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Crash Course in Journalism Page 1
Chapter 1

Compete Assignments ....
Basic Concepts
of Journalism
The material contained in this book synthesizes what you need to
learn to prepare for a
successful career in
communications. It
doesn't look so
difficult, does it? It is
sad to note, however,
that many journalism
graduates enter the
job market, never
having fully
mastered these
simple basics. Yet,
as an editor and
publisher of a group
of suburban weekly
newspapers, I hired
numerous reporters
who had never taken even one journalism class. They were older
individuals with a lot of “life experience” and good spelling and grammar
skills. I wrote essentially this one chapter to help get them started as
professional reporters, and several of them ended up winning journalism
awards for their efforts. It would be to your advantage to go over this
material several times as you learn and practice these basic journalism
skills. Then you will be ready to begin refining your reporting, writing and
editing techniques as an intern and then as a professional. .
Finding 'The News'
News is whatever journalists say it is. Certainly not every new discovery,
new program, new proposal, new assertion and new thought could be carried
in the news media. Yet, loosely speaking, it is all news. And, in actuality, a lot
of what is overlooked by journalists every day could be as newsworthy as that Crash Course in Journalism Page 2
which does appear in the news media.
From what events they are aware of, journalists try to choose the most
newsworthy to actually present to the public as “news.” They usually start off with
the happenings of the day which, from experience, they presume to be of most
importance or of interest to the public. These stories are also some of the easiest
stories to cover with limited staffing. The journalists cover specific "beats,"
gathering news from crime blotters, government meetings, speeches and press
conferences, strikes and rallies, etc.
Sometimes, instead of starting with an event, the journalist will start with
an issue. The journalist's reporting of the issue makes it news even if no one
other than that journalist has ever thought about it before.
Another alternative is to interview an individual and allow him to create
the news of the day. The reporter may have no idea what the person is going to
say, but for some reason he suspects the public would be interested in that
individual’s opinions and insights. The individual may be famous, powerful,
highly credible or just interesting. But, for whatever reason, the journalist decides
that person is news – almost regardless of what he says.
And, of course, there are unplanned incidents and major disasters that
need to be covered. Some of these fall within one reporter's "beat," but frequently
they do not. In some cases multiple reporters must be assigned to cover a major
unplanned incident, such as an airplane crash, natural disaster or a
governmental crisis.
The same news stories can be approached from many different
perspectives. There may be literally millions of people with some expertise who
could render a credible opinion. The reporter must choose. He can take a single
source and interview in depth. He can talk to many sources and combine their
views into one story. Or he can personally immerse himself into the story –
become part of the news, reporting on what he himself may observe or
experience. He can look at a problem from an industrial, consumer, political,
social, scientific or individual perspective. He can review what has happened
already, what is happening right now, or what is likely to happen in the future –
near or distant.

Basic News Values

Basic news values are considered when determining what should or
should not become part of today’s news:
TIMELINESS: What is closest to NOW is generally of the most
interest. If something is of the too distant past or too distant future,
there is little public interest. Timeliness is a relative concept, however,
relating to what has been reported previously. An important or
interesting fact from World War I can be very newsworthy if no one
has ever reported it before. On the other hand, a fact about an event
yesterday may have lost its newsworthiness because it was reported
widely in the news media already.

PROXIMITY: What is closest to us is generally of the most interest. An Crash Course in Journalism Page 3
accident in
community is
of greater
ess to us
than an
accident in a
city 1,000
miles away.
may be
social or
cultural, as
well as
Civil strife in
Europe is of more interest to most Americans than civil strife in Africa.
One could ask, “In a news sense, how many Indonesians are equal to
one member of my own community? How many Indonesians would
have to die to bump a story about a local fatal traffic accident from the
front page?”

• PATHOS: Stories that tug at the heart strings have a special appeal to
many news consumers. People like to “feel.” Crying over someone
else’s problems is better than being bored with one’s own.

• HUMOR: We all need some comic relief amid otherwise serious news.
News stories with a humorous angle, therefore, are in high demand by
consumers and editors.

• LOVE: Tender emotions stirred by children, animals, or an attractive
person frequently enhance a story’s value, similar to pathos.

• ACHIEVEMENT: Victory or great accomplishment is appealing to
news consumers. This is especially so if the consumer feels a part of
the achievement. The victory of someone from one’s own country in
the Olympics, for example, is typically of much greater interest than a
victory by an athlete from another country. Achievement is a more
powerful element when combined with love, pathos, suspense or
personal consequence.

• PROMINENCE: An event involving a prominent person is generally of
more interest than a similar event involving someone of little notoriety.
By definition, the more prominent a person is, the more people feel
they know him personally, that somehow he is a part of their life.

• SUSPENSE: Stories concerning crime, conflict or survival are often
more newsworthy because of the element of suspense. People project
themselves into the situation, as they do with a movie thriller or a
novel. Such stories are usually never over in a day, but require follow-Crash Course in Journalism Page 4
up coverage to satisfy long-term consumer interest.

• CURIOSITY: Oddities and unusual happenings appeal to the
public's curiosity. But even fairly typical happenings have some
degree of curiosity appeal. The human mind wants to understand
what is going on around it. This is true with everyday happenings
that we may not understand -- something so simple as why the
sky is blue. Much greater curiosity is stirred by things for which we
have no satisfactory intellectual explanation -- UFOs, ghosts,
magic and miracles – as well as such everyday occurrences as
crimes, disasters, crises and essentially everything we call “news.”
Certainly curiosity must be one of the strongest news values.

• CONSEQUENCE: If there is a stronger news appeal than curiosity,
it is probably consequence. We are curious about some strange
thing happening on the other side of the world, but we are much
more concerned if we think it may affect us. The power of proximity
is rooted primarily in consequence. What is near to us is more
likely to affect us than that which is far away and, thus, probably of
little personal consequence.
Harvey Priority
of News Values
Pathos, Love & Humor
Timeliness & Proximity
News values are basic human values and emotions that extend far
beyond the news, per se. All communications are influenced by them –
religion, education, art, marketing, entertainment, fiction and even gossip
rely on these human appeals. The more we recognize these elements in
the world around us and the better we can manipulate language to utilize
these values, the more effective we will be as communicators.
The difference between a journalist and some other kinds of
communicators should be a commitment to truth and its value in our society,
the recognition that we ourselves may not know the truth and are subject to
our own biases, but a conviction that truth will triumph if given a fair and
unbiased forum. Crash Course in Journalism Page 5
This Crash Course will help you to gather news fairly and effectively
and then to prepare the news report professionally.
Gathering the News
The key to gathering information effectively is to ask questions -- the
right questions to the right people until you obtain the right answers. You must
be prepared to ask your questions quickly but without leaving any dangling,
unanswered questions to undermine your efforts. It helps to bone up on your
subject and on your sources in order to have intelligent questions prepared
ahead of time and in order to interpret the responses intelligently after the
interview. .
Whether or not you have time to prepare, don’t forget the basic 5Ws:

What? Crash Course in Journalism Page 6

If you forget one of these questions or fail to pursue it adequately, you
will have a big hole in your story. Memorize the 5Ws and really use them.
Recognize, however, what it means to pursue the question. If you ask WHO
broke into Watergate (and the Democratic National Headquarters), don't forget
to ask WHO put them up to it and WHO is trying to cover it up or you will fall
short of your journalistic responsibility.
Pursue, Pursue, Pursue! "How?" and "Why?" are the two most
neglected questions. Why did this happen? Why did they do it? Why isn't
anybody doing anything to correct this? Why are you giving me the runaround?
Precisely how did it occur -- detail by detail? How does this compare --
currently and historically? How would you feel if [fill in the blank…]? How did
you arrive at that conclusion? Why do you reject this other possibility? How
would you resolve this problem? How would you explain this to a layman,
perhaps a high school student? How would you persuade the opposition? How
would you summarize your position or explanation? How would you summarize
your opponent's position?
Perhaps it is impossible to ask all the questions you would like to ask,
but don't be too easily satisfied. There are literally hundreds of questions to be
asked and usually hundreds of sources that could answer at least some of the
questions, each in a very different way. Certainly most journalists -- young and
old -- error in asking too few questions of too few people.
And don't forget, to pursue your non-people sources, too: libraries,
government and other public records, and, when available, private documents.
Some journalists literally go through garbage cans in their search for private
documents. Learn your rights under the various state and federal sunshine
laws -- laws regarding open public records and open public meetings.
It doesn't do much good to ask questions, however, if you fail to report
the answers fully and accurately. QUOTE when possible. In most cases your
stories should be 20-40 percent direct quote. The rest can be indirect quote,
paraphrase, summary or direct observation, but just about everything not
personally observed by the reporter should be attributed to someone else.
Again, attribute essentially everything!
Quote/summarize/quote/summarize/quote/summarize/quote. You can
mix it up a little, but in writing a news story, the more quotes you have to
choose from, the better. Direct quotes are important. They carry greater
credibility and they humanize the source. The difference between paraphrase
and direct quote is essentially the same difference as between a TV anchorman
telling about a speech by the president as opposed to the TV audience seeing
and hearing the speech on video.
Generally you save a lot of time if you just take notes and don't have to go Crash Course in Journalism Page 7
back and transcribe a recording. So, most print journalists do not use recorders.
On the other hand, I asked newspaper editors in a survey how important it
would be for journalism schools to teach their future employees shorthand or
speed writing. I was surprised that they were largely opposed to the idea. They
felt the deadline pressure was too great for reporters to take too many notes.
Some explained that the process of taking notes is essentially a process of
deciding on the fly what information is most important. If you take too many
notes, it takes too long to write the story.
The ability of reporters to make the best decisions while rapidly trying to
keep pace with a speaker is questionable. What I find is that many reporters --
particularly new reporters – start writing down a quote, hear something else of
interest, abandon the first quote and start the second, then abandon that quote
for yet a third one. They can go through an hour-long interview with no
complete quotes at all.
I think direct quotes are very valuable in a story; some journalists do not. I
think accuracy is very important; some journalists are not as meticulous.
Indeed, one award-winning New York Times reporter told me he doesn’t take
any notes while interviewing people. He’s afraid that will cause sources not to
be as forthright as if the reporter talks to them casually and maintains eye
contact. After the interview he quickly finds a spot where he can write down all
the information he has been able to retain in his mind. Crash Course in Journalism Page 8
Different professionals have different approaches. All that said, here are
some tips for your note-taking:

• While taking notes, listen carefully. When you hear a good quote,
capture it in your mind and write it down quickly while you are only
half-listening to the ongoing discussion.

• If you don't know formal shorthand or speedwriting, speed up your
note-taking by leaving out words such as "the,” “a,” “an,” and “of"
and any other words you think you can fill in later. You can also
learn to leave out letters within words, particularly vowels, and still
be able to decipher your notes.

• Be pragmatic. Understand that you won’t have time to take down all
the notes you would like. It is better to get a half-dozen complete
quotes than two dozen half quotes.

• After your interview you can still do what the N.Y. Times reporter
suggested and quickly write down other information to be used as
indirect quotes and paraphrases.

• Be sure to keep track which notes are quotes and which are .

• Be as careful with your quote-taking as possible, but don't be too
frustrated by perfectionism. Few reporters take down quotes
absolutely word perfect. In fact, after a White House interview,
reporters frequently get together to make sure they are all quoting
the president the same in order not to be embarrassed later. If
there were only one reporter – which is the case in most interviews
– a reporter would be on his own. But the only person who could
dispute the quote normally would be the interviewee himself. I tell
new reporters to be accurate enough so the source will not be sure
whether you were exactly accurate or not. Think about a
conversation you had with someone yesterday. How exact is your
own memory? You probably don’t remember every word you used,
but you do remember the essence and intent of what you said. So,
if a reporter is a few words off, the source probably won’t know or
care as long as the essence is accurate.

• Most professional reporters feel they have the obligation to both
their sources and their readers to do some quote doctoring anyway
-- cutting down run-on sentences, correcting grammar, cutting out
dead wood and irrelevant information, etc.

• Many reporters combine separate partial quotes into single
complete quotes and don't bother to use an ellipsis (...) to indicate
missing material in between. Others question the ethics of
"marrying" such quotes, especially if there is a lot of material
separating the quotes or if the “marriage” changes the sense of the
quotes. Again, the key, I believe, is whether the source himself will
know the difference.

• If most of the words are quoted accurately and the essence of the
quote is true, it should be OK. That gives you quite a bit of latitude. Crash Course in Journalism Page 9
But be sure not to misrepresent the source. It is possible to take a
precise and accurate quote even out of a recorded interview and
misrepresent the intent of the source. That’s not fair even if

• If you are reporting on a prepared speech or statement, you should
ask for a copy ahead of time to follow, and you will obviously want
to report precisely.

• As you are taking notes, also think ahead to how the story will be
written. Ignore irrelevant remarks -- even if they are funny or
profound. Establish in your notes certain newsworthy themes and
listen for quotes and details that amplify the themes. Consider what
is important and of interest to your readers. Remember the basic
news values:
consequence, prominence, proximity, timeliness, and
the general human interests – curiosity, suspense, pathos, humor,
love and achievement.

• If you have time, especially as you first get started in the business,
you may want to use a recorder, but also take notes. Write your
story mostly from your notes, turning to the recording only for very
important quotes and details you have missed in your notes. Your
notes also act as a table of contents to your recording, helping you
to find the right part to transcribe without having to listen to the
entire recording. Most reporters are particularly concerned that a
recorder will make a source hesitant to speak openly. I still use a
recorder a lot and find it is NOT much of an inhibiting factor. Most
sources do not presume they are in an antagonistic interaction, or
they think they can control the situation even if being recorded. I
find that sources tend to forget the recorder since I am able to
maintain better eye contact and make the interview more
conversational. My recordings have allowed me to get two city
mayors out of office who tried to deny what they told me. All I had
to do on my editorial page was to invite anyone who wanted to hear
the recordings to come to my office. In a more recent incident, I
posted an entire recorded interview on the Internet after a public
official denied statements she had made.

• Recorders are illegal in many states if the sources are not aware
they are being recorded. However, if you have no intent on telling
anyone you recorded a conversation, who is hurt by it? I frequently
use a recorder on telephone interviews, for example. If the source
is antagonistic, I can still get a lot out of a brief interview even if the
source hangs up on me in 30 seconds -- IF I have recorded every
word. In one state where it is legal, I recorded an abrupt 15-second
interview, which not only gave me good story material but actually
kept me OUT of a lawsuit. I was able to prove my quote was
accurate. Personally, I don’t think a recorder used by a reporter
should ever be illegal if the purpose is to enhance accuracy.

• If you can always keep in mind what is relevant and of reader Crash Course in Journalism Page 10
interest, a handful of good, complete quotes, plus a few
informational notes and your memory, can provide adequate
material for a good story. You can't cover everything; be realistic.

• Be sure to obtain adequate information to fully identify those to
whom you will be attributing quotes and information, as well as
those to whom your sources may refer. Relevant information for full
identification, depending on the circumstances, may include name,
nickname, address, occupation, job title, age, race or nationality,
relationships, and involvement in past news.

• If you come away from the interview or meeting with unanswered
questions, call your sources back, email them or follow up in some
other way until you have filled the holes. Don't stop pursuing
information until you have all the information you need or until your
news sources flatly refuse to answer your questions. Refusal to
answer questions is sometimes bigger news than the response
itself would have been.

• And, finally, in this Internet age, I frequently conduct entire
interviews by email. In these “eviews,” as I call them, I send a
source a series of questions and suggest they will be able to
respond more accurately and in exactly the words they want to use
if they respond by email, but, if they prefer, I’ll give them a phone
call. Most like the opportunity to answer by email, and it makes my
work both easier and more accurate. Crash Course in Journalism Page 11
Writing the Story
Find your WHAMMY! Your whammy is the most interesting item in your
notes. It is the aspect most likely to grab your readers’ attention and pull them
into the story. It is the item you believe should, therefore, be featured in the
headline and in your first paragraph – the “lead” of your story.
I ask my writers and my students to write a prospective headline at the top
of their stories before they start writing the story itself. It helps them to identify
their whammy, and it sometimes suggests how to word their lead paragraph. At
the same time, it may help an editor in creating the actual headline to be used in
the newspaper. However, don’t get confused. The headline is NOT part of the
story and not normally the reporter’s job to write.
For a long time it was taught that a summary of all of the 5Ws should be
included in the lead – the first paragraph. However, research has shown that lead
paragraphs longer than 25-35 words lose readership. They appear too long
graphically. They are intimidating. They are not easily skimmed. They dilute the
impact of the whammy.
Therefore, it is better to have a short, high-impact lead of 25 words, Crash Course in Journalism Page 12
emphasizing the whammy, and then to finish the summary of the remaining 5Ws
in the second paragraph. Accordingly, you should think of the first two
paragraphs as your “complete lead” and your first paragraph (almost never more
than one sentence) as simply your “lead.”
Your story then extends out of your complete lead in what is referred to as
“inverted pyramid” style. Your most important information has already been
included in the complete lead. Now essentially begin the story again but in more
detail, working your way down until you reach your least important detail in the
very last paragraph.
Readers rarely read an entire newspaper story, so provide them with the
most important information first. Also, when space is tight, editors will cut your
story from the tail end. Your story should be written so it can be cut anywhere
past the second paragraph and still sound somewhat complete. In fact, a typical
radio news story wouldn’t have more than three paragraphs of about two
sentences apiece (six total sentences), and even a major television story may be
limited to eight paragraphs (or about 16 sentences). So, a newspaper’s
“complete lead” of 3-5 sentences is not much shorter than some broadcast news
And, in conclusion, don’t write conclusions! There are no conclusions in
inverted pyramid news writing. The exceptions are feature stories, analyses and
editorials. But standard news stories do not have conclusions. Crash Course in Journalism Page 13
Copy Preparation & Editing
Here are some general and Associated Press style rules to follow in
preparing your news stories.

1 Don't write a headline for a story unless you are assigned to do so. Most
editors will not want you to spend time writing headlines. That's the job of an
editor. Instructors may ask you to do so, however, as an exercise in
identifying the “whammy” of the story. The headline and the lead both
typically give emphasis to the whammy -- the main point of interest or concern
in the story. In my classes I DO ask students to write a headline to help them
clarify the whammy.

2 Always fully IDENTIFY everyone mentioned in the story. That is, not only a
person's name but additional information, such as title, occupation, address,
age, previous news involvement, etc., as appropriate. Be extremely careful
with the spelling of names and exact titles. It's such a simple point that it is
often overlooked, which makes you look awfully stupid. If in doubt, verify
names and addresses, using phone books or institutional records.

3 SIMPLICITY is a journalistic virtue. Newspaper readers have a wide
educational range that must be served, but even for the most sophisticated
reader simplicity is appreciated. Newspaper readers are skimmers. If your
writing is too complex, readers will simply go on to another story.
--Keep sentences simple. Don't use more than two clauses in one sentence.
If there is more to say, break it into a separate sentence.
-- Keep vocabulary simple. If precise jargon must be used, define it clearly
for your readers. Your writing should be about junior high level. Your topic
may be complex, but your writing must not be.
-- Eliminate any “cute,” flowery, profound, or verbose language.
Professionals are primarily concerned with the facts and use creative writing
techniques with restraint. Crash Course in Journalism Page 14

4 SHORT PARAGRAPHS. Never have paragraphs over three sentences long --
generally 1-2 sentences. Paragraphs must be cut down from standard English
composition or readers will not read them in a newspaper. A standard English
paragraph might run 8 inches long when set in a narrow 2-inch newspaper
column. That would appear too complex for typical newspaper skimmers to

5 SPELLING, GRAMMAR & PUNCTUATION. Bone up on your basic spelling,
punctuation and grammar. That is the No. 1 complaint of editors. Don't guess.
If in doubt, look it up. If too much needless editing has to be performed on
your copy, your job is in jeopardy.

6 When the story is complete, read it to yourself to check grammar and
continuity. If a sentence sounds at all awkward to you, it will certainly sound
worse to your editor and to your readers. Because you know what you
intended to write, your mind will often fill in missing words, overlook typos or
not catch misspellings or poor grammar. One method to keep your mind from
filling in those blanks is to read backwards through your story one sentence at
a time, starting with the very last sentence. Another strategy, if your deadline
will allow it, is to put your story aside and come back to it a few hours or a day
later. Crash Course in Journalism Page 15

7 Do not underline for the sake of emphasis, and avoid any similar graphic
devices. If any is needed, the editors will take care of it.
8 LEARN NEWSPAPER STYLE. In order to avoid apparent conflicts in style,
most publications have adopted some standard, such as the AP Stylebook,
which you should be using in conjunction with this workbook. Refer to the
Stylebook for greater detail, but Chapter 4 includes a number of examples of
important style rules you should keep in mind. The rules relate to such
situations as:

(a) DAY & DATES -- Do you ever need both day and date? When should
you use one; when the other?

(b) PROXIMITY & TIMELINESS -- How do you give them emphasis?

(c) NAMES &TITLES — When do you use proper and courtesy titles?
When do you capitalize a person's title? When can you abbreviate?

(d) ABBREVIATIONS — When can you abbreviate names of
organizations, words like “street” and “avenue,” dates, states, proper
names and directions?

(e) CAPITALIZATION — When do you capitalize names of organizations,
names of political bodies and subdivisions, nicknames, titles, seasons,
languages and abbreviations?

(f) PUNCUATION -- When do commas, periods and other punctuation
marks go inside quotation marks? When do you use parentheses?
Should compound adjectives be hyphenated? Are apostrophes used
with numbers and names of organizations? Is a comma need in a
simple series, such as “red, white__ and blue?”

(g) PRONOUNS -- Is it proper to use a plural pronoun or adjective to refer
to a collective noun, such as the “city council”? In other words, do you
refer to city council as “it” or “they”?

(h) FIGURES — When using numbers, in what circumstances do you spell
out the numbers, and in what circumstances do you use figures?

9 AGAIN, DON'T GUESS. There is one kind of writer who is sure to make an
editor angrier than one with poor punctuation and spelling skills — that's one
who doesn't care, someone with perhaps even superior English skills but who
guesses when uncertain, someone who is simply sloppy, someone who
makes errors and thinks it's someone else's problem. A dictionary and an AP
Stylebook should be by your computer or available online at all times, and the
best journalists will make frequent use of both companions.

nowadays on a computer. But there are times when you must edit printed text
– whether your own or someone else's. There are fairly standard editing

Crash Course in Journalism Page 16

symbols that journalists use. Below is a list of basic copy editing symbols you
should know and use consistently when such circumstances arise. You can
find a similar list in your AP Stylebook.
Chapter 1 Assignments

1. Using the editing symbols above, edit the exercise below:
a) Transpose teh inverted letters adn words this in sentenec.
b) Insert two commas a dash a hyphen and a period in this error filled
sentence even if you would prefer to take a nap Crash Course in Journalism

Page 17

c) make the corrections in capitalization in This SENTENCE that harvey has

d) I want you to put quote marks in this sentence yelled the professor And
dont neglect youre other punctuation and copyediting responsibiliitees

e) Inn this senntence I would like you too delete all of thee the
unnneccessary words words and letters.

f) You also need knowhow to separate run-onwords and to insert missing.

g) Mising leters also nedd to be added somatimes in plase of othors.

h) At ti mes you you neeed to use a clo sure markings to indicate that the
editor or secr etary should reed read over the empty or deleated space.

i) A circle is a simple way of indicating to Mister Smith, your prof., that a no.
or abbrev. needs to be spelled out, that a spelled out word needs to be
abbreviated, or that a spelled out number needs to be put into figure
form. Generally, numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 should be spelled
out, while ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, etcetera, should be made into

j) Remember that paragrafs should, in journalism, should not be more than
too sentences longwith the possible exception of 3 extremely short and
related sentences. Maybee you ought to putt a symbol in this parragraf to
show it should bee at least too and may be 3 paragraphs. their are also
lotts of othor errers in this paragraph. You should obviously makee thee
oter corrections, two, as neeededCrash Course in Journalism Page 18

2. Again using proper editing symbols, correct the errors in the following
sentences, Look particularly for grammar errors referred to in the sentences

a) Always deliver that which you promise

b) Each pronoun should agree with their antecedent.

c) Between you and I, case is important.

d) Verbs has to agree with their subject.

e) Don't be a person whom people realize confuses “who” and “whom.”

f) Never use no double negatives.

g) A writer mustn't shift your point of view.

h) When writing, participles must not be dangled. Don't do it even if it’s hard
not to.

i) Join clauses good, like a conjunction should.

j) Don't write run-on sentences, you need to punctuate them properly.

k) About sentence fragments. Don't. Unless it's for effect.

l) In letters themes and reports use commas to separate items in a series

as well as phrases and clauses when required.

m) Don't, use commas, that aren't necessary.

n) Its important to use apostrophe's in the right place's.

o) Don't abbrev. unless approved by the Associated Press Stylebook.

p) Check to see if you any words out.

q) Try to never split infinitives.

r) Avoid using a preposition to end a sentence with. That's a practice up
Crash Course in Journalism Page 19
with which some readers will not put.

s) Parallel structure will help you in writing more effective sentences, to
express yourself more gracefully and in pleasing your editor.

t) In my own personal opinion I think that an author when he is writing
should not get into the habit of making use of too many unnecessary
words that he does not really need to use.

u) Last, but not least, lay off clinches and mixed metaphors. They might
kindle a flood if anger in your editor.
(Anonymous, adapted)

3. Refer to the first 10 sets of reporter's notes in the exercise portion of Chapter

2. Write one sentence describing what you feel is the most powerful
“whammy” of each story. Don't make this assignment more difficult than it
already is. You are NOT writing a lead. You are NOT being evaluated for your
writing. You ARE being evaluated on your “nose” for news. What should a
writer emphasize in each of these stories?

4. Refer back to the first 10 sets of story notes in Chapter 2. Using the “news
values” discussed in this chapter, compare Story #1 and Story #2, defending
your choice as to which story should be given better placement in tomorrow
morning's newspaper. Likewise, compare #2 vs #3, #3 as #4, #4 vs #5, #5 vs.
#6, #6 vs #7, #7 vs #8, #8 vs #9, and #10 vs #1. Now, finally, select your top
three stories and rank them in order of priority. This could make for good
classroom debate.

5. Refer to the first 10 story notes of Chapter 2 one more time. This time think
about what questions have not been answered in the reporter's notes. In
other words, what questions would you still want to ask. Write down the most
critical one of two “unanswered questions” for each story. Include, if possible,
who you would ask the questions, and, if you feel it is necessary, explain why
the questions are important.

6. Cut 10 leads out of a local newspaper and explain (a) what the whammy us
for each of the leads and (b) why you feel the lead is good.

7. Cut 10 mediocre or poor leads out of a local newspaper and explain what's
wrong with each. Now rewrite each your way, and your instructor will decide Crash Course in Journalism Page 20
which version is better.

8. Cut 10 stories out of the newspaper and write down what you feel are the
most important “unanswered questions” for each.

9. Using this textbook, any other specifically assigned textbooks, and other
sources available to you in the library or in the “real world,” write a short, 5- to

8-page term paper on each of the topics below. Use writing examples from
your local daily newspaper to illustrate your points. You should write the
papers as a journalist, but pretending that each printed source is a source you
have personally interviewed. You should quote and attribute liberally, keeping
your own opinions out of the story. With the first attribution to a particular
source, you should place its bibliographical information in parentheses, in the
following manner:
According to Professor Ken Harvey (Crash Course in
Journalism, Buffalo, NY: Newstext Press, 1984, p. 7),
there are relatively few rules to becoming a good
Journalist. Harvey says hard work, an understanding of
news style, and an insatiable curiosity are the essential
The second time you refer to a particular author or source in one of your term
papers, you may refer to him by his last name only and place only the page
reference in parentheses:

Harvey says (p.10) that all human communication is
controlled by a handful of human values.
If it helps, pretend that you are writing the articles for a magazine, such as
Writer's Digest.


a) How to “grab” and keep readers' interest.

b) How to write simple, clear, powerful summary leads.

c) How to investigate and gather news effectively.

d) How to organize your information into an effective story.

e) How to maintain accuracy in your news work.

f) How to handle quotes and attribution.

g) How to use background information to write a follow-up or second-day

h) How to rewrite stories from other publications.

i) How to be a “complete” reporter.

Please do pass your worthy complements

Regards : Ali Baloch
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