September 2009 Archives

Tone And Quotes Can Sway A Reader

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Chapter 6-

On page 51 the text talks about not taking an amused tone to a story about "death, pain and suffering" (51). Reading the example made me think of something you would come across in a TMZ or other crazy celebrity news source. I think it would take a special breed of person to write about any of the above in a humorous or light tone.


Your tone is reflected by the words you choose and this section brings up another good point. Cappon says, "A shootout in which several are hurt or killed s more than an incident," incident being the key word because it suggests something on a smaller scale. I think of an incident as a small conflict of some kind, maybe a school fight or a fender bender.


Chapter 8-

A quote is such a complex thing in newswriting. A quote can do so much for an article from setting the tone to providing evidence. It's like the way quotations from a text are used to support a thesis in a paper. Newswriters use quotes to support a news story.


I think it would be difficult as a reporter to gather quotations for your story. You would have to fit the quotations into your story but it's not like you can expand on the meaning of the quote like in a paper. The quote is the quote and it is left open for readers to interpret. If you choose a bad quote it could sway the entire piece into sounding biased.   

Hitting Home

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The Golden Gate Park article certainly was an article that was applicable to a broad range of people. I don't live in San Francisco but closing parks because of a lack of funding is something that is going on right here. I live within 10 minutes of Linn Run State Park. Or I used to. It's on the list of the 35 state parks that may be closed due to lack of funds. Even though we live in a wooded area, Linn Run is a great place for a weekend getaway, an afternoon hike or a bike ride. It's important to locals as well as tourists.


The Golden Gate article reminded me of my own park plight. Which was part of why the article was assigned for us- "the reporter traveled to a specific location and reported on a specific event, not because the event itself was newsworthy, but because it created an opportunity to report on some event that has a much greater scope."


In this case, the reporter's words traveled from California to Pennsylvania.

Portfolio I

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It's time to assess what we've covered so far. I must say that although it is a lot of work, blogging allows for a bigger class, like our News class, to have more interaction with one another. There isn't enough  time to discuss readings or news events in class and it is nice to know that we have a place to appreciate one another's work and respond to one another's ideas.



Here's a list of my blog entries that aren't mentioned anywhere else-

Save It For Your English Papers

Pizzazz! But The Short And Sweet Kind

Ready Your Anecdotes

Breaking News Just In...Maybe...Well Not So Much....

Raw Emotion Means Lack of Respect

TV News Elicits Emotional Responses...Or Tries To

A Famous Person Has (fill in the blank)



Alice's Butcher Knife- I think this entry provides a good look at why we need to be aware of how we present sensitive topics.


MLA, APA, Chicago, AP Style...My Poor English Brain!- This was an important entry because the reading and class discussion established that newspapers follow the AP style guidelines. As an English-Lit major it was very helpful for me to go over the rules for a different style of writing. Many rules were ones I had never heardbefore.


Beware Of "Muddy" Points In Journalism- I liked this entry because it reminded me of something my Lit Crit class used to do, Muddy Point and Clear Point. Journalism is full of clear points. It has to be because every single letter counts when you are writing an article.


Rat Tail With Your Soup Sir?- This is a good entry because I didn't know much about "pitching" an idea. I also liked that the author said it's okay to fail at a pitch because it may be a good idea, just not for that newsday.



Bus Plunge Genre- This entry has the beginnings of a difference of opinion.


Greta's blog entry, Capturing the Soul in an Obituary, was a great entry and she brought personal experience into the entry and I wanted to leave my thoughts also.


I also tend to comment on Angela's blog entries. She makes her entries fun to read and I usually end up learning something else from them.



The following entries are my entries with the most comments:

Damn NATO And Their Earthquakes...

Quotes That Get Emotional

Alice's Butcher Knife

MLA, APA, Chicago, AP Style...My Poor English Brain!



My blog entries were timely. If I ran into a hitch, some may be posted on the day we have class instead of the day before.


 My class reflections (Reaction To Presentations) of the "News and I" presentations were posted the day after presentations.



I provided several links to outside sources or other blogs during this round of entries. For instance, in the Bus Plunge Genre entry I provided a link to a map of where Upazila was located because I had no idea and imagined many others wouldn't know either. I also linked back to the individual news stories.


Quotes That Get Emotional and

Beware Of "Muddy" Points In Journalism both link back to the class website or the article in reference.




What Will Our Legacy Be???- This entry was inspired by the VMA's and the "oops-twitters" of the ABC newscasters.  

Reality vs News- I want to point out my "What News Means to Me" video because I spent a lot of time on the project. It was the first video I ever made and I figured out how to convert youtube clips and needless to say Windows Movie Maker and I are great friends now!

Rat Tail With Your Soup Sir?

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The more I learn about the news business the happier I am that I am not in it! The actual pitching of an idea wouldn't be so bad. It would be the constant rejection. You might have a good idea, but not for that particular news day. Back to the drawing board you would walk, hanging your dejected little head.


Personal feelings aside, the pointers in the article are very helpful. The point about making a case for your pitch makes sense. You have to flush out ideas for the angle of that article. A little diner going out of business after a short time is boring. Unless someone found a rat tail in their soup. I liked that Grimm talked through the idea, giving us a guideline for how to expand the original idea.

Save It For Your English Papers

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Chapter four brings up a great point about why newswriters should avoid long sentences-remember who your audience is. Remember newspapers are approximately written on an 8th grade reading level. People aren't reading the news for scholastic advancement. Facts, details and events and what the readers want.


I think this chapter of Cappon will be a good reference spot to flip open to if you are stuck figuring out what to include in a story. By cutting sentences and trying to make them as concise as possible you will automatically eliminate fluff.

Pizzazz! But The Short And Sweet Kind

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I find it particularly difficult to begin any piece of writing. And newswriting may be the most difficult because of all the pizzazz you have to put into your first sentence. There is no time for a funny anecdote that relates to the central theme of the article-it's a straight up exclamation of, "You must read me!"


Writing visually seems like a win/win situation. It grabs the attention of the reader and you can do it in a few brief lines. When you begin a story it is important to unfold the details. By giving the reader a little bit of a glimpse of what's to come with every next word, you're hooking them. I enjoyed the example in the Cappon text about Bill the fireman who doesn't mind ladies ogling his naked form but is violated if a man wants to ogle. The sentence lays a visual foundation word by word and you wonder where the story is going until you get to the part about Bill and his 2mil objection to a man's ogling. Fantastic lead, and I would defiantly like to try a "show don't tell" lead.

Bus Plunge Genre

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First of all the Nepal Bus Plunge was caused by the driver speeding. The Upazila (which is located here by the way) Bus Plunge's cause is unknown, citing only that the bus broke the railing on the bridge it was crossing and skidded into a canal. One can infer that the driver was probably not doing anything wrong... therefore the Bus Plunge would be un-newsworthy. So the focus chose to be on the actual accident. The focus of the Nepal story was on the amount of people killed and the fact that 11 people were still missing.


Also the Nepal bus actually did plunge. The Upazila bus only skidded. Big difference in the newsworthiness of the items! Also because one bus plunged, there were deaths. The skidding bus caused only injuries.


The Bus Plunge story is a really interesting "genre" of newswriting. I did not realize how popular it was to throw in a story like this into any newspaper/news site across the world. 10 bus plunge stories in less than a month-wow!

What Will Our Legacy Be???

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This "news" story was on my igoogle homepage and I wanted to share it with everyone. It is an excellent example of the impact of social networking sites on our culture. And I think we are approaching a point where we must say, "Enough is enough."


Celebrities boo-hoo because of the paparazzi but they have twitter accounts. Online news writers scramble to get the scoop but they have incorrect information and it ends up snowballing into many news sources with incorrect information. What happened to research and checking facts? What happened to the written word?


I like Facebook as much as the next person but what is next for our culture? Do we really want our legacy to be the conversion of the English language into "text speak" and the development of social networking sites to the extent that one doesn't even leave the house? Face to face contact isn't necessary because I have 1,867 FB friends. And why do I need to have my own life when I can live vicariously through celebs and other public figures by stalking them (which thanks to Twitter is REAL easy)?


We, as a culture, are worth more.  


MLA, APA, Chicago, AP Style...My Poor English Brain!

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I think Dr. Jerz did a good job explaining these tips during class. This is also something I will print out and keep with me.


Most of the tips I had heard or was aware of like the standard date and the abbreviations of the lengthier months. I knew the acronym rule and that applies to writing across the board. I also knew the "capitalize only proper nouns" rule as well as the "no conclusion" rule. However, I find it incredibly difficult not to have a conclusion-I'm too "English-lit" for that!


I did not know that "Dr." wasn't used when talking about professors in an article. Personally I think it's mean since they worked long and hard to earn that title, but newspaper writing is unlike any other writing. And now I have to have an MLA brain and an Associated Press Style brain!

Damn NATO And Their Earthquakes...

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"Some writers are so addicted to using qualifiers-or so insecure- that they guard their flanks with such words even when the flanks need no guarding" (Cappon 15).


I actually enjoyed these two chapters, especially Chapter Two because it provided a lot of examples of what not to write vs. what to write. The above quote talks about "Qualifiers," a term I wasn't very familiar with. After reading the section I realized I knew exactly what they were, just not what they were called.  


This section even made me chuckle. One example of an unneeded qualifier was, "a presumably unrelated earthquake..." to which Cappon responds, 'Presumably'? Could NATO have arranged that quake?"


So it makes sense to have some confidence in your writing to avoid mistakes like the above. But to also know when you absolutely need a qualifier in order to avoid a lawsuit!

Alice's Butcher Knife

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John W. Cox made certain that I would have no trouble imagining what Alice Walter and her restaurant look like but because the profile is so descriptive, Cox ensured I also would have no trouble picturing Alice with a gleaming red butcher's knife standing over a pile of severed baby duck heads. Walker's intentions are in the right place but my goodness leave out the description of the baby ducks! Small animals often steal the show and this is no exception.


"Fresh fruits, vegetables and meats organically cultivated by local growers" would have been a more suitable way to describe the ducks. By not mentioning the type of meat a reader tends to get the picture of "organic food" without the gruesome afterthought.


I am not much of a meat eater so I did have a negative reaction to this profile because of the one line. However, the profile does deserve recognition for its detail and good quotations.

Reaction To Presentations

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Group 1

I enjoyed learning how my peers viewed the news and I enjoyed listening to the different approaches we took on educating one another about our views.


One commonality between the students was getting news from the radio, which surprised me a bit. While radio news, to me, is better than TV news, it is still quite biased. But it is an easy and enjoyable way for Aja to listen to The Kane Show from her home state, Maryland. Andrew also listens to the radio news and he listens to NPR. Andrew says it is a good, unbiased news source.  I would like to explore NPR Morning Addition based on his recommendation that it has in-depth, unbiased coverage.


I also want to note the students in my group who took really excellent creative approaches to presenting their take on the news. Greta and Malcolm recited poems. Malcolm's take on the news was interesting because he is from New York and he said they are constantly saturated by negative news. I really enjoyed Dianna's comic strips and thought she did a good job of making "light" of the news. Jeanine's newsletter was well done and I could tell she put time and effort into her presentation.


This was definitely an excellent way to familiarize ourselves with our peers and our relations to the news. And I really enjoyed doing it outside!!

Reality vs News

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Michelle and the News:

As an FYI the video claims to be 6 mins long but it's actually right around 2 mins. The fact check is the last screen.

Ready Your Anecdotes

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I thought this example of an obituary was over-the-top. Granted Marie did a few extraordinary things in her life but for the most part was an average person. Most newspapers have a standard format and insert bits and pieces. No one does any reporting because the funeral director gives you a handout to add what you would like to the obituary. And most families aren't prepared to provide clever quips or anecdotes when a loved one dies.  


However, I did like that the article pointed out ways to tie sentences or ideas together, like when the author wrote "red suit" and "red faces." It's a simple way to create a sense of connectedness in writing and it's applicable to all writing, not just obituaries.


Quotes That Get Emotional

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"She's probably the most incredible person on Earth quite frankly," Mansfield said. "There's no reason in the world for her to do what she's doing. She's not getting paid at all. It's just so people like I can have a chance."

How can this quote NOT influence you to believe Mimi is a wonderful person? Stockton chose good quotes like above that elicit emotion and inserted them throughout her article. This was obviously a profile on someone who is a contributing member of society who has an impact on a lot of lives.

Beware Of "Muddy" Points In Journalism

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Since I was an editor for the school newspaper in high school I have experience with writing news articles. And there are A LOT of differences between an essay and an article and this chart provides a wonderful reference point.

Short and sweet always seemed like the golden rule to writing a good article. Short, informative and concise sentences are what news writers strive for. There can be no "muddy" points in an article because you don't have time or room to clarify what you are trying to say.

Recent Comments

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Angela Palumbo on Preachy Morons: Michelle, this is a wonderful
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Angela Palumbo on Tone And Quotes Can Sway A Reader: I loved how you used TMZ as an
Richelle Dodaro on Tone And Quotes Can Sway A Reader: You definitely make an interes
Wendy Scott on Tone And Quotes Can Sway A Reader: I agree with you Michelle! I t
April Minerd on Hitting Home: Excellent example, Michelle. S