Monday, September 15, 2014

"We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks" on Netflix

The documentary about Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning, "We Steal Secrets" on Netflix: HERE.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Resources for writing about transgender people

Some helpful links on reporting and writing about transgender people:

Poynter: Nine ways journalists can do justice to transgender people's stories Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLADD) Media Guide

Article about the misguided questions Katie Couric asked about genitalia and Laverne Cox's answer at Salon. Laverene Cox quote: "I do feel there is a preoccupation with that. The preoccupation with transition and surgery objectifies trans people. And then we don’t get to really deal with the real lived experiences. The reality of trans people’s lives is that so often we are targets of violence. We experience discrimination disproportionately to the rest of the community. Our unemployment rate is twice the national average; if you are a trans person of color, that rate is four times the national average. The homicide rate is highest among trans women. If we focus on transition, we don’t actually get to talk about those things."

Interviews with Katie, Karyssa and Ethan

Interview with James Bottini

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Fall 2014 Syllabus

JOURN 300: NEWSWRITING and REPORTING, FALL 2014-- T/TH   4-6  p.m. – Integrative Learning Center S413
Journalism 300 is a hands-on, nuts-and-bolts news writing and reporting class in which we learn and discuss:
• What is news
• How to identify and pitch a good story
• How to report and conduct interviews
• The news story "formula," especially leads and nutgraphs
• Kinds of stories and how to tell them
• The journalistic principles of fairness, accuracy, telling the truth and serving the public good

Email me anytime at MARY CAREY, 413-588-4274 (cell)
Class blog:

REQUIRED TEXT: Melvin Mencher, News Reporting and Writing (latest edition)


AP Style Guide online
Daily newspapers and news magazines. Try to scan online and in print at least one of the local newspapers including the Collegian, Daily Hampshire Gazette or Springfield Republican every day. Also be aware of what’s on the front page of, for instance, the Boston Globe and New York Times. Each class, one or more students will bring in a newspaper article and comment on some aspect of the news, news coverage, style, choice of stories or contrast between coverage. Being conversant with what is in the news is essential to writing it.


Grades are based on timely and thoughtful completion of in-class and out-of-class writing assignments and quizzes, multi-media blog, attendance and in-class participation. Writing criteria include news judgment, clarity of writing, grammar, accuracy, organization, spelling, conciseness, use of AP style, and meeting deadlines. Although the big picture things like news judgment and solid reporting are important, misspelling names and other seemingly minor shortcomings can ruin a story and your reputation, so they will count. Numerical equivalent of grades: A=95, A-=92, A-/B+ =90, B+88 etc.


Not making appointments or missing the action will also undermine your career and the class. You MUST tell me BEFORE class if you are going to be absent and it has to be a legitimate excuse. (I read my e-mail regularly and have a phone message machine at home.) Otherwise you will receive zeroes for the day’s assignments. Please do not be late or leave early. More than three absences and/or repeatedly being late or leaving early will result in a significantly lowered final grade, with the grade being lowered by a full half grade for each absence over three.


In-class writing assignments usually won’t be longer than 2-3 (500-750 words) typewritten pages. Most major assignments are 1,000 words or 4 pages. First drafts must be in turned in on-time for credit. Not turning in a first draft or turning in an insufficiently complete first draft will result in a significantly lower final draft grade. Among your assignments are a profile (counts for 10 percent of final grade), feature (15 percent), coverage of a speech (10 percent), issue piece (15 percent)  analysis on deadline (10  percent), blog (5 percent), deadline assignments and quizzes. See schedule for complete breakdown of how the final grade is calculated.


Any instance of plagiarism or any other form of cheating is cause for course failure.

Fall 2014 schedule

SPRING 2014 Schedule
Tuesday/Thursday 4 – 6 p.m.
Integrative Learning Center S413

This is a tentative schedule of topics subject to revision to accommodate the news, campus goings-on that we’ll attend and classroom visitors. Check the blog ( for updates and changes. Note: Each day two or more students will bring in an article to discuss and post an "AP Style tip" to the blog.

SEPT 2 Introduction - discuss leads, effective interviewing, AP Style and (briefly) the nutgraph. Email to me at TONIGHT 500 words about the first day of class. Should have a good lead and at least one direct quotation.
FOR NEXT CLASS: To hand in next class, a WRITTEN list of three potential speeches/presentations we can visit on campus, ASAP in the next couple of weeks preferably during class time. (We will be writing the 650-word SPEECH paper about whichever speech we attend.)  In the written list that you bring into class on Thursday, include 1) who is giving the speech and 2) the topicwhere/when it is being held, a brief couple of sentences of background information about the speaker and, if possible, the topic.  We’ll pick one of the speeches you’ve identified to attend. (One option could be Laverne Cox, transgender rights activist and Emmy-nominated actress from the Netflix series Orange is the New Black, who will kick-off the Common Read Program.)
READ: Chapter 5 on Leads and Chapter 15 on Interviewing Principles
SEPT 4 - Review leads, Chapters 5 and 15 and the class blog; discuss where and when we can go to a speech

SEPT 9 In groups of 3-4, one student will interview another on a subject of his/her choice while a third student videotapes it using a phone or camera. Keep it around 3 minutes or under. We’ll upload them to the class blog and analyze them.
SEPT 11  Analyze interviewing videos, Bring in  400-500 written piece with photo based on your interview of a classmate. (5 percent of final grade) ATTEND TALK BY LAVERNE COX
NEXT: READ: Chapter 16 on speeches.

SEPT 16  SPEECH PAPER ON LAVERNE COX DUE. We will attend a talk by an outdoor journalist  and alumnus Kevin Riley. Take detailed notes, interview 2-3 audience members about the talk and write a 600 word speech/event story, due Thursday.
SEPT 18 FIRST ASSIGNMENT DUE (600 words event story on Tuesday’s speakers, worth 5 percent of final grade) In-class work on blogs; NEXT: Write a brief profile pitch to present next class.

SEPT 23  Present profile pitch; if time, work on blogs. NEXT, READ: Chaps. 2 and 3.
WRITE: 500 word “pre-first draft” profile with lead, nutgraph and quote(s).
SEPT 25:  Turn in pre-first drafts. Peer edit. NEXT, READ: Chap. 7 on the Writer's Art.

SEPT 30  Depending on which speech we attend, 650-750 word speech story may be due (10 percent of total grade)
OCT 2 In-class, deadline writing assignment #6: In pairs, interview 4 people on campus on subject TBA; write 500 word story on-deadline with quotes from each of your sources. (5 percent of total grade)
READ: Chap. 8 on Features.

PEER EDIT first draft profiles.
READ: Chapter 18 on Accidents and Disasters and Chapter 19 on Obituaries. Write Feature Pitch for next class.
OCT 9   FEATURE PITCH; if time, work on blogs.

OCT 14 NO CLASS/UMASS follows MONDAY SCHEDULE READ: Chapter 21 on Courts.
OCT 16 Discuss chapters on accident, obituaries and courts. In-class deadline assignment/obituary writing exercise (5 percent of total grade)

 OCT 21  FINAL DRAFT PROFILE DUE (1,000 words, INCLUDE WORD COUNT, 10 percent of total grade) In-class work on feature drafts. Discuss Issue paper & interviews with 2-3 "experts." Review for MIDTERM QUIZ. Next: READ: read Chaps. 11 on layered reporting. and 14 on sources.
OCT 23 ***MID-TERM QUIZ *** If time, work on blogs; do advance work on your features as a pre-first draft is due next class (5 percent of total grade)

OCT 30   FIRST DRAFT FEATURE DUE (1,000) words. In-class work on features, issue, experts.

NOV 4  Issue pitch.
WRITE: 500-word Issue PRE-First Draft to peer edit next class.
NOV 6  In-class work on Issue papers.  Peer edit Issue pre-first drafts. Final FEATURE DUE (1,000 words, include word count, worth 15 percent of total grade)
READ: Chap 20 on police and Chapters 24 on Government  and 25 on Reporters and the Law. Review Massachusetts Open Meeting Law. Discuss progress on Feature and Issue papers.

NOV 13   Discuss chapters on accidents and obituaries. In-class deadline assignment
FIRST DRAFT ISSUE (1,000 words with 4 voices, 2 of whom are "experts") due. READ: Chaps. 26 on Taste in Journalism and 27 on Morality.

NOV 18  Discuss Chapters 26 & 27; in-class work on issue paper, blogs
NOV 20  In-class work on Issue paper.  Review for FINAL QUIZ.

NOV 25 FINAL ISSUE PAPER DUE. (1,000 words; include word count, 15 percent of total grade)/END OF SEMESTER QUIZ  Discuss summary/analysis writing.

DEC 2 – In-class deadline assignment 16: Watch film and write SUMMARY/ANALYSIS with quote(s) from someone in class (10 percent of final grade) on deadline, due at end of class.
DEC 4 -  LAST DAY OF CLASS/RECAP Final blog presentations

How the final grade is calculated:

Sept. 16 talk paper – 5 percent
Articles/AP tips – 5 percent
Blog – 5 percent
Interviews with your classmate (video and written) 5 percent
Speech paper – 10 percent
Oct. 2 deadline assignment – 5 percent
Oct. 16 obituary assignment – 5 percent
Profile – 10 percent
Midterm – 5 percent
Feature – 15 percent
Issue – 15 percent
Film Analysis – 10 percent
Final – 5 percent

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Friday, May 30, 2014

Interesting article about why taking notes by hand (rather than with a keyboard) improves your recall of the information:

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Last day of class

Thanks for a great semester!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

This is our interview with Amherst Police Officer Jamie Reardon.
By: Xiaoxiao Hu, Morgan Morselli and Taylor Gilmore

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Good example of an Issue story

Ethan's Story, Part 1:

Part 2 (with video);

Part 3

News "brief" about how a food blogger caused Subway to remove an ingredient from its bread:

Subway ‘yoga mat’ ingredient will be removed in a week

After a spate of bad publicity over the use of an ingredient also used in the making of yoga mats, Subway confirmed that the chemical will be removed from all of its breads in a week.

The sandwich chain earlier this year drew criticism after a food blogger launched a petition urging the company to remove azodicarbonamide, an ingredient used as a bleaching agent and dough conditioner.

A spokeswoman confirmed an Associated Press report in which Subway’s chief marketing officer Tony Pace said the chain will have phased out the ingredient from its bread in the next week.

Azodicarbonamide is found widely in other products, including foods served at McDonald’s and Burger King. The chemical, however, is banned from use in foods in Great Britain, the European Union and Australia. A 1999 World Health Organization study found it induces asthma in humans.

In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration says the ingredient can be “safely used” if it is intended for use as an “aging and bleaching ingredient” used in flour in an amount that doesn’t exceed 2.05 grams per 100 pounds of flour. It can also be used as a dough conditioner. The use of the ingredient was the subject of blogger Vani Hari’s petition earlier this year.

Monday, April 7, 2014

AP style points to review

1) What is AP style for movie titles, TV shows, novels? Newspapers and magazines? Newspaper articles? 2) When do you capitalize formal titles? 3) After mentioning sources by first and last name, do you then refer to them as Mr. Smith, Ms. Jones, Dr. so-and-so? 4) How do you handle percentages? Height and dimensions? 5) How do you write addresses?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Good parody of cliched, empty and abstract language and images intended to distort meaning and manipulate:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Simonica Mendes
Michelle Liu Class Visit

Michelle's class visit was very informative. It was very nice to hear about what she does at her job and what a typical day is like for her especially since most of us haven't been in that sort of environment before. I found it to be very easy to relate to Michelle because she is close in age with many us and she was also a journalism student. Michelle was also helpful in telling us about classes and things to be involved with while we're here at UMass that will be beneficial for our future. Although I'm not aiming to be a producer in the future, I learned from Michelle that it is better to have a wide skill set that can open many doors for you.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Feature assignment/Midterm quiz Spring 2014 answers

Journalism 300, Spring 2014 Feature assignment – Should be about a trend, group, phenomenon, event etc. First Draft due March 26, Final: April 7
·        1,000 words (include word count)  with photo(s).
·        Interview and quote a minimum of four (4) sources. You must include their complete names. Don’t quote people who won’t tell you their names.
·       Write your story with the idea of getting it published. Don’t include dated information. If you’re writing about an event that already happened make sure that the story is still relevant.
Journalism 300 – Spring 2014 midterm answers
1)     B is a better quote because it includes specific information, details and an example of why Mary is an admirable person. A just has general, clichéd comments.
2)     A standard obituary should include: name, age, occupation and address of deceased; Date and place of death, Cause of death, Date of birth and birthplace; Survivors in the immediate family; Memberships, military service; Awards and achievements, funeral arrangements, Where to send donations in the deceased's honor.
3)     The reporter should always prepare as much as possible in order to understand an event, not waste a source’s time with questions the reporter can easily find the answers to ahead of time and to assure the source that the reporter is interested and professional.
4)     The lead is the most important sentence in the story and should get to the heart of the event. There is no need to cram in every who, what, when, where and what time detail.
5)     “Remarkable” is not a reporter’s word. It adds judgment and is “editorializing.”
6)     Words like progress, freedom, liberal and conservative are too abstract. They mean different things to different readers and could be considered biased or “loaded” with insinuations.
7)     A is not a good lead because it is way too gory. B is not good because it includes a cliché (beating a dead horse) and is a question.
8)     Calling an oil rig a an “oil farm” is an example of a euphemism and is designed to obscure meaning.
9)     Always use “said” vs. other words like “exclaimed,” “expounded,” “propounded” and other words like them.
10)  Direct quotations must always be the speaker’s exact words. Otherwise, a reporter could start saying whatever he or she wants and saying a source said it.
11)  On-the-record means you can quote a source saying something. Off-the-record means you cannot attribute this information to this source.
12)  Journalism IS the reporting of the visible and verifiable – not the speculative, hearsay, or unobserved.
13)  The reporter cannot report what a subject is thinking, unless the subject tells the reporter he or she is thinking this.
14)  Reporters use the word “disaster” when there have been many deaths, damage, destruction and displacement.
15)  A nutgraph lets the reader know what the story is about, why it is relevant, what its context is and it gives the reader a “roadmap” to the rest of the story.
16)  The nutgraph in the story begins, “Conversations with area law enforcement…” as this paragraph puts the story of a particular overdose victim into broader perspective and tells us why her story is relevant and what other points the story will cover.
17)  The meeting begins at 6 p.m. and should be over well before midnight.
18)  University of Massachusetts Police Chief John Horvath explained to neighbors that there aren’t enough police officers to stand around in neighborhoods on weekend nights to deter people from trampling on all the residents’ lawns.
19)  My birthday is in September, and my niece, who is from Waltham, Mass., turns 15 on Oct. 1.

20)  President Barack Obama said there was a 43 percent reduction in obesity in young children.