Monthly Archives: August 2018

Monday, 20 Aug 2018


Readings Schedule

The first week’s assignments are posted here and in Canvas.

By the end of the week, I will start fleshing out the reading schedule for the rest of the term.

Wednesday, 22 Aug 2018


You’re Not Going to Believe What I’m About to Tell You

Read “You’re Not Going to Believe What I’m about to Tell You.”

We’ll discuss the reading in class; however, I’m asking you to post your initial response on your SHU weblog.

After you have completed the WordPress setup assignment, you should be able to click the “Blog Me” button on this page. The process is described in the video.

If you get stuck, don’t panic — just write down your response in a separate document, and during class I’ll make sure you can post on your SHU blog.


What is Newsworthy?

“What is Newsworthy?” (9-minute audio)

If you have not heard this podcast before:

Include the URL of a current news story, and use it as an example to demonstrate your understanding of newsworthiness.

If you have listened to this podcast for another class:

You are welcome to listen to it again to refresh your memory; but instead of responding to it again, I’m asking that you choose two different events — one that you feel is prominent in the media, but is NOT a newsworthy story; and one that you feel is not prominent in the media, but IS a newsworthy story. Link to your examples, and demonstrate your understanding of newsworthiness.


When People Laughed At The Idea Of Donald Trump Actually Being Elected President! [Compilation]

To make sure you can hear this video, I’m asking you to watch (and listen to) on your own. As I mentioned in class, my point in sharing this video with you is to provide some context for President Trump’s position on what he calls “the FAKE NEWS media.”

Good journalism is supposed to approach the facts neutrally, without taking sides.

Your opinion on the president’s politics is not relevant to your work in this class, just as my opinion of the president’s politics should not matter to you as a journalism student. I am not banning you from sharing your political affiliations and beliefs during class. We’ll have plenty of opportunities to discuss what all this means.

For now, I am interested in your responses to this video. Read More »


Conflict of Interest (Class Activity)

You can [get intimate with] an elephant if you want to, but if you do you can’t cover the circus. — The (Abe) Rosenthal Rule

A conflict of interest arises when someone who is expected to act impartially has a personal stake in an issue (emotional, financial, etc.). In every case, a conflict of interest is a real problem — even if nobody misbehaves.

Conflict of Interest: How Journalists Avoid It

Friday, 24 Aug 2018


The CRAFT of News Writing

If I have taught you journalism before, you have probably already seen this video. You’re welcome to watch it again; however, instead of responding directly to it, please tell me 2 or 3 things you’d like to learn more about during this News Writing course.

If you haven’t already seen this video, watch it, and respond to the 2 or 3 things that you found most interesting.

Respond either by

  1. leaving a comment this page, or
  2. if you already have a SHU WordPress blog, use the “Login/Blog Me” button.

Watch a Half Hour of Local TV News

I realize that your generation doesn’t watch TV nearly as much as your parents; nevertheless, much of the popular understanding of journalism comes from our experience with television.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of TV as a medium for delivering the news?

I sometimes hear people say “I don’t have time to read the paper. I watch the news on TV instead.”

  • During a 30-minute local news program, how much time is actually taken up by the news?
  • Why doesn’t the local news program start with the 5-day forecast and the sports scores?

Monitor a half hour of a local news; keep a log of what, exactly, is happening every 15 or 30 seconds.

You might pick a local TV news broadcast, or listen to a half hour of programming on a local radio station that brands itself as “news.”

For this assignment I am not asking you to choose an internet or streaming service; I am asking for a local broadcast (originating in the Pittsburgh area; or, if you choose, a local broadcast from your hometown — wherever that is).

  • Note that local TV and radio stations also broadcast national shows, typically produced in Washington, that air across the country; I’m not asking you to choose one of those shows.
  • Talk shows that feature celebrity guests and ordinary people with interesting stories, and shows that feature panels of experts or random callers debating recent events are certainly part of how we inform and entertain ourselves, but they are not what I’m talking about for this exercise.

I would prefer that you tune into a live broadcast, but WTAE-TV offers a link to live-streaming the local TV news to play on your computer. The link should show you live broadcasts (when I last checked, it was weekdays at 4:30am, 6am, 12pm, 5pm, 6pm and 11pm). If you visit when a live show is not airing, you’ll see a recording of the most recent broadcast.

Plan to monitor a full half hour program.

  • Plan to keep a log. It is not easy to pay attention to a live broadcast and also update a log. You may wish to record the audio (so that you can go back and check the times).
  • Plan to review the content of the newscast. (You might simply use your phone to record the audio while you are watching, but however you can revisit and consult the content of the broadcast is fine with me.)

The log for a TV news program might go something like this:

:00 Opening theme music.
:05 Anchor: Fire on 66 (coming up).
:15 Politics, Steelers, and fashion (coming up)
:30 Reporter: Live from fire on 66
1:00 Citizen daschcam footage shows 66 crash
1:30 Witness interview 66 crash
2:00 Anchor thanks reporter.
2:15 Anchor and weather guy chat.
2:30 Weather guy: “Coming up, we’ll let you know whether you’ll need that umbrella.”
3:00 Lawyer commercial
3:30 Optometrist commercial

[And so forth, for the full half hour.]

When you are finished, tally up the amount of time the news broadcast actually devoted to news. (Giving a brief teaser and saying “We’ll have the full story later in the broadcast” doesn’t count. )

  • How much news was delivered during the 30-minute local news show?
  • How much of that news was local news — that is, if you picked a Pittsburgh broadcast, journalism created by news professionals in Pittsburgh, about issues that matter to Pittsburghers?
  • Did you include the weather and the sports segments in your tally for “news”? Why or why not?
  • What can you conclude about the amount of “actual news” delivered over the course of a 30-minute news program?

Monday, 27 Aug 2018


News Story vs. English Essay

To write a news story, you’ll use many of the skills that help you write good personal essays; however, the two kinds of writing have important differences, so what counts as “good writing” is also different.


English Essay: Driven by your thoughtful analysis of long quotations from already-published sources (written by experts).

  • It’s a good English essay if it’s powered by the author’s thoughtful engagement with already-published texts.
  • It’s not a good English essay if it depends mostly on quotations from people you talked with. (Your English professor wants to evaluate your ability to think and write about your own ideas, not copy down what people say to you.)

News Story: Driven by the timely, first-ever publication of short quotations from eyewitnesses, participants, decision-makers, or perhaps random citizens directly affected by a current event.

  • It’s a good news story if it’s powered by fresh, unpublished quotations from credible sources you’ve interviewed yourself.

  • It’s not a good news story if it’s powered by your own summaries of or commentary about already-published statements. (Your reader doesn’t want to be impressed by or even notice your brilliant writing skill.)

Read and respond to the full lesson: Journalism Tips: News Story vs. English Essay

Wednesday, 29 Aug 2018


The News Media: What Everyone Needs to Know: Introduction

Read and respond to the introduction.

(Quote a brief passage that you learned from, have a question about, or that you feel is worth spending class time on.)


NM: The Past (1 of 4)

From “When and where was the world’s first newspaper published” to “How did newspapers become mass market media?”