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Weed 5 Friday


  1. Review comments for your photojournalism post.
  2. Basics of news writing
  3. Types of readers
  4. Writing for online readers
  5. Next week: Bring a draft to your individual meeting with me. (For Week 6: You only need to attend class during your scheduled individual meeting time. Otherwise, there is no need to attend class.)

📷 Wrap up the Photojournalism Module…

  1. Review your feedback for the assignment.
  2. Check out a few good peer works: Torin; McKenna; Braden

✏️ Refer To These Tips As You’re Writing Your Story…

  • Write for the specific story angle, not the general story topic.
  • Make it clear why the audience should care early in the story.
  • Write a strong lead to pull readers in. Then expand on the lead in the rest of the story.
  • Set the scene early in the story. Use anecdotes (short stories from your sources).
  • In the middle, thoroughly explain the issues. Keep emphasizing the importance, so what, and impact of the story.
  • Stick to facts as much as possible. If opinion is in your story, it should be your sources’ opinions, not your’s.
Goal: Write in active voice as much as possible.
  • Write with active, descriptive verbs whenever possible.
    • Good example: Runchao teaches tomorrow.
    • Bad example: Runchao is going to teach tomorrow.
  • Save the most interesting and descriptive quotes for direct quotes in your story. Direct quotes that merely state simple facts, that are poorly worded, or that are boring are not helpful. Paraphrase that information.
  • Let the subjects speak. We want to hear what the sources, not the reporter, have to say about this story. Facilitate this connection between the subjects and the audience by using a lot of quotes and descriptions (or if a visual presentation, showing the subjects).
  • Transition well. Avoid jumping around. Avoid incomplete thoughts and unclear associations of story elements.
  • Proofread! Be your own editor. Cut unnecessary words. Use the active voice. Clean up comma errors. Correct misspellings. Keep an eye out for grammar errors (e.g., its/it’s).
  • Use AP Style (e.g., for abbreviations, addresses, capitalization, numerals, punctuation/spelling, time/date). AP Style Cheat Sheet.
  • Close the story with a resolution by saying what’s next or summarizing the outcome or providing an interesting or strong quote. Remember this isn’t a research paper, so no “In conclusion…”.

📰 What Kind of Readers Are Out There?

There are three types of readers. You need to write for all three in a story.**

  1. Comprehensive readers (read the whole story)
  2. Samplers (read the lead and parts of a story before quickly moving on)
  3. Scanners (read headlines, labels, captions, fact boxes, graphics, and other quick reads)

✏️ Refer To These Tips As You’re Writing Your Story

*How Should I Write For All Three Types of Online Readers?*

  • Online reading is 25% slower than print reading.
  • We scan more online.
  • We construct our own nonlinear reading experience online. Thus, you need to use concise, informative headlines, summaries, and hyperlinks to more resources about the story.
  • Each paragraph should have no more than 2 or 3 short, simple sentences.
  • A direct quote should stand out in its own paragraph. Do not bury direct quotes in the middle of a paragraph!
  • Attribute sources.
  • Bold the chunk titles/subheadings in your story.
To write stronger news stories, read more news stories. To write stronger press releases, read more press releases AND news stories. To write stronger advertising copy, read and deconstruct more advertising. The point: whatever your media message goals are, you need to invest substantial time in consuming those messages.

🔍 Practice: As an online news consumer…You can learn to be a better online news writer.

Read, review, and reflect on this profile by the New York Times:
Fighting Social Injustice Through Graffiti, and Making a Business of It

Discuss the following questions with a neighbor:

  • What kind of reader are you when reading this news story?
  • What is the story angle?
  • Why do you or why don’t think it is a specific story angle?
  • Is it clear why the audience should care early in the story? Which part of the story is doing this job?
  • What’s the lead that pulls readers in? Locate this passage.
  • Have the reporter show any personal opinions or reveal their role as the reporter?
  • How do you think about the writer’s use of active voice and descriptive verbs?
  • How do you evaluate the direct quotes used in the story?
  • Are they interesting enough to be direct quotes, as opposed to paraphrasing?
  • Can you follow the story well? How are the transitions working for you?
  • How does the story end? Is there a resolution or summary or other creative uses for ending a profile?

Review the Assignment Guidelines!

  • The story can be hard news or soft news (e.g., a feature story, personality profile).
    • A feature story doesn’t deliver the news directly, as a hard-news story does. A feature story, while containing elements of news, aims to humanize, add color, educate, entertain, and illuminate.
  • The story is NOT public relations or promotional.
  • The story should NOT be written in the first-person anywhere (i.e., none of your opinions or experiences should appear in the story).
  • Do NOT refer to your role as the reporter as well.
  • The story should NOT be a critical review of movies, products, music, etc.
  • Number of Interviews (2 minimum, face-to-face, unless otherwise given permission)
  • Minimum of two relevant photos that you took yourself
  • Two relevant links (at minimum)
  • Story Structure (Appropriate headline; Short sentences and paragraphs; Presence of opinions should be from sources, not yourself; Use of bolded chunk titles.👉Refer to the writing tips in this post)
  • Minimum of 750 words. Maximum of 850 words.
  • Attribution and Quotes
    • Paraphrased information vs. directly quoted information.
    • Location of direct quotes (should be at the beginning of paragraphs)
    • Frequency of direct quotes (every few paragraphs)

💡Tell me your original story angle…

  • Remember a story angle is specific: specific people, specific places, specific times, and specific anecdotes. Do not suggest a vague, general topic such as “getting involved with student groups.” We need details to write a strong story.
  • Consider the feasibility of your story by checking the above tips and requirements.

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