Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Inverted Pyramid: What it looks in the news

Usually when writing stories, the writers build suspense then get to the main point, like a traditional pyramid. However, in newspapers covering hard news, it's important to get straight to the point then add in descriptive details later so readers can get the most out of the each story. This kind of writing style is called the inverted pyramid, where the most important information goes first, then details and end with the remaining facts.

One good example of this is a story in the New York Times called "For Stocks, Worst Single Day Drop in Two Decades". The summary lead of this story gets right to the point: "But by the time that bell sounded again on the New York Stock Exchange, six and a half frantic hours later, $1.2 trillion had vanished from the United States stock market.". The reader gets the most important information first about the story, then can read to to learn more such as, this is biggest decline since World War 2 and how the decline effected other nations. The story concludes with about the Dow losing another 200 points and then an announcement Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Covering my first story!

The event I plan to cover for my first story is "2008 Elections: What Your vote means", a lecture given by Dr. Toni Marzotto, which discusses why it's important to vote, the current election and what people should think about when they vote. The event will held on September 27, 2008 in the Towson Library. The information that's available in advance is that Dr. Marzotto is a political science professor at Towson University, its sponsored by Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and this lecture is free to the public. In the press release via th Daily Digest for September 22, 2008, I was able to find what will discussed (as stated above). My main sources will be Dr. Marzotto and college students in attendence at the lecture. I plan to ask what are the most important issues one should consider when voting in this November's election, why is really that important that everyone 18 and over votes, is there a common theme that people think about when they vote and how do you (Dr. Marzotto) feel about both candidates in this election?. The additional details I plan to look for are any outlandish or unexpected qoutes from the speaker, interesting questions from the audience, as well as, the demographics of the audience.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Twiitter Headlines!

Recently in class, we learned about the 1-2-3 filing technique, where first it's a simple 50 character headline, second, follow up with 130 character summery then tell the story in a 500 word report. However, not all stories require step three, like our twitter assignment we did in class Wednesday. Now let's take a look at three students headlines! First, we'll discuss student Leah Martin's. Her headlines followed the rules in terms of character length, however, I though she could have worded some of her 130 character headlines so that they are a little more to the point. Next, let's examine Carrie Wood's headlines. She did a very good job and was able to not only answer the 5W's and H but was able to be creative about it. For example, in the article regarding Towson's hiring freeze, she said, "Hiring in University of Maryland system frozen solid". Not only does that inform the audience but it draws them in. Finally, look at Steven's twitter headlines. He did a good job as well, using active voice and in addition, he made sure that his 130 character follow up added on to his simple headline and gave a little more information.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Finding a story: Press Release vs. Orginal Reporting

Today, The Baltimore Sun did a story announcing Raven's quarterback Troy Smith is now healthy enough to begin working with the team again, "Smith healthly enough to work out". August 22, Smith developed "severe tonsillitis" and later lost 20lbs. after struggling with a blood clot in his neck which led to a lung infection. Although it is unclear when he will be cleared to play, yesterday Smith began "light conditioning work". I believe this story was generated by a press release, meaning a PR practitioner brought a topic(in this case Troy Smith returning to practice) to journalist and the journalist follows up on the story. One reason I believe this is because not only does the story announce Troy's return, but the reporter provides background information on Smith's previous season, saying he completed 53% of his passes for 370 yards and two touchdowns. Also, the story gives the readers more information about Smith's condition, what hospital he was at and who the Raven's plan to use as quarterback until Troy Smith recovers.
http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/football/bal-tsmith-pg,0,1523594.photogallery (picture link)
On the other hand, reporters also use original reporting, using their own devices to find a story. Take for example, this story in The New York Times, "For Stadium Seating, City Officials demand luxe". This story uncovers how New York officials are demanding luxury suites at both the Met and Yankees stadium and in addition are able to buy 145 tickets to every Mets home game and 180 tickets to every Yankees home game before they go on sale to the public. Clearly this reporter searched out his sources such as, Mr. Pinksy, who is the president of the Economic Development Corporation and Mr. Doctoroff, who works for the Bloomberg LP., and who recently demanded a suite . Also, due to the investigative and slanderous nature of this story, one can tell it was not something a PR agent would want leaked out to the news.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Short Reports and Summary Ledes!

Many times in the news due to the time, space and the lack information, reporters use a single sentence (sometimes followed by one or two more) as the entire story. This is known as a short report. The New York Times, for example, has "North Korean Leader had surgery after stroke, South Koreans say" as one of many short reports, also known as a bulletin. There's is a sense of urgency, "North Korean Leader had surgery after stroke", but no additional information is given except for heresy that South Korean have reported it.
Summary Ledes, similar to short reports, are the opening of a news story and quickly summarize the story. However, unlike short reports, a summary lead has a time element and is in the past tense. Take a look at this one in The Baltimore Sun: "Law enforcement officials today arrested nine people after 18 federal raids that netted heroin, automatic weapons and bags of cash. It was the second major takedown in two days. On Wednesday, officers raided a West Baltimore home and seized seven kilos of heroin, $200,000 in cash and automatic weapons.". It has a time element, "today"(September 11, 2008) and is written in the past tense as you can see by "arrested", "raided", "seized", etc.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Blog #3: Front Page News from the Baltimore Sun

One newsworthy story in The Sun is "4 alarm blaze damages historic shopping center". At around 9 am today, a fire was reported at one end of the Edmondson Village Shopping Center in West Baltimore. This shopping center was considered a historic one to Baltimore, "the Harborplace of its day" as one historian noted. In addition, BG&E had to cut power to the area so that crews could fight the fire safely, leaving 3,600 BG&E customers without power resulting in one school closure and traffic lights around the area being out. Thus making this story newsworthy due to its traditional news values of prominence, human interest, proximity, unusualness, and conflict. Prominence, meaning "well known-ness" because this shopping center was a very well known and historic part of Baltimore. Human interest, meaning emotional ties because many Baltimore residents had fond memories of the shopping center and business owners had set up shop there for many years. One hair stylist was about to mark the 24th anniversary of her shop today. Next, it has proximity, how close, because this shopping center is right in Baltimore, where many sun readers are located. Unusualness, out of the ordinary, because its definitely not everyday that a fire burns down a shopping center. Finally, the conflict of people vs. nature comes into play since the fire caused many residents and people driving near the fire area to be without power and traffic lights.

Another newsworthy story on the front page of The Sun is about the most recent slot coverage "Columbia Democrats to hold forum on slots". This story is newsworthy because in November Maryland residents will vote on whether or not slots to allow slot machine in their state, displaying the traditional news value of timeliness. As well this story is part of The Sun's ongoing coverage on slots which is currency, a direct tie to stories already in the news. Also, the news value of impact, specifically potential meaning things that happen as a consequence of an event, if Maryland vote in favor of slots, slot machines will become legal.

The third story is "Bay Bridge repairs complete". First and foremost, this story is newsworthy due to its impact on the Sun's audience. Since August 26th, round the clock lane inspects occurred to repair corrosion found in the bolts that anchor concrete barriers to the deck of the bridge, closing down the eastbound lane. This impacted not only the many commuters who use the bridge but especially Eastern Shore residents who were sometimes stuck on the bridge for an hour and a half! Timeliness also makes this story newsworthy since it was just announced today that lane closing will only be from 10 pm to 5am instead of round the clock, a relief for many Bay Bridge commuters. Also, the traditional news value of currency makes this story newsworthy since this story ties into the previous story of ordered emergency repairs on the bridge.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Blog #2: What's in Rachel Youens Backpack? and Elemets of Style Handbook, What it really says about Jared Silfies as a Journalist

Rachel Youens currently works at the Community Impact Newspaper in Austin, Texas as an assistant editor. As the assistant editor, Rachel oversees freelance writers and the design and quality of the writing from the computer. In addition, she also posts videos and original photo slides to coincide with the news stories. So what do I think Rachel Youens carries in her mobile journalism kit, aka her backpack? Well, first and foremost, a laptop computer so that she's able to log in and do all her "overseeing" work for the Community Impact and update her blogs and pod casts. Another important element of her backpack would be a digital camera and portable video camera. This way Rachel can capture the hot topic news stories and post them online so readers get a little extra with their news story. In addition, I'm sure she has a cell phone on her at all times with Internet access so that she's always able to check her email for incoming news stories and the writer's incoming stories. As an editor, Rachel probably also carries some kind of grammatical handbook as well as a dictionary in order to efficiently and accurately proof read the writer's stories.

Jared carries in his backpack a copy of Elements of Style. Elements of Style is resource book that basically explains all the rules of writing. This book makes the statement that Jared is a serious journalist and wants to be taken seriously. Clearly, Jared uses this book to ensure he has no mistakes what so ever in his stories. The Elements of Style book also reveals that Jared is a smart journalist. No body is perfect or knows everything about spelling and grammar but with this book as a reference guide, Jared won't be making stupid mistakes like putting a comma where they shouldn't be or using the wrong tense.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

About Me

My name is Rachel Rothwell and this is my first journalism class, welcome to my blog! I really hope this class will be able to greatly improve my computer and web design skills because currently I am absolutly horrible at any to do with computers. Although this class will be a challenge, I am really excited to take it and learn how to wirte news stories and write better ( I am sure my grammer needs to be refreshed!). My goal is to ultimatly work for vogue or some fashion magazine similar to vogue so hopefully this class will help me reach my goals! Also, I think writing stories will be really fun and I can not wait to interview people because I love to ask people lots questions.