the only form of writing this affects. When it really comes down to it, I think all forms of writing have this rule. Concise sentences convey the meaning much better and are less clunky.

Other Thoughts on Cappon Chapters 1&2

Delayed Subject

It was interesting how the subject of this profile wasn't mentioned until the end of the second paragraph. At first, I wasn't sure what to think of that. It seemed odd that the subject wasn't mentioned in the first sentence. Even though it did make me wonder where this article was going, I guess it does make some sense to have gone about it this way. It acted as a lead in to set the profile up prior to introducing its subject in a different way.

Other Thoughts on Sample Profile 2

September 9, 2009

"Make Meaning Early"

This was an interesting segment of the reading (Clark and Scanlan pages 294-302). It goes to show that there are exceptions to every rule. The general rule of thumb given in this book for writing leads is that they should be no more than 21 words long. According to these authors, however, the lead can go on for much longer than that and still work as long as the meaning of the sentence is indicated early on. The verb must immediately follow the noun. It makes sense. A reader is much less likely to lose focus if the meaning is made clear at the beginning. Thinking about it, this is good advice for any form of writing. Not every sentence would need to follow this form, but on occasion it may be a good idea to throw a sentence like this into the mix.

Other Thoughts on Clark & Scanlan pages 294-302

September 13, 2009

Not Always Clear Cut

The handout on AP Style Tips brought up many points that I never would have thought about--such as how to deal with dates and titles, as they vary from what I'm used to. There was another point on the second page about how the reporter's personal opinions cannot go into the article at all. This seems like common sense after everything we were told in class, but this example showed just how easy it would be to accidentally slip our opinions into an article. Certain points may not seem like opinions at the time we're writing--like the example "Exam week stress is terrible"--but they are still opinions and have no place in the article.

Now onto applying this to the examples . . .

Assistant News Editor, Anne O'Nymous read the article.
Either the comma before "Anne" needs to be taken out or the sentence needs to be rewritten--Anne O'Nymous, the Assistant News Editor, read the article.

She was highly appreciated by Jameson for solving the problem. "I really appreciate her work ethic and problem-solving ability," said Jameson.
Who was highly appreciated by Jameson? This needs to be clarified. Also, the first sentence should be rewritten so that it is active rather than passive--Jameson highly appreciated her for solving the problem--unless it is cut in favor of the quote. The quote and the paraphrase are not both necessary, because they say the same thing.

Spunky Inkworthy has only written for The Setonian this year, but Obituaries Editor, Lazarus O'Mortigan, was very complimentary towards Spunky's contributions.
For what paper is Lazarus O'Mortigan the Obituaries Editor? Also, the commas around Lazaurus O'Mortigan are not necessary, as Obituaries Editor is his title. The only way commas would be necessary there is if it were rewritten as "Lazarus O'Mortigan, the Obituaries Editor for [insert name of paper here], was very . . . ."

In a telephone call from Head Librarian Marian Paroo, she discussed Inkworthy's contributions.
Who discussed Inkworthy's contributions with whom? Also, this may work better if it were written as "She discussed Inkworthy's contributions in a telephone call from Head Librarian Marian Paroo." This will "make meaning early," as Clark and Scanlan suggested on pages 297-299 of America's Best Newspaper Writing .

"Here is a quote", said Bill Jones freshman.
The comma should go inside the quotes, and "freshman" should come before "Bill Jones."

Other Thoughts on AP Style Tips

September 14, 2009

More Than Just Words

"'What can a ruined soul, like mine, effect towards the redemption of other souls?--or a polluted soul towards their purification?'"
~page 175 of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

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Pearl and the Letter

"'I have a strange fancy,' observed the sensitive minister, 'that this brook is the boundary between two worlds, and that thou canst meet thy Pearl again.'"
~page 191 of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

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Some Were Born Great . . .

"Walcott reminds us by this parallel of the potential for greatness that resides in all of us, no matter how humble our worldly circumstances."
~page 69 of Thomas C. Foster's How to Read Literature Like a Professor

Continue reading "Some Were Born Great . . . " »

Morbidly Humorous

My first thought upon reading about the "bus plunge" tradition was that it was horrible. Thinking about it, however, I can see how journalists could get this way. Since, as the saying goes, no news is good news, it can be generalized that anytime there's news--in most cases, anyways--it's bad. You'd have to find some kind of humor somewhere, because otherwise it would just be depressing. It is, admittedly, morbidly humorous that the newspapers are more or less parodying themselves with this.

Other thoughts on The rise and fall of the "bus plunge"

Battle of the Bus Plunges

I chose to compare 20 die in Nepal bus plunge: police and 8 injured as bus plunges into canal. The first thing I noticed about these two articles is that neither one took place in the United States. One took place in Nepal and the other in Hathazari upazila. Both started with the highest casualty figures. The author of the first article--where people died--had more to say than the author of the second, when people were injured, but not killed. I wonder if this is just a coincidence or if it's a general standard.

Other Comparisons Between Bus Plunges

September 15, 2009

Accident Report

Package stolen after EMC student was hit by car

Sharon Pierce, a 4th year undergraduate student, was hit by a 2004 Ford Taurus on the Elizabeth Mount College (EMC) campus at 8:25 a.m. on Sept. 14. She was exiting Collins Hall, her residence hall, and crossed the street north of the crosswalk when the car hit her.

The driver, Carl Klaushammer, was a courier from Cairo Transport. He retrieved a package from the EMC chemistry department, got back into his car, and hit her as he was turning on the east entrance of the Alumni Hall Gallery. According to the report given by Robert Chase, the Chief of EMC Security, the package was taken from the backseat of his car when Klaushammer got out of his car to check on Pierce.

One of the officers noticed a man running south on College Drive. According to Chase, this man wore an EMC hoodie, was about 6 feet tall, and weighed about 200 pounds. "The suspect did not comply with verbal orders to stop," Chase said. "A foot pursuit followed, which involved this officer and also officer Claire Catcher, and the suspect turned east on Backwater Avenue and disappeared into the wooded lot south of the chemistry parking lot."

According to a professor from the chemistry department, the materials within the package were promised to the Pennsylvania State Museum of Antiquities.

An ambulance was called after the accident. Pierce declined transport and was treated on site.

According to Chase, no charges have been pressed at this time.

Other Students' Ex 3: Accident Reports

September 17, 2009

Dealing with the Lead

Even though it is necessary to give all of the information, this chapter (chapter 3 of The Associated Press Guide to News Writing) goes to show that it doesn't all have to go into the lead. In fact, if too much information is given in the lead, the important main point of the lead can get lost in the mix. It seems it's best to just keep it all simple, otherwise the reader will either get lost or lose interest. It also seems that clever leads are risky. While they can be a good idea, one has to be careful to make sure they don't cross the line and become humorous when they're not supposed to be. I'm not going to lie; I laughed when I read both examples of clever leads in this chapter. It seems it can be a good idea if it gets the reader's attention, but we need to be careful to make sure we get the right effect with it.

As for the question posted on the course website--"How frequently do prose journalists begin their leads with "when"?--it doesn't appear to happen very often. I looked at 17 articles on cnn.com, and only 3 of the leads started by answering the "when" question, which equals out to about 18% of the time. Most of the leads started by answering the "who" question.

While looking at these articles, I came across a humorous comic dealing with freedom of speech that kind of relates to the overall discussion. It's the first draft of the Bill of Rights.

Other Thoughts On This Chapter

Brevity is Key

The points made in chapter 4 of Cappon's The Associated Press Guide to News Writing make sense. If someone is reading an article full of long sentences, and that person isn't accustomed to it, the meaning can get lost. Also, it seems like the key to news writing is to keep everything brief so that more information is conveyed in less space. Keeping sentences shorter also cuts out unnecessary words, as Cappon points out. Like many things, though, I think this is easier said than done. We just need to watch out for this when revising. We may not always catch it while we're writing.

Other Thoughts On Chapter 4

So What?

When reading Joe Grimm's article How to pitch a story, I thought back to the point that is drilled in the literary study courses I've taken. When writing a thesis, we need to answer the "so what" question. Why should the reader be interested in what you have to write? I guess the same thing goes for story pitches. We need to give a reason for why this story is important--why it should be written--why anyone would be interested in reading it. If all we give is a topic, well then, so what? If we give an idea, then we're getting somewhere.

Other Thoughts On Grimm's Article

News Writing Portfolio 1

This is my seventh blogging portfolio--I feel old--but it is my first blogging portfolio in journalism. It has been a new experience blogging something other than literary analysis. This is basically a compilation of all of the blog entries I've written for News Writing thus far this semester.

Continue reading "News Writing Portfolio 1" »

September 19, 2009

Straight Forward

Both articles, Would-be robbery victim fights back and Plea deal reached in Jeannette enslavement, kidnap case, were straight forward and to the point. The first article was short out of necessity--since it had been written overnight with little time to gather much information--but it got all of the facts across in that short space. I guess the main difference between the first and second articles was the time issue. The second article had more to pull from. There was the current case that was going on--which had been ongoing, so there was already more information readily available--and there was also the past case. I guess this is another good example of how the length doesn't really matter as long as the necessary facts are accurately reported.

Other Thoughts On Sample Crime Reports

More Than One Side

One of the tips Chapter 35: Crime reporting introduction from The News Manual was to make sure to cover all aspects of a crime--the police involvement, the suspect, and the victim. This makes sense, as it goes along with what we've already gone over in class. It is necessary to keep news article unbiased. There is more than one side to every story. If only one aspect of a story were covered or if two aspects on one side of a story is covered while the aspects on the other side or sides are ignored then this would go against that rule. It could potentially show bias. It is important that all areas are included in order to ensure that the article is kept in the objective point of view.

Other Thoughts On Crime Reporting Tips

September 20, 2009

Keeping Focus

"My chambers were up stairs at No. -- Wall-street."
~paragraph 5 of Herman Melville's "Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall-street"

Continue reading "Keeping Focus" »

Wallpaper Prison

"At night in any kind of light, in twilight, candlelight, lamplight, and worst of all by moonlight, it becomes bars! The outside pattern I mean, and the woman behind it is as plain as can be."
~page 6 of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper"

Continue reading "Wallpaper Prison" »

What Does It Mean?

"We want it to mean something, don't we? More than that, we want it to mean some thing, one thing for all of us and for all time. That would be easy, convenient, manageable for us."
~page 99 of Thomas C. Foster's How to Read Literature Like a Professor

Continue reading "What Does It Mean?" »

September 21, 2009

More Than It Seems

The articles "Golden Gate Park layoffs" and "Ethanol IndyCars" both seemed to do really well with the idea we talked about in class--using something specific to cover a story that is relevant to people all over. The first article covered job layoffs in Golden Gate Park specifically, but job layoffs are a reality everywhere. This is simply one specific instance. The second article seemed to do this on an even grander scale. It was specifically about one race car driver who chose to use an environmentally friendly fuel. What was it really about? How people in general should be more environmentally conscious. One of the quotes in the article indicated this--"'I wanted to do something relevant to consumers - not something so exotic that it was X years away from reality,' Zadig said." For the most part, the article did remain focused on the race car industry, but it did appear to have a larger target with the message than that.

Other Thoughts On Sample Spot News

September 22, 2009

Portfolio 1 - Take Two (American Literature 1800-1915)

This is my eighth blogging portfolio--my seventh for literature courses. It was interesting looking back at these entries and comparing them (by memory, anyways) to literature entries I've written in the past. I've noticed that I seem to be focusing on smaller details within the stories much more often now than when I used to. Anyways, here's a list of all of the blogs I've posted thus far this semester.

Continue reading "Portfolio 1 - Take Two (American Literature 1800-1915)" »

September 26, 2009

Careful Wording

"For reasons of tone, likewise, don't refer to serious accidents as mishaps. A man twisting his ankle stepping off a curb has a mishap; if a car hits him and he's paralyzed from the waist down, it's an accident. The word incident also suggests something of small consequence, a peripheral event--say, a picket line scuffle. A shootout in which several are hurt or killed is more than an incident."
~page 52 of Rene J. Cappon's The Associated Press Guide to News Writing

Continue reading "Careful Wording" »

September 28, 2009

The Simple Things in Life

" . . . and then I let it lie, fallow, perchance, for a man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone."
~paragraph 1, chapter 2 of Thoreau's Walden

"They would begin to sing almost with as much precision as a clock, within five minutes of a particular time, referred to the setting of the sun, every evening. I had a rare opportunity to become acquainted with their habits. Sometimes I heard four or five at once in different parts of the wood, by accident one a bar behind another, and so near me that I distinguished not only the cluck after each note, but often that singular buzzing sound like a fly in a spider's web, only proportionally louder."
~paragraph 17, chapter 4 of Thoreau's Walden

Continue reading "The Simple Things in Life" »

Wasp Filled Home

"The wasps came by thousands to my lodge in October, as to winter quarters, and settled on my windows within and on the walls overhead, sometimes deterring visitors from entering. Each morning, when they were numbed with cold, I swept some of them out, but I did not trouble myself much to get rid of them; I even felt complimented by their regarding my house as a desirable shelter."
~paragraph 3, chapter 13 of Thoreau's Walden

Continue reading "Wasp Filled Home" »

Keep an Open Mind

"You may not subscribe to this list, may find it too glib, but if you want to read like a literature professor, you need to put aside your belief system, at least for the period during which you read, so you can see what the writer is trying to say."
~page 120 of Thomas C. Foster's How to Read Literature Like a Professor

Continue reading "Keep an Open Mind" »

Eye Catcher

It seems that even though newspapers need to contain a lot of information in as little space as possible, it is not wise to cram a ton of information on the front page. One main thing that all of the top ten front pages have in common is that they don't contain much text. Photos take up most of the space. I guess the reason for this is that they are more eye catching. Someone is more likely to pick up a paper that appears to be full of pictures than a paper that appears text heavy as it is more pleasing to the eye.

Other Thoughts on Front Page Comparisons

About September 2009

This page contains all entries posted to JenniferPrex in September 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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