September 5, 2007 Archives
Read chapters 1 and 2, paying special attention to ways to reduce clutter, and to use specific details rather than make general statements.:
Smith pushes a black cat out of the way to sit in front of her 30-inch flatscreen TV, on which three other cats are perched.
"Where's the remote?" she says, and finds it under a snoring heap of white and gray fur at the other end of her 24-foot trailer.
She puts on a DVD, the 2001 comedy "Cats and Dogs."
"I don't so much care for the dogs," she says, "but the cats are fun to watch."
Nowhere does this passage say "the lady is obsessed with cats," because 1) that would be an opinion, and journalists are not supposed to put their own opinions into news stories; and 2) the details clearly SHOW that the woman is obsessed with cats. (If this were a TV report, the camera would just pan across a room full of cats, and the sound of mewing would be in the background of the whole report. In print, you have to put specific details into words, and organize them to create the effect you want to get across.)
Several breaking news stories. Note how many and what kinds of sources there are. Note how the reporter uses direct quotes and specific details to convey not only the facts of what happened, but also the emotions of the participants.
One of the best ways to learn is by doing. We won't learn much about news writing unless we start writing news articles.
Length: 400 words. Submit to turnitin.com, 15 minutes before class begins. (You'll need the class ID and the password I gave out in class Friday.)
Do not simply list your questions and your peer's answers in the form of a Q & A. Use the Geist reading as a model. Tell a story, using brief quotations from at least three different sources.
What is unique and interesting about your peer? Why would anyone want to read an article about him or her?
Pay attention to:
- intensifiers (avoid simple ones like "very" or "the best/worst")
- sources (you did exchange contact information with your peer, so that you could continue your interview outside of class, right?)
A news article (hard or soft) should have at least three sources,
and should mention each source at least once in the first half of the
story. (Don't leave "the opposing view" until the last paragraph.)
A movie or restaurant review might not have any interviews at all -- the whole article would be based on the reporter's direct observations.
If you feel that your reference to "a big dog" doesn't do the dog justice, instead of writing "a [very big / damn huge / friggen humongous] dog," a good journalist will ask questions so that the passage will read "130-pound Rottweiler named Bruiser."
If calling something "a disappointment" doesn't do it justice, calling it "a big disappointment" or "a very big disappointment"
or "a colossal disappointment" will be no better. Express intensity in
more direct, context-sensitive ways. A fourth-quarter loss might be "a
crushing disappointment," while an uninteresting movie might be "a
mind-numbing disappointment." Instead of "a big X" or "a very big X,"
consider "a crippling blow," "an unwieldy overcoat," or "a generous pie