Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Fall 2007 study questions for midterm


JOURN 300/FALL 2017
Chapters 3,4,8,9,10 and 14 worksheets with questions to review for midterm

CHAPTER  3 Interviewing
1. What is the most preferable interview and why - in-person, phone, email?
2. What is a primary source? Secondary source?
3. How should you prepare for an interview?
4. What should you learn about a subject before you interview him/her?
5. What is the aim of a profile, according to the text (42)?
6.What can you do to make it easier to ask an uncomfortable question?
7. Fill in the blank: The accurate of your story is only as good as your ______.
8. What are 3 useful questions to ask in an interview?
9. Should you stop answering questions at the end of an interview?

CHAPTER  4 Quotations and Attributions
1. Is every direct quote a good addition to your story? Explain.
2. Should you relate basic facts (where a person was born, for instance)  in direct quotes or paraphrase them?
3. Should you repeat information in quotes, using similar working that you have already included in the story and in the lead-in to the quote?
4. How do you judge whether something is quotable? (63)
5. Why does the text say that "Now and then even a commencement address can yield a great quote or two"? Wouldn't you EXPECT there to many great quotes in a commencement address?
6. What is a colloquialism? Can it be a good addition to a story?
7. Do you need to include words like "huh," "um," and "you know" in a direct quote?
8. Should you verify that everything that someone has said that you directly quote is accurate?
9. What is pre-publication review?
10. Should you ever alter words in a direct quote?
11. If you are quoting from an interview done by someone else, must you acknowledge this?
12. When is attribution NOT needed? (81)
13. Why do reporters and editors prefer the word "said" to other words like it?
14. What are some reasons you should never use anonymous sources?
15. What does off the record mean? Not for attribution? Background? Deep background?

CHAPTER 8 The Inverted Pyramid
1. What is meant by the term "inverted pyramid"?
2. Explain what the problem is with the following leads:
"So, how hot was it yesterday?"
"Amherst residents might be looking forward to warmer weather."
"Amherst residents warmly greeted spring yesterday."
3. What are some reasons that quote leads are not recommended?

CHAPTER 9 Writing to be Read
1. Give an example of a concrete detail vs an abstraction. (175)
2. Give an example of "showing" vs. "telling."
3. Give an example of jargon.
4. Give an example of a cliche and how you could convey the same meaning using a non-cliche.
5. What is a simile? Give an example.
6. What is a metaphor? Give an example.
7. Give an example of jargon (186).
8. What was possibly wrong with describing Nancy Pelosi as a grandmother when she became the first female speaker of the United States House of Representatives? (187)
9. What is AP Style for "pro-choice" and "pro-life." Explain why.
10. Write a scene with dialogue in it.
11. Give an example of a question you might ask a source that would elicit an anecdote that you could use in your story.

CHAPTER 10 Alternatives to the Inverted Pyramid
1. Should all stories be organized according to chronological order? What kind of a story would be good to organize chronologically?
2. What's the difference between a hard news story and a news narrative or feature?
3. What is meant by the "focus structure"? (207)
4. Give some examples of "service journalism." (213)

CHAPTER 14 Speeches, News Conferences and Meetings
1. Explain how a speech is different from a news conference or a meeting.
2. How should you prepare before attending a speech that you will be reporting on?
3. How can you prepare for a meeting story?
4. If something unusual occurs at a speech event, it's best to just leave it out and focus on the theme of the speech. True or False
5. If the reporter is unsure of the main theme of a speech, what is one way to try to find out what it was?
6. Could an interesting story be written about a dull speech?
7) Is there any reason why you interview someone who wasn't at a meeting for a story about it?
8) Should you include direct quotations from a speech or meeting and, if so, who should you quote?

Friday, October 13, 2017

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Updated schedule for next few weeks and two stories about the same event

Click HERE for two approaches to a story about the same event.


OCT 12 ****update: visit from UMass All Star/Greenfield Recorder reporter Aviva Luttrell**** Read about the All Star event that begins at 6 in the Old Chapel at https://www.umass.edu/journalism/all-stars-alumni-panel

  • If time, work on blogs. 
  • NEXT: write 500-word feature PRE-first draft to peer edit next class. 

OCT 17  Peer edit PRE-first draft Feature stories. 
OCT 19  In-class deadline assignment/(5 percent of total grade) 

OCT 24  FINAL DRAFT PROFILE DUE (1,000 words, INCLUDE WORD COUNT, 10 percent of total grade)  
  • In-class work on features.
OCT 26 

  • Discuss potential Issue paper topics & interviews with 2-3 "experts." NEXT: Read Chapter 5 on Gathering and Verifying Information



Describes a group of people, place, event, subculture, trend or just about anything you can think of. Should be visual, with concrete, specific language, anecdotes and examples and a lively mix of voices. 1,000 words

• Write your feature 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 is about an event that is coming up, mention the date and time of the event high in the story.

• Do NOT lead with a sweeping, unreported generalization; plunge right into the reported material

• Describe/SHOW vs. Tell

• The more reporting, the better. You can’t make up for a lack of reporting by trying to write cleverly. You 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! 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.

Aviva – “Wires, computer chips and various other electronic parts cluttered the nearly empty UNOCCUPIED? rows of workstations in the basement laboratoryGOOD SPECIFIC LOCATION; ESTABLISHES THE PLACE WHERE THIS SCENE TRANSPIRED of Marcus Hall at UMass Amherst on a recent Thursday evening.GOOD – PLACES THE SCENE IN TIME Among the mishmash of components and equipment GOOD VISUALS; AS THOUGH THE STUDENTS ARE OUTSIZED BY THE EQUIPMENT sat four students, focused intently on the prototype in front of them.GOOD VISUAL With their April 8 deadline looming, GOOD PLACES THIS IN TIME; ESTABLISHES THAT THIS IS CURRENT, NEWSWORTHYthe group was making the final adjustments to their Senior Design Project – a football helmet fitted with a real-time concussion analyzer.” IF IT WERE A MOVIE, THE CAMERA WOULD NOW ZOOM IN ON THE OBJECT AT THE CENTER OF THE STORY

Jason: Max Nowak pauses in front of a door, DOOR IS SPECIFIC, CONCRETE, VISUALloud music and shrieking voices emitting from the room. He bangs on the door and says, “RA’s on duty!” The room plunges into silence as a nervous resident cracks open the door. CHEERFUL TONE Nowak reminds him of quiet hours and recommends that everyone calm down. It’s just a warning – for now. INTRO PLUNGES US INTO THE ACTION/SCENE

Monday, October 2, 2017

Deadline assignment rubric and example

Tomorrow, we will do the in-class, deadline assignment in groups. I've pasted a rubric for the assignment below, along with an example from last semester.

Thursday is when your 1,000-word first draft of the profile is due for peer editing. (Please include the word count.) If you want to email it to me sooner than that, I'll try to take a look at it.

OCT 3: ****update**** In-class, deadline writing assignment: In your groups, interview 2-4 people EACH on campus on subject TBA; write 500 word story on-deadline with quotes from each of your sources and photos with cutlines. (5 percent of total grade)

OCT 5 -  FIRST DRAFT PROFILE DUE (1,000 words, INCLUDE WORD COUNT) Peer edit, work on blogs.
  • NEXT: Read Chapter 10 on Alternatives to the Inverted Pyramid
  • NEXT: Write Feature Pitch for next class. 

In your groups:

•  Interview at least two people EACH, IN PERSON Ask them an initial question on the topic you've selected. Develop a few follow-up questions and engage them in conversation for a few minutes, so you have a meaningful exchange.

 • Write down exact quotes, but be prepared to paraphrase most of their responses and just pick the best one or two sentences to directly quote. 

• Ask how to spell their names. (Double-check that you wrote it down correctly using UMass.edu Peoplefinder.) Ask them where they are from and what their majors are.

• Try to interview a diverse bunch of people – different majors, different hometowns, different nationalities, gender and race etc

• Ask if you can snap a photo. Use your people skills to encourage them to say yes, but don't be "pushy.".

• When the group re-convenes in the computer lab, talk about the responses everyone got. See if you can make some kind of assertion in your lead BASED ON YOUR REPORTING. 

That is, you will probably have some kind of guiding ideas about, for instance, if you were doing a story about what seniors are going to do when graduate whether seniors are likely to know what they are going to do after they graduate.

But DON’T write a lead based on speculation, and DON’T write a generic, non-reported lead like, for instance: As graduation approaches, college seniors face the daunting prospect of figuring out what to do with the rest of their lives. 

Instead, review all the responses you got and SYNTHESIZE some of the information. For instance, if you interview 10 people and 8 say they have a job, while 2 say they are going to decide what to do next and where to go the day after graduation, you could say something like: Some UMass seniors have already lined up jobs after graduation, which is a mere six weeks away, but a few are waiting until the day after the graduation festivities to decide their next move.

•  After the lead, include a nutgraph saying about how many people were interviewed and characterize the range of their responses. In the body of the paper, mention each of the people you interviewed in a paragraph dedicated to him or her.

 •  Include photos

Email me your pieces by the end of class. (It would be great to submit one or more to the Collegian or Amherst Wire!)


Have We Fallen Out of Love with Valentine’s Day?
Valentine’s Day may be known for candies, roses, and candlelit dinners spent with that special someone, but to a significant amount of UMass students, this past Tuesday was just another cold winter day filled with classes. 
It seems as though the feeling was more passive than passionate this year, especially to the students who spent the day single.
             “I don’t celebrate it because I don’t have anybody to love,” said Becca Demedeiros, a junior animal science major from Fairhaven, rather solemnly.
The general sentiment at UMass does not appear to be one of passion, but of apathy. While there were some who opted for a hopeful night out with friends, the vast majority instead went for the bare minimum, and either got small gifts if they were seeing someone, or simply did nothing at all. In the era of hook-ups and casual affairs, the love may be lost, and it seems as though UMass students have dumped Valentine’s Day.
Those who did not partake in the holiday opted for a far different kind of Valentine’s Day than expected. Some were surrounded by chocolates and flowers, while others, like S., opted for other special treats; the marijuana edibles she made with her friends.
S. spent the day with her closest friends getting high. She does not celebrate Valentine’s Day, and even considers herself to be “anti-Valentine.” 
“I won’t support a day for love when we should be celebrating love every single day, not just one day in February out of the entire year,” she said.
One of those friends getting high with her had a similar sentiment on the romantic holiday. “I spent the whole day high,” said M. M. considers herself “anti-Valentine “There’s just no point to be honest,” she said.
“I don’t see the point in spending a ton of money on commercial products and chocolates when we could be spending money on more important things to help society,” S said.
Other students see Valentine’s Day as a capitalist scheme as well.
The idea that big businesses and corporations flourish off the purchase of cards and flowers seems too shallow to some people, and often times is the source that turns them away from celebrating this day at all. 
Muntaha Elsir, who perhaps rather ironically was campaigning at a heart covered table, filled with free donuts, was blatant about her feelings toward the idea of Valentine’s Day. “I think it’s stupid. I don’t celebrate it because it is purely based off capitalism, not love,” she said.
Elsir (left) sits at a campaigning table in the Student Center
Valentine’s Day comes across as forced for some, and becomes a holiday where expectations are at an all time to high to spoil their significant other.
“In my past relationships it’s been kind of chill,” said Dianna Sorto, a UMass student. She also noted that she spent this past Tuesday in an exam. 
Sorto’s boyfriend, Anthony Tejada, a kinesiology major from Somerville sat across from her. “I just go along with it,” he said. “I just gave her some flowers and candy.” 
Tejada explains the passiveness of the Holiday. “I think it’s just expected that you have to get them a small gift. It is what it is,” Tejada said.
Donna Sorto (left) and Michael Tejada (right) sit for lunch at Blue Wall
As Valentine’s Day continues to be commercialized, many think the day has lost its luster. However, there are still those out there looking for a romantic rendezvous. Student Erica Luttazi, from Franklin, has not given up on the day just yet. 
“It is a bit overdone, but I still went out though.” Luttazi attended a Frat party on Feb. 14 Although this might not be the most ideal place to look for true romantic love, she still gave it the good old college try.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Notes from Kate Fagan's Sept. 21 talk at UMass

    Kate Fagan, signing copies of her book "What Made Maddy Run."

Some notes from Kate Fagan's talk:

Ask questions! When she was a beat reporter for the Philadelphia 76ers, they would have press conferences and she never asked asked questions.

Rather than show the video about Madison Holleran, which Fagan now has criticisms of,  she summed up the story it tells about Holleran a star athlete who took her own life. The headlines were along the lines of "Star Athlete Jumps to Death Over Grades," but Fagan feels there were other angles that were not fully explored, including the transition from high school to college and the conflict over quitting.

Fagan  said she wanted to convey three points, especially, during her talk: 1) The transition to college can be difficult  "It's like going to camp for the first time," she said. To a freshman, it can look like everybody else is doing much better than you are. At UPenn, where Holleran went to college, students speak of "Penn face," a kind of poker face that suggests to other people that "It's all coming easy." 
Looking at other people's carefully selected Instagram and Facebook photos can exacerbate this feeling that other people are doing much better. "I still feel left out when I look at Instagram," Fagan said.

2) Holleran's text messages did not provide much insight, because Holleran apparently deliberately tried to undercut any messages that she was struggling with emoji that seemed to say "re-interpret this message." Fagan had saved the text messages to last when she was looking at Holleran's computer, which Holleran's parents had allowed her to have access to for a weekend. But, "what struck" me, Faga said, "was the lack of insight" she got from the messages. "The lack of insight was insightful."

3) We don't know how to talk about mental health in this country. The person who wakes up generally happy is lucky, but "In this country there's an attitude that some people struggle with mental health and some people are great." This isn't the case, Fagan said. Most people will probably have a mental health struggle sometime in his/her life. 
College can be more like climbing a tree than a ladder,  if you're not sure of the direction you want to go. This can be confusing, and if a student has an issue with anxiety or depression, as Holleran did, it can trigger a struggle.  "It's been pretty eye-opening how lucky I am that when I first wake up I'm pretty happy," Fagan said. 

Other points:

Quitting: Holleran was talked out of quitting the track team, and at the heart of her letter about wanting to quit, "was clearly the idea that she would would be a failure" if she did., Fagan said.
Fagan had wanted to quit playing basketball when she was in college but was similarly talked out of it. What ultimately helped Fagan, she said, was to tell her coach that she did not like the style of coaching that made Fagan the focus of criticisms aimed at the team, in general. Fagan explained to the coach that she responded best to praise and liked to be the "unsung hero."

Perfectionism: Fagan cited a quote "Notice how close perfection it to despair." "That resonates with me," Fagan said. 

The hardest part about writing the book: "I never met Madison Holleran and and trying to feel authoritative about someone you built as a hologram -- I don't know if I'm right." How can Fagan ever really know what went on in Holleran's mind? While writing the book, Fagan had a recurring dream that she would see Holleran at a coffee shop, but when Fagan tried to approach her, she would disappear out a back door. 

There are rules about writing about suicide and once Fagan found out what they were she didn't like them. (There's a chapter in the book about them.) 
Now, Fagan wishes she had written more about the tension when talking about suicide between A) speaking of it as thought it is either predetermined that a person who wants to commit suicide will, and B) finding that someone is to blame or that "someone missed something."

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Interviews Fall 2017

Interviewing tips: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmHjXA8QtfY
Mini-profile example: https://journ300.blogspot.com/2017/02/mini-profile-example.html
Blog post about Kate Fagan 2015 visit to UMass: https://journ300.blogspot.com/2015/10/espns-kate-fagan-at-umass.html

Parker's group:

Kaitlin and Lyndsey:  https://youtu.be/f3mJ5g5qg1o

Tyler and Kaitlyn: https://youtu.be/iPN1DlO2gM8


What's coming up:

SEPT 14  - Analyze interviewing videos, discuss elements of a good mini-profile NEXT:Write a mini-profile of a classmate based on interview and follow-up questions. Include a photo that adds value to your story, for example more information, details or illustration. SEE MINI-PROFILE TIPS BELOW

NEXT: Read Chapter 4 on Quotations and Attributions

SEPT 19: Continue to analyze  interviewing videos, if not finished.  Discuss chapters, how to write a speech story. If time, start blogs.
  • TURN IN HARD COPY OF FIRST ASSIGNMENT: 400-500 word written piece with photo based on your interview of a classmate. (5 percent of final grade) 
  • NEXTREAD: Chapter 14 on Speeches, News Conferences and Meetings
  • NEXT: Write a brief profile pitch to present in class Thursday Sept. 26. Tell us who you plan to write about, what the angle likely will be, who else you can interview about your subject. It should be about a local person and NOT a family member or friend.)
SEPT 21 ******update: ATTEND Kate Fagan event************ 4-6 p.m., Massachusetts Room, Mullins Center

SEPT 26 SPEECH PAPER on Kate Fagan event DUE (10 percent of grade) See Speech Paper Essentials below
  • NEXT:  Bring in to peer edit next class a 500-word, written “pre-first draft” profile with lead, nutgraph and quote(s). 
  • Discuss feature stories. 
SEPT 28   *****update: 
  • PEER EDIT hard copies of profile  pre-first drafts.
  • NEXT: Read Chap. 9 on Writing to be Read
( POSTPONED until OCT 5: In-class, deadline writing assignment: In your groups, interview 2-4 people EACH on campus on subject TBA; write 500 word story on-deadline with quotes from each of your sources. (5 percent of total grade)

In-class, deadline writing assignment: 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)
  • NEXT: Read Chapter 10 on Alternatives to the Inverted Pyramid
  • NEXT: Write Feature Pitch for next class. 



Mini-profile assignment (500 words with photo(s))

  • The lead should make a POINT about your subject. (She LOVES fashion/ Being an EMT wasn't always rewarding/ She was always nervous about traveling but realized it was just as life-changing as people told her it would be when she went to Paris.) 
  • Nutgraph should sum up the points you'll make in the piece. (He had enough negative experiences to learn what the apparently inevitable drawbacks of the job are, but the positive experiences were unforgettable.) 
  • Step back high in the story and give us some facts about your subject. Where he or she is from, some family details, how or why he/she came to UMass. Then "unpack" the points you made in the nutgraph by explaining in greater details, using examples and quote from your subject. Pay attention to your topic sentences/transitions. 
  • Don't forget to include a photo(s)!

Some profile tips:

The reader wants to know what makes your subject unique or interesting.  SHOW vs TELL us that he or she is unique.

For instance, the UMass "omelet lady," who students have written about, is unique, because she 1) interacts with the students so closely, 2) keeps up a steady stream of banter, which not all DC employees do and 3) conveys a strong sense of pride in her job. 

· Provide examples that illustrate/SHOW the qualities you think make your subject interesting

So, for example, SHOW the omelet lady talking to a particular student at a particular time about a particular subject. Don’t just sum up what she USUALLY talks about, or if you do ALSO add a PARTICULAR example. How do you show she is proud of her job? Ask her why she is. Mention that she has a Facebook page. (It turns out her husband started the FB page; interview him! Ask him if she has always been so invested in all of her jobs. Have them met a lot of people through her job? What does she say about it to him? Has she told him of any particularly memorable things that happened on the job? )

· Once you’ve established that this person is unique or otherwise interesting, ask questions about his or her background to discover things that LED to him/her being the interesting person he/she is

For instance, a basketball player SC is shown in his room amid a LOT of clothes, but it is apparent he keeps all his clothes well organized and that he takes care of them. *Ask him WHY he thinks he is neat? *Were his parents neat? *What did they do? *What kind of a house did he grow up in? *Does he value orderliness? If so, does he think it is because the value of it was ingrained in his childhood? Or is he neat because his childhood was kind of chaotic, for instance? *Ask him who has been a big influence in his life and why? *Can he remember any particular instances of this person helping or guiding him or any particular advice this person offered him? You don’t have to go on at great length about his in the piece. Just a couple of sentences would help us “picture” the subject and where he came from.

· Paint a multi-dimensional picture of your subject that goes beyond the main thing you’re concentrating on in the piece/the "angle."

You can do this by asking "evergreen questions." For instance, AM is a lacrosse coach at UMass where she once was a player. She is well-respected by her players for her strong work ethic. Ask what else she does besides lacrosse? Does she bring this strong work ethic to everything she does, would she say? (Maybe she’ll say she’s got a dog, but she’s totally undisciplined when it comes to training her dog and she lets the dog run all over the house and knock things over, for instance.) Where does she think she got this strong work ethic she brings to coaching lacrosse? When did she first start playing lacrosse? Was it her first choice of a sport to play? Did someone encourage her? How? 


1) The lead should get to the heart of the event -- NOT just say it occurred.

2) Include in the first few sentences of the story A)what the occasion was, B)who sponsored it, C) where it was held and –D) how many attended. Include the title if there is one. It’s not necessarily to cram in every detail, such as what time it was held.

3) Nutgraph: This takes the reader beyond the lead and sums up in a few sentences the major points the speaker made or the basic gist of his/her argument/case/presentation. It’s a roadmap to the rest of the story. Can be combined with the paragraph that includes the title, name of occasion etc.

4) Body of story: Take the reader through the points that the speaker made in support of his or her case/main point/argument/presentation. Each paragraph should have a strong topic sentence. Provide specific examples and direct quotes.

5) Interview 3-4 people who attended for their reaction/thoughts. Don’t forget to include this at the end of your paper!