October 2009 Archives
USA TODAY invites college writers and journalists to submit their work to our National Gallery of Writing. Through this gallery, we hope to build and support a community of young writers because you are our next reporters and editors!
Our curator will select the best submissions to be displayed in our gallery. And each month, of the submissions we displayed, we will select the top few pieces to be critiqued by one of our own editors.
This editor will then provide you with his/her professional feedback on the merits of your writing.
Why should you submit your work?
How can you submit your work?
- To publish your best work in a highly visible way.
- To have staff at USA TODAY take a look at what you can do.
- To potentially get feedback on your writing by an editor from the nation's #1 newspaper.
- To be able to boast on your resume that your work has been published in USA TODAY's National Gallery of Writing.
- To be a part of USA TODAY's community of up and coming journalists.
Simple, just go to our gallery at http://galleryofwriting.org/galleries/114339.
(The assignment will be due in Google Docs, as soon as you can write it... Monday would be just fine, but certainly by Wednesday.)
Update (response to Aja's question, below)
Other than the handout and the audio recording, there are no other sources to consult for this assignment. (Remember, "Verify or Duck,")
Moved from Oct 16.
As I mentioned in class last week, there will be no midterm assessment.
That point of view is informed. It is not unfair to the opposition, and it sources its claims just as carefully as a news article.
A lot of editorial writers try to get by on their writing or their outrage, and not on their reporting. That just doesn't work. You've got to have facts. In an article, you use them to inform. In an editorial, you use facts to persuade. --Michael Gartner, Ames (Ia.) Daily Tribune (See more tips from Poynter)
Usually on page 3, the "Op-ed" page, we find a guest editorial. "Op-ed" is so named because "opposite" means "on the other side of the page" -- the point of view of that editorial may agree with or disagree with the lead editorial, or it may be on a completely different subject.
Tips for Writing Editorials
An explosion in a Tallmansville, West Virginia coal mine triggered a frantic rescue operation. Media descended on the small town, and since the action was happening deep underground, reporters had nothing to do but focus on the reaction of the family members and victims, and wait for official reports from rescue workers.
About two days after the explosion, I happened to be up late (blogging, as it happened), when I noticed an online news story that one of the miners had been found dead, and that there were signs the other miners survived the explosion and may have looked for a safe place to await rescue.
Shortly afterward, the internet was full of stories reporting that family members were cheering, saying that the other 12 had been found alive.
A few stories noted that mining officials and rescue workers hadn't yet confirmed anything, but church bells were ringing and family members who had been avoiding reporters came out of seclusion to share their tears of joy for the cameras; ambulances lined up at the mine entrance to transport the wounded; the governor of West Virginia and other politicians offered congratulatory quotes.
I remember noting in passing that the news stories were all carefully attributing the source of this news to family members, and a few mentioned CNN. But I got distracted by the emotional quality of the stories, and blogged something about a reporter who write an editorial about how hard it is to interview families about tragic events.
A few hours later -- I was still up (it was during the January break and my family is generally on a very late schedule) when a new report emerged: the other 12 men had been found dead.
Now, if you search for "Sago" on CNN, one of the results that comes up is this:
Websites quickly scrambled to correct stories, but many newspapers had gone to press shortly after the good (inaccurate) news broke. The New York Times ran a front-page photo of celebrating people, with the unambiguous headline, "12 Miners Found Alive 41 Hours After Explosion." (The original article is still online, though the editors added a note pointing to a more accurate version.)
Twelve miners who have been trapped underground for more than 36 hours are alive, their friends and relatives were told.
From local reaction to a national or global story, to community news.
Moved from the 5th to the 9th.
I am asking you to follow a local news story as it moves from a brief breaking news story, to longer, in-depth stories that develop over time. Post several blog entries that track a story, and use your blog to demonstrate what you have learned so far, while also engaging your peers in conversation.
- Identify several local "breaking news" stories that you can find using the website of the newspaper of your choice, and blog about them when they are still in the breaking news stage. (Choose several stories that fit the criteria of newsworthiness; you don't know at this stage whether any of these will have any follow-ups, so try to pick two that you think really will continue to develop.)
We have so far focused on accidents and crimes, but other kinds of news happens, too -- including good news. You are welcome to choose any kind, so long as you feel confident your chosen story will be updated over the next few days. (Chances are, the happy story about puppies cheering up nursing home residents won't fall into the "breaking news" category.)
- Over the next few days, check up on your story, to see whether your original paper, and/or other papers, expand on the story.
- Be sure the story you've chosen has a byline that names a reporter with the local paper. (Note that many local papers re-publish Associated Press copy -- that is, the first local paper to break the story will share it with the AP, which means that all other papers that subscribe to the AP can re-print the story the next day.)
- Find an example of a "second-day lead" story, which assumes the reader already knows the basics that were reported yesterday, and accordingly emphasizes new developments.
This story about a Wayne Newton concert in Greensburg mentions an event happening next February, so there are not likely to be any follow-up stories any time soon. This story simply repeats a press release, and functions as an advertisement for the promoter. It's not breaking news, because every reporter in town got the press release.
- Breaking news story about the search for a missing student at Penn State
- The missing student found dead (update in an ongoing story)
- A profile of the dead student
- Ongoing story: community and official reaction to the incident
- Ongoing story: a fraternity is suspended, pending an investigation in this incident
If the story merits more attention, longer feature-like stories will delve into the situation, perhaps focusing on community impact, a profile of one of the key players, or how local politicians and/or activists are responding.
Reporters don't do a full-blown profile after every local crime, so you might need to follow more than one breaking news story in order to find one that gets reporters to follow up more than once.
I'm not really that interested in news stories posted on TV news websites, since the TV news cycle is full of endless repetition, with minor developments uses as excuses to rebroadcast pre-recorded segments, with live updates provided by reporters on the scene (as often as not, in front of a building where something important happened hours ago).
Newspaper layout terminology (from the handout I provided in class Friday), any item on the course "Glossary" page, and more AP style review.
Also, look into using quotations in news stories and playing the role of the invisible observer. What is quoteworthy? What should be paraphrased? When is the proper time to use the formula "When asked about..."?
Here is a slide show that reviews the lessons we covered in the first 2 quizzes.
AP Style Review.pptx