Journalism 2001 Week 2: September 20, 2010
Review of last week’s news • Hard News: (murder, City Council, government, etc.) • Major local stories • Major national/international stories • Major sports stories • Soft News: (retirements, school programs, human interest) • Local stories • National/International stories • Sports stories • Statesman • Today’s Front Pages
Announcements • Who you are • Freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors • English, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Criminology, International Relations, Writing Studies, Computer Science, Communication, Environmental, Studies, undecided majors • Aspiring speech-language pathologists, columnists, lawyers, broadcast journalists, reporters, travel writers, Foreign Service, National Geographic photographer/writer, authors, many unsure! • All curious and interested in improving writing!
Extra Credit Opportunities • Laurie Hertzel Presentation • Anyone attend? • 5 paragraph summary due September 24 • Will be posted on class website • Marty Weintraub/Manny Rivas Presentation • Anyone attend? • 5 paragraph summary due September 24 • Will be posted on class website
Let’s turn in Duluth News-Tribune Analysis • What did you learn???? • Using the Thursday, September 16 Duluth News-Tribune, list the stories on the front page, local section and the sports pages. Keep evaluations brief: no more than three sentences each.
In-Class Assignments • Check egradebook: • www.d.umn.edu/egradebook • Remember that lowest score dropped! • Tonight’s assignment: • Summary lead exercise • AP Stylebook exercise
Chapter 3: Newswriting Basics • Summary lead literally sums up the story in the lead, giving the reader the most important information first • Developed in Civil War when stories sent by telegraph • Continued into the 1970s with wire service telegraph machines
Just the facts You must try to be objective. Truthful. Fair. • Good reporters respect integrity of facts. • Facts tell the story. • Readers draw their own conclusions. • Where do opinions belong in a newspaper? • Most newspaper stories can be placed on a continuum. • Ranges from rigidly objective (breaking news) to rabidly opinionated (movie reviews).
The 5 Ws and H! • Who? • What? • When? • Where? • Why? • How? Focal point determines emphasis in lead
The WHO The WHAT • Readers love stories that focus on people. • WHO keeps it real. • Who’s involved? • Who’s affected? • Who’s going to benefit? • Who’s getting screwed? • WHAT gives news its substance. • Stories become dry and dull if they focus too much on WHAT. • Need WHO.
The WHEN The WHERE • Timeliness essential to every story. • When events happened or will happen. • How long they lasted or will last. • The closer the event, the more relevant it is for readers. • Many stories require supplements. • Map • Diagram • Photo
The WHY The HOW • Finding explanations difficult. • The WHY is what makes news meaningful. • Often requires detailed explanation. • Sometimes omitted to save space. • Readers love “how-to” stories.
Inverted pyramid • Put the most important news first • Organize the rest of the paragraphs in descending order of importance • Why? Lets readers quickly scan a newspaper story and decide whether to continue reading it • Different from short stories, novels, most feature stories • Easy to cut stories as needed to fit news hole
The inverted pyramid Newswriting format summarizes most important facts at story’s start This is the lead, which summarizes the story’s most important facts This paragraph adds more details or background This paragraph adds even more details This adds more details More details
Writing basic news leads How to write an effective news lead • Collect all your facts. • Lead should summarize. • The more you know, the easier it is to summarize. • Sum it up. Boil it down. • List who, what, when, where, why of story.
Writing basic news leads How to write an effective news lead • Prioritize the five W’s. • Lead contains the most important facts. • Which of the key facts deserves to start the first sentence? • Rethink. Revise. Rewrite. • Is it clear? • Is it active? • Is it wordy? • Is it compelling?
Writing basic news leads How to write an effective news lead • Writing leads often a process of trial and error. • Try different approaches. • Create different leads using the… • Who. • What. • When. • Where. • Why.
Beyond the basic news lead • Be accurate. • Remember what day it is. • Don’t name names. • Use strong verbs. Story checklist • Ask “Why should I care?” • Sell the story. • Don’t get hung up. • Move attributions to the end of the sentences.
Leads that succeed • Basic news leads • Anecdotal/ narrative leads • Scene-setter leads • Blind leads • Roundup leads A roundup of commonly used options • Direct address leads • The startling statement • Wordplay leads
Leads that succeed • Basic news leads • Summary lead • Combines five W’s into one sentence. • Delayed identification lead • Withholds the name of the person in question until the second paragraph • Immediate identification lead • Uses a public figure or celebrity in the sentence.
Leads that succeed • Anecdotal/ narrative leads • Have a beginning, middle and end. • Will be mini-story with symbolic resonance for bigger story. • Scene-setter leads • Lack urgency of hard-news leads. • Borrowed from fiction. • Blind leads • Extreme delayed information lead. • Deliberately teases reader.
Leads that succeed • Roundup leads • Rather than focus on one person, place or thing, impress reader with longer list. • Direct address leads • Use second-person voice. • The startling statement • Also called a “zinger” or a “Hey, Martha.” • Wordplay leads • Encompass wide range of amusing leads.
Leads that succeed • Topic leads • Convey no actual news. • Question leads • Are irritating stalls. • Quote leads • Don’t fairly summarize the story. …and three lazy leads you should usually reconsider
After the lead…what next? Add another paragraph • Know how long the story should be. • Briefs and brites: • Brief – written using the inverted pyramid. • Brite – written with more personality than a brief. Write the nut graf • Paragraph that condenses the story idea into nutshell.
Story structure Giving an overall shape to writing • The martini glass • Use for: • Crimes. • Disasters. • Dramatic stories. The lead Key facts in inverted- pyramid form Chronology of events Kicker
Story structure Giving an overall shape to writing • The kabob • Also called Wall Street Journal formula or the Circle. • Use for: • Trends. • Events where you want to show actual people. Anecdote Nut graf Meat Meat Meat Anecdote
Story structure Keeping readers from getting bored • Modern journalist’s job basically boils down to • Teaching. • Storytelling. • Use narratives when you can. • Think like a teacher.
Story structure Writing tips as you move from paragraph to paragraph • Keep paragraphs short. • Write one idea per paragraph. • Add transitions. • Alternatives to long, gray news stories • Bullet items • Sidebars • Subheads • Other storytelling alternatives
Story structure The big finish • Good writers agonize over the kicker as much as the lead. • Plan ahead. • Don’t end with a summary. • Avoid clichés. • End with a bang.
Rewriting Good story. Now make it better. • Writing is rewriting. • Make things a little better. • Few stories arrive fully formed and perfectly phrased. • Most require rethinking, restructuring and rewording.
Rewriting 5 • Passive verbs • Start sentences with their subjects. • Replace to be with stronger verbs. • Redundancy • Avoid unnecessary modifiers. Reasons to hit the delete key • Wordy sentences • Jargon & journalese • Filter out jargon and officialese. • Clichés • Lower the IQ of your writing.
Active voice • Write in active/rather than passive voice • What’s the difference? • In active voice, the subject performs the action expressed in the verb; the subject acts • In passive voice, the subject receives the action expressed in the verb; the subject is acted upon • Active voice doesn’t mean present tense
Huh? • Active voice: Subject acts • The dog bit the boy. • Mary will present her research at the conference. • Scientists tested the hypothesis by conducting experiments. • Passive voice: Subject acted upon • The boy was bitten by the dog. • Research will be presented by Mary at the conference. • Experiments have been conducted to test the hypothesis.
Rewriting The Fog Index – a readability gauge • Find typical example. • Average number of words per sentence. • Number of “hard” words with 3 or more syllables (no proper names). • Add average number of words to number of “hard” words. • Multiply the sumby 0.4.
Rewriting The Fog Index – a readability gauge • Most Americans read at or about 9th-grade level. • Aim for Fog Index of 7 to 8. • Bible, Mark Twain, TV Guide have Fog Index around 6.
Editing The role editors play in your stories • Before you write • Assigning story. • Planning angle. • Estimating scope. • Anticipating packaging. • While you write • Adding details. • Monitoring speed. • Fine-tuning. • Layout changes.
Editing The role editors play in your stories • After you write • Editing content. • Copy editing. • Cutting or padding. • Assigning follow-up stories.
Newswriting style Who’s right? • Every news outlet customizes guidelines. • Copy desk’s job to standardize style. • Know AP and your news outlet’s style.
66 newswriting tips • Writing leads • The rest of the story • Editing and style • Rules of grammar • Word choices • Nonsexist, nonageist, nondiscriminatory • Punctuation
No two leads the same • Reporters covering the same story will write different leads • Examples from Duluth News-Tribune and Minneapolis Star Tribune
How to write a summary lead • Usually a single sentence • No more than 35 words Bottom line: • Use a single sentence of no more than 35 words in a summary lead
Identifying the focal point • Which W or H is the focal point? • Let’s practice: • The search for a new president for the university has been temporarily postponed. • Who: • What: • When: • Where: • Why: • How: Focal point?
Mayor Jane Doe announced today that she will not seek re-election next year. • Who: • What: • When: • Where: • Why: • How: Focal point?
In an effort to increase awareness on campus, the UMD Kirby Program Board has appointed a new coordinator, and she plans to use more advertising to bring about change. • Who: • What: • When: • Where: • Why: • How: Focal point?
What’s the bottom line for a summary lead? • Usually a single sentence of no more than 35 words. • Usually as long as needed to tell story. • Usually two sentences of no more than 35 words.