September 2009 Archives

Something Different

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I thought the first article was interesting because it was about a park and nature, too, which I feel like I don't read about too often. It was also interesting to read that there may be a fee to go to a park. That does come off as a little ridiculous at first, but the more I thought about it, maybe it's not such a bad thing. Overall, you would be supporting the people who keep the park together and the park itself, which ultimately is supporting the well-being of the outdoors and outdoor activity, which we could use more of I'm sure. At the beginning of this article, I kind of felt like I was reading fiction or something. And I also noticed something that I wasn't sure of: "'They want to continue some of their programs, so they’re actually coming back as volunteers,' Recreation Programming and Support specialist Marianne Kjobmand said." I saw that the writer capitalized "supporter" so shouldn't specialist be capitalized too? I just wasn't sure about that.

As for the second article, I liked the lead. It was different, and it pulled me in as a reader. I also thought the subject was interesting and something new as well. Something I really liked, but am not sure if it should be cut because it seems like it's not needed, is when the writer wrote, "There was just one problem." I like the suspense it holds, but at the same time, it seems like it doesn't really need to be there.

Crime = repetition

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"Police said he had a dark bandana covering a portion of his face, police said." This quote is from the first sample crime story and "police said" is clearly stated twice within the same sentence. And this was published like this? I would say this is going against AP style, but as we were informed last class, the Post-Gazette doesn't strictly go by AP style. I think, though, that regardless if you're going by AP style or not, one should not repeat something like this because it is confusing to the reader. I had to read it twice because I thought maybe I just read it wrong. I knew something didn't sound right. Besides this, the actual content of the story was interesting and stood out since the victim fought back and actually didn't get robbed.

As for the second crime story, I thought the lead was well written and grabbed the readers' attention: "Three family members charged last month with kidnapping and enslaving a 17-year-old-runaway in Jeannette have reached a tentative plea agreement that includes jail time." It starts out with the subject and the active verb "charged." This sentence could be turned around and worded several different ways, but this definitely is the most effective way. However, the story's 13th paragraph (for some reason I am unable to copy and paste it) also repeated itself saying "police said." In this case, it was not in the same sentence, but repeated in the sentence directly after it. The second sentence should have said, "police continued" or something. 

A Learning Experience for the Reader, the Possible Victim

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It was interesting to read these crime reporting tips because it mentioned that one of the reasons readers like to read about crime is because they can know why a law was broken, or how, and how this crime can be prevented. This interested me because it shows that not all readers read crime stories for entertainment, but to keep a hold of their own safety, and to be knowledgable about certain laws that have been covered in crime stories. All news is a learning experience to some extent, but I think that difference with crime stories is that readers are learning for their own benefit; it could affect them personally. For example, if one is reading about a murder in their small town, then they learn that their town isn't so safe as it's said to be, and will cause them to be more cautious and alert. Readers aren't just learning about what's going on, but learning how to prevent certain crimes and how they happen, ultimately connecting to them personally.

I liked how this reading emphasized the importance of the victims. Sometimes, I feel like the victims aren't given as much "attention" (I know that's not the best word) as the actual law breakers are. That angers me because the thiefs, murderers, rapists, etc. shouldn't be given any more attention than just simply letting the readers know who this person is and what they did. It bothers me when reporters go into a long story about law breakers sometimes. The victim's experience and thoughts should be involved more since readers can, most of the time, relate better with the victims. I do understand, though, that it is important for those who committed the crimes to be featured since that is how the crime story even came about.  


"Much of the news is repetitive: war, crime, disaster. The goal, both in the lead and in the rest of the story, is to stress those angles that are least like the routine of other stories in this class" (Cappon, 27).

This has always been my outlook on news: that it is all the same, just different days and years and people. Maybe this is so because I haven't read good news writing, or I just haven't taken the time to really read it. I think both are the case. Anyway, my goal in this news writing course has been and is to take these typical news stories and make them my own, make them distinguishable. That's why this quote stuck out to me so much. I see news as the same things repeating themselves (which is one of the reasons I didn't understand why a "bus plunge" story would be a filler) in a sense, and I want to take stories and make them different, which this chapter is encouraging.

I'm not trying to say that every news story is the same and that there aren't some that are extraordinary and truly unforgettable; because that has happened. This may seem redundant but its details, the people, the circumstances is what makes it so different. And sometimes the event itself doesn't even make it unforgettable; how the story is presented can also make the story become memorable and unique.  

News Writing with Richelle

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I have learned alot from Dr. Jerz's Newswriting course because I used to think I already knew how to write news articles and that it didn't really involve any real technique. I was definitely proven wrong. I wrote for my high school newspaper, so I came into the class thinking, "I've done this before." I know now that I actually had not done this before. I have learned to make sure to use active verbs, and that a good lead usually starts off with the main subject and verb. It's also been helpful when we are given a word limit because in the real news writing world, I could be given a story to cover and be told I will only have a quarter of a page. The most important thing I think I have gotten out of this class so far is that I actually am starting to enjoy news writing, and I have also seen how news writing can sometimes tie in with essay writing. This connection is helpful because I am an English-creative writing major so I am constantly writing academically.

Coverage- these are all of my blogs I covered. (The first ten are included on the specific sections of the course website because I was unable to use the Seton Hill blog website at those points.)

Comparing Clark and Scanlon's newswriting tips vs. Tribune Review - This was my first blog for the class. We had to read pages 287-294 of Clark and Scanlon's book America's Best Newspaper Writing, as well as the cover page of the August 25, 2009 issue of the Tribune Review. The assignment was to study the format of the cover page and choose a story to compare to what Clark and Scanlon said in these assigned pages.

TV News - For this blog, I wrote about WTAE's 30 minute news coverage. I talked about how much of the program was actual news and how the news was presented. I also compared WTAE's reporter job description with that of what a journalist's characteristics include.

Famous Person Dying = News - I wrote about a comic strip that showed news reporters coming up with a story and how this comic reflects actual news.

Ew, Onions - I wrote about the Onion, a fake TV news station, and its story on Haiti. I watched the video and commented on my reactions, which involved me at first not being able to believe this was an actual news broadcast; I had never heard of the Onion before.

What TV News Doesn't Want Us to Know - For this blog, I read two of Byron's articles, and then chose another one to read on my own. The first article was saying that the news is ratings driven, and the second article discussed TV news reporters being actors, not journalists. The article I chose to read independently was saying that local stations don't really cover the news. 

Newswriting as a Guide for my English writing - For this blog, we compared the similarities and differences between news writing and essay writing. I talked about how these comparisons were helpful for me.

Dr. Seuss - We read pages 164-174 of Clark and Scanlon's book, which featured an article on Dr. Seuss. My blog discusses the reporter's writing.

Sample Profile - I blogged about a profile we read. I talked about how I liked the quotes and the style of writing. 

My Relationship with the News - For this first exercise, I discussed how I have connected with the news and described my relationship with the news.

Obituary - For this blog, we read pages 70-72 of Clark and Scanlon's book, which featured an obituary. I blogged about how this was helpful to read and on how the reporter presented this person.

Poor Baby Ducks - We read a second profile and I blogged about how the opening lines of the profile were about baby ducks that ultimately would be used for the quality food of the woman's restaurant.

Newswriting Tips Help with Essay Writing - I blogged about our reading on Chapter 1 and 2 of Cappon's The Associated Press Guide to News Writing.

Newwswriting as Practice for Academic and Literary Writing - I blogged on our reading of Clark and Scanlon's book, pages 294-302.

Surprising But Helpful - For this blog, I read about some rules for copy editing, and corrected bad examples of news writing.

Why A Filler? - I blogged about why I don't think "bus plunge" stories should be used as fillers, and that they are real, actual news regardless of how many times they occur.

Peru vs. Kathmandu - I compared two bus plunge stories: one occurring in Peru, and the other in Kathmandu.

Depth - these are blogs in which I wrote in depth, and really provoked questions and answers for myself.

TV News

Surprising but Helpful

Why a Filler?

Ew, Onions


Lettuce is to Lunch What a "Bus Plunge" Story is to Journalism: A Filler - I commented on Jeanine's blog about the bus plunge story.

Here ducky, ducky, ducky. I'm going to kill you. - This is Angela's blog on the second sample profile on the quality restaurant food on which I commented.

When writing, SHOW don't just TELL - I commented on Derek's blog on Cappon, Chapters 1 and 2. And for some reason, the link isn't pasting to his title. So, here is the link to his blog: 


Poor Baby Ducks

Newswriting Tips Help with Essay Writing

Why a Filler?

Peru vs. Kathmandu

Timeliness - I was always pretty much on time with my blogs, but these are ones I would say I was a little more early with.

Ew, Onions

Dr. Seuss

Poor Baby Ducks

Why a Filler?


Here ducky, ducky, ducky. I'm going to kill you.

Is This Alright?

Lettuce is to Lunch What a "Bus Plunge" Story is to Journalism: A Filler


TV News - this blog is one of my blogs that are on the course web page because at that point, I was not able to use the Seton Hill blog website yet.



A Diner Closing Down Isn't Enough

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It was helpful to learn how to distinguish between a topic and a story from Joe Grimm's "Pitching a Story" article. I never thought of a topic being the main focus in news writing. I always just saw them as stories. But, I guess writers could write about topics. But, I think the main thing Grimm was saying is that we can write about topics in our news writing, but we must add to them to make them interesting; to make them actual news, and to enable the particular topic to stand apart from others. For example, there was an article in the August 25, 2009 issue of Tribune Review in which text messaging was discussed. Text messaging is a hot topic going around right now, but the writer made it a story by including names and real scenarios. The article did not simply just discuss text messaging in general and what it does to some teens, such as cause them to stay up late or have poor spelling. I think this is what Grimm is saying, and if it is, then I completely agree with him. A news article should not be a general topic, but a story with facts and quotes, as we are learning about in Dr. Jerz's News Writing course.

Peru vs. Kathmandu

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I read the bus plunge stories that occured in Kathmandu just this year, and the one that happened in Peru. I remember reading the section on Dr. Jerz's blog where it mentioned how bus plunge stories made better fillers when the location's name was short. While reading the story from Peru, I noticed how short the story was. This definitely was a filler because of it being in Peru and it was about maybe 150 words or so, maybe less. The story from Kathmandu was a little longer, and seemed more like a news story. The one similarity I noticed was that both involved around 20 deaths.

Why a filler?

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I think that it is kind of unethical to use a "bus plunge" story as a filler, even if they had little or no technology. This accident is a tragedy however you look at it. I don't understand why it would be considered a filler anyway. If a bus does plunge over something, shouldn't it be considered a actual news story? I don't think it matters if it's happened so many times because don't robberies and murders occur all the time too? These make the news and I haven't heard of them being used as fillers. Maybe I'm missing something, but I really don't find anything humorous about bus plunge stories.

Pedestrian injured at Elizabeth Mount College

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Elizabeth Mount College (EMC) - A car accident injured pedestrian Sharon Pierce at 8:25 a.m. on Sept. 14, 2009. Karl Kloushammer, employee of Cairo Transport, drove a 2004 Ford taurus and negotiated a turn on the east end of the Alumni Hall Gallery.

Sharon Pierce, a fourth year undergraduate and resident of Collins Hall, exited Collins Hall and was "struck 15 feet north of the crosswalk," said security chief Robert Chase.

"The ambulance was called, and the pedestrian was treated on the sight," Chase also said.

Chase observed Kloushammer as being in distress and when he got out of his car to check on the Ms. Pierce, a package from his car was taken.

Officer Chase "spotted a man in an EMC hoodie on and running south along College Drive." This man looked to be about 6 feet, 200 lbs, and his skin coloration and facial features were unseen. He did not respond to verbal orders to stop, so a "foot pursuit followed." 

Kloushammer said he just picked up his package from the Chemistry Department . The package contained research materials "promised to the Pennsylvania State Musuem of Antiquities," Chase said.

Officers advised Kloushammer to keep valuables in his trunk and told Pierce to use the crosswalk.

Surprising but helpful

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What I thought was most surprising and helpful was the section on how to include dates. I've seen that a lot of my peers feel the same way. I'm not sure I understand why some months need to be abbreviated and others do not depending on whether the date is included or it's just the month being mentioned. But, it was helpful to read this because this information will be useful for my future news writing. I also never knew that you should not include "Dr." when referring to a professor. That seems like that would be a part of their title, and something that should be included since it shows they have gone through a lot of schooling and hard work. Basically, it is something to be proud of so that was surprising to hear/read. I used to be confused as to whether you should use "says" or "said." I understand why "said" is correct, and am glad that I finally have that clarified.

As for what was wrong the examples, here are my answers:

Assistant news editor Anne O'Nymous read the article.

"I really appreciate her work ethic and problem-solving ability," Jameson said.

Spunky Inkworthy wrote for The Setonian this year, and obituaries news editor Lazarus O'Mortigan complimented Spunky's contributions.

Head librarian Marian Paroo discussed Inkworthy's contributions over the phone.

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

(Although you should never include someone saying "here is a quote," because that is redundant and doesn't show anything.)

Newswriting as Practice for Academic and Literary Writing

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From this reading, I gained new insights as to how news writing and academic or literary writing can be so closely intertwined. This idea came to me because of two of the listed characteristics of the language of journalism: that it is concrete and specific, and that it is active. These characteristics reminded me of what I learned in my Writing of Fiction class last year with Dr. Arnzen. In Fiction, a writer should be concrete, as should the characters be as well as dynamic. The same goes for essay writing because I also learned about the strong importance of specificity and concrete details in my Writing about Literature and American Literature course with Dr. Patterson. The difference, I believe, is that in news writing, the reporter should also be concise and must follow a stricter word limit.

Another reason I thought about the connection between news writing and essay writing is because Clark and Scanlon mentioned fiction writers such as George Orwell, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and John Steinbeck. It made me feel like they were trying to show this connection to readers by including ideas and quotes from these fine writers.

Newswriting tips help with essay writing

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"Often, slight rewording produces dramatic results" (7). I find this to be one of my problems in writing: I sometimes get too wordy, and use words that don't convey the meaning. Through the revision process, I am able to work on and fix this, but I would like it if at my first attempt this problem wasn't as prevalent. I completely agree with this statement though because many of the examples of "poor wording" didn't convey half of the meaning or significance that the revised sentence did.

Poor baby ducks

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The way the writer described the baby duck at the beginning made me feel so bad for it when you realize that that's just to show the reader they use pure, organic meat as well. I'm glad that there are restaurants out there that care about what goes into it's customers' bodies, but the opening lines about the ducks just made me feel like I wasn't going to be reading about the quality of restaurant food. It definitely got me interested in the article, so I would say it was a good lead. It's also good to know restaurants like hers are beginning to really care about the quality of their food not only for their sake, but for the customers' sake as well. 

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