Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

See you next year!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

International Issue story example

This New York Times story (click link) is a good model of what reporters can do to help increase public understanding of the difficult and heart-breaking issue of immigration. It tells the story of one boy, without sensationalism, including facts and figures to help us understand the scope of the issue. The simple accompanying  video--  that anyone could take -- adds a lot to it. Click on this link to the NYTimes story to see the video:

Monday, November 14, 2016

Excerpt from Sunday's New York Times letter to readers

In a letter to readers on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016, New York Times editors reaffirmed the paper's mission. Here's an excerpt:
"As we reflect on the momentous result, and the months of reporting and polling that preceded it, we aim to rededicate ourselves to the fundamental mission of Times journalism. That is to report America and the world honestly, without fear or favor, striving always to understand and reflect all political perspectives and life experiences in the stories that we bring to you. It is also to hold power to account, impartially and unflinchingly. You can rely on The New York Times to bring the same fairness, the same level of scrutiny, the same independence to our coverage of the new president and his team."

Monday, November 7, 2016

Schedule updates

NOV 8 Meet at Precinct 4 and 5 polling place in downtown Amherst in front of the Bangs Community Center at 4:30 p.m. Each blog group will email to AND to BY 7 P.M. one of the following:
  • A total of at least 4 photos for each blog group with "cutline" that explains to readers who is in the photo, what he/she/they are doing and a good quote.
  • A combination of 4 photos with cutlines as above and/or very short videos of 30 seconds-1 minute each of voter(s) commenting on some aspect of the election. Short videos should also include the name(s) of the persons or people in the video
  • A short written piece, similar to previous deadline assignments with a minimum of 4 photos and direct quotes
NOV 10  Final FEATURE DUE (1,000 words,  15 percent of total grade)NOTE SCHEDULE CHANGE: Instead of peer editing the Issue pre-first drafts -- First drafts are still due Nov. 15; we'll skip the pre-first draft, this time --  we'll meet in the the Communication Hub to see Giovanna Dell'Orto, a visiting speaker from the University of Minnesota, who will talk about news coverage of immigration in the United States and Europe as part of the SBS "Social Science Matters" speaker series. Read about it HERE. Students who need to make-up the Speech assignment will write 650-word speech papers with a photo, due Tuesday Nov. 15. . Blog groups will produce 1 photo per blog group with solid cutline.

NOV 15  FIRST DRAFT ISSUE (1,000 words with 4 voices, 2 of whom are "experts") due.  Peer edit. Discuss chapters, Massachusetts Open Meeting Law. NEXT: Read and complete worksheets on Chaps. 26 on Taste in Journalism and 27 on Morality.
NOV 17 -  TOPIC: Ethical reporting Discuss Chapters 26 & 27; in-class work on issue paper, blogs

NOV 24- NO CLASS/Thanksgiving

NOV 27  FINAL ISSUE PAPER DUE. (1,000 words 20  percent of total grade)Review for FINAL QUIZ.
DEC 1  END OF SEMESTER QUIZ  Discuss summary/analysis writing.

DEC 6  - In-class deadline assignment: Watch film and write SUMMARY/ANALYSIS (10 percent of final grade) on deadline, due at end of class.
DEC 8 -  Wrap-up

DEC 13 - LAST DAY OF CLASS/ recap/ Final  blogs presentations

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Profile example

Mariah Boisvert
Word Count: 1320

AMHERST, MASSACHUSETTS – A long hike in New Zealand inspired an Irishman to tell Abby Bliss, two strangers at the tine, about how meditation helped him confront his depression.

Looking back almost 15 years later, Bliss said this encounter was the reason she began meditation, a big part of her life that she now brings with her to her job as a student advisor in the University of Massachusetts journalism department.

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Abby Bliss in her office in the Integrative Learning Center at UMass Amherst on Oct. 20, 2016

Bliss has a soft smile and short, dark, wavy hair that frames her face. She has a thin physique and wears simple, tasteful clothing with a lot of natural, neutral colors.

She grew up playing soccer, playing on the Doherty High School Varsity team for four years. Bliss also has always enjoyed reading. “ I like words, ideas, expression,” Bliss said.

Bliss has always gotten along with her three sisters. Her mom had a career as a librarian at Worcester public library and her father was A journalist at the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. She grew up with newspapers constantly around the house and spent a lot of time in a newsroom.

“I know all of this is pretty usual and nondescript, but that was my childhood,” Bliss said.

While Bliss had a happy childhood, she had a strong distaste for her hometown of Worcester. She said it was “a homogenous place, a really grey, industrial town. When you’re in high school and you have to wake up early to a grey place, it really affects you,” she said.  She said Worcester was “insular. And not open-minded.” Bliss also said, “there was diversity around but I didn’t experience it.” She only knew people in her own neighborhood. Within her high school, she did not know people outside of honors classes. “Nothing felt integrated,” Bliss said,  “But I suppose I could have done more to bridge those gaps.”

Bliss’ first inspiration to travel came about from a soccer camp in seventh grade in Scandinavia. She played a series of tournaments in Finland and Sweden, on a summer team that was created for people in Worcester and neighboring towns. She did not do any traveling after that until college.

When deciding on a college, Bliss looked for a school that was as different from Worcester as possible, leading her to the University of Arizona in Tuscan, Arizona. She enjoyed the change of scenery; it was far away, there were seasons, it was warm and most of all, it was bright. “I think there are less than 30 days of clouds in Tucson a year,” said Bliss. “I also really liked how independent the students seemed. I got into smaller, more competitive schools, but they felt claustrophobic. I wanted to be autonomous and anonymous,” said Bliss. She graduated with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology.

Though she loved the atmosphere of the University of Arizona, Bliss didn’t “click” with a lot of people. “They were west coast partiers and I was a crunchy, nerdy person from the east coast,” she said.

Bliss showed up to summer orientation in “khaki shorts and Birkenstocks, with a button down Abercrombie plaid shirt.” She said, “they didn’t know to give me the parent flier or student flier --  I could easily pass as a boring parent. I knew right away that I wouldn’t fit in there.”

Bliss’ ultimate goal upon graduating was to travel the world.

She got a job as a mail deliverer for about three months to make some traveling money. As hoped, she earned enough to move to New Zealand, which is where she met the Irishman while hiking. He convinced her to attend a( ten-day) 10-DAY meditation course, which she attended two weeks after the hike. The experience really resonated with her.

Bliss ran out of money in New Zealand. At the same time she discovered that the biggest meditation center outside of India, the Vipassana Meditation Center, was in Shelburne, Massachusetts. “This was the only reason I came back home,” Bliss said.

Upon her return, she volunteered at this center. To pay for expenses, she reverted back to delivering mail for one month. She took some time to travel to Puerto Rico, Italy, France and India. When she got back, she became a long-term volunteer at the meditation center and eventually became the head of registration there.

Meditation appealed to Bliss’ desire to discover a mental challenge, as she was already very invested in physical challenges – namely hiking, yoga and running. Furthermore, as she spent more time in nature, she realized distractions got fewer. “I needed to look to my mind,” Bliss said. More than that, though, being in the silence of nature made her realize “how loud” her mind was.

Bliss considered applying to graduate schools and “settling down.” But she was asked to be a formal teacher at the Vipassana Meditation Center. She decided to combine her passion for traveling with her newfound love for meditation and began leading meditation courses in Chile and Bolivia. She helped start a center in Argentina for Spanish-speaking students.

The students in Argentina had a lower quality of life than those in Massachusetts, but she noticed that they “worked harder and complained less,” which provided her with an example to try to emulate when she went back home. Bliss believes that “you have to be the student at some point,” she said.

Additionally, although there are differences between these students and those in the United States,“it was equally as challenging for the people to sit for hours without allowing their thoughts distract them,” Bliss said, which says a lot about human nature.

Meditation is “for all ages, all occupations, all people,” Bliss said. She believes that our challenges are not unique. “No matter what part of the world you live, what our family situation is or how much money you make, we are all human and share the same issues,” Bliss said.

Bliss officially came back to Massachusetts in 2013 and looked towards a steady career. Prior to this time, she “cynical about society’s expectations of a normal 9-5 job,” she said. She thought a desk job was boring and constraining. In high school and college, “things felt prescribed,” she said. Now that she “got traveling out of the system,” she said she is “very comfortable at a 9-5 job.”

In regards to her travels, Bliss said, “I didn’t know I had something to get out of my system. But I think I did.” As she got older, she spent less time traveling at a time.

Advising was appealing because she said it was a “meaningful way to apply my guiding and counseling skills.” She said, “I could have wound up in any department. It was the advising that really appealed to me, but I just got lucky that I also ended up in a department that I love.”

She has a strong interest in journalism because “when it is working right, it should help connect the world,” Bliss said. “It teaches us about other places. Journalism consists of discovery, listening, and expression. I love each of these.”

Bliss opted to attend Karen List’s “Introduction to Journalism” seminar because she felt that in order to best advise students, she needed to experience class from their perspective.

Though not all students know about Bliss’ meditation, her ‘zen’ demeanor is apparent.

In the 2016 spring semester, Chelsea White, a journalism major, sat at the same table as Bliss every Monday afternoon during the seminar. Still, she had no idea about Bliss’ background in meditation. But White did notice “a calmness about Abby. She always spoke softly and eloquently,” White said.

Bliss didn’t just observe List’s class. There was a lot of talk about counseling and help available for students, which Bliss was more than willing to share information and insight about.

List said that Bliss was an “enthusiastic participant.” One time List jokingly told Bliss that “she had to do the assignments—and she did,” List said.

Helping others to gain clarity has always been important to Bliss, whether that be through advising or leading meditations. It is only a coincidence that her last name is Bliss, but it certainly fits.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Feature, Issue examples and tips

For a sample issue piece about creepy clowns, click HERE
For a sample feature about young people's thoughts on this year's election, click HERE


  • Rewrite this lead to make it more engaging and dramatic.

  • Which of these quotes are "quote worthy"? Which should be paraphrased? 
  • Quotes should be introduced, and the lead-in should not sound just like the quote. How could this lead-in be tweaked so that it doesn't?

Monday, October 24, 2016

What's coming up

Tuesday, Oct. 25: We should have time for you to work on the blogs for a bit. We'll also watch the first part of a video titled "Reporter" about how important it is to write about serious issues in a way that people can relate to, so they will care about them. We'll also talk a little bit about the profiles, which I'll hand back to you.
News quiz: Samantha, Articles/AP tip: Ryan, Elizabeth

Thursday, Oct. 27 Midterm quiz. If time, work on blogs. Quiz: Alicia, Articles/AP tip: Mariah, Elissa

Tuesday, Nov. 1: Blog groups will present  and explain the features of their blogs to the class on the big screen.  Finish watching "Reporter."  Quiz: Danielle, Articles/AP tip: Mack, Kathryn

Thursday, Nov. 3: First draft of feature due. Include word count and photos. Peer edit. Issue paper pitch (moved up from Nov. 8) Quiz: John, Articles/AP tip: Mack Kathryn

Tuesday, Nov. 8: Meet, 4:30 p.m. at downtown polling place, Bangs Community Center, to interview voters.

Thursday, Nov. 10: Pre-first draft Issue paper due (500 words). Peer edit. Final Feature paper due (1,000 words, photos). Quiz: Caroline, Articles/AP tip: Nicanor, Tyler

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Halloween story example (with annotations)

Halloween on a Budget

AMHERST, MA –  Noa Kantorovich, a UMass freshman, decided on being a “biker chick” FOR HALLOWEEN THIS YEAR after discovering her mother’s old Harley Davidson biker jacket in the garage.

“I would never wear it normally, but it fit so well that I had to find an occasion to wear it," SHE SAID. When I realized that Halloween was around the corner, I felt like this was the perfect opportunity.”( Kantorovich said.I THINK IT WORKS BETTER TO THIS QUOTE UP BY PUTTING THE "SHE SAID" IN BETWEEN THE TWO SENTENCES. IN YOUR INTRO YOU WANT TO KEEP MOVING ALONG QUICKLY AND NOT THE FLOW WITH A DENSE QUOTE.

As committed as University of Massachusetts students are to finding the perfect Halloween costume, Halloween SEEMS TO HAVE (has) become an art of improvisation more than anything. STUDENTS INTERVIEWED ON CAMPUS ON A RECENT SUNNY FALL AFTERNOON SAID THEY LIKE BEING ORIGINAL AND CREATIVE -- AND NOT SPEND A LOT OF MONEY.

Kantorovich plans on using the jacket as the main part of her costume and is complimenting it with black jeans that she ripped herself and combat boots her friend is lending her. Though Kantorovich was pleased with her idea, she said she would have “made something out of nothing anyway” regardless.  Kantorovich said it was pointless to spend money when there are “so many things laying around to use.”

There is no lack of creativity from students, (despite not wantingDESPITE DOESN'T WORK HERE. YOU"RE TRYING TO SAY THEY ARE CREATIVE BECAUSE THEY DON'T WANT TO BUY A PRE-MADE COSTUME) WHO DON'T WANT to purchase pre-made costumes at a Halloween store. Students have a wide variety of ideas – from animals to aliens to action figures.

Kantorovich’s friend, Kristina Landry, plans on being a zoo animal “to make fun of ‘the zoo’ stereotype that holds at UMass Amherst,” in regards to the “party animal” reputation of the students. She will paint spots all over her body and find animal pattern fabrics from old Halloween costumes to make the costume. 
“I want to make a point that this is a costume for a reason,” Landry said. “People think we’re always party animals, but it’s really only once a year.” INTERESTING. DO PEOPLE SPEND A LOT OF TIME "DECONSTRUCTING" THEIR COSTUMES AT PARTIES?

Julia Meredith, a freshman friend of Kantorovich and Landry, was focused on a costume that was different from everyone else’s. 
“I thought an alien was really creative until all of my friends suggested we be aliens together. Then I decided to change my mind.” INTERESTING. WHY DID SHE REJECT THE IDEA OF DOING GROUP COSTUMES WHICH SEEM TO BE POPULAR?

Maddy Billingsley, another freshman at UMass, is using Halloween as a chance to express her creativity, but not exactly originality, as she plans on recreating the same costume she used last year.

“Everyone seemed to like it, so why not do it again,” Billingsley said.

Billingsley plans on revamping some props to make it better the second time around. She will be a deer again by wrapping floral tape around pipe cleaners to imitate antlers. She also will tap into her love for costume makeup by painting her own face. She has always loved makeup, but is especially excited that she finally gets to put what she has learned in makeup tutorials to use. While she is glad she can save money, she is even more excited that she can use this holiday as a fun project.

While most students do not have a definitive plan for their costumes, even though Halloween is next weekend, they are confident that they can piece their costumes together in time from items they can borrow from a friend or discover on their closet floor.

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Kristina Landry, Noa Kantorovich, Amelia Gallagher, Julia Meredith and Maddy Billingsley laugh as they sort through Halloween costume ideas on the grass outside of the Campus Center at UMass on Tuesday October 18, 2016

There were also many students who were inspired by friends. “My friend was workout Barbie last year and it was just too good of a costume not to repeat,” said Amelia Gallagher. “I’m all about being resourceful this year, after years of planning so far ahead. I’m not trying to buy anything and I’m not trying to think about it too far in advance,” Gallagher said. “My most unique ideas come to me when I’m not thinking of them. It’ll probably be an hour before I go out that I officially decide my costume,” SHE said. ( Gallagher.) GOOD

Anastasia Kordova, a senior microbiology major from Boston says although she only spent $35 on a costume last year, GOOD DETAIL, AS I HAVE NO IDEordering (once) ONE in advance means that she has to decide what she wants to be right away which is “too much decision making.” Her plan is to be something as simple as possible, such as a cat or a witch. “You can’t go wrong with simple. Plus, everyone is trying to go with the most ‘out there’ costume and we’re forgetting about all the great basics,” she said.FUN QUOTE

Nate Green, a senior accounting major from UMass, is applying his money management skills to be especially frugal this year. Green says he “works eight hours a week at Baby Berk, a minimum wage job on campus.” He said he “barely makes any money. “

“Why would I blow my whole paycheck on a one night thing?” Last year Green spent $79 on a Top Gun inspired costume and “wanted to cry looking at my bank statement the next day.” This year he plans on going for a comedic effect by dressing as America’s favorite ballgame treat  -- a hotdog.

Green got his inspiration from scrolling through his cousin’s Instagram and stumbling upon a picture of him wearing the ensemble. “I immediately texted him and demanded he let me borrow it,” Green said. “And here we are now.”  

Plus Green said, “you never get another day where you can be completely ridiculous. And it’s a bonus when you don’t have to break the bank over it.”
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Students brainstorming Halloween costumes with friends outside
the Integrative Learning Center on Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Monday, October 17, 2016

Blogger Larry Kelley and his drone visit UMass
By Mack Cooper

Larry Kelley demonstrating his drone to UMass journalism students
Local journalist Larry Kelley and his drone have become famous in Amherst over the 10 years that his blog, Only in The Republic of Amherst, has been alive. Or maybe the better word is infamous.
Kelley, a fifth-generation Amherst resident and UMass graduate, has posted around 6,500 stories on his blog over the past 10 years and his blog averages 120,000 hits per month, making it more popular than the local paper, the Daily Hampshire Gazette, according to Kelley.
Kelley covers everything from traffic accidents and structure fires, to Amherst Select Board meetings and UMass party houses, and he isn’t afraid to expose people's names and faces, a tactic that hasn’t made him super popular with some people who wind up with their picture on his blog. 
He doesn’t care that some people disagree with his strategies saying that he is tough on everyone and everything he covers. When Kelley was asked what he thinks of people who contact him demanding their picture be taken off his sight, he responded by saying, “Sometimes you have a wart. Learn to live with it.”
Kelley is known to cover DUI arrests and often goes into the courtroom to take pictures of the accused. This has made him very unpopular with defendants and parents of defendants who aren't pleased with their legal troubles being made public. But all the complaints Kelley gets doesn’t deter him from posting, as he said he believes that people will be less likely to drink and drive if they know they will end up with their face plastered on his blog.
Kelley doesn’t run his blog in order to make a living but rather to keep the people of Amherst informed about local events and to keep local officials honest. Kelley said he has even helped out the fire department while covering a structure fire with his drone. While he was shooting an aerial shot of a building on fire, the Amherst Fire Chief used the images from Kelley’s drone to determine that the roof of the building was gonna collapse. He then used that information to order all of the fire fighters in the building to evacuate and sure enough, the roof collapsed a few moments later.
The drone, which Kelley calls Birdie 2, has become a staple of Only in The Republic of Amherst and allows Kelly to get great aerial photos and videos. He has images on his blog of car accidents, UMass parties, structure fires and many others. He uses the drone to capture shots he wouldn’t normally be able to capture and the drone allows him to get closer, while staying farther away, from dangerous stories or events unfolding.
Kelley, being known as a character, was asked if he followed all the proper FAA rules when flying his drone. “So far I haven’t broken them,” said Kelley, “so far,” before he proceed to fly his drone over students' heads, a violation of FAA regulations. (Note -- Kelley disputes the drone was directly above students' heads.)
Kelley said he sees himself as an essential part of the Amherst community, and a voice for the full time Amherst residents that aren’t associated with any of the university's. When asked if he knows about any other towns that have a freelance journalist like him, he said “Every town should.”

Thursday, September 29, 2016

What's coming up soon

Here's what's coming up in the next few weeks.

Tuesday OCT 4 -  Local blogger/drone reporter Larry Kelley visits class 
FIRST DRAFT PROFILE DUE (1,000 words, INCLUDE WORD COUNT) PEER EDIT.  Discuss feature stories.
NEXT: Read and complete worksheets for Chapter 18 on Accidents and Disasters and Chapter 19 on Obituaries. Write Feature Pitch for next class.

Thursday OCT 6    FEATURE PITCH, 500-word mini-feature about Larry Kelley visit due. 
 If time, work on blogs. NEXT:  write 500-word feature PRE-first draft to peer edit next class. Read Chapter 21 on Courts

Tuesday OCT 11 NO CLASS/ Monday class schedule
Thursday OCT 13 TOPIC: accidents, obituaries and courts (We'll go over the worksheets for these chapters.) Peer edit PRE-first draft Feature stories. 

Tuesday OCT 18  In-class deadline assignment (5 percent of total grade) Next: Read Chaps. 11 on layered reporting and 14 on sources.

Thursday OCT 20  TOPIC:  “Layered” reporting   FINAL DRAFT PROFILE DUE (1,000 words, INCLUDE WORD COUNT, 10 percent of total grade) Discuss Chapters 11 and 14.  In-class work on features. 

Tuesday OCT 25 Review for MID-TERM QUIZ.  Discuss potential  Issue paper topics & interviews with 2-3 "experts." 
Thursday OCT 27   ***MID-TERM QUIZ *** If time, work on features and blogs

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Speech story example

Speech story example

Published in the STEM Institute Fall 2016 newsletter

Laughing about Climate Change with Brian Adams

By Alexandra Pigeon

Students, professors and community members did the unthinkable on Tuesday afternoon at a STEM talk in Hasbrouck at UMass Amherst-- laugh at climate change.  

Brian Adams, a professor emeritus of environmental science at Greenfield Community College, displayed his unconventional approach to teaching and writing about global warming using humor in front of about 30 people during this event put on by the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education Institute.

Adams recognizes that the subject is overwhelmingly devastating and alarming, which caused him to reevaluate his methods of teaching it. He feared that simply laying down the facts would drive his students into a deep depression, causing them to “weep into their cereal,” or worse, to bury their heads in the sand and ignore the issue altogether.

While Adams could not reiterate enough that “there is absolutely nothing funny about climate change,” mentioning ocean acidification, world-wide famine and the mass-extinction of our fellow Earth-inhabiting species as a few of the disastrous consequences, he made the claim that we should laugh at the matter to stay sane.

The first part of his presentation consisted of a series of “memes” that he unapologetically stole from the internet, meant to display the ridiculousness of being a climate-denier, or one who believes that global warming is not real.

Adams, pointing out that about 95 percent of the world’s scientists accept and have substantial evidence that climate change is, in fact, happening, used a quote from John Oliver, a political commentator and television host, to criticize all the attention given to debating this issue.

“One in four Americans is skeptical of climate change. Who gives a shit?” said Oliver. You don’t need people’s opinions on a fact.” To constantly debate the issue is to suggest that there is equal weight to both sides of the argument, which is not the case, said Adams.

To those who still do not acknowledge the facts, Adams uses a poster from the Occupy movement to reason with them, pleading that they think logically about what makes more sense: environmental groups and activists everywhere using their limited funds to conspire with the majority of the world’s scientists to create a hoax that could destroy the global economy, or big oil companies using their outrageous profit to bribe anyone they can to protect their future profit.

Making the necessary changes to stop and reverse the effects of global warming would not only be devastating to the profit of the oil companies, but for the average citizens would drastically change life as we know it, he said.

“We are all addicts. We have a profound addiction to fossil fuels,” Adams said, admitting that he drove his 2001 Prius held together only by bumper stickers to the talk rather than choosing a “green” alternative form of transportation like a bus.

However for the most part, he makes a significant effort to live environmentally-friendly, he said.

He once made a comment to a stranger in a parking lot who left their car idling, secretly fighting the urge to slash his tires, he said. This behavior revealed a resemblance between him and Casey, the protagonist of his book “Love in the Time of Climate Change (2014).”

This novel is one of the few that represent a new genre of fiction referred to as “Cli-Sci Rom-Com (Climate-Science Romantic-Comedy),” which Adams himself pioneered. His stories use humor and romance to address the daunting topic of climate change and its catastrophic effects on the world.

In an act of “shameless self-promotion,” Adams read an excerpt from his novel in which Casey, a community college professor with “Obsessive Climate Disorder,” ruins a romantic encounter because of his inability to focus on anything other than the energy-wasting going on around him.

There is a risk in writing humor because people might not think you’re funny, or may even take offense, Adams said. “But I honestly believe it’s a way to reach people who would never read nonfiction about climate change.”

His second novel, “Kaboom” (2016), tells the tale of two teenage girls who become activists when their favorite mountain is threatened by a method of coal extraction that uses dynamite to blow mountaintops off.  

The small classroom where the talk took place provided an intimate environment that allowed for discussion among Adams and his listeners.

Audience member Sue Bridge, founder of the local WildSide Gardens, commented on the strange phenomenon that people are not coming together to fix the mess we have gotten ourselves into. She recalls growing up during World War II when everybody rationed, grew their own gardens and lived responsibly in a transformative way, wondering why we aren’t doing so now.

“I think he was right how people get scared away because it’s such a heavy subject, that we all could die someday because of this,” journalism student Caroline McCann said of Adams.

Biology Professor Jeff Podos, also in the audience, brought some positivity to the table saying that in the past 10 years he has seen significantly more awareness on the issue and strides taken to make a difference, especially at UMass Amherst. The school has proven its position as a leader in sustainability across the nation by divesting from investments in fossil fuel companies and receiving numerous awards for being a “top green college campus,” Podos said.

“I’m optimistic that all of us can rise to the challenge,” Adams said.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Speech story examples and tips

Click HERE for speech story examples: Two stories about the Foley symposium for comparison. Note the different approach to the lead and similar nut graphs.


  • Avoid making unreported generalizations and definitely don't start your piece with one. Start by diving into the one thing you would say about the talks if you only had a sentence to say it. Don't  just say a science professor and fiction writer spoke at UMass Tuesday, for example. Tell us what his message was in the lead.
  • Avoid cliches.
  • Tone should be professional -- NOT promotional.
  • Write lean. Don't say "Then she continued to say..." or "Asked about this, she said..." etc. Go through your piece after you write it and see if you can trim words. Don't repeat anything.
  • Keep your paragraphs short and tightly focused.
  • DETAILS will make or break your piece. Write vividly, concretely
  • Use first and last name for people you quote. Don't directly quote anyone who won't give you his/her name. After the first reference by first and last name, refer to people in your story by last name only.
  •  Do NOT lead with a sweeping, unreported generalization; plunge right into the reported material.
  •  Lead should do more than just say the event occurred; it should be direct, reader friendly and engaging!


  • Journalism is the reporting of the visible and verifiable. Reporters describe what they can observe and what identified sources tell them. Reporters don't speculate or presume to know about their subjects' mental states and do not relay information that they have not verified and substantiated with objective facts.
  •  Keep your opinions/judgments out of the story. Don’t editorialize, make predictions or  grand claims


  • Don’t pile on the adjectives and adverbs and reporter’s editorializing. For instance, instead of saying she is an extremely likable person , say, Her friends describe her as an “extremely likeable”  person.  (If they do.)
  •  In general, keep the reporter and the mechanics  of the interview out of the story. Get to the story!
  • Put your best, most vivid, reported material up top. Put details anyone could get off your subject’s resume low in the story
  •  Double- and triple-check name spellings! 
  • Use “said” vs other words like it.
  •   AP style is to NOT capitalize academic subjects & do not capitalize  job titles unless the title comes RIGHT before the job holder’s name.
  •  In general, write in past tense
  •  News stories do NOT have essay-style conclusions. 
  •  Don’t write  “When asked a question about this or that.” Just tell us what your source said. If need be you could say “As for this or that…”
  •  Don’t alter direct quotations AT ALL.  But if a person says gonna or shoulda, write going to and should have
  •  Write with the idea that you will try to get it published. Don’t include material that will appear “dated” or as if  it’s “old news” a few weeks from now. If  your feature, for instance, is about an event that is coming up, mention the date and time of the event high in the story.
  •  Describe/SHOW vs. Tell.
  • The more reporting, the better. You can’t make up for a lack of reporting by trying to write cleverly. For most stories, you will need several voices, so that you’re not going back to the same source for more than a couple or so paragraphs. Every page should have a lively, dynamic mix of voices – not just one person! 
  •  Eliminate wordiness! Again, Do NOT repeat anything!! 
  • Paraphrase or rewrite rather than using parentheses/brackets. You should only need to use parentheses once or twice a year – NOT once or twice in a single paper.
  •  Keep quotes short so that they have a greater impact. Paraphrase!!
  •   Don’t jam together, spliced by a comma,  two complete and unrelated sentences. For instance, don’t say something like, “Wearing her black moccasins, Jane Doe is a graduate of UMass.”  Avoid getting into traps like this by using SVO.
  •  Commas and periods INSIDE quotation marks.
  •  Put TV shows, book titles, article titles, movie titles in quotation marks.