September 2009 Archives

Stratego Anyone?

Strategy 1: Demonstrate That Conditions for a Solution Are Fulfilled

Strategy 2: Analyze Significant Words in the Phrasing of the Problem

Strategy 3: Refer to Literary Conventions or Expectations

Strategy 4: Argue Against Possible Questions

--Roberts, Pg 176-177

Okay, first of all, aren't "Problem questions" very similar to what Dr. Jerz said in class about "Research Questions?" After I read this chapter, I thought to myself, "wow I really could've used this before writing our first essay for class," but at least I'll have it in the future right?

The strategies above were what I found to be the most useful part of this chapter. I always have a difficult time coming up with theses for my papers, so I'll take any help I can get. Although a couple of the strategies are review for me, I still find it very interesting to read about how they can be used in an essay.

On a side note, I got a little annoyed with Roberts when he kept using Hamlet for his examples, only because I really disliked the play--probably would've helped if I'd had a better teacher back in high school, but that's beside the point. 

Like all the previous chapters, this chapter included an Illustrative Essay about the text we already read for class. This time it was "Desert Places" by Frost. I really liked how the essay actually demonstrated using more than one strategy within the text. However, I can't help but think that if I were writing a similar essay, I'd try to stick to just one of the strategies, only because I feel like it would make my thesis and paper as a whole more focused.

Loneliness is a two-way street

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And lonely as it is that loneliness
Will be more lonely ere it will be less--
A blanker whiteness of benighted snow
With no expression, nothing to express.

--"Desert Places," Robert Frost

Frost's tone for this poem is lonely and depressing. The reader can literally feel the loneliness expressed, which shows empathy. Most people would feel quite alone in a deserted places, where not even an animal stirs in the wintry setting. Frost then moves on to say that he not only feels alone in this desert place, but in his own as well. This just goes to show that he cannot escape this ultimate feeling of loneliness and desertion. It's a great parallel to how people dealing with depression feel trapped. When I read this poem, I imagine being in the middle of snow-covered woods, surrounded by nothing else but white contrasted by random trees. It's a scary thought. I've never liked the woods anyway, because I'm afraid of getting lost--and because I watched the Blair Witch Project when I was way too young...but back to my point, this imagery allows readers to empathize with the speaker. I don't care who you are, everyone feels at least a little depressed every once in a while. 

The theme of this poem is actually an important lesson. You can't escape loneliness by staying in a remote place--you need to surround yourself in the presence of loved ones, or even strangers, in order to save yourself from utter dispair.

I love this poem. It really says a lot. I'm not saying that I'm depressed or anything, but I found myself easily empathizing with the speaker of this poem. One of my biggest fear is being alone--I hate it when I'm in my house by myself or even in public by myself. If I had it my way, I'd always surround myself with my friends. The more the merrier.

I may be dreaming of Layout for a few weeks...

Layout! I can't hold back my excitement! I'm really looking forward to this aspect of News Writing, because I didn't get a lot of experience with layout in high school, because I was a copy editor. I rarely touched layout. I've helped Maddie a few times with The Setonian, but I have to say I was pretty excited about this assigned text--and not just because there was barely anything to read either...

I've decided to analyze each front page separately, and leave comments about what I like or think works best, and what doesn't work, etc.

  • I was surprised that there was only one story on the cover. Because I don't speak the language, I have no idea of knowing if it was just a really important story or if they had nothing else that was worthy of front-page news. I have a feeling the latter is less likely.
  • I loved the color on the page, and the cut-out of the woman. However, I feel like it gives a very "featurey" feel, and I'm not sure it's appropriate for a front page. The cutout is great, but maybe taking away the color would've made the tone a little more serious.
  • Why is there an Ad on the front page of this newspaper? I thought it was a little unprofessional? Usually Ads don't appear until later in the issue, when space is more available. I find it really hard to believe that the editors couldn't find another story to fill that space? Or, couldn't they have just increased the size of the directory's font? It seemed really squished to me.
  • There's not a lot of text, but it seems to work for this publication. The phrase "a picture's worth a thousand words" really comes to mind here. I don't think words could capture the excitement of this team quite like the photo does.
  • I really didn't like the smaller font above the larger headline. It kinda confused me. I'm used to the headline being large, and the sub-head being slightly smaller. It threw me off
  • This publication had a very nice variety of fonts, and surprisingly they seemed to work well together; they really didn't draw away from the publication itself.
  • There wasn't much of a directory on this publication, but I guess that's not always a necessity.
  • I thought this publication was extremely busy. The different fonts (especially the different colors of the fonts) was really distracting. I don't think it really helped hold together this publication. If anything, it separated it into chunks.
  • I really liked the semi-cutout of the whale. it gave the paper a nice illustration that seems to jump out of the page, which parallels the whale jumping out of the water.
  • I really didn't like the cutout of the football player. Actually, it wasn't the cutout I didn't like--it was the fact that it covered part of the title of the publication. If the layout people had just made the football player a little smaller, they could've used his head as the "o" in "today," and I think that would've looked so much better.
  • I really liked how this publication divided up its stories with lines and such.
  • Again with the advertisement on the front page? Really? That's the perfect size for a directory, don't you think? I really feel like the Ad takes away from the rest of the page.
  • The publication does a great job of pairing every front-page story with either an image or a picture. Visuals always help to draw in readers.
  • Like the Hawaii pub., this one has great cutouts that take up half the title of the newspaper. Now, I get that most readers already know the title of the paper, but I just feel like these huge cutouts really draw away from the paper. They're very distracting.
  • I really don't understand why so many publications have ads at the very bottom of their newspapers. I just feel like there are much more important things to be said on the front page than an ad for a wound center. However, I'm forgetting that a front-page ad probably costs an arm and a leg, so it's a great source of income for newspapers
  • The center image on the page is great. It really draws people in, and the image really says a lot. Personally, one of the first things I saw was the guy in the background sitting in the kayak without shoes on. It made me think, "Hmm, I wonder why..." and want to read the article.
  • Even though I didn't like the cutouts at the top of the page, they do serve as excellent teasers for the sports sections.
  • You can clearly see what matters to this paper--sports. And more sports. But, then again, the main picture again says a lot. I really liked the white text on the photo too, because it really popped on the page.
  • Like the Border Mail, this publication reminded me more of a magazine than a newspaper, but I'm not saying that's a bad thing.
  • I really liked that the directory on this front page served as a divider between two stories. Without that, it would've been harder to tell which story the photo belonged to without reading at least one of the articles.
  • The sports action photos at the top of the page are excellent teasers. They also showcase the talent that this newspaper has.
  • I thought the random change in one of the headline's fonts (lower left story) was a little strange. It doesn't really fit with the theme of the rest of the front page, and I don't understand why this was done
  • I'm not sure if anyone else noticed this, but the image of the family standing in front of the artwork is a photograph something that's in the larger photo. I really liked that. It really gave a sense of unity to the story, and illustrated that someone actually lives in the beautiful home--it's not just a decoration.
  • I don't understand how someone's home could be front-page news, but I also didn't take the time to squint to try to read the article either. Surely there's something else going on that might be more important than their house. This feels more like a feature than a news piece.
New York Daily News
  • This front page really doesn't say all that much. I guess that can be good or bad. It's about sports, obviously, but it doesn't go into a ton of detail. This could be a very effective lead.
  • The white text really jumps out of the image too. Very effective
  • Again with the tiny headlines followed by a huge sub-head. I just don't get it...And, these headlines really don't say much about the article itself. It isn't until the article that we understand that the kids were excited about a concert with Akon.
  • I really liked the main photo, though. It's a great candid, and it really illustrated how excited the people at the concert really were.
  • On a side note, I really enjoyed reading the 2-minute times. They were kinda random, but interesting all the same.
  • I like that this front page is divided into a lot of boxes. The stories themselves are boxed in, and it helps to keep readers from becoming confused while reading.
  • Photoshop at its best! I loved that they were able to plaster Obama's face behind a surgeon's mask. It really sends across a strong message.
  • They also pulled the seafoam green of the surgeon robes and put it in part of the headline. I really liked that--it takes me back to my days on my yearbook staff, but that's another story.
  • The statistics next to the article are a great addition to this front page. It gives readers something to look at other than a ton of text.
  • Out of all the front pages, I think this one is the best. Even though it too has a "featurey" feel, it's very effective. The visuals are great, and there are still other stories covered on the front page, but Obama's healthcare plan is clearly the most important part.

She said, he said, it said of? Of? Huh? Cappon Ch 8

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Writers sometimes plunge into the said of mode to clarify something that's already clear from context:
"It's rare. We don't usually get that many large petitions," Richard Markse, a railroad spokesman, said of the 300 signatures Fields collected.

--Cappon pg 70-71

I've seen this a lot when I copy edit for The Setonian. I don't do it myself, but only because I usually just finish my quotes with "said John Doe." or whatever, but I do see it a lot, so I understand why it's in this chapter, but at the same time, I can't imagine that a lot of professional journalists make this mistake--or at least, I hope copy editors pick up on it, because it's really redundant. It's the same thing as stating a fact and then having someone talk about the same fact in a quote. It's just dumb.

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Gushers!!! Cappon Ch.6

Words that usually signal gush are many, including fabulous, tremendous, superb, unique, exquisite, gorgeous, fantastic, incredible, glamorous and the like. Public relations handouts are often gushers, and too much of that breathless verbiage slips through.

--Cappon, pg 50

After I read this passage, I had to stop and think. I have a sneaking suspicion that I used to use most of those words when I was a high school journalist way back when. In fact, I'm pretty sure "unique" is one of my favorite words to use. But, I can understand why these words are bad--in news writing anyway. They really don't add at all to news. In fact, they're quite similar to using "very" or "really." The only difference is these are bigger words, but they still mean the same thing. 

Furthermore, as a journalist writing news, bias should be avoided like the plague, and I'm pretty sure that if you put any of those words in a news article, you'd be showing bias. Now, I still feel like I could get away with using "unique" in a review about a movie or a book or something. Maybe I could even get away with using it in a feature. I don't want to rule these words out altogether, because I still feel like they can be valuable at times, but definitely never in news writing.

Transcendental War Anyone?

She lived unknown, and few could know
When Lucy ceased to be;
But she is in her grave, and, oh,
The difference to me!

--"She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways" Wordsworth

Can I just say that first of all, I absolutely loved this poem (and not because it was short either). This isn't the first time I've read Wordsworth. "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" was the most familiar poem--I remember reading it in English way back in 11th grade, but like most poetry, I have a difficult time interpreting meaning.

This poem, however, made sense to me right away. Wordsworth speaks of a woman (Lucy), who, to the world, seemed insignificant. But, he counters that fact by explaining that every part of the universe is important, including Lucy, with the line, "Fair as a star, when only one/ Is shining in the sky." It makes it seem like Lucy is only noticed when she is alone, that she gets lost in the crowd, but that does not make her any more insignificant than everyone else. Wordsworth goes on to say that she is hardly noticed in life, and barely missed in death, but he also says "...oh, The difference to me!", meaning that he appreciated her, even when others did not.

I think the main reason I enjoyed this poem the most was because I have a similar outlook on life. It's like that saying "To the world you are one person, but to that one person, you are the world" or something like that. 

Those that I fight I do not hate
Those that I guard I do not love

--"An Irish Airman Foresees His Death" Yeats

Sounds familiar, doesn't it? As soon as I read these two lines, I immediately thought back to Hardy's "The Man He Killed". The theme of the two poems seems pretty similar, don't you think? However, I enjoyed this poem more, because it wasn't nearly as cryptic as Hardy's. Translation: This poem was easier for me to understand. But, even though it was easier to follow, the message still runs deep that sometimes, even those fighting in wars begin to wonder what they're fighting for. But this poem also has a deeper message about dying that wasn't really evident in Hardy's poem.

The speaker says "I balanced all, brought all to mind,/ The years to come seemed waste of breath,/ A waste of breath the years behind/ In balance with this life, this death." As the title says, this poem not only "foresees" death, but also accepts it. The speaker learns to see the balance between life and death--that both are essential for the world to continue to move, and he acknowledges that his end will not bring much loss to his countrymen.

Although both spot articles deal with our environment, they differ in many ways. Personally, I found the article on emissions to be more interesting than the one about reforestation. However, I feel like the story about reforestation was a better example of a spot news article than the one about the emissions. Nevertheless, each article has its own strengths

  • Even though reforestation is a major issue all over the world,b choosing to focus on one particular forest, as well as  a smaller group of individuals affected by the layoffs, the author of this spot news article helps readers to identify with the problems.
  • The author chooses a large state park to focus on not only because it will be well-known, but because it will have more drastic budget cuts than a smaller park probably would.
  • She gives good ratios in her article: Gardeners who once tended to a dozen acres now are responsible for about 40, after hiring freezes have reduced their workforce in recent years. Many park construction projects have slowed or come to a halt. 
  • However, at the close of her article, she has a more general quote, to remind readers that this is not the only place where parks and people are being affected by the economy: "Who hasn't said parks are the lungs of the city? Who in San Francisco doesn't appreciate that?" he said. "The parks will survive."

  • Ethanol fuel isn't a new idea, but by focusing on a specific field which utilizes the fuel, the author forces readers to acknowledge how much it really helps our environment.
  • Gives an example on how much of a difference the ethanol fuel really does make:IndyCar uses 20,000 fewer gallons of fuel and emits only trace amounts of carbon monoxide.
  • This article does not seem as focused on one spot as the other article--the author goes off into a tangent about other racing programs, such as NASCAR.
  • This article tries to focus on what one specific racer did to help the environment, which makes the piece better as  a whole, because it allows readers to get a more in depth look at the results.

Immaturity at its best

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Juliet, if you really loved me, you wouldn't want me to die. But you were more in love with death, 'cause death is easier than love.

--Goodnight Desdemona (Good morning Juliet) Act III, scene ix

I'm not sure I agree with Constance in this quote. Although Juliet did seem a little trigger-happy throughout the play, I get the feeling that it was more because she was young, immature, and naive. And, I don't think she was in love with death--I think that she, and Romeo were in love with the idea of being in love. MacDonald did a good job at making the two seem overly immature, but I really liked that she did that, because I never really liked Romeo and Juliet--I've always thought that their love was shallow and not real. I don't believe in love at first sight.

As for the homosexuality in this play, it really served more as a tool for MacDonald to further her point about Romeo and Juliet being immature and in love with love. I found the crossdressing to be pretty humorous, but after a while, it kind of got old.

One last note. I feel like MacDonald should have developed the fight between Mercutio and Tybalt a little further. As soon as Constantine appears and explains that Tybalt and Romeo are technically cousins through marriage, they give up the fight. I sincerely doubt that's how it really would have happened. We're talking about two warring families. Neither would've been very pleased to learn that the two lovebirds got hitched. It caught me off guard when Tybalt and Romeo embraced. I really felt like half of this act was really rushed. It doesn't take long for Constantine to convince them not to fight either. And, the first time we see Juliet, she is already regretting her decision to marry Romeo. What gives? It seemed really abrupt to me. This portion of the play really would've benefited from more development, don't ya think?

Life is stew?

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Life is...
a harmony of polar opposites,
with gorgeous mixed-up places in between,
where inspiration steams up from a rich
Sargasso stew that's odd and flawed and full
of gems and worn-out boots and sunken ships--

--Goodnight Desdemona (Good morning Juliet) Act III, scene ix

Let me be perfectly honest here. I chose that quote because it was my favorite passage from the book. For those of you who don't know me very well, I'm all about living life to the fullest, and quite frankly, I'm still trying to figure out my life--but then again, I guess all college students are trying to figure out that one, huh?

I just really like the way MacDonald describes life in this passage. She really hit the nail on the head with this one. Life really is a "harmony of polar opposites"--the US alone is known as the great american melting pot. No two lives are ever exactly the same, everyone's life has some flaws, but that's what makes life worth celebrating. When you have a bad day, you really learn to appreciate your good days. MacDonald does an excellent job of expressing that when she says life is full of "gems and worn-out boots and sunken ships." I really don't have much more to say about it other than the passage really spoke to me.

Moving on to more pressing manners. I decided to write my two blogs about the second and third Acts, because those were really the meat and potatoes of the piece. However, I really couldn't find a quote that I really liked from Act II, so I'm just going to say my piece and move on to Act III in my other blog entry.

All I really have to say about Act II, other than I really enjoyed reading it, is that I had a much harder time understanding this half of the play compared to the Romeo and Juliet portion because I never read Othello. With Romeo and Juliet, it was easier for me to follow because I recognized the characters and the Shakespearean dialogue that MacDonald used. However, I don't want to say that I didn't understand Act II at all, because that would be a lie.

I really liked the dramatic irony in this act, when the audience knows that Iago is trying to pit Desdemona against Constance so that his plan will not be foiled anymore. It doesn't take much for Iago to convince Desdemona to no longer trust Constance. So, what does this say about Desdemona?--what about other women in Shakespearean plays? Are they all as gullible as Desdemona? And what about Othello? Towards the end of the third act, Constance argues that Desdemona acts exactly as Othello, and both are very gullible. Having said that, Macdonald did an excellent job mixing a modern-day character with Shakespeare's characters. I found myself chuckling a few times when they misunderstood Constance, such as when they claimed she was from Academe and such.

For more opinions on this play, click here

Spel chek pleez?

Police said he had a dark bandana covering a portion of his face, police said.

Okay, before I say anything about the two examples of crime reporting, let me just say that I am appalled by the quality of the text written for the Post Gazette. in Would-be robbery victim fights back, I was seriously shocked to see how many grammatical errors were made in this story. The one that jumped out at me first was the comma before "and" in a list--this is probably because I am OBSESSED with that rule...and because I served as a copy editor for my high school paper, and that rule was on my "pet peeves" list. Anyway, that mistake alone was enough to make me mad...and then I read the sentence I quoted above, and I about died. I think I actually said "Oh my god" out loud because it made me so mad...Police said...police said. Really? Really??? REALLY? Oh and there was a sentence in the story that had "the the" in it. Why don't their copy editors pick up on stuff like this?

Alright, now that I got that out of the way, the article itself wasn't terrible. It gave readers enough information for a preliminary story about the crime. And, the lead didn't give readers a lot of details--this forces readers to actually read the article to find out when and where the crime occurred. For a short article, it was very informative.

The other article, Plea deal reached in Jeannette enslavement, kidnap case, is far more detailed. Instead of focusing on the crime itself, which is old news, this article focuses on the plea bargain made by the guilty individuals. However, the article still gives the important facts, but these facts now act as background information for the readers who have not been following the story from the beginning.

From these two articles, I've learned that there really are a number of different angles that you can use to write a story, whether it be a crime related story or not.

Even crime news needs to be "new"

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Crime reporting has to be as up-to-date as possible. This is partly because some crimes depend for their news value on being current.

As I read this assigned text, I started thinking about what's been going on in the news lately. There was the Yale student murder last week, which is an excellent example of great crime reporting. Because this was such a high-profile story, reporters had to find several ways to write their stories in order to keep the news fresh. Even now, there are still new angles to write about that murder. The link I posted for the story concerns the motive for the killing.

Another crime that came to mind as I was reading this section was the serial killer who escaped at a county fair in Washington. Newspapers and new stations continue to report on this crime, simply because the murderer has not been found yet. In a USA today article from yesterday, I read about the killer's other escapes and possibilities for where he would turn up next. Now, there's new news, because the killer has been captured. 

It's amazing that crime reporting can take on so many different dimensions depending on where you find yourself reporting in the midst of the crime. I don't have any experience with writing crime reports. In high school, the closest thing I ever got to writing about crime was a feature I wrote about sexual assault on college campuses, but that was more a list of tips and statistics for my readers. 

For me, crime writing is a whole new battle field. But like the assigned text said, if you can master crime reporting, writing regular news will be much simpler because you will have all the basic skills, such as interviewing and investigating, under control.

Check out some other blogs here

Story Pitches for the Future

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Make the case. You want to pitch a story about a quirky little diner that is shutting after a short but successful run. It doesn't sound like much of a story--unless you can say that the diner attracted a large clientele from the city's legal community.

I don't have much experience with pitching stories. In high school, we used to come up with different stories and just put them on a board to discuss with the other staff members. And, in college, I haven't attended very many meetings with the Setonian. However, this reading was very useful, and I have a feeling that it will be more useful once I get a job in the real field of journalism. I also think it will help me to think of angles to write my own stories. All in all, this was a very informative piece.

EL 237 Portfolio #1

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This portfolio showcases my best work thus far in EL 237: Writing About Literature. In this portfolio are examples of my best blog entires, as well as my interaction with my peers. 

Coverage: I wrote a blog entry for every assigned text so far in this semester:
    • High school flashback? -"The Necklace" In this entry, I focused on the details of the piece as a whole. The author did a great job with sensory details, and I decided to praise his efforts.
    • Writing About Literature: Preliminary In this entry, I touch on several subjects rather than focusing only on one aspect of this chapter--it was a long chapter, so I decided to make sure I wrote a long response to all of the information, because a lot of it was useful.
    • Luck or Destiny? I argue in this entry that maybe the main character wasn't luck, maybe it's destiny. I question whether different military figures would still be remembered had their "luck" been different.
    • War. I connected the piece by Hardy to a previous piece read in class by Twain, and I went off into a tangent about supporting our troops. Oops.
    • It takes a lot of paragraphs to make a book...Roberts CH 2 I disagree with Roberts in this blog entry, but also comment on his strengths in this chapter.
    • To kill a Canary... I question whether Mrs. Wright is guilty in this entry, explaining that the author of the story leaves a lot of questions unanswered in this one-act play.
    • Fiction=TrueLife? Roberts, CH 3 In this entry, I disagree with Rogers when he says that all fictional characters are like people in real life. 
    • You've only got 100 years to live In this entry, I not only analyzed the poem "On Turning Ten," but I also explained how it made me feel emotionally, and I linked to a classmate's blog.
    • Times goes by so slowly Again with the sensory details. I really emphasize their importance in "Owl Creek." I explain that the details really helped me to visualize the character's last moments alive--this was a high topic of dispute in class; not everyone appreciated the details like I did.
    • Reality is just a point of view away I identify a book I read for my own leisure in this entry and connect it to the assigned reading about points of view.
    • Another surprise ending, Oh my! This was just a basic reaction to "The Strangers" by Hardy. I explained that the ending surprised me and I also talked about the start of the story and how its details were *really* boring. But, I later explained that the story made up for itself when it introduced dialogue into the story.
    • Two lines can change everything In order to analyze the sonnet by Shakespeare, I looked on some of my peer's blogs before reading the poem. I mentioned this in my blog and basically just discussed what symbolism I found in the poem.
    • Structure, My dear Watson, key Again, I bring up the Time Traveler's wife in this entry, and apply it to what I read in Roberts. I explain that I never really thought about structure before reading this chapter and what I learned from it.
    • Dying is an art In this entry, I discussed Plath, and the fact that I didn't understand with her, but agreed with some of the stuff she said in her poem "Lady Lazarus." Note: I'm not suicidal.

Depth: These blog entires are simply more detailed and analyzed entries. I spent more time writing my entries and attempted to bring in outside ideas into my analyses:
Interaction: This section has examples of discussions I conducted with my peers on their blogs, as well as mine, including several examples of disagreements:
Discussion: The entries below showcase my best discussions on my blog. They range between 2-4 comments:
Xenoblogging: My contribution to the blogging world, whether it be commenting on other blogs or linking to them:
Wildcard: Other entries that really demonstrate my best work:
    • War--I demonstrate the ability to link two assigned texts to each other in this blog, and offered additional insights.
    • Two lines can change everything--this entry shows that I am able to use and relate to what my peers say on their blogs, as well as learn from them

For more portfolios, click here

16 to 17 words?

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Chop up long sentences into their functional components and aim for an average length of 16 to 17 words.
'--Cappon pg 37

At first glance, I remember thinking, SIXTEEN WORDS? That's a lot? But then I took a second to really think about it, and I'm realizing that my sentences are a lot longer than that. This sentence alone was over 20 words...

I really tried to take this chapter to heart. Like any writer, I have my strengths and weaknesses. One of my strengths is my ability to write very detailed sentences, but, as it turns out, it's also a weakness for me. When I write anything--news, essays, whatever--I always seem to write very lengthy sentences. I've never actually counted the words in each sentence, but I think I might consider doing that next time I write something for the school paper. I think it would be useful and help me improve my writing skills.
There were a lot of useful ideas in this chapter. Usually when I write, I try to find ways to avoid choppy sentences. I include words like "as" and "when" (Like the words they insist that we omit from copy in order to shorten sentences.). I really think that by making sentences shorter, it helps to avoid wordiness--something that, at times, seems unavoidable.
I look forward to using the tips from this chapter in my writing, whether it be just my news writing, or all of my writing in general.

Weakness revealed

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Some writers have trouble introducing a new fact without swaddling it in information or phrases that have gone before. Double-decker leads result, the second or third graf saying much the same as the first.

--Cappon pg 29

Although the majority of this chapter was pretty much a review for us, because we've gone over Leads a few times in class, I thought this quote was pretty important. The rule of attribution, like many of the other rules in this section, does not only apply to leads. Dr. Jerz has gone over this topic a few times already, stating that it is unnecessary to be so redundant within a story. Like the examples in the book, 

School district officials were surprised by a judge's restraining order on the district's dress code, which allows boys with long hair and earrings to return to class.

"We were somewhat surprised, said Mike Moses, superintendent of the Lubbock Independent School District. 

This type of quotation could appear anywhere in a story, not just in a lead, but I do understand why it's in this section as well. Leads are probably the most important part of a news story. Personally, I always have a hard time creating my leads when I write stories for the Setonian. I usually write my entire article and then go back to write the lead, but my leads are rarely witty. I think this is one of my biggest weaknesses as a news writer. I know the importance of the lead--I just can't seem to master this skill.

EL227 Portfolio #1

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This portfolio showcases all of the contributions and work I have done thus far in EL227: News writing. Like always, there is some room for improvement--mostly with my timeliness and xenoblogging, but on the whole, I think I've gotten off to a good start in this course, and intend to keep up the good work. I also noticed a direct correlation between my timeliness and my discussion sections--the earlier I post my blog entires, the more discussion I receive for each entry. 

Coverage--I covered every assigned text prior to meeting in class, links below:

Depth--In these blog entries, I either analyzed deeper or offered more insights than I usually do. These were well-developed blog entires:
Interaction--These are just some of my peers' blog entries in which I commented; however, these blog entries contained the most interaction:
Discussion--This list of blog entries showcases my blog entries that were most popular among my peers and received the most feedback.:
Timeliness--Although I finished all of my blog entries before class time (except when class was canceled), these blog entries were done at least 24 hours in advance to ensure more comments than usual:
Xenoblogging--my contributions to the weblogging world:
    • Crunch Time Blues -Link Gracious--I gave credit to both Greta and Josie in this blog, because I agreed with both of them. I actually found Greta's blog through Josie's because Josie had already given credit to Greta.
    • Josie's I would read it on a plane... -
    • Aja's The (Non) News of Michael Jackson--The Comment Primo--I began this discussion, and watched it develop into a thriving conversation among my peers; however, I did not return to comment again.
    • Aja's Imagine the Internet--The Comment Grande--I participated in this discussion about the Dr. Seuss Profile, and gave insights as to how news and features are blended in this article.
    • Michelle Tatlinger's MLA APA Chicago AP -The Comment Informative--In this blog discussion, I offered my previous knowledge concerning AP style, but I also admitted that I learned new information in this reading. I also blogged about the same thing in my blog, but did not see Michelle's until after my blog had already been posted.
Wildcard--other blog entries that really don't apply elsewhere:
    • Presentation Reflection--I posted an in-depth reflection about my peer's presentations, focusing on the fact that all of my fellow journalism majors actually dislike reporting news.

For more porfolios of EL227, visit our course website.

Dying is an art

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Is an art, like everything else.

I do it exceptionally well.

I do it so it feels like hell.

I do it so it feels real.

I guess you could say I've a call.

-Sylvia Plath, "Lady Lazarus" pg 239


I can't remember ever reading Plath in high school--and to be honest, I'm not surprised that she was never covered--no because she's not a fantastic poet, but mostly because of the topics of her poetry--suicide and the holocaust. I could understand covering something about the holocaust, but at my high school, we didn't do much with suicide. We didn't even have a memorial service when a boy commited suicide my junior year--they just sort of brushed it under the rug and told kids to go see the counselors if we needed help.

Now I can get back on track. I picked these two stanzas, not because I understand them (I can't say that I really understand any of her poetry), but because I like what she said in lines 43-45. "Dying is an art." I'd agree with that. I've never attempted suicide, nor would I ever (I'm too selfish) but I can definiately see where Plath is coming from. There are so many ways someone could commit suicide--in fact, it frightens me. There are whole websites online dedicated to teaching people how to commit suicide (though I've never had the desire to visit them).

This poem really does speak to me, even though I'm missing a lot of the symbolism. As far as I can tell, this poem is a cry for help, but there are a lot of stanzas that just seem random to me. Like I've said in class, analyzing poetry is not my favorite thing in the world... 

Crash and Burn

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I compared Many dead in Kashmir bus plunge from BBC News to the USA Today's Peru bus crash kills, injures 31. I have several observations...


  • Both start with a death toll
  • Both explain the location of the accidents
  • Both articles mention that there is a high automobile accident rate in the country.


  • Although both begin with a death toll, the Peru article has more facts, stating that how many were killed/injured, including a few specifics while the India article has vague facts--"at least 20 dead, others injured." Why are they not more specific? Even the title is vague. I was taught that using "Many" was a no-no in journalism.
  • The Peru article goes on to state approx. what time the accident occured. The India article does not.
  • The Peru article states that the cause is unclear, but the India article says a sharp turn was taken.
  • The Peru article actually repeats the same information twice:
      • Sentence 2: "Among the dead are two Dutch tourists and a Colombian."
      • Sentence 6: "Del Castillo said that among the 22 dead are a Dutch man and woman, and a woman from Colombia."
  • The India article has a weird ending--I feel like it really doesn't belong in the article. It seems like it's just filler information (even though I get that "bus plunges" are filler pieces:
      • "As the injured were being taken away, relatives and residents threw stones at officials, complaining of poor local medical facilities, AP reported."


On the whole, I actually enjoyed reading these bus plunge articles. I like that each article still takes a different direction from the last, but at the same time, it still feels like they're searching for information to fill the space--like when the Peru article repeated basically the same sentence twice. Even stating that each country has a pretty high accident rate seemed trivial to me--everyone has a higher accident rate than they'd like--I would've liked to see actual figures to show me just how high these rates actually are. If they're looking for filler information, at least put a statistic in there or something.


Click here for more analysis from my coursemates

EX : Accident Report

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Elizabeth Mount College [EMC]--A pedestrian was injured on Monday, Sept. 14 at 8:25 a.m. outside Alumni Hall. A theft resulted in the accident as well.

The pedestrian, identified as Sharon Pierce, a fourth-year undergraduate student was hit by a 2004 Ford Taurus, driven by Cairo Transport employee Karl Klaushammer. Pierce, who was struck 15 feet north of the crosswalk, was treated on-site by an ambulance.

According to EMC security chief Robert Chase, "Klaushammer was observed by this officer to be in distress and reported that a package that was in his back seat was apparently taken." A hooded figure was seen fleeing the scene of the crime south along College Drive.

The suspect is described as male, weighing approximately 200 lbs. and about 6 feet in height. Because the suspect ignored verbal orders to stop, a foot pursuit involving Chase and another security officer, Clair Catcher, ensued. The suspect was last seen in the wooded lot south of the chemistry department.

According to John Carten, a professor in the chemistry department, the stolen package contained "research materials promised to the Pennsylvania State Museum of Antiguities."

"There was no indications that anyone would press charges," said Chase in a press conference on Sept. 14. "Klaushammer was advised to stay alert while driving on campus...and Pierce to use the crosswalk," added Chase.


Other Accident Reports

Crunch Time Blues

Nowadays, layout editors can just expand the size of a photo or cheat the typesize to make a story fill a gap. But in the days before such digital magic, newspaper editors needed a steady supply of filler stories -- short items, just long enough to plug gaps of a few inches at the bottom of a page.

Like Greta and Josie, before reading Dr. Jerz's Blog Entry about Bus Plunges, I had never heard of such a thing. As I was reading the article, I was thinking to myself, "wow, what kind of journalist am I? I've never heard of this before..." But, now that I see I'm not alone in that respect, I don't feel bad anymore.

Basically, what I took from this article was that sometimes, journalists and reporters have to be clever and witty in order to fill space. I've been there during crunch-time when we're freaking out that we might not get all the stories in on I get it. I've seen The Setonian's layout editor, Maddie produce some pretty spectacular geometric figures to fill space in articles of the Setonian--over the summer, I watched as she used squares and circles and cylinders to make a golf cart--complete with golf bag on the back of the cart. Needless to say, I was deeply impressed.

Back to more pressing matters, it's really nice to see that journalists can still have fun with their jobs. It's tough to have fun all the time when you're freaking out about deadlines and who's going to get the next big story--this article was a breath of fresh air for me. It gives me hope that I won't become a writing-zombie-thing someday.

Structure, My dear Watson, key

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Each narrative or drama has a unique structure. Some stories may be structured according to simple geography or room arrangements...A story may unfold in an apparently accidental way, with characters making vital discoveries about major characters...

--Roberts Chapter 5, pg 101

Prior to reading this chapter, I never really put much thought into the structure of a story, but after reading this, it really makes sense. When I read this book, I always find myself thinking back to books I've already read, especially The Time Traveler's Wife. Structure was key in that one. Like the point of view aspect of the story, without the structure of this story, Niffinegger would've lost her readers on the opening pages. But enough about that book. In terms of Hardy piece we had to read for class, structure was essential--during the first read, most readers would never pick up on the fact that the first stranger is the baddie, but after reading the surprise ending, I'm sure that, like me, many of my peers went back to find some of the clues that led up to the conclusion. Even the point when the crisis arrives in the story is essential. If the author waits too long, readers will lose interest, but then again, they might also lose interest if the crisis arrives too soon. When I think about mysteries and suspense pieces--whether they're movies or books, I really see the importance of structure. On slight change could give everything away. The more I read this book, the more I realize that there's a lot about literature that I still don't know, even though I've been analyzing it for as long as I can remember. But I welcome this knowledge, because I know it's going to make me a stronger writer, as well as reader.

Two lines can change everything

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This thou perceiv'st, which mkes thy love more strong.
To love that well, which thou must leave ere long.

--"Sonnet 73" Roberts, 103

I'll confess that I snooped on a few of my classmates' blogs before reading the poem or writing my own entry. I feel no shame in admitting it, though, because it really helped me to better understand the poem. Like Aja, I have always had a difficult time interpreting Shakespeare. It's not that I totally dislike him--Julius Caesar was one of my favorite plays that I read in high school--I just have a difficult time finding the deeper meaning. But, like Jess said in her entry, the more times you read him, the easier it is to understand what he's trying to say. The man really is a master with words.
I really liked what Jess said about this poem dealing with everlasting love. I'm not sure I would have picked up on that on my own, so in that respect, I'm really happy I read her blog before I read the poem. And I also associate autumn with death, because winter follows autumn, and at that time, everything is either asleep or dead. But Billy kind of throws me off with the ending couplet. If that couplet wasn't there, I think the whole meaning of the poem would be different. Sunsets and autumn and even the mention of Death all make me think that maybe the relationship is dying, but then he goes and says that whoever the speaker is talking to's love is strong for the speaker. This just goes to show that two simple lines can totally throw a reading off...Like Aja, sometimes I just don't get poetry...

Another Surprise ending, Oh my!

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"Sir," he said, stepping forward to the magistrate, "take no more trouble about me. The time has come when I may as well speak. I have done nothing; my crime is that the comdemned man is my brother."

Roberts, 339

Maybe I'm tired, or maybe I just need to brush up on my detective tv-shows, but this part of the story totally took me by surprise. Hardy did an excellent job of tricking his readers (although I'm sure a few of my peers figured it out...) by describing the third stranger's body language when he entered the house. By describing the stranger's "white lips" parting, Hardy shows the man's fear, and furthermore, he tricks readers by not even mentioning that the stranger looked at his brother.
Looking back, there were subtle clues to the first stranger's identity. For one, the point of view switched when he arrived outside the Shepards house, but when the other two strangers arrived at the door, we didn't get to see their side of the door, if you get my drift. Maybe I'm just overanalyzing, but that really seems like a good clue. It's almost like Hardy really hoped we'd figure it out. The executioner's riddle-song was another great hint, but again, Hardy threw the readers off by allowing the first stranger to remain calm and actually converse with the executioner like it was no big deal. 
On another note, I have to say that at the beginning of this story, I had very low hopes for it. The descriptions at the beginning really didn't do anything for me other than start to put me to sleep (but it probably doesn't help that it's past midnight as I write this either, huh?) But seriously, I actually surprised myself reading this. I thought it was really going to drag, but I actually enjoyed it once the conflict arrived in the story. I started reading Chapter 5 before I read this, but stopped when I got to the essay portion to read the story, and I've gotta say that I spent the beginning pages of this story looking for the conflict--so when the actual conflict arrived, it caught me off guard, because at one point, I was pretty sure the main conflict was going to be a feud between the shepard and his wife over how much mead the second stranger could consume...

A news story doesn't need a conclusion. It should be written so that the bottom of the story can be chopped off at any time.

--Dr. Jerz's Copyediting Document

This was mostly a review for me. However, I did learn/refresh on a few major things to remember. Even though I've written news articles before, I always try to wrap them up, despite the fact that this is unnecessary in those articles, because the ending usually gets chopped off to save space anyway.

Do not include "Dr." as part of a faculty member's name.

I've actually never heard this one before. In the past, I was always told to keep the "Dr." or "Mr."  on the first mention, but after that to just write the last name. So, if I'm talking about "Dr. Dennis Jerz, Associate professor of English" at first mention, I would just say "Jerz" every mention after that, but according to this document, I wouldn't even include the Dr. in the beginning? Huh. Guess I do learn something new everyday. :-)

Assistant News Editor, Anne O'Nymous read the article

In this example, it would be better to identify Anne after her name, rather than before: Anne O'Nymous, 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.

In this example, the sentence before the quote basically says the same thing that the quote says, so the sentence really isn't necessary. The author should think of a better way to lead into the quote or just let the quote stand alone.

Spunky Inkworthy has only written for The Setonian this year, but Obituaries Editor, Lazarus O'Mortigan, was very complimentary towards Spunky's contributions.

Instead of just saying Lazarus was very complimentary towards Spunky, the author should have used a quote explaining the complements. Also, "Spunky" should be "Inkyworthy."

In a telephone call from Head Librarian Marian Paroo, she discussed Inkworthy's contributions.

The fact that this was a telephone interview is not important to the article. The author should focus instead on what these contributions were. This sentence, in retrospect, is completely unnecessary.

"Here is a quote", said Bill Jones freshman.

For this quote, the comma should be placed within the quotation marks, and the credit should read "said Bill Jones, a freshman" or "said freshman Bill Jones." If this is second mention, it should simply say "said Jones."

Reality is just a point of view away

In some works, authors mingle points of view in order to imitate reality. For example, many first-person narrators use various types of the third-person point of view during much of their narration. Authors may also vary points of view to sustain interest, create suspense, or put the burden of response entirely upon readers.
--Roberts, pg 84

When I read chapter 4, my favorite book popped into my mind almost immediately--The Time Traveler's Wife. I'm not sure this book really fits with the above quote--the author does "mingle points of view," but in a very different way from what Roberts talks about in his chapter. In the story, the author jumps not only from two people's points of view (Henry and his wife Clare), but also into different parts of time--past, present, future--you get the picture. Anyway, I guess the whole point I'm trying to make here is that, in my opinion, point of view can either make or break a story. In the case of The Time Traveler's Wife, I honestly don't think the story would have had the same effect if the author had written it from only one of Henry or Clare's points of view. Readers would still be able to empathize with the characters, but I don't think they would experience the same amount of raw emotions that are in this book. I recently went to see the movie with some friends, and I have to say that the book was much better, mostly because of the point of view. It's just impossible to make a movie or play reach the same areas of the mind that a 1st or even 3rd person omniscient story does. 
Aside from the useful tips and questions for writing an essay about point of view, the only other thing I really took out of this chapter was the existence of 2nd person point of view--before this class, I'd never heard of that point of view before. It really intrigued me, but I also thought it was rather confusing, and to be quite honest, I can't really think of any stories that I've read that it applies to. I guess that's precisely why Roberts said it was less common than the rest.

I was born to be a Journalist

...the language of journalism:

  • The language of journalism is concrete and specific.
  • The language of journalism is active.
  • The language of journalism makes meaning early.
  • The language of journalism is democratic.
  • The language of journalism has a voice.
  • The language of journalism strives for clarity.
-Clark & Scanlan pg. 295

When I first read this assigned reading, the first thing that came to mind was something that my mom always says to me: "Jess, you talk like you're writing a book or something." And it's true. I'm not going to lie and say that I'm never dramatic, but that's beside the point. The point is--Clark and Scanlan mentioned that when journalists write, fires are "always raging..." so, in that respect, I guess I was made to be a journalist, because I tend to make mountains out of molehills. I'm not saying that journalists exaggerate the facts--they just spruce them up a bit. After all, that's what the language of journalism is all about, right?

The language of journalism is concrete and specific.Without the details, what kind of a new story would we have? A very weak one. The more specific we get, the more likely people will remember what we write. This is the old "show, don't tell" thing again. A good journalist should paint a pretty picture of words for his/her readers to get the message across.

The language of journalism is active. I'm pretty sure we've already gone over active and passive writing when we discussed the difference between an english essay and a journalism article. But anyway, this is so important in a good news story, because it makes you less wordy when you  just put the important words in--Noun verb. That's all you really need when you're not giving out all the sensory details in your articles.

The language of journalism makes meaning early. From the first paragraph of an article, readers should at least have a grasp of what they're getting into as they read your story. When you get down to the nitty-gritty and you can only write 4-500 words, making those words count is essential.

The language of journalism is democratic.  So this section basically tells us to Keep it simple stupid. Remember that not everyone might have the most amazing vocabulary. We aren't really "dumbing-down" our articles, we're just making sure that as many people as possible will be able to read and understand what we have to say.

The language of journalism has a voice. I felt like this section of the characteristics of the language of journalism was really more of a summary of the other criteria than anything else. But at the same time, I guess it's just reminding us that each journalist has their own writing style, even though we do have a ton of rules to remember and follow. Even so, we can still break one here and there and have a little fun.

The language of journalism strives for Clarity. I don't think they could emphasize this enough. The last thing any journalist wants is to confuse his/her reader. if that happens, the chances of them reading another of your articles (assuming you even get another assignment) go out the window.

So, in review, the language of journalism is a tricky one, but its worth the study, because if you can just master these few steps, I'm pretty sure you can master any writing style, because even though they might be "journalism specific," i'm pretty sure we could apply most of these rules to any form of writing.

Time goes by so slowly

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Peyton Farquhar was dead; his body, with a broken neck, swung gently from side to side beneath the timbers of the Owl Creek bridge.
--Roberts pg 322

They always say that your whole life passes before you before you die. I think that's the main reason the end of this story caught me by surprise. Looking back, the author did provide a little bit of foreshadowing when he put that Farquhar wanted nothing more but to see his wife and children one last time before his death. Nevertheless, the author did an excellent job of keeping the reader on their toes with this surprise ending.

Although I'll admit that this final sentence of the short story did catch me by surprise, I have to admit that when section III began, I did wonder if he was imagining his escape. However, once I began to read this part of the story, it was very difficult for me to believe that it was not real. The way the author, Ambrose Bierce, stretches out the entire experience made it seem more real. Although I have never been in a serious near-death experience, I was hit by a car walking to school during my junior year of high school, and I have to admit that time did seem to operate significantly slower than it usually does for me. I think that's mostly the reason I believed that Farquhar really did escape. The amount of detail within the section of the story astounded me. And the author really did an excellent job of slowing down the action for the reader.

Aside from this aspect of the short story, I also appreciate the way the author chose to write the story--jumping from present to past and then back to present again. This gave readers a chance to empathize with Farquhar before judging him. By not giving the reader any sort of dramatic irony, the author allowed the readers to really remain open to possibilities, and this greatly strengthened the piece as a whole.

Wordiness is a Curse...

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"Not every noun needs an adjective. Not every adjective needs an adverb. Not every writer has got the message."

--The Associated Press Guide to News Writing pg 13

My mom always says to me, "Jessie, before you speak, think of what you want to say and then cut it in half."   *whispers* I think she's trying to tell me that I talk to much... I do have a point to this. Although a lot of chapter 2 was a review for me, it served as a fantastic refresher.
Even though I have some experience with news writing, I sometimes forget that short-and-to-the-point is essential with those types of stories. When it comes to writing creatively or perhaps, writing personal narratives, I stuff my papers with as many sensory details as possible. For stories like that, they really add to the story--but when it comes to journalism, it's pretty much the opposite. Although 500 words seems like a lot at first glance, when you fill it with "filler words," pretty soon you could be looking at a pretty pathetic news article. That's why these rules are so important. It's just so much to remember, and sometimes it's really REALLY REALLY difficult to eliminate wordiness. I guess it just comes with practice.

Anecdotes save the day!

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When Waters, who graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1967, opened the restaurant in 1971, full of ideas and dreams from her time spent studying in London and traveling in France, she said she didn't have the same commitment to sustainable products that she does now, instead focusing just on serving French-inspired "delicious food." She even grimaced when asked about the wooden panels made from redwood trees outlining Chez Panisse's second-floor walls, although she quickly added that the bottom floor was made from recycled lumber.

What I liked most about this profile was the fact that the author did not focus solely on what Walters has done recently in terms of organic food. Although Cox makes it very clear that Walters strives to make organic food more appealing for young people, he included a lot of, somewhat unnecessary information, such as anecdotes from old co-workers. Although I called them "unneccessary," what I really mean to say is that they actually add to the story very nicely. The create a nice break between all of the facts about Walters' life as a chef. 

I think my favorite part about this profile was the anecdotes featured in the story. "I looked at her and said, 'Alice, this is crazy. Then she said, 'as Elizabeth David said, 'good cooking is trouble'" Bertolli remembered, laughing. "She would ask me to do crazy things." That quote really helps the readers to better understand Walters not only as a cook, but also as a person as well. This aspect is very important, because it helps readers to remember that even celebrities are people too.

Having said that, I'm not sure I really like the lead of this profile. In fact, I have to admit that it threw me for a while--I had to reread half of the story after I read it the whole way through to understand why the ducks are significant. I know introducing the person being profiled is very important, but I just feel like describing a truck filled with nine-week-old ducks doesn't do the trick...

Presentation Reflection

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I could spend my time reflecting on each of my classmates' presentations, but I think that would be somewhat of a bore, so instead, I want to talk about the most interesting insight I noticed about my fellow New Media Journalism majors. Now, as everyone already knows, there are several students in our class who are not journalism majors, so it really wasn't a surprise to me when they said they didn't have a strong relationship with the news.

What threw me; however, was the fact that none of my journalism buddies were *huge* fans of the news either. Here I was getting ready to present my own story about my pathetic relationship with the news, and Lo and behold, Cody, Megan and Ashley said basically the same thing. I always thought, "wow, isn't it a little ironic that I'm majoring in journalism, but I hate reading about news." Apparently, I'm not the only one. Megan made a good observation during our group discussion. She said that although most of the headlines in newspapers are bad, "News keeps people aware."
Cody shared his appreciation for broadcast news by mentioning his first legitimate experience with news--9/11. He was glad there was a source to keep him informed. 

I think the one I felt I identified with most was Ashley. Although I have wanted to be a journalism major since high school, I had to agree with the science-turned-english major when she said that she doesn't find news interesting--she'd rather write for a magazine. I feel the same way. Like I said in my blog--I write news for The Setonian not because I enjoy writing it, but because I'm pretty good at writing it. So, to make a long story short, I do appreciate the value of news, and when I eventually enter the real journalism world, I'll probably end up writing news--then again, I'm pretty sure I'd write about anything just to get more experience.

You've only got 100 years to live

Like Jessica Orlowski, "On Turning Ten" brought back many memories for me from my childhood. I felt myself identifying with the speaker of the poem more than once, and at the end of the poem, I was almost overwhelmed with emotion, because it really puts things into persepective--time goes by far too quickly.

 "At four I was an Arabian wizard./ I could make myself invisible/ by drinking a glass of milk a certain way./ At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince." (lines 13-16). When I was a child, I remember always having an active imagination. I remember playing make-believe with my cousin every summer until we were probably around the same age as the speaker. For us, the stairs which lead from my living room to our bedrooms upstairs could be a mountain nearly impossible to climb, or a cliff from which one or both of us was doomed to fall to our deaths. We could spend hours just making up stories together, and then one day--boom--it was all gone. 

They always say that children lose a little bit of their creativity the older they grow, and this poem is a great example of that. "It seems only yesterday I used to believe/ there was nothing under my skin but light./ If you cut me I would shine./ But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,/ I skin my knees. I bleed" (lines 28-32). This passage of the poem acts as a great metaphor. It makes me think of that cheesy saying "I wish I could go back to being a little kid again. Skinned knees are so much easier to mend than broken hearts." However, after reading this section of the poem, I realize that the speaker does not mean that he always literally bleeds--it just means that as he grows older and begins to understand his surroundings better, he will start to feel emotional pain--he will no longer be above destruction. 

On the whole, I think this poem spoke to me stronger than the other poems, simply because of where I am in my life right now. I'm gonna be 20 years old in about six months, and it terrifies me. Come to think of it, I still remember my 4th grade teacher saying to us on one of the first days of school to enjoy our year, because from then on, time was going to fly by--and she was right. That was the year I turned 10, and I honestly feel like the past 9 and a half years have just zoomed past me. They always say to enjoy it while you can, but it seems like we can't even appreciate that saying until we're older. This poem really hit home for me, because I already feel like time is moving too quickly for me. I still wake up almost every day and think to myself, "wow, I'm not a college freshman anymore. I feel...old."

Ex 1: The News and I

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My relationship with the news is a strange one. As a reporter for the Setonian, I almost always write news stories, not because I enjoy writing news articles, but rather, because I am good at writing them. I don't mean to sound arrogant--I only mean that I learned the basic news writing skills my junior year of high school, and when I became the copy editor during my senior year, the Associated Press Stylebook became my best friend by default.

Even though I play an active role in the creation of the Setionian by writing articles and sometimes copy editing them, I am almost ashamed to say that I rarely pick up the daily paper. I prefer magazines to newspapers (which is fortunate for me in a way, because newspapers are slowly dying out).

I have a love-hate relationship with tv news. I never watch the evening news, because it usually makes me sad--the only tv news shows I actually enjoy are on Comedy Central, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, and usually those are minimally informative.

I can't say that the news isn't part of my daily life. At home, my parents watch MSNBC every night, so it usually serves as background noise while I work on my homework. If something catches my ear, I'll stop what I'm doing to watch a segment of the news, but for the most part, I get the majority of my news from my mom, who reads a lot of internet news articles after she comes home from work. If there is something going on in the world of news that I find interesting, I'm more likely to jump on my laptop and google it than I am to watch broadcasters discuss it on tv.

My relationship with news is kind of a rocky one. It has its ups and downs. During the 2008 election, I watched the news every night with my parents--mostly because I wanted to be an informed college student, and also because I was ecstatic to vote in my first Presidential election. However, even the news about the upcoming election got old for me after a while. I just lost interest in it.

After analyzing my relationship with news, I have deduced that I barely have a relationship with it at all despite my desire to work in the field of reporting news. It's almost ironic that a journalism major has such little interest in news. But, at the same time, I feel like this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Just because I do not enjoy reading or writing the news does not mean I do not value it. And, I honestly believe that news writing is an essential skill that today's journalists cannot live without. Perhaps, as I grow older and more informed, I'll find a new appreciation for the news, but for now, I'll just settle with my limited relationship.

"Mrs. Byrne" "Mother" Brian, make up your mind...


..."she wouldn't be soft on anybody," recalled Brian Byrne, a son. "They would get whacked by Mrs. Byrne, too..."

Brian said that if he or any of the other kids got into trouble at parochial school and got thrashed by the nuns, "mother would give me another beating for making the nuns upset."

--Clark and Scanlan, pg 70-71

Okay, this may just be a personal style issue, but did any one else notice that these two quotes were provided by the same person--Marie Byrne's son--and in the two quotes, he uses a different name for his mother? At first mention, he calls her "Mrs. Byrne"?? Why? As I was reading this obit, this practically jumped off the page at me. I had to reread the paragraph, because I thought that maybe Brian wasn't her son, but just one of the many runaways she took in over the years, but that's not the case, unless he's Marie's good friend "Uncle Mary"'s son, since they both had the same last name. This really confused me.

At first I thought that maybe it was just his way of showing extra respect for her--or maybe it was an enforcer for just how strict she was. But I can't see very many people forcing their children to address them as Mr. or Mrs. So-and-so.

Later in the story, Brian refers to her as "mother." I just don't get it. I know this isn't a "news" article, but you'd think the author of this obit would have given parallelism a thought. The book even points other examples of good parallelism. But hey, maybe this is just me being to criticizing. I have that tendency from my days as a copy editor for my high school paper. It's not like the author couldn't have put "[mother]" or [mom] instead of "Mrs. Byrne."

Then I thought that maybe the son and his mother had a falling out of sorts, but later in the story, he seems to speak of her fondly, even if she was beating him for upsetting the nuns. For me, this lack of congruency totally ruined the story for me...

I dunno, maybe it's just me, but for some reason, that REALLY irked me...

For more thoughts, Click Here.

Fiction = TrueLife? Roberts, CH 3

Characters in fiction should be true to life...This is the standard of verisimilitude, probablility, or plausibility.

--Roberts, pg 69

I feel like I have to contradict this statement made by Roberts. I'm not saying that he's entirely wrong here--I just think he's forgetting about the gray area. And let's face it...with literature, there is always a gray area.
Probability. Now there's a word to be consider. It's all about what a character *should* do--what a  human *would* do. But sometimes, authors decide to throw the good 'ole curve ball and make their characters do something completely off the wall. It makes things interesting. Think about it. If characters *always* did what we expected, where would the fun in that be? It's like playing The Sims...sometimes they just act exactly like humans. They go to the bathroom, they eat, they sleep, they procreate--anyway, the point is, every once in a while, something bizarre will happen--they'll have an alien baby or something, and suddenly, your interest is sparked again! The same applies with characters in literary works. Those moments when the characters break through the molding are the parts that mean the most. They keep readers interested. So what if the cactus doesn't act like a's not a human after all, is it? And let's just keep this in mind...if characters in Fiction always acted like people in True Life, wouldn't we be able to classify them as characters of Non-fiction? Just saying...Roberts needs to stop being so black and white.

As for the rest of the chapter, it was a lot of review--again. Round and flat characters, dynamic and static. Having said that, I thought the essay section of this chapter was exceptionally helpful compared to the previous ones.

Personality Profile or Program Profile?

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At Delancey Street, about 500 residents work from 8 a.m. to about 11 p.m. at a full-time job among other interpersonal tasks.

"Everyone starts at the bottom, and you work your way up," Pinderhughes said. "Through hard work, you are rewarded not only externally by being able to rise in the program and do more, but by feeling confident in your abilities."

Delancey Street is a non-profit organization, meaning nobody, including Silbert, pockets a dime.

After carefully reading this article, I have come up with several conclusions.
  • Mimi Silbert deserves the key to her city for all of her amazing work with the underprivelaged
  • Everyone who is a part of Delancey Street speaks highly of Silbert
  • One could easily argue the point that this profile article is more about Delancey Street than it is about its director
Let's focus on my third point, shall we?
Although the article provides several quotes about how important Silbert is to society, I can't help but feel like the direction taken with this article was focused more on the program itself rather than Silbert. Now, before I go further, please don't think that I'm saying that its a bad thing--because it's really not. I just think the title is a little misleading. I understand that without the program, there would probably be no reason to write the profile in the first place, but there is virtually no personal information about Silbert. We get her age, when she created the program, and what several of her followers/collegues think of her. The rest of the article is dedicated to explaining the program in detail, while including quotes from people who have benefited from the program. So let me ask this this a personality profile--or is it a program profile?

Newsworthiness Round 2

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Like the inverted pyramid, Dr. Jerz's Newsworthiness is a review for me...times two. Not only was I already well versed in "newsworthiness" due to my past experiences in my old Journalism classes in high school, I also listened to this podcast last semester in EL 200 Media lab. So, instead of rewriting everything. I'm just gonna post a link to that blog entry: Newsworthiness

This is not my first interaction with the inverted pyramid, nor is it my first interaction with the differences between an English essay and a News story. In fact, I've even seen this chart before, in my EL200 course last semester. I've even blogged about it already--but I'm still going to write a new blog, because that's what I do...I write.

Clear writing packs power.
--English Essay Vs. News Story

To me, the above quotation is one of the most important aspects of news writing. Passive voice--(the use of "of" "have been" and other dull things like that) kills great stories before they even have a chance. Who wants to read "the cat had been waiting for the mouse all day" when they could read "the cat waited for the mouse all day." In News writing, more than anywhere else, less really is more. The objective is to get as much out of your words as possible, because usually, you have a word limit, and as our trusty inverted pyramid shows, if your story runs too long, the end is going to get chopped. And let's face it, no matter how "unimportant" the end of your story might be, its still information that you seemed to feel was important to include in the essay in the first place. When I was the copy editor for my high school's paper, I spent more time rewriting articles to eliminate unnecessary words and statements than I did writing my own stories; however, I feel that all that editing really paid off, because yet again, the inverted pyramid and passive voice elimination are now so deeply engrained in my brain that I'm pretty sure I'll be avoiding the use of them (oops, there's an "of" bad...) for the rest of my career as a writer. Oh, and I'll NEVER use a comma before "and" or  "or" in a list again...some habits die hard.

Rules Are Meant to be Broken

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The line between news and feature writing has broken down...Ultimately, people want to read about people.
-Clark and Scanlan in America's Best Newspaper Writing pg. 165

Prior to this reading, I really never thought of how news and feature writing has changed in our modern era. Sure, we still have a separate section dedicated to features, but as demonstrated in Cynthia Gorney's Dr. Seuss: Wild Orchestrator of Plausible Nonsense for Kids, sometimes blending facts with funny and witty anecdotes makes all the difference with any piece in a newspaper. In the past, I've always said that Nellie Bly, the pioneer for investigative reporting has always been my idol when it comes to my aspirations as a journalist; however, after reading her piece on Seuss, I feel a certain gravitation towards Gorney. I think maybe it's just her style of writing that I'm so fond of. "And when you find a writer you love, you read everything you can get your hands on by that writer," Gorney said in this section of our textbook. I'm not saying that I'm going to go out and find EVERYTHING she's ever written, but I think it would be a learning experience to read some of her other pieces to see how her style differs with each piece. It appears that Gorney actually took a part of Seuss's style and wove it gently into her profile on Seuss. Her ability to blend Seuss facts and anecdotes is, I think, one of her strongest points as a writer. She is a perfect example of blending news with feature. While her article is both informative and insightful, it serves a purpose for all audiences, thus allowing readers to get a glimpse into the true man behind Dr. Seuss as well as the professional and successful author. I could only hope to write half as well as Gorney does in this piece. It, like Seuss, really is a work of art. This just goes to show that some rules (even journalism news/feature rules) are meant to be broken every once in a while in order to unleash creativity into a successful story.

To Kill a Canary...

[They look in the sewing basket.]

     MRS. HALE. Here's some red. I expect this has got sewing things in it. [Brings out a fancy box.] What a pretty box. Looks like something somebody would give you. Maybe her scissors are in here. [Opens box. Suddenly puts her hand to her nose.] Why--[MRS. PETERS bends nearer, then turns her face away.] There's something wrapped in this piece of silk.
     MRS. PETERS. Why, this isn't  her scissors.
     MRS. HALE. [Lifiting the silk.] Oh, Mrs. Peters--it's--
[MRS. PETERS bends closer.]

     MRS. PETERS. It's the bird.
     MRS. HALE.  [Jumping up.] But, Mrs. Peters--look at it! Its neck! Look at its neck! It's all--other side to.
     MRS. PETERS. Somebody--wrung--its--neck.

--"Trifles" by Susan Glaspell, pg 398-399 Writing About Literature

This passage of the play not only serves as the climax of the production. It also gives the audience a chance to really question Mrs. Wright's sanity.Up until this point, we follow the female characters, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters around the Wright household as they discuss Mrs. Wright's lifestyle, her husband, and most importantly, whether or not they think she murdered her husband. Although all evidence points to this conclusion, the audience does not experience any dramatic irony--that is, we do not know if she did commit the crime. All we have to go by are the witness's stories provided at the start of the play, along with the banter between the two women. 

Up until this part of the book, I wasn't entirely convinced that Mrs. Wright murdered her husband. Call me a skeptic--or perhaps I've watched one episode too many of Law & Order, but I just felt like something was missing. Clearly Mrs. Wright was not all there (sanity wise), but that didn't mean she killed her husband. I'm pretty sure that if I woke up with my husband lying strangled to death next to me, I'd go crazy too. So, I gave her the benefit of the doubt. However, once the dead bird was introduced into the story, my opinion slightly changed. Now I'm still not 100 percent sure that Mrs. Wright committed the crime, but at this point, I'm pretty sure that with the bird as evidence, she would be convicted for it regardless of her guilt. 

That being said, I thought it was more interesting to read more about the womens' reactions to seeing the dead bird--and to be quite honest, it really surprised me that both women were so eager to cover up the evidence and hide it from the men. Now the dramatic irony comes into play. Both the audience and the women know about the dead bird in the box underneath the clothing. I could feel the suspense rising as the County Attorney *almost* rifled through the garments. Would he have found the bird had he not been such a gentleman? I guess at this point we'll never know--the end will always be up to interpretation, something I really like about this play. What do you think?

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