J-Skills: Newswriting & PR writing
WRITING LEADS. [week 1] 00format, 01start, [week 2] 02event.
WRITING STORIES. 03judge, week3: 04lecture.
DETAILING. [weeks 3-5] 05grammar, 06stylebook.
WRITING HEADLINES, OBSERVING. [week 5] 07heads, 08room.
INTERVIEWING. [week 6] 09interview, [week 7] 10films.
THE BIG PROJECT. [weeks 7-10] 11preparation, 12opinion, 13topic.
Extra 3 weeks?: extra material.
PHILOSOPHY: J-Skills exercises may stand-alone or be used together as a progressive drill, cumulating knowledge, building to The Big Project over 10 weeks. Its companion 44-page ready reference handbook, "Newswriting Step by Step" (online and bulk discounts), with innovative direct explanations, may replace a textbook. The students learn by doing, in class and with homework. Thus, the instructor may focus on personal mentoring, instead of lecturing.
"Grammar Repair" is the second companion booklet to this Web page.
J-skills was accepted for a peer-reviewed presentation at the "Digital Revolution" conference on Oct. 14, 2004, at the Newsplex, College of Mass Communications, University of South Carolina, Columbia.
Tab paragraphs. Type just one space after a period. Leave top two inches free for comments.
Work in 12-point type and keep the paragraphs about two or three computer lines,
which is under one newspaper column inch. Break graphs if more than four lines.
In the upper-left corner on three lines:
At story end, place an endmark: ### Add a source list with
Backup important files on a disk or on a hard drive.
01start [use this storyname] Find good leads. [JQG: "News Tasks"]Identify the Five W’s and an H in the leads of news stories in a printed newspaper. Put a "I" over the "Who?" and a "II" over the "What?" The "IV" for "Where?" may go over the city name or a word such as "here." Note that most of the Roman numerals appear in order:
Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?
Note that not all of the Five W's and an H will be used. Then use the newspaper to find the Five W’s in several delayed summary sentences.
To see how news coverage of the same event changes, look at "The Big Haze 1997" (Comparing International News Coverage).
Search several newspapers on the Web [not TV networks, not tightly written USA Today] for examples of good newspaper leads and openings. Check out some favorites at NewsPlace.org: News. [Web pages may open in a different window.]
Find two examples of event-oriented ("hard news") leads that set up an
inverted pyramid story, which moves from the most important information to
the least important. "Copy" and "paste" the lead. [ How to copy part of a Web
page to your word processor. ]
Next, find two examples of timeless-feature ("soft news") opening sections with a delayed summary sentence and a news peg. "Copy" and "paste" the opening through its summary sentence and news peg. Provide the newspaper name and date. Say why you think each story is effective.
First write the invitation. Then, for the news story, copy this exercise's instructions to your word processor. [ How to copy part of a Web page to your word processor. ]
Put the event info into a Roman-numeral Five W's outline, probably
filling four or five of the slots. Then, "copy" your outline and
"paste" it just below your outline. In the duplicate, remove the numerals
and the line-breaks, creating a summary sentence that is the very same
I. WHO? II. WHAT? III. WHEN? IV. WHERE? V. WHY? VI. HOW?
04lecture Write another news storyWrite a seven-paragraph news story for a general audience on parts 1 and 2 of "Newswriting." Pretend that parts 1 and 2 are the notes of a guest lecture by the author at your school today. Hint: What is the one over-all message that includes all of the sub-messages? It is about a particular newswriting technique. What should newswriters use?
Which format (based on another "lecture") do you prefer?
2. Reporters should talk to their audience and keep themselves out of their news stories, a journalism professor told journalism students today.
Include your Five W’s lead outline. Bold every transition word.
Save. Share with your editor/instructor. After seeing comments, "save as" 04lecture2 to keep your earlier version. Rewrite and resubmit.
Your mentor/instructor may assign individualized writing exercises for additional practice.Grammar Repair. Online exercises at Grammar Matters.
Joe Smith's car. Joe's and Mary's jobs (two jobs). Joe and Mary's
kitchen (one kitchen).
Top misspelled words in the American news media
Take the Grammar quiz based on "Grammar Repair" and the online grammar exercises.Grammar Repair. Online exercises, a quiz and an exam at J-stylebook.
Write practice headlines to see if a headline writer will find your
A headline count has an identical range for each line of the head.
Headline Counts [count=14]
Work first with pencil and paper. Then, type the heads for 02event,
03judge and 04lecture on the same page. Make each two lines, down style,
22-25 count on each line.
Type each headline at 18 points for a nice display. Show the
count for each line.
Describe your lab. Look around your workplace for 10 minutes without talking. List your observations. Then write three alternative openings for a feature.
Look at Plagiarism.Watch Your Language [diversity awareness (in center box)].
Take Note of This for interviewing techniques, including this:
Conduct a preliminary interview. Then, switch roles and be interviewed. After the initial interviews, seek multiple sources: friends, roommates, classmates, family members and workplace associates. Then, re-interview your subject for clarification and more depth.
Use a feature opening. About seven-to-nine graphs, each two-three-four computer lines long. After first using both the person's first and last names, on the second and subsequent references, use just the last name (unless the person is not yet in high school, so that using just the first name is still appropriate). Use Mr., Mrs. and Ms. only for second reference in an obituary.
Check for attributions. Check for transitions. After the endnote, list sources with a contact phone number, address and e-mail address.
Save. Share with your subject. Share with your editor/instructor. After seeing comments, "save as" 09(name)2 to keep your earlier version. Rewrite and resubmit.MPAA.org for a description of the industry's rating system to prepare for interviews.
Write a 10-paragraph news story. Check for attributions. Check for transitions. After the endnote, list sources with a contact phone number, address and e-mail address.
Save. Share with a colleague and then with your editor/instructor. After seeing comments, "save as" 10films2 to keep your earlier version. Rewrite and resubmit.
Your mentor/instructor may assign individualized writing exercises for additional practice.
11prep Preparation for a big project. ["News Tasks"]Prepare for a story on a campus/local issue that has at least two positions.
Check out the campus/local newspaper’s archive. Use the Web and the
to check out other campuses and relevant sources. List possible ideas for
photographs and graphics.
See NewsLink to look at other college/local newspapers
12opinion Interviews for a big project. ["Reporting, Bias Patrol"]Talk with involved people. Include a policy maker, a faculty expert and several affected students. Mark key points in your notes and box personal reminders. Submit your original interview notes for evaluation and for consultation on story development.
mean treating all sides as equal. -- Christiane Amanpour, CNN
13(insert your topic) Putting it together. [Rewriting, Law Brief"]Write a news story on your campus topic based on your research, interviews and observation.
Prepare a 12-paragraph news report. Remain detached. Attribute all opinions. Check for attributions. Check for transitions. After the endnote, list sources with a contact phone number, address and e-mail address.
Write a headline, two lines, down style, 22-25 count.
Save. Share with a colleague and then with your editor. After seeing comments, "save as" 13(topic)2 to keep your earlier version. Rewrite and resubmit.
2. Explain why "who" is correct. Explain what "she said" is.