NM: The Past (2 of 4)

As someone who likes making Yellow Kid jokes, it surprised me to know that the funny looking comic strip character probably didn’t have as big of an impact on the Spanish American War as he’s given credit for. The statement that the “Yellow Papers” were “the butt of White House jokes” during the McKinley’s administration reassured me at least a little that the government (at one point) could recognize emotionally-inflated news (25). Still, it’s clear that attention-grabbing headlines and images that appeal to the emotions still work on the public today. The fierce competition for readers between Pulitzer and Hearst of the 19th century is echoed in the competition for clicks among popular websites today.

Source: NM: The Past (2 of 4)

NM: The Past (1 of 4)

I guess I just assumed the ancient Egyptians would have a clay tablet/papyrus newspaper or something.

Instead, Anderson et. al. explain that newspapers as we would define them did not appear until the 17th century. It makes sense once they point out that while people “have presumably always been curious and inquiring” that “organized science begins…in the 1600s” (7–8). While there might have been plenty of news reports, such as by heralds or through announcements circulated to ruling classes only, the paper reporting on current news and marketed toward the masses only came along when the combination of literacy, printing ability, and mass curiosity became prevalent.

Source: NM: The Past (1 of 4)

The News Media: What Everyone Needs to Know: Introduction

I was surprised that this book takes a “past, present, future” approach to looking at journalism. Studying the past makes sense, but describing the present situation seems especially tricky considering this book was published in 2016, an election year of particularly dramatic change. Describing the future of reporting also seems difficult, as they say “not to put too much trust in prognostication” (3). However, I will admit that I am a “curious reader” to find out what they “reasonably expect” journalism will be like in the years to come (3). Based on the facts of the past and present, at least some elements about the future can be reasonably predicted.

Source: The News Media: What Everyone Needs to Know: Introduction

News Story vs. English Essay

For the past two years of college, I’ve trained myself to write like a literary analyst, which means long, complicated but logically decipherable sentences combining source material with evidence-based claims. It has come to the point where I can no longer watch children’s films in peace.

For example, the average person might say: “Wow, Dreamworks’ Trolls was a fun movie about the power of friendship and being positive.”

My first reaction was to title a hypothetical essay: “Drag Queens and Substance Abuse: the Impact of Society on an Individual’s Quest for Dopamine Release in Dreamworks’ Trolls.”

This skill has also messed up my ability to read romance novels.

I wholeheartedly blame Dr. Jerz and the book How to Read Literature Like a Professor for this.

Now is the time to momentarily forget all this academic writing in favor of the tighter, easier-to-digest style used in journalism. A summer course in flash fiction has helped me learn how to cut down extraneous details, which I expect to help in nonfiction writing as well. I’ll also need to figure out how to select quotes that are snappy, relevant, and concise instead of interspersing long quotes throughout long sentences the way I learned to do for essays. News writing may be different from literary essays, but I think I’ll be able to adapt.

Source: News Story vs. English Essay

Watch a Half Hour of Local TV News

I watched a half hour of PCNC, a local Pittsburgh news show. Because I tuned in at 7:13 and it wouldn’t let me rewind, I missed the intro, but according to my parents, the news on that channel repeats every half hour (barring new developments). I came in at the first introduction to the weather. The weather was reported two more times throughout the 30 minutes. Another story that was repeated was a stuck truck on a road in Pittsburgh. Each time it was reported, the reporter added new details about the development. The third time, the footage showed rescue assistance helping the stuck truck get unstuck. Besides the weather, sports, and traffic, there was 4-5 minutes of other news. This shows that the constantly changing conditions and the entertainment value of sports are the priorities of the news show I watched.

Source: Watch a Half Hour of Local TV News

The CRAFT of News Writing

It was interesting to examine the different purposes of journalism. Everyone knows a little about the purpose of investigative journalism, but I had never thought to separate it from community journalism or watchdog journalism. The term “populist journalism” is also helpful to know, considering how much we consider “news” today is presented to entertain moreso than inform. (Think Buzzfeed and other popular social network news sites.) Later on, the bit about “evergreen” stories was interesting, because I had never heard that term but have read plenty of relatable magazine stories that used current research but didn’t depend on any urgency or “breaking news.”

I also liked learning more about Nellie Bly. I remember reading about her 72 day journey around the world in a picture book in elementary school. I had also read about her “10 Days in a Madhouse” story on one of those popular social media stories, but had not connected it to her name until now. It is even cooler that she is from Pittsburgh. Nellie Bly sought out investigative stories in a time when women couldn’t even vote, which attests to the power of truth that journalism gives to both the reporter and to the citizens who receive the facts.

Source: The CRAFT of News Writing

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

In this clips chosen for this video, I noticed that the most outrageous reactions to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign received the most laughter and cheers, and were usually delivered by talk show hosts as opposed to politicians. While both talk shows and news stations deliver current events, the talk show is more focused on entertaining than simply conveying facts. That is why these hosts exaggerate their responses to Trump’s campaign or add jokes to increase the reaction of the audience. On the other hand, the reporters and those being interviewed on serious news networks were calmer and more objective, even when reporting news that was eventually proved wrong. This made those sections of the news seem less foolish in retrospect, even though they were conveying the same basic message as the talk show hosts. However, the video’s emphasis on the repeated phrase “the beginning of the end” shows how even serious reporters still can be ridiculed if they rely too much on cliches like this. I also noticed that Presidents Obama and Bush both had very clear, simple sound bytes used in this video. While they were speaking to a crowd and likely received loud, prolonged cheers to their statements like the talk shows’ audiences did, the straightforwardness of their remarks and their professional demeanors makes their statements still seem reasonable at the time even after being proven wrong. Even though this is a funny video to show that sometimes journalists end up being completely wrong in their reports, it also shows the importance and differences of how that information is delivered to specific audiences.

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

What is Newsworthy?

“Pope Loses George Washington Clone in Vending Machine”

Comics aside, a real headline is “Abuse Victim Takes Own Life After Pittsburgh Diocese Cut Off Payments for Counseling.”

This article from August 20th discusses a suicide that happened eight years ago but which relates to the recent examination of abuse by clergy members in the Pittsburgh area. It is a WPXI article, so the fact that it focuses on both an overarching problem in Pittsburgh as well as a specific family’s tragedy touches the readers more. The article combines the cultural relevance and evocativeness of the abuse case with the relatable story of a local tragedy, making it newsworthy.

Source: What is Newsworthy?

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

I read this comic once before, when Dr. Jerz posted it previously, but this does not diminish its message. The combination of inviting visuals and well-researched evidence gives a strong impact to its lesson on the backfire effect and how it comes up in daily life. The web-comic format (one long image consisting of different parts inviting the reader to scroll down) makes it easy to follow as well as captivating (as in “what will happen next?”), as does the added humor of the cartoons. Even though I hold very few strong opinions, I could clearly see the difference between the random facts and hot-button facts, and the cartoon successfully explained why this difference incites such violent reactions in other people.

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

CAUTION: There Is a Phony in This Class

This is just to warn you that there is a phony in the classroom who is not really a journalist. She has dark hair and glasses, stands at 5’5″, and wears a cool hat.

Oh wait, that’s me.

While I have been a member of the Setonian staff since my freshman year, I have not submitted a single news article.

This is because I am the paper’s cartoonist. My duties usually consist of goofing off for the entire month, struggling to come up with an idea for a comic on the day it is due, and then submitting it, the day before it goes to print, to the ever-patient editors who don’t deserve the added stress of irresponsible cartoonists. To write an actual article would require both talking to people and timely research, two activities which I fear greatly.

Of course, now I taking this journalism class to fulfill a requirement for my major, and these two activities are mandatory. Though I am not considering a career in journalism, I realize that strengthening my poor communication skills as well as my developing research skills is crucial for any type of writer, even an author of fiction. Besides these skills, I hope to learn how to recognize objective journalism from biased news stories, which will help me process current events in daily life. I also am interested in learning the proper format and writing style for writing articles, as that will come in handy if I ever write a press release or a scene in a story told through newspaper format. While I may be a phony journalist, I still intend to put effort into my work this semester and come out of this class with a better understanding of everything that goes into news writing.