Nuts and Bolts

Today we will:

  • Talk about recent news — review articles you brought in
  • Talk briefly about the state of news today vs 25 years ago
  • Discuss the difference between what researchers and journalists consider news
  • Review what makes a story newsworthy
  • Outline the nuts and bolts of putting an article together, including ledes, nut grafs, quotes, attribution and pacing

Note: Due to a mix-up, the bookstore does not yet have the course textbooks. They will have them by next week. There is no reading due until Thursday Sept. 4, so this should not be a problem.

News roundup

What is News?

  • Extent – how widespread it is
  • Intensity – does it affect some people deeply – ebola – heat wave –
  • Consequence – Does this have major reprecussions – will it change the future? Set a precedent? Have major medical/health/law — will stocks react, close a highway, etc
  • Eminence/celebrity – fame – names make news
  • Proximity – local angle – scientists recognized by region.
  • Timeliness – Anything that will be less interesting tomorrow than today – andre Gide
  • How new is it? — Is it a scoop?
  •  Novelty – people like weird stuff
  • Human interest — humans love to read about other people’s successes, failures, traumas etc.
  • Currency – Is everyone talking about this?


Writing exercise (due Tues Sept.2 ) Write a 250-300 word (one to one and a half pages, double-spaced) description of your room. Think about which details matter most and which have no bearing on who you are. Include only the ones that say something about you. Help me get to know you via the details you describe. (more on this in class)

Read: “Can a Jellyfish Unlock the Secret of Immortality?” As you read, mark paragraphs you think are good. Identify where the lead ends and the nut begins. Who is quoted? Do the quotes add to the story? How? Does the author use good description? Is he good at translating science for the lay person? Where does the piece lag? Are there any parts that are unnecessary? Why?

Be ready to discuss the piece — and parts that you liked/disliked in class.


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