The Loquitur website was completely redesigned this year but I can definitely see more changes being made. I don’t necessarily agree that content should be posted every day, especially in the case of Loquitur. In the event that there is an event to be covered as it breaks then I think just tweeting it and posting photos on Instagram works better. Then after you’ve finished that, you could make a Storify out of the media you created and embed it into a post for your website.
I think all the tips that Chris Snider offers are good, especially the creation of alternative types of content. I think Loquitur could use more polls to garner feedback from the community and promote interactivity. I also like the idea of blogs because I think that really opens the space up to not just staff or editors, but to the community as a whole. It also allows for more personable accounts of a variety of subjects and themes.
I think Loquitur has gotten better with multimedia this year, especially by linking up Loquitur stories and LOQation roll ins, but I know there’s definitely room for improvement. I think a plan needs to be worked out where people take videos or record audio in a way that makes it presentable. But if people can’t even get photos in some cases, it will definitely be a challenge to get more than that.
I think Loquitur’s website also needs a dedicated person to put time and effort into the website, which is a tip from Jake Ortman. It’s not just about hitting the publish button, but making it visually appealing as well. Overall, I think Loquitur’s website definitely needs some more work next year, building off of some of this year’s improvements.
April 13 homework
NYTimes up to April 13
South Carolina Officer Is Charged With Murder of Walter Scott
Last Tuesday, a struggle occurred at a traffic stop. North Charleston police officer Michael Slager shot and killed a man who was attempting to flee. The police officer was charged with murder after a video surfaced showing the details of what has transpired between the two men. This video shed a little more light on the situation than had previously done on the officer’s radio transmission. Slager reported that the man, Walter Scott, had taken his taser, however, the video shows Scott turning to run with wires from the stun gun, and Slager shooting eight times into his back. (April 7)
Video of Walter Scott Shooting Reignites Debate on Police Tactics
In the wake of the shooting of Walter Scott, questions are again being raised on police tactics. The debate has raged with cases such as Eric Garner and Tamir Rice and how these incidents are documented. Part of the debate has raised the question as to whether or not police officers should have to wear cameras on their uniforms in order to record altercations. The body cameras could provide much-needed details in otherwise vague circumstances and evidence. Not only are the body cameras and dash cams used, however, footage from cellphones from bystanders are also used and proving ever more important, as was the case with Scott. These videos can at times become challenged though by police. (April 8)
For Drinking Water in Drought, California Looks Warily to Sea
As the droughts in California rage on, citizens are looking for alternatives. A desalination plant is in the works in San Diego County that would turn water from the Pacific Ocean into drinking water. Small-scale plants already exist throughout California and around the country but as the drought persists, other cities in California are looking for solutions as well. This $1 billion project could provide 50 million gallons of drinking water per day. Problems exist though with this type of alternative, including carbon dioxide emissions and other environmental issues, as well as the threat of wasting money if/when the rains return. (April 11)
I think Issue 23 had good design elements overall. It had good layout elements and eye-catching placements to move the reader around the page. Every section seemed to generally maintain the rule of visual hierarchy by changing headline size and including photos and graphics where they made the most visual sense. Since this was a bit of a special issue, the elements of a front page were not the same, however, there were still headlines, photos, a pull quote jump lines, bylines and photo credit. On the tipsheet, an example of packaging was on the front page with the two Hispanic enrollment stories. Lifestyles also packaged two alumni stories. I do think using infographics has greatly improved this year but I know they definitely could be used more to convey information more simply.
March 30 homework
NYTimes up to March 30
Germanwings Crash in French Alps Kills 150; Cockpit Voice Recorder Is Found
On Tuesday, an airbus crashed in the French Alps. No one on the flight survived, all 150 people were killed. At the news conference the day of the crash, it was considered to be an accident and they looked to the black box for clues to what might have happened. The black box was recovered that evening, which includes audio from the cockpit and possible alarms that may have sounded as the plane went down. Given the terrain, the airbus was completely destroyed, with various parts broken into pieces, as one explained that it “had completely disintegrated.” (March 24)
Fatal Descent of Germanwings Plane Was ‘Deliberate,’ French Authorities Say
After many questions were left unanswered Tuesday evening, the black box provided some much-needed answers. Based on the clues from the black box, French prosecutors came to the conclusion that the pilot had been locked out of the cockpit during the time of the crash and that the copilot, Andreas Lubitz, had intentionally crashed the plane. The plane, which was heading to Germany from Spain, crashed into into the French Alps at an altitude of 6,000 feet. The public prosecutor said that it appeared that the monitoring system had been manipulated. The question still remained, however, as to why Lubitz intentionally crashed a plane with 150 people on board. (March 26)
Co-Pilot in Germanwings Crash Hid Mental Illness From Employer, Authorities Say
After further investigation, authorities announced on Friday that the copilot in the Germanwings crash had a mental illness that went undisclosed to his employer. Doctors’ notes had been found at his home stating that he was too ill to work, one of which had been torn up. Though there are regulations about screening pilots for mental illness that could impede their ability to work, it also falls on the pilots themselves to disclose that information in the first place. According to a chief executive for Lufthansa, Lubitz had passed his company health check. Some airlines have already introduced new rules, requiring two people to remain in the cockpit at all times. (March 27)
Analysis of Issue 22
This week’s top front-page story was a story that related both on and off campus. There was another important event that week, however, with no photo from the event, it was tough figuring out the placement. The top story discussed a list that was released maybe about a month ago and talked with students and staff about what they thought about their hometown being ranked as dangerous, which can be talked about at any time. I think the story was received pretty well and got a variety of perspectives.
The front page also offered a variety of topics. From off campus cities to the interrelation of culture and faith to an LLC leader winning an award, I think this week’s front page really appealed to a lot of people. Lifestyles offers a bit of a mix, with the off-campus flower show story. There are however, two articles on two people involved in the theatre. Events, a club, and reviews were also covered. Most of the sports stories are on-campus games and profiles, except for the back-page story on female athletes.
I think some people do, at times, take the easy way out when finding sources for stories. The graduate profile offers a different perspective since it interviews an alumnus and a classmate of his. A variety of sources were sought out for the Search retreat article, as well as the Camden and Chester story.
News included a preview of the Ivy Young Willis Award, which is being held April 8. The article about Stretton gave somewhat of a preview since it did mention the dates of the shows at the end of the article. In sports, intramural basketball was written about as an upcoming event.
The female athletes article talks about professional athletes around the nation and relates it back to Cabrini by talking with a variety of female athletes on Cabrini’s campus. Lifestyles covered the flower show, but since it was a review, didn’t provide exactly a connection to Cabrini. The dangerous cities article also discusses two cities both within 20 miles of Cabrini and connects it to Cabrini by speaking with people who are from those cities.
March 23 homework
NYTimes up to March 23
Breast Biopsies Leave Room for Doubt, Study Finds
A recent study indicated that breast biopsies might not be as accurate as was thought. The study says that biopsies are not as reliable in identifying subtle abnormalities. These uncertainties can cause women to receive unnecessary treatment or surgery. This “gray area” can be the difference between whether something is benign or malignant. Because a biopsy cannot give a completely accurate result, many recommend getting a second opinion since misdiagnoses can still occur. (March 17)
McConnell Urges States to Help Thwart Obama’s ‘War on Coal’
A Kentucky senator is moving to stop President Obama’s agenda on climate change. Mitch McConnell’s campaign is looking to thwart regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, specifically regulations limiting carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants. These regulations would help reduce the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, however, Kentucky is one of the largest coal producers in the nation. Some have even called Obama’s attempts at creating climate change regulations “unconstitutional.” In addition to other changes Obama is attempting to enact, McConnell is attempting to put an end to Obama’s “war on coal.” (March 19)
Panic at New Orleans Airport as Police Shoot Man Who Attacked T.S.A. Officers
Brief chaos ensued at the Louis Armstrong International Airport in Louisiana when a man attacked TSA agents with wasp spray and wielded a machete. The suspect, Richard White, was the only one to come out of the attack with serious wounds, after a deputy with the sheriff’s office shot him. Several other people were taken to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries, including a TSA agent who was hit by a bullet while fleeing the suspect. The airport continued to operate late into Friday. White died on Saturday and explosives were later found in his bag. (March 20)
Analysis of Issue 21
As far as this week’s editorial goes, I think it is an important issue, given the discussions on the millennial generation and the worth of college in recent weeks. The editorial doesn’t just focus on the worth, but also the skills that are important in the labor market that students just aren’t receiving. This makes it difficult to find a job, much like someone might face difficulties who didn’t go to college at all.
I think a variety of stories were explored in perspectives this week. It had a mix of pop culture, technology, students with disabilities and Spanish culture. The important issues were represented through facing stereotypes, suicide prevention and disabilities in college. The contributing opinions are mainly from the writers themselves.
I think choice of stories was good as well overall. News has a mix of important on-campus events and also presented the value of Spanish in an article. The Spanish-speaking article was not an “obvious” story per se but it is significant.
Lifestyles presented fashion, music, and movies, while having articles about alumni and mental health as well. Though I was not sure the honor societies article really belonged in that section upon reading the headline. It seemed more suited for perspectives since it posed a question. The article itself, however, is not biased but I do wish it would have covered more honor societies on campus, not just the one.
Sports represented through a preview article, two recaps, two profiles, the usual Philly Sports Box, and the March Madness bracket. I thought that was a nice addition this week and I liked how it gave students the opportunity to fill in their own bracket.
Throughout the paper, there can be times when a bigger headline is used at the bottom of the page or when a story may not be as important. I think “the play” of stories is generally well guided however with pictures and graphics.
I think some stories could have used more sources to better represent the story and in some articles, people definitely do interview just the “convenient” sources. Some stories don’t have any sources, which I don’t think is good. News, lifestyles and sports should always have sources. Sources can go hand-in-hand with the quality of reporting, which as I said for sources, isn’t always up to par. Editing can always be worked on as we have been doing this entire semester. The staff is diverse as well.
March 16 homework
NYTimes up to March 16
Hillary Clinton Tries to Quell Controversy Over Private Email
In an ongoing controversy over Hillary Clinton using her private email during her time as secretary of state, there remains more questions than answers. Clinton revealed that she had deleted over half her emails, nearly 32,000. But Clinton had only turned over a little over 30,000 emails to the State Department. Though federal employees may use private accounts, in October 2009, the National Archives and Records Administration announced that “federal records sent or received” had to be preserved in an agency-record keeping system. Clinton preserved her emails on a personal server, but said that there had never been a security breach nor had there been classified material sent. It is not yet confirmed whether or not Clinton’s deleted emails will be able to be retrieved or if they are irrecoverable. (March 10)
Progress Is Slow at V.A. Hospitals in Wake of Crisis
President Obama recently visited the Phoenix V.A. hospital, which has had reports surface regarding poor oversight from officials on waiting lists. The delays in treatment caused some veterans to die. Problems still remain but administration officials have insisted that things are getting better, with significant progress from the department’s new secretary. Obama admitted that trust must be built back up. Some progress has been made, including additional patient visits, on-time appointments and an added 3,000 personnel that have reduced delays. (March 13)
City Council Races Offer Change in Ferguson After Months of Upheaval
Those running for City Council in Ferguson have a lot of work on their hands after the past tumultuous week. In the past week, two Ferguson police officers were shot and Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson resigned. People are looking for answers in this election and the candidates, if elected, will face a lot of pressure to make change happen. Now the question remains whether the changes that need to be made will create higher voter turnout. (March 14)
Analysis of Issue 20
“The presence of eating disorders on a college campus”
Lead: The most important news is in the first sentence and that is that eating disorders have a prominent presence on college campuses. The purpose of the story is then given in the third paragraph when the author tells us that Cabrini held an eating disorder screening in conjunction with National Eating Disorder Awareness week.
Sources: The story only used one source and though she is not a Cabrini student, it told a very compelling story. More sources definitely could have been sought out but simply judging off the one source, Marissa’s story was very powerful. Other sources could have been people from Cabrini, like someone from Active Minds or the Health Center. Online sources could also be used to show statistics of just how prevalent eating disorders are in a college setting.
“A day without an adjunct in higher education”
Lead: The lead introduces some of the problems that may cause an adjunct faculty member to walk out on say, National Adjunct Walkout Day, which is then introduced in the second paragraph. The lead illustrates the problems that face adjunct faculty, which are then supplemented by the sources.
Sources: There are three sources that all seem to agree that walking out of the classroom is not the best way to bring about awareness. All three adjunct faculty members understand the need for awareness but admit that they wouldn’t want to punish the students or diminish their professionalism.
Information: Background information and statistics are also given on adjunct faculty. The author gives statistics on how many adjuncts seek out a second job, how much adjunct professors earn on average, and the percentage of adjuncts at Cabrini, which is then compared to the national average.
“College sidelines seem to always have injured players”
Sources: There were three sources in this story as well—one from an athletic trainer, one from a student who had been injured, and one from a coach. The sources all help give an understanding of how important it is to take care of yourself so as to prevent injuries. I do wish though that maybe another student or two had been interviewed who had suffered from an injury just to get different perspectives on how an injury can truly sideline an athlete.
Information: The author gives lots of background information on how many injuries suffered by college athletes are overuse and that those affected are mostly women. Statistics also range from the sports that see the most injuries to the top three injuries and the prevalence of ACL injuries. The quote from the student who tore her ACL added a nice dimension to the story about picking yourself back up after an injury.
NYTimes up to Feb. 16
Gay Marriage in Alabama Begins, but Only in Parts
Despite declaring the ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, some counties in Alabama would still not issue marriage licenses to those seeking to get married. 52 of the 67 counties of Alabama issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples but judges in other counties were rigorous in their decision not to issue the paperwork that would allow same-sex couples to be married. The governor of Alabama, Robert Bentley, said that he would not take action against the judges who were not issuing marriage licenses. (Feb. 9)
In Chapel Hill Shooting of 3 Muslims, a Question of Motive
Three University of North Carolina students were killed at a condominium complex Tuesday night. A neighbor of theirs, Craig Stephen Hicks, killed the Muslim students—Deah Barakat, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha. The motive for the murders was unclear: family members called it a hate crime, while police said that it appeared to be motivated by an ongoing parking dispute. The killings caused an outrage over Twitter, causing the hashtag #MuslimLivesMatter, as well as questions of why mainstream media was slow to report on the incident. (Feb. 11)
Gunman Believed to Be Behind 2 Copenhagen Attacks Is Fatally Shot, Police Say
Two people are dead after two separate attacks occurred in Copenhagen, Denmark this weekend. Police said on Sunday that they had shot and killed the person believed to be behind the attacks. The first attack on Saturday occurred at a café where a Swedish cartoonist was speaking. The cartoonist, Lars Vilks, has previously caricatured the Prophet Muhammad. He was unharmed in the attack. The other shooting occurred early Sunday outside of a synagogue. The prime minister called the killings a “terrorist attack.” (Feb. 14)
Feb. 9 homework
NYTimes up to Feb. 9
Obama’s Budget Seeks to Loosen Austerity Reins
In his second-to-last budget proposal, Obama proposed a wide range that the $4 trillion would cover, including economic improvements aided by large tax increases. These increases would go towards education, infrastructure and work force development. Budgets and spending are high on the list, however, a revamp of Social Security and Medicare are not. Large tax increases and immigration laws, both proposed in an effort to lift the economy, would also go towards paying for community college, child care, education tax credits, paid sick leave and more. (Feb. 2)
Ebola Drug Aids Some in a Study in West Africa
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has been running rampant for over a year but there is finally a drug being used in a study that just might cut the level of mortality. It has already been shown as effective in the study, with mortality being cut in half with people who had low to moderate amounts of the virus in their blood. The drug does not seem to be effective as of now for people with high levels in their blood, who are also more likely to die from the virus. Better results were also seen from people who received treatment two to three days after showing symptoms. The drug, favipiravir, has not been sued in Africa, where the epidemic still remains a serious problem. Researchers also hope to begin a trial of serum transfusions, which would boost the patient’s immune system. (Feb. 4)
Brian Williams, Under Scrutiny, Will Take Leave From ‘NBC Nightly News’
Under recent scrutiny, Brian Williams is taking time off from being anchor of NBC’s “Nightly News.” The controversy comes in the wake of Williams admitting to being misleading on the account of a 2003 helicopter incident in Iraq. He has not made any indication of when he will return. Journalism professor Richard Hanley said that it suggests that NBC is undertaking an investigation. Whether Williams ends up having to resign or not, this controversy could potentially take a toll on the credibility and integrity of NBC news. (Feb. 7)
Feb. 2 homework
Conflicts of Interest
As a journalist, it is important to remain objective when reporting stories. Objectivity ensures that reporters avoid bias in their stories. Reporters should avoid interviewing their current professors, friends, roommates and family. If you’re in a particular club or organization, you shouldn’t be writing about that either. Avoiding conflict of interest helps tell the story from an objective point-of-view and give various perspectives.
Plagiarism is never a good thing, okay? Though it is a serious issue, it can be seen in major publications as well. You can’t take information from other sources without giving proper attribution. You can’t directly copy information from another. You also cannot fabricate quotes from anyone, whether you did or did not interview them. It’s important to have policies in place in the event that plagiarism occurs.
Obscenity and Profanity
As fun as it may seem to use profanity in your newspaper, it’s not always accepted. Some view it as unprofessional and something that should hardly ever be used. The policy on obscenity and profanity varies from newspaper to newspaper so, again, it is important to have a policy in place for these types of situations. An example of a way to still be professional if you must use an obscenity is using dash marks to replace letters.
Tips from a Pro
The tips from a pro (Harry Kloman) offer concise summaries of codes of conduct that any journalist should adhere. It brings up the issues of conflict of interest and not interviewing people who are close to you, avoiding people within their beat and limiting political activities, disclosing jobs. The two rules that Loquitur brings up quite often are never showing a story to a source prior to publication (this can create conflict about what can be printed) and never using staff members as sources because, well, it’s conflict of interest.
Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics
The Code of Ethics that the Society of Professional Journalists adhere to include guidelines for ethical decision making. It includes providing fair and unbiased accounts of events and issues, seeking the truth and reporting it properly, showing respect to a source, as well as acting independently and listening to feedback from others. All of these guidelines help journalists make ethical decisions.
Interviewing victims of tragedy
This can be tricky. A tragedy occurs and you have to report it but how? I think the SPJ Code of Ethics can come into play here as well because it shows you that you have to be respectful of the victim’s privacy, while assuring that that they can help tell a story. In situations of tragedy, always be polite and make sure that any potential sources understand that what they’re saying will be published.
Suicide can be very difficult to cover anywhere, let alone a college campus. Suicide should not be covered unless it causes a public spectacle, committed in connection with a serious crime or it involves a public figure. When it comes to a college campus, however, they are usually covered especially if they were a well-known part of the campus community. If suicides are covered, they have to be covered properly and ethically–it could potentially cause copycat suicides if they are not.
Confidential sources should be used few and far between. Only agree to conditions of anonymity if sources’ quotes could cause some type of physical, mental or emotional harm. If anonymity is granted, the reasons behind that decision must be outlined in the article.
The Northern Star ethics policy
The Northern Star ethics policy includes issues already discussed, such as conflict of interest and plagiarism, but also tackles other problems. Reporters should not accept free travel, products or free tickets, in certain cases. All of these guidelines help the reporter remain objective and make sure it doesn’t appear that someone or something is trying to provide a favor to receive favorable press.
NYTimes up to Feb. 2
Storm That Glanced at Region Hit Hard in New England
Just because the tri-state area didn’t receive the hyped up fury of Snowmageddon, doesn’t mean the New England area didn’t. New England received the brunt of a blizzard last week, which shut down street parking and schools. Not only did the region receive a bombardment of snow, but some areas even saw hurricane-like winds and power outages. In other coastal areas, flooding become a major problem and the Massachusetts National Guard even had to evacuate some residents. Although certain areas broke their snowfall records, travel bans were lifted later Tuesday evening. (Jan. 27)
A Boy Praises the Principal of His Brooklyn School, and a Fund-Raising Campaign Takes Off
New York blogger Humans of New York has taken on a different task these past few weeks. Brandon Stanton, the creator of the well-known photojournalism blog, changed the future of one Brooklyn school within a matter of one week. Stanton took a photo of one Mott Hall Bridges Academy student, Vidal. When asked you influenced him most in life, Vidal responded that it is his principal, Ms. Lopez. His answer catalyzed a movement: in less than five days, a fundraising campaign for the disadvantaged youth raised more than $1 million. These funds will go toward trips for students to visit Harvard and enough funds have been raised for 10-years of trips. The campaign closes Feb. 5. (Jan. 29)
Vaccine Critics Turn Defensive Over Measles
In the wake of a measles outbreak at Disneyland, parents who choose not to vaccinate their child are speaking out on their decisions. 15 years ago, cases of measles were contained. But now as more parents choose not to vaccinate, new cases are emerging around the country, as well as concern for the number of people that could be exposed. Some anti-vaccine parents are defending their decision to not vaccinate their child based on health reasons, for fear of their child getting autism or religious reasons. Some businesses posted measles alert posters in their windows after someone with measles had been in the store or feared that there was exposure. Some parents are, however, turning to vaccines now in light of the outbreak. (Jan. 30)
Jan. 26 homework
NYTimes up to Jan. 26
In State of the Union, Obama Sets an Ambitious Agenda
Loquitur editors tuned in to the newsroom on Tuesday to the State of the Union address. Obama outlined his plans for his remaining time in office and the main points included immigration, human dignity, and community college. Obama also had a focus of talking about taxes and, at one point, rebuilding infrastructure. The other important aspects of his speech that are not written about in text are portrayed in video clips and graphics—really making it a nice multimedia package. (Jan. 20)
Officials Say Ebola Cases Are Falling In West Africa
According to the World Health Organization, the number of people in West Africa that are suffering from Ebola are at its lowest in months. In some areas, the new diagnoses are down to anywhere from 20 to 100, whereas it was around 200 or 300 previously. The resources that were received last year have helped reduce the number of cases but dwindling funds and the impending rainy season are threatening that progress. Substantial progress must be made before funds are totally decimated and the rain makes roads impassable. (Jan. 23)
Fallen Journalist Finds Solace and Success in Poetry
Though this is not a hard-hitting news story, I was drawn to reading this just because of the mention of poetry. The story focuses on Patricia Smith, a fallen journalist who is now a literary professional and poet. Though it repeatedly states how Smith prefers to keep the journalist chapter in the past, she also describes how poetry brought her to where she is now. Poetry was her way of moving on in life and I think the way poetry can be therapeutic for some people is one of the prominent themes of this article. (Jan. 25)
I Learned This from Chapter 13
ACP Coverage and Content Issue 12:
Alcohol is a hot topic on any campus. With Issue 12 being a special issue, I think the topic was covered to a good extent—drunk driving, alcohol incidents, pre-gaming, liquid courage, dangers, etc. I think it would have been cool to have some more bar reviews. I think some major things happening on campus have been covered well in the past few issues, but it would also be nice to be able to explore the surrounding area. It would also be helpful to have a wider variety of questions going into some articles to make it standout more and also give more detail on the story.
- Censorship and rights:
- The same free speech protections that are at public schools are not the same at private schools.
- The First Amendment limits censorship by government officials or others who act on their behalf.
- It is important to know if your school has a free expression policy. Relationship building is important as well.
- Libel is anything written or printed that defames a person
- If a source or person in a story has a common name, you need to use another identifying information so people know which specific person you’re referring.
- In order for it to be considered libelous, it must be published or broadcast to people other than the other and subject.
- Statements of opinion cannot be libelous, including parodies, spoofs or cartoons.
- If a person consents to using a defamatory statement, they can’t later sue if the statement causes injury.
- Five red flags:
- Statements that accuse or suggest that a person has been involved in serious sexual misconduct or is sexually promiscuous. A problem is identifying an unmarried woman as pregnant.
- Statements that associate a person with a “loathsome” or socially stigmatizing disease. An example is any sexually transmitted disease.
- Statements that accuse a person of associating with criminals, “shady characters” or publicly disfavored groups.
- Negative statements about grades or academic ability. This includes stories about “special education.”
- Statements that question a person’s creditworthiness, financial stability or economic status.
The basic policy is that you need to obtain a person’s consent for using copyrighted work. You cannot transfer or alter copyrighted work either, unless you are the copyright owner. Titles, slogans and words cannot be copyrighted; therefore, you can use familiar slogans in headlines. Copyright is often unclear at student newspapers but, oftentimes, the individual owns the copyright to their work if there are occasional contributions, make their own assignments and is paid by the piece or not at all. The copyright generally belongs to the publication if a salary is involved and direction from a supervisor is received. Many situations can fall in the middle.
This Is Interesting and Important in the NYTimes for Nov. 17-Nov. 23
Nov. 18: Bill to Restrict N.S.A. Data Collection Blocked in Vote by Senate Republicans
An overhaul on data collection was struck down on Tuesday, an N.S.A program of collecting phone call data once kept secret. This reminded me of the security vs. privacy debate we discussed last year. Questions of privacy and security will be brought to the table again next year for vote.
Nov. 19: Obama’s Immigration Plan Could Shield Five Million
An overhaul on the nation’s immigration policy was revealed on Thursday. Part of Obama’s plan includes allowing up to 4 million undocumented immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for at least five years to apply for a program protecting them from deportation and work legally for those with no criminal record. Additionally, another 1 million will be protected in other areas of the plan—including for “Dreamers.” Farm workers and the “Dreamers” parents will not have those specific protections for themselves. One issue brought up is the health care system and how that will work for those undocumented immigrants.
Nov. 21: In Alabama Town, Obama Immigration Move Brings Hope and Sneers
With Obama’s new immigration ruling, this article takes a look at one specific town and how undocumented immigrants have affected the town over the past decade. People have mixed emotions—from upset to looking for hope. Another dimension is really added to the story with the face of Maria Garcia. There are many mixed feelings among the people of Albertville and in other cities across the U.S.
I Learned This from Chapter 12
- Photos that span three columns across or wider are over 90 percent more likely to be read.
- There are four main different types of shooting perspectives: long shot, medium shot, close up, and high and low angle shots.
- Photos from speeches and meetings can be boring. But they don’t have to be. During speeches, get a tight shot on the speaker’s face and also use the audience for framing. For meetings, shoot outside of the boardroom—shoot the issue at hand.
- When shooting sports, getting photos while the game is happening isn’t the only important thing to have. Photographers must be able to capture action, as well as emotion—not only on the court but also at practices and locker rooms.
- Feature photos, candid shots, portraits and photo illustrations can add personality to your paper when done correctly.
- At most public places, photographers can shoot anytime, only certain areas having restrictions or needing permission. At most private places, photographers can shoot if no one objects, with only some places, like a store needing permission.
- On the web, photos can be used in galleries and slideshows. They can even add a multimedia dimension by using ambient sound and dialogue.
- Kenneth Kobre offers advice about shooting, such as making your subject feel comfortable, which is important for getting a natural shot; don’t use the flash; shoot either very early in the morning during sunrise or later on during sunset or nighttime. Never shoot during 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. unless absolutely necessary.
- The Ten Commandments for photographers and reporters deals with mostly common sense material like planning ahead and being respectful. Other points are covered in other sections, like avoiding using the flash, not staging a photo and framing.
- Cutlines on photos are used to explain the action, name principal people in the photo, explain how the photo relates to the story and note important/telling details. The first sentence of a cutline is usually written in present tense.
This Is Interesting and Important in the NYTimes for Nov. 10-Nov. 16
Nov. 11: U.S. and China Reach Climate Accord After Months of Talks
China and the United States came up with a plan to cut carbon emissions and greenhouse gases on Wednesday, Nov. 12. In an agreement to cut emissions, China committed to stopping its carbon emissions from growing by 2030. The U.S. will be cutting emissions by 2025.
Nov. 11: U.S. Bishops Struggle to Follow Lead of Francis
In his time as pope, Pope Francis has called for change in multiple areas. Not all bishops necessary agree or are confused with Francis’ intentions. Gay relationships and divorce and remarriage remain passages without consensus, but other areas such as same-sex marriage and living together without being married are much more open for discussion now than ever before.
Nov. 13: Obama Plan May Allow Millions of Immigrants to Stay and Work in U.S.
President Obama will be initiating an overhaul in immigration reform that may protect up to 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation and provide with work permits. A key issue in immigration enforcement is the separation of parents and children and being sent back right where they emigrated. Protection could stretch to people who have been living in the U.S. undocumented for years.
I Learned This from Chapter 11
- Newspapers should serve as a watchdog, not be afraid to ask questions, spark dialogue and improve paper’s respectability.
- As defined by Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc., investigative reporting is “the reporting, through one’s own initiative and work product, of matters of importance to readers, viewers or listeners.” Most cases people wish what is being investigated would remain undisclosed.
- Investigative reporting can begin by asking the simple question: “What’s not working?”
- Public records that can help shed light on the issue being reported on include: health department records, lawsuits, budgets, salary data, accreditation reports, on-campus crime reports, criminal records, emails sent to your president or athletics officials, and research contracts.
- At public universities, all documents are subject to open record laws.
- Investigating Private Schools: Private colleges/universities don’t have the same access to all public records—access is limited. Contracts with public agencies and IRS Form 990s are public. The IRS For 990 disclose: amount of money the organization has taken in each year; listing of where the money was spent, how much and for what; a balance sheet listing both assets and liabilities; information on sales and purchases of the organization’s investments; identities and salaries of top organization employees; and legal fees paid by organization.
Other points from this section:
- This form is required to be provided upon request, either through the IRS, on the institution’s premises, or online.
- Information from the last three years must be made available upon request.
- If you are requesting the form in person, you are allowed to inspect it and take notes. Copies should be available upon request.
- Submit a written request if you encounter reluctance, citing the law and that you will go to the IRS if denied access.
- If your request is made through mail/email, “the organization has 30 days to mail you a copy of the form.”
- Spreadsheets can immensely help move your story along. With spreadsheets, you can sort through data and spot trends. Some of this data can include budgets and salaries, grades by course/department/professor, admission rates. When analyzing data, it’s important to ask for data from multiple years so as to track changes over time.
- When data-driven stories, a few tips to keep in mind are finding stats, explaining trends, using numbers sparingly, and use examples to help people conceptualize.
- Knowing the law is key to investigative journalism. A few tips for this are activating your common sense, not overstating anything, and taking good notes.
10. Human sources and putting a face to an issue are crucial to a story. When finding sources is difficult, Matt Waite recommends being both polite and persistent.
What I learned from Cabrini’s IRS Form 990 for 2011: Honestly, it seems like a very complicated form to understand. In total assets, the number increased over the year and for liabilities, it decreased. You can see total expenses, grants, and revenues. There is also a checklist for tax compliance, revenue, governing body and management, policies, disclosure, etc. I noticed only some officials had their compensation included, and also a list of compensation to independent contractors. A list of various forms of revenue, including fundraising events and tuition/fees, are also included. A lot of Schedule B appears to be uncompleted until it gets to the section regarding noncash property. Section C included Political Campaigns and Lobbying Activities. At the end, there’s a summary of all supplemental financial statements. The form seems extremely complicated but I can see how it would be helpful in investigative reporting.
This Is Interesting and Important in the NYTimes for Nov. 4-Nov. 9
Nov. 6: Takata Saw and Hid Risk in Airbags in 2004, Former Workers Say
This article describes the dangers that Takata airbags present and the extents to which they went to try to hide them. The problems didn’t only occur in the production line, which caused airbags to rupture and explode with metal, but also in delivery. Information about tests on the airbags were deleted and through the sources, a whole unraveling occurred.
Nov. 7: Justices to Hear New Challenge to Health Law
A new challenge is coming to the Affordable Care Act. Being brought back for discussion to the Supreme Court, there are various things that still need to be resolved. Seeming that it will not reach a definitive resolution until June, it will not affect people already signed up or people who will sign up during open enrollment.
Nov. 8: Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller, Released by North Korea, Are Back on U.S. Soil
This weekend, two Americans were released from North Korea. Kenneth Bae was held for two years and Matthew Todd Miller for seven months. South Korea also hoped for the release of a South Korean missionary.
I Learned This from Chapter 10 Part 2
Steve Buttry offers a lot of great tips for working on producing a great story. He discusses being a mentor, figuring out your audience and opportunities to make a story a complete multimedia package. By varying approaches to stories, they can become more interactive and attract a wider range of people.
Buttry suggests using social media, records, data, liveblogging, audio/video and interactivity in various situations where each is appropriate. This adds a multimedia element to stories, which are more work but really shed a different light on different issues. By writing up a story and incorporating different elements, stories have a whole different dimension and can create a comprehensive package.
An example of this was when I was working on my major story last year and approached two sources on Twitter. I was able to ask a few questions to someone via Twitter and speak to the other about internships. If I hadn’t utilized a social media approach then I would have never even heard about the sources. Social media can also help live tweet a situation, like a sport event or breaking news on campus.
Another suggestion Buttry makes is using graphics, which is definitely being used a lot more this year. In certain stories, tweets have also been linked right into the online story and in print, like for #WhyIStayed.
I think some similarities can be seen in Loquitur’s copy flow and the sample copy flow provided, but I honestly see mainly differences. Staff writers have really not been assigning stories very much as of now so for day 1, Loquitur tends to take the second option of simply assigning the stories to the staff writers.
Some of the big differences are the roles provided: we have no graphics editor to coordinate with and there are also no staff photographers to provide the story assignments. Also, there’s not really any time set aside for meeting with writers for their stories—if they have questions, they’re asked throughout the week and not at one set meeting time. We’ve also been trying to review the stories before the weekend as well and suggest some changes. Then the paper is laid out, however, we don’t have a meeting that Thursday the paper comes out unless there’s something very important that needs to be discussed.
Some changes that I could see being made would be the staff writers starting to really suggest some stories of their own. Of course we would like to be able to give writers stories that they’re actually interested in writing, which isn’t always possible but it’s helpful to do in applicable situations. There could probably be more hands-on approaches to various things as well, like talking to staff writers. I think that’s really a two-way street. If the writers have questions, it’s important they ask them and that we’re there in whatever way we can.
I think Sher offers many good pieces of advice on how to be a good leader and make your time on the paper enjoyable. Oftentimes, I think it can be forgotten that you have to have some fun while keeping a balance with seriousness/professionalism. She offers advice that can be applied to things other than being editor, like knowing your limits and learning from your mistakes. Some of these suggestions can seem like common sense at first but they are really helpful to consider during your time as an editor.
The headline writing cheat sheet is something really useful for this section because sometimes, you can just be stuck for the right word. In the section about writing headlines, I found a few things interesting. One tip that they offer is to avoid bad line splits but I don’t know how a headline can perfectly fit as such every time.
For example, in “Author family-man speaks out against homelessness,” should family-man be on the same line? And if so, how do you make that happen? Using present tense seems almost obvious now—it’s not even something I really think about, like the other front-page story on “Leadership institute hosts panel on human trafficking.” You wouldn’t say hosted but that seems almost self-explanatory.
The paper doesn’t seem to use unnecessary words or create “groaner puns.” Perhaps sometimes there could be more specific information but sometimes that can be helped with a deck, like with the Body Image Conference.
It seems like very often, single line headlines are used, especially in sports. In other sections, double line titles can be seen, like in news or lifestyles. An example of this is in lifestyles with “Taize prayer creates interfaith experiences for all students.” Depending on the length of the headline or how much space a headline takes up, I think single and double line headlines are the most commonly used.
Something that would be interesting to learn in Newspaper Design, however, would be the other types of headlines shown in figure 10.6. I like the way the tripod headline looks, granted the part next to the large text would have to be legible. The underline headline also looks pretty nice.
This Is Interesting and Important in the NYTimes for Oct. 27-Nov. 2
Oct. 28: In Liberia, a Good or Very Bad Sign: Empty Hospital Beds
In recent weeks, people have been trying to figure out why fewer people are showing up to the Ebola treatment centers. Some believe it is because the distance some people have to travel to the capital; others think some of died in their homes. There is also a stigma and fear surrounding the disease in which some people are even too afraid to go to a treatment center. The graphic helps show how many new cases, which they know of, have popped up. They also cite that the W.H.O’s prediction for new cases may have been “grossly inflated.”
Oct. 31: Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Crashes in New Setback for Commercial Spaceflight
On Friday, Virgin Galatic’s SpaceShipTwo crashed, killing one pilot. This shows the difficulties of entering into a space tourism business. It also shows the importance of test flights and building a secure spaceship. Despite this crash being the fourth accident out of now 55, they are in the process of building another spaceship.
Nov. 1: Handling of Sexual Harassment Case Poses Larger Questions at Yale
This article deals with the handling, or mishandling, of a case of sexual harassment at Yale School of Medicine. The article goes beyond simply describing the situation between Dr. Simons and Dr. Di Lorenzo. It describes the lack of action taken against sexual harassment cases; a “lack of progress in ensuring equality for women…,” as the article says. These cases need to be handled more seriously and communication become more open.
I Learned This from Chapter 10
Editors need to find and develop their own leadership style. Leadership styles can include authoritarian, democratic and giving others autonomy to make their own decisions. A good leader utilizes a mix of al three techniques. Leadership style also needs to include an ability to read people, knowing when to be stern and praise can be a motivating force. Recognition and thanking people can go a long way.
Steve Buttry gives many good tips on the editing process. He breaks it down between “before the reporter turns in a story “and after you get the first draft.” Being with a reporter throughout the process is important in order to save time later. Before the reporter turns in the story, speak with them often and discuss ideas. This can include talking about potential challenges and the reason for doing the story. You can discuss how to make the story reader-oriented and focus on what the story is about. This answer can change or it can assist the writer in staying focused. More facets that you can discuss with the writer is how to get the most out of their story: utilizing social media effectively, finding records for stories, where data can be found, the opportunities for liveblogging, using audio/video to make it a multimedia package and making it interactive.
After the reporter has collected some information, you can debrief with them again and go through their choice of a lede. To make their story more visually appearing, suggest sidebars and graphics, along with maps if it is warranted. If the writer is having issues with their stories, good solutions may be to suggest they do an outline or rewriting. One thing mentioned in the “before” section that talks about writing without notes I found to be a bit counterproductive. If you have to go back and fact check anyway, why not just use the notes in the first place? If the notes are done well, I don’t see a problem in looking at them while writing.
Some of the things to work on after the first draft are working on alternative ledes in order to make them better, asking the writer to read the story aloud and suggesting areas to condense. This will all make the story better. If the lede must be rewritten, don’t do it yourself necessarily. Have the writer suggest alternatives—your approach isn’t the only one that could work. If you do write one, though, challenge the writer to make a better one than yours. This helps them better their ledes for the next time as well. Explaining changes also helps the reporter for the next story they write.
Coaching writers can involve asking questions about the story. What’s it about? Lede? Nut graph? What’s new? Why now? Why should readers care? Headlines, something interesting from the reporting process, best quote, most interesting character, what does reader need to know, how to explain to a friend and what makes a good ending? Asking questions is listening is crucial in getting the best work out of the writers and making their stories better for next time.
When editing a story, it’s important to read through a story more than once. One time for content, another for mechanics and the other for law, ethics and taste. After checking all of those, reread once again to make sure you didn’t put any errors into the story accidentally.
At editor meetings, certain things can make or break the meeting. It’s important to have a set plan for what to discuss and that you start and end the meeting on time. Keeping to the agenda is also important; you don’t want to get too off track, which makes it important as well to make sure someone is in charge. Not starting on time makes it more likely that people will show up late next time.
Planning special projects in advance is crucial. Special projects involve multiple stories, photos, graphics and multimedia elements on one issue. They’re a lot of work but it can bring attention to the issue and your news organization. All elements must be considered when preparing for a special project and include a lot of planning. Figuring out the main focus, text, visualization, design elements, multimedia, social media and commentary all go into making a cohesive package and a successful special project.
When dealing with controversy, it’s important to remember that you have to listen to all sides and maintain composure. Everyone must have their voice heard. If an error is made, apologize, correct it and move on.
Evaluating staff is also a component to an editor’s job. This can involve written evaluations and private conferences. This can help the growth of both the writer and you. Getting specific and looking for trends can help avoid problems next time. Find out ways the staff member can improve and ask for their feedback on how you can be a better coach. This can involve putting the staff member at ease, ask them to do self-evaluation, use both criticisms and compliments together and look towards the future.
This Is Interesting and Important in the NYTimes for Oct. 20-Oct. 26
Oct. 20: It Looked Like a Stabbing, but Takata Airbag Was the Killer
This story focuses on the death of Hien Tran, using her as a face to the issue of recalled vehicles. It talks about the complexities of recalls, even how some cars never get fixed and how many might not even know their car was recalled. A Takata airbag, something meant to be used for safety, was the killer—shooting pieces of metal out from the airbag and into the cabin of the car.
Oct. 23: Doctor in New York City Is Sick With Ebola
News broke the other day that an Ebola diagnosis had made its way to New York. A doctor, Craig Spencer, who had been treating Ebola cases in Guinea became sick with the disease. The article also outlines where Spencer had been the evening before, while giving background details on other people diagnosed and the handling of the disease.
Oct. 25: Tested Negative for Ebola, Nurse Criticizes Her Quarantine
What is the best way to contain the spread of Ebola? Though there is no clear answer, people are going to the affected areas in Africa. But would quarantine stop people from going to Africa to stop it at its source? That’s what Hickox thinks, citing the treatment she received in an isolation tent. She had not been showing symptoms and doesn’t think quarantine was warranted. But if it could stop the spread, should it be used?
I Learned This from Chapter 9
The opinion page of a newspaper can give students, faculty, staff and members of the community the opportunity to express their views. If done well, the pieces in this section should cause discussion and, sometimes even, debate.
Editorials are pieces written about a major issue that reflects the views of the editorial staff. They require a lot of research, which can include looking into your own newspaper and others ad also looking around online for history. Editorials do not reflect an individual view, but rather the general stance of the editorial staff.
The op-ed section leaves room for more debate. That’s not to say that editorials can’t be controversial, but op-ed leaves more room for varying opinions. These are written by individual authors and give them the chance to express their views on things going on in the community and nationally/internationally. Op-eds don’t need to be written solely by reporters either—contributions can come from around the campus community. The important thing is that this section should offer varying points of view and have articles written by people who can express their respective opinions well.
The section about the editorial process wasn’t really what I was expecting it to be. It reiterates what editorials are designed to do but it also goes into detail about how the process goes for editors picking what topic the editorial should be for that week. The important thing is to have a process that makes conflicts avoidable.
Tips from a Pro describes the function of the letters to the editor. Some of the most important points Labbe makes is that what gets published in the paper is also what you need to take responsibility for, which may create conflict. At times, the letters may need to be edited to make them factual or just for basic grammar. She points out that some people may think that means violating their First Amendment rights but sometimes the editing of letters is needed and if they can’t be edited, then they can sometimes be left out completely. Another point, which goes in almost any section, is the importance of credibility. The authors name must go along with what they wrote. As a summary, I thought it was a good idea with how she mentions putting a box in your editorial saying that “it’s your turn to weigh in on this topic.”
In the Q&A with editorial cartoonist Nate Beeler, he talks about the role of the opinion page and also his influences over the years. Some of the most standout points he makes are the editorial cartoon acting as a statement about a newsworthy topic that also makes readers want to talk about it. The cartoon needs to have a point and needs to be research every bit as much as any in-depth story. They have to be fair and balanced and also visually appealing. That was a big part last year when cartoons would randomly be put into a section and people would have no idea why it was even there or what it had to do with the story on the page. Loquitur doesn’t use editorial cartoons very often, if ever, but these are good points to take into consideration.
This Is Interesting and Important in the NYTimes for Oct. 13-Oct. 19
Oct. 13: Questions Rise on Preparations at Hospitals to Deal With Ebola
This article discusses how prepared hospitals are to care for Ebola patients. It goes into detail about just how sick someone can get and why it’s so contagious. That’s why hospitals need to take extra precaution. Towards the end of the article the question is raised that if people are transported to regional hospitals for treatment, then what’s the safest way to do so?
Oct. 17: To Siri, With Love—How One Boy With Autism Became BFF’s With Apple’s Siri
This article goes in depth about how one 13-year old has his own “sidekick.” It’s amazing to read how technology is helping Gus, who has autism overcome his challenges. To think that Siri can help with annunciation and social interactions is amazing and to think that it could also track whether you’re maintaining eye contact is great. Now who says technology destroys human interaction?
Oct. 18: Life in Quarantine for Ebola Exposure: 21 Days of Fear and Loathing
This story puts a face to the issue presented by Ebola outside of just health issues. It discusses the quarantines that are being imposed and the fear people feel for being even in the same area as someone that may have Ebola. The story uses a few sources to illustrate what issues may come about outside of the obvious health concerns over Ebola.
I Learned This from Chapter 8 that can be applied to Loquitur
Where do you want to go on a Friday night? The arts and entertainment section of any school paper should inform readers and students on “what’s hot and what’s not.” Reviews and previews are a critical part of the A&E section. As Rob Owen writes in his tip sheet, youth culture seeps into pop culture. Write about television, movies, music, anything entertainment related. But not everything has to be held within those categories—the various genres within each category need to be covered as well.
Previews, also known as advances:
- Give information on upcoming events, exhibits and performances.
- They can serve as a guide to the community
- Should include the date, time, location, phone number, ticket prices and any other vital information.
- Reviews are a critical analysis of a performance, exhibit or event.
- As the book points out, it seems to have its own distinctive pyramid of writing—from the catchy opening to background history.
- The most important thing that goes into writing reviews is honesty—if you’re not honest, you’ve got nothing.
- Make sure all reviews have a distinct and clear message/point of view
When it comes to using “I” in the A&E section, the book points out that even professional reviewers cannot agree whether it should be used or not. For some, they view it as unprofessional and arrogant while others say it adds personality. Famous film critic Roger Ebert even says to always use the first person. Ending that section, however, it concludes by saying to do what feels natural to you as the writer ands what allows you to find your spirit and persona in your writing.
Depending on the story, I think first-person writing can be applied. If it’s something that you’re extremely passionate about and if the perspective comes across better and more intimate in first person, then why not use it—sparingly, of course. I don’t think first person should be used exactly in every single piece you do for the A&E section but based on the story, you can figure out what works best.
A tip from Roger Ebert: A tip I really liked in the Q&A with Roger Ebert was where he talks about making the A&E section interesting and relevant. I think it’s important for writers to find their voice and write things that not everyone is going to agree with—sometimes the vast majority won’t agree. But it’s still important to get your point across and say what you really feel.
A tip from Sean McCourt: Two things really stood out to me in the tips from McCourt. One was making contacts with local clubs and getting on their mailing list. That is such a big help in finding out the various events that are going on and it’s good for both sides—one getting publicity and the other getting a chance to write a review in a way that’s different from a professional paper. That brings me to the other tip that I liked where he said you have to set yourself apart from others. Finding your own voice and setting yourself apart from the crowd is crucial in making that voice heard.
A tip from Rob Owen: One of the tips that stuck out most to me from Rob Owen was when he said to read as much criticism as you can to get a feel for the many types of criticism there are. Getting examples of the various styles will help improve your own writing skills and enhance your voice.
This Is Interesting and Important in the NYTimes This Week (Oct. 6-Oct. 12)
Oct. 7: Life, Death and Grim Routine Fill the Day at a Liberian Ebola Clinic
This article provided a glimpse into an Ebola clinic most would not know about if they didn’t read it. It goes far beyond describing Ebola in it’s time-sectioned writing style—it writes about dealing with other diseases such as malaria, and other issues such as pay disputes in the world of healthcare. These are things that people typically wouldn’t think of when thinking about those caring for and those infected with Ebola. The graphic of the clinic was also helpful in understanding the location of everything. This story was very powerful.
Oct. 10: Two Champions of Children Are Given Nobel Peace Prize
Aside from the obvious route of simply reporting on Malala (and Kailash Satyarthi) winning the Nobel Peace Prize, this story gives a broader view to why there needs to be advocacy. It’s not just one-sided either—it cites criticisms and ironies of Malala and her story, and her winning the Nobel Peace Prize. I also liked how the NYTimes had the poignant reactions from Twitter.
Oct. 11: As U.S. Steps Up Fight, J.F.K. Begins Screening Passengers for Ebola
Quite possibly the most important part of this article is the point it makes to say that Ebola needs to be caught at its source of West Africa. But how? That has not been definitively answered yet as new cases are being diagnosed every day.
I Learned This from Chapter 7 that can be applied to Loquitur
The sports section isn’t all about reporting on games.
Various stories that can be covered and reported on are advances or precedes, in which the reporter gives a preview of upcoming games. Stories can also include game stories, profiles of athletes, coaches, etc., feature stories, news stories that act as more hard-hitting and investigative from a sports angle, and sports columns.
When covering game stories it’s important to think about what the readers want to know. It is also equally important, especially when it is not a daily newspaper, to make the game information available as soon as possible. Get a short summary online as soon as the game ends with a few quotes then elaborate later in the print edition.
When covering profiles and features, it is important to paint a picture of the person, whether they be an athlete, alumni, coach, trainer, whatever the case may be. Find out the essence of the person and ask questions beyond the game. Ask about their hopes for the future, motivations, strengths, etc., as the book mentions. As I learned last year, it is crucial to have multiple sources. It’s not enough just to interview the person that the profile is about—you have to interview the coach, their teammates, their friends, their roommate, and anyone else that may be able to add dimension to your story. With feature stories, it is important to find good angles. Features generally cover more hard-hitting types of sports writing like health challenges, injuries, recruitments, resignations, etc. These types of stories can be front page and jumped into sports if there’s enough dimension and description that goes into the story.
There can be many challenges with covering sports for a weekly, as we’ve discussed in journalism many times. Sometimes, game stories can be old news by the time the paper comes out. That’s when it is so important to get as much information as you can onto the web then elaborate in the print edition later. Photo galleries also offer a visually-enticing way of getting readers to check out a recap or two. Another tip that the book mentions is just writing so that the information is still fresh—find good angles.
The web should be used to enhance the sports section of any paper. There are endless possibilities of how it can be used. Besides posting game stories between issues, it can be used to live tweet/blog a game, post photos, use Twitter or CoverItLive to report play-by-play coverage. I thought it was interesting how they mention the Daily Bruin and Daily Pennsylvanian actually having separate sections on their web pages for each sport.
It is crucial, much in like news (or really any section on the paper besides opinion), to avoid bias. During games, don’t root for your team or any team for that matter. I hadn’t thought about it before but when the book mentioned not wearing school apparel, that actually kind of made sense. You can’t make it look like you’re rooting for one team over the other and then expect people to think you’ll be reporting out the story without bias. You’re not a fan of any team when you’re writing a sports story.
The Tips from a Pro were pretty insightful and reiterated most of what had been mentioned in the chapter. Planning is of the utmost importance in sports. It’s hard to do in a weekly like Loquitur but another piece of advice offered was assigning reporters to specific beats. Obviously we choose which staff writers go to what section so I feel as though some people just don’t have the passion for sports as others might. It also doesn’t give reporters the opportunity to speak with coaches and the sports director because they’re constantly getting assigned different sports. The biggest takeaways came from his bullet points:
- Have a weekly athlete profile
- Write precedes for almost every game. This is something that could definitely be done in Loquitur.
- Publish conference standings
- Develop in-depth stories
Creating and using multimedia techniques is also important–post snippets from each game between issues, curate photo galleries online, tweet and blog often, even post 90 seconds of your audio and interviews. All these things will definitely make for a better online presence and better sports writing in general.
This Is Interesting and Important in the NYTimes This Week
Sept. 29: Armed Intruder at White House Got to East Room
This article focuses on the intruder that got into the White House and actually made it a good distance inside. He evaded security until he was tackled in the East Room, a fair distance inside, as shown through the graphic. The article mentions other incidents of security breaches at the White House and how Ms. Pierson and the Secret Service play an (obvious) role in making sure this doesn’t happen. It also points out that initial reports did not disclose the correct location as to just how far Gonzales got into the White House.
Oct. 3: Violence Erupts in Hong Kong as Protesters Are Assaulted
This article writes about the problems that Occupy Central is facing in their protests for pro-democracy. A group began attacking protestors, another problem added onto the tear gas and back-and-forth confusion that has been caused by Hong Kong authorities. The mixed messages are not helping and, as tensions rise, some are unsure as to whether this will remain as peaceful as it started off.
Oct. 4: As U.S. Ebola Fears Widen, Reports of Possible Cases Grow
This article writes about the growing cases of Ebola, now diagnosed in the United States. Thomas Duncan is the first to be diagnosed in the U.S. and the article focuses on how the CDC intends on stopping the spread of this disease. Using vivid descriptions, including how they had to dispose of all material after cleaning Mr. Duncan’s apartment, gave the story more detail, including concerning facts.
I Learned This from Chapter 6
This chapter offers a lot of good insight into many stories that can go into a Lifestyles section. Lifestyle pieces can be either light, covering trends and entertainment or serious, writing about controversial issues. It’s important to listen what’s going on around you to find great angles and current topics to write. They offer a lot of good advice that could be applied to the Lifestyles section.
One thing that could be applied that we’ve discussed in class is having that balance between lighthearted articles and serious topics. I think Lifestyles is starting to make that transition, with articles like the “Sex Talk” article in last week’s issue.
It was also interesting to see the reinforced point that lifestyle articles can also be news features, if written a certain way. That’s a major idea that could be applied to Loquitur as a whole.
Sensory details are also key to lifestyles. Setting the scene for your reader and making them feel the moment is so crucial. It helps grab the reader’s attention and make them want to explore the rest of the article and see what it’s all about. Telling details are an absolute must for lifestyle pieces.
The next major takeaway from this chapter was its emphasis on sex and relationships columns. It has a whole section dedicated to it in this chapter so obviously it’s pretty important to read about the best practices for these types of articles. They offer a lot of good lessons and advice for what to do in your own paper and make a point to say that sex and relationship columns can branch out into discussing things like friendships and sexual health. These are very helpful to take into consideration for any Lifestyles section.
Another interesting part of this chapter is the part where is says how important interviews and sources are. All too often, people think that lifestyles is simply a section to write what you want on current fads and trends but serious topics also need to include sources and statistics. Of course, not all lifestyle pieces require interviews; it just depends on the story.
This Is Interesting and Important in the NYTimes This Week (Sept. 22-28)
Hong Kong Students Boycott Classes in Democracy Fight
Tear gas was released on protestors of Occupy Central earlier today. This article explains how the protesting begun, by looking for a change towards pro-democracy. The article gave many different perspectives—citing challenges, doubt and hope towards achieving their goal. By speaking to professors and students, the article gave more dimension to their protests.
Dozens of Hikers Feared Dead on Japanese Volcano
This article definitely evokes sensory details. It describes the smell of the sulfur coming out of the volcano, the mountain covered in thick ash. It really adds to the depth of the article. The article also says that some people remain atop the volcano, unable to be rescued. The images are really what make the story because it illustrates the danger and uncertainty.
Outbreak of a Respiratory Illness Escalates Among Children and Mystifies Scientists
This article lays out the few facts that are known about the outbreak of enterovirus 68. It illustrates how it has started spreading around the nation but doctors and scientists really have come not come to a conclusion about what’s causing such a large outbreak, especially in children. At the end of the article, it’s helpful that they list warning signs and make a point to say just because your child doesn’t have asthma, doesn’t mean it can’t be serious.
An Officer Is Shot in Ferguson, Mo.
Describing how a Ferguson police officer was shot on Saturday was intertwined with details about the shooting of Michael Brown. Though the article mentions more than once that the Saturday altercation and the protests don’t seem to be related, the article writes a decent amount about the shooting of Brown. Since a majority of the article seemed to be breaking news, there weren’t a lot of details about the altercation that occurred on Saturday. There weren’t a lot of quotes, other than from the police chief, about the officer being shot.
I Learned This from Chapter 5
Being a news editor, this chapter was obviously very important to use as a refresher for myself. It is also important for the staff writers because I remember how lost I initially felt when first writing news so the section explains it in a really concise way. Obviously the staff writers are still in the early stages of learning how to properly write a news story. The chapter lays out all the basics in a fairly concise manner that would be really helpful to check every once in a while.
It discusses ledes and the importance of grabbing your audience’s attention. It also reviews the inverted pyramid and all the components that are in it: lede, supporting details, the “five W’s and an H,” quotes, nut graph, background and reactions, etc. This is key to writing any good news story. Within each of these crucial elements, the chapter further breaks them down into best practices and examples.
Another important reminder of the chapter was other good elements that make up a news story. This year we are clearly trying to use more graphics, which means more facts and figures need to be used in certain stories. Graphics also make a story visually appealing and give the reader a place to digest a small portion of important information relating to the story. It is essential that news be timely and important.
Another part that explains newswriting well is the area but quoting and attribution. That was always so tricky for me deciding what to make a direct quote and what to paraphrase. Quoting is such an essential part of the news process and without them, a news story really lacks. As the book says, quotes can be the humanizing aspect of a story and give a wide range of perspectives on a particular topic or issue.
This Is Interesting in the NYTimes
1. “U.S. Suspects More Direct Threats Beyond ISIS”
This article outlines the present threats beyond ISIS. They write about the Khorasan group and the Nusra Front as being more direct threats. It gives a brief history of each and really summarizes through a variety of quotes. It also explains the strikes and the relative easiness of getting in and out of the various countries.
2. “ISIS Draws a Steady Stream of Recruits From Turkey”
One thing I’ve noticed in the NYTimes articles about ISIS is their use of graphics. They make it easier to understand the major concepts and cover many different facets of the conflict. The most standout parts of this story are the quotes—they’re powerful in describing the recruits and violence.
3. “After Surgery, Surprise $117,000 Medical Bill From Doctor He Didn’t Know”
The people used in this story really help put a human-interest spin on the issues discussed in this article. Feeling confident in knowing everything they could pre-operation, the three main profiles had no idea what was about to happen. They were shocked and blindsided to discover charges from out-of-network fees. The story obviously focuses on the story of Mr. Drier and uses his story to illustrate the problems with these “hidden” fees. Again, their graphic made it much more simple to understand.
4. “Number of Children Living in Poverty Drops Sharply, Census Bureau Reports”
Initially, the very first paragraph reminded me of what we’ve been discussing in ECG 300. “The poverty rate declined but there were also no signs of improvement.” (Poverty trap?) This caused a little confusion though in the paragraph right after though because it says how there were improvements for children. Honestly, I kind of wish the statistics had been presented in a more visually appealing way. There were just so many facts and figures that, in a story like this, I think would have worked better as graphics or graphs of some sort. I also think it would have been better to have more quotes. But the poverty rate dropped for children so that’s the gist of the story.
I Learned this from Chapter 3
When covering a campus, it is important to cover every niche possible. There’s always something to cover on a college campus whether it’s considered big or small. One of the ways student media can develop the system of covering the campus is through a “beat system.” By assigning reporters to “cover a particular subject area,” you’re making it simpler to find ideas in every fold of college life.
Beats can be organized by subject matter, institution and/or academic unit. These beats can be adjusted based on the size of the campus community, the size of your staff, etc. Assignment of beats helps organize all the things that must be covered in a community. Developing connections with
Public information office
Another tool of organization is the “tickler file.” I think the editors implemented something fairly similar to this by simply adding the calendar at the front of the room. National and international stories can also be localized through alumni, students, faculty, etc. and how a particular event may be affecting them.
It is crucial to writing about important issues and asking them lots of questions within your beat. There is always a story to be found.
This Is Interesting in the NYTimes This Week
- My leading NYTimes story
Longtime Rivals Look to Team Up to Confront ISIS “Iran and the United States insist there was no coordination, but the convergence of interests was a powerful symbol of just how much ISIS has, at least for now, reordered the region.” As ISIS remains a rising threat, “longtime adversaries are teaming up.” It ends with the poignant quote “I fought against them…We are now allied to fight ISIS together.” The article points out how, though it may be wishful thinking, it offers the “slim prospect of bringing greater stability to the fractured violent region by finding common ground…” It also mentions briefly Obama’s plan of action for a military campaign. I found “A Rogue State Between Two Rivers” graphic to be especially helpful in explaining how the threat has spread. [New York Times]
Homework for Sept. 8
A. I learned from Chapter 1
The student press fulfills many roles in a campus/local community. Loquitur serves many purposes in providing information about campus and local life, while also serving as a watchdog.
A few of the points from Tips from a Pro that I found especially helpful (and something that the editors are trying to work towards this year) are using the latest technology and making your readers a priority. This year, as we are making more of a stride towards digital first and social media use, it is even easier to make articles accessible to students, alumni, faculty, staff, parents, etc.
Twitter and Facebook assist editors in receiving feedback from all types of audiences as well. Social media can also assist in the role of watchdog since it allows for faster access to information, rather than waiting an entire week for a big story to be published in print. Of course, those that manage those networks must also have the responsibility of fact checking as the role of online publications provides an ever-growing important facet of the student press.
“A college newspaper serves many functions” in their role of the student press. The first being the chronicle of campus life, it is crucial to act as an unbiased source for various events and issues. As the book mentions, a good paper has to cover the whole campus, while working “to understand and display all dimensions of a campus community.” (pg. 6) The next role is the student press serving as a community forum and unifying force for the campus community.
In its watchdog role, the student press must “investigate and report” on pressing issues. As the book mentions with the example of the fraternity house fire, it demanded answers and that is a key part of the student press. Another big part that the student press serves is as a training ground. Being a part of the student press paves the way for future opportunities. It is a huge training ground in that you learn about many different facets of the world of journalism, communication and leadership.
The challenges of student newspapers that the book lists are lack of respect, conflict of interest, inexperience and interference. Student newspapers must deal with getting people to take them seriously and respect for their First Amendment right. Student newspapers also undertake the challenge of inexperienced staff members and being able to have those staff writers “cover the community in which they live.” An example would be if a staff writer is a part of CAP Board, then they can’t cover Cap Board events. Knowing your staff is a key part in overcoming this challenge and making sure the staff members effectively cover the campus community in which they live.
B. My 2-3 most important NYTimes stories
“Ebola Is Taking A Second Toll, On Economies”
Using photographs and graphics, this article illustrates how the three hardest-hitting areas of the Ebola epidemic, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, are now being hit with a second toll taken on the economy. This story is important because for weeks, news centered around how dangerous the disease Ebola itself is and how it was affecting doctors, but hardly any mention went to the ramifications from the disease in these countries. It’s a different perspective to think through about how these countries are coping with the Ebola disease but now also having to deal with the problems it is causing to their economy.
“After Beheading of Steven Sotloff, Obama Pledges to Punish ISIS”
This story is significant because it shows the current state of ISIS and the ever-growing threat. Another journalist, Steven Sotloff, was executed weeks after James Foley was. This puts added pressure on Obama to develop a “strategy to confront ISIS.” As the article states, part of goal is to “shrink their sphere of influence.”