Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Bear Traps on the Final Exam (Watch Your Feet)

Big Bad Wolf
Big Bad Wolf (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
1. At least every other paragraph, source your material:

 * Police said... 
 * According to police...
 * According to the police report... 
 * xxxxx told police that...

2. Unless someone is arrested, do NOT include her/his name.

3. If someone IS arrested but that person is 17 or under, do NOT include his/her name.

4. Only include so-called racial identifiers - an Asian woman, a Hispanic or Latino man,  a black or African-American woman if:

* the incident might be considered a hate crime, that is, a crime in which the so-called race/ethnicity of one of those involved in some way precipitated the incident. In that case the race/ethnicity of a victim or of someone who was arrested might be included.

* the preceding not being true, someone is a suspect in a crime (i.e., has NOT been arrested/is still out there) AND

* the description is sufficiently detailed that it might aid in the apprehension of the person who committed the crime.

The Department of Public Safety received information from the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) on Saturday, July 4 that an attempted rape with force occurred on June 28 at approximately 12:30 pm at the French Quarter Laundromat at 2601 McAllister at Stanyan.

The suspect is described as a white male, possibly Hispanic, medium complexion, 20 to 23 years old, 6 feet tall, 200 pounds with a full trimmed beard.  He was last seen wearing a brown rock-band t-shirt, possibly a Metallica shirt, brown corduroy jean pants and a back pack.  He was accompanied by a mutt pit bull dog, tan and white in color on a brightly colored leash.

5. Don't announce as fact something that you don't know and that none of your sources actually said.  Example: According to the police report, the professor was waving a large stick and complaining in general terms - let us say about being late to class -about his students who were standing nearby. Several students told police they felt threatened.

Do NOT say that the professor was threatening his students. You can only describe what police said his actions were and what the police said the students felt about those actions: According to police, several of the professor's students who were standing nearby felt threatened when the professor waved a large stick while complaining about them.

Do you see the distinction?

6. If the person's age is available, give it.

7. Beware of writing in chronological order, that is, beginning with the first thing that happened and gradually working your way down to the most important thing that happened, that is, The News. Put the most important information at the top.

A local wolf was killed yesterday after falling into a pot of boiling water while attempting to crawl down the chimney of a house that he had tried but failed to blow down moments before.
  The water had been put in place by the homeowner, a local pig acting, he told police, to protect himself and his two brothers whose homes had been blown down by the wolf earlier, and who had then fled to their brother’s home.
    The pig told police his home is made of brick. His brothers' homes, he said, were made respectively of sticks and straw. (100 words)

For those who've forgotten the tale, here is a more benign version:


Monday, April 24, 2017

The Week of April 24

1) Your Big Story is not due until Friday at midnight.

2) With one exception,   I am not giving any extensions. Write your story as if the information you have at the moment of writing is all that you will have. If there are holes in the story because sources have not responded, acknowledge that in the text.

3) However, if a source comes through after deadline, add that source to the story and resubmit.

4) No AP style test until a week from Wednesday.

5) No class on Wednesday. I will be in my office 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. for consultation. I can be consulted at home by phone other days and times.

6) Some of you still owe me your beat memo. ASAP please.

7) You have all been invited to enroll in Videolicious. Do so.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Meet Our Wednesday Visitor. Your Assignment is to Post Questions for Her in Comment Section

Meet Nanette Asimov.

Stories she suggests we look at.

Here are a few story options that could inspire discussion about how we cover stuff:

UC Berkeley worker says professor sexually assaulted, then fired her (good for discussion of fair coverage / and what’s a nut graf)

Videos show officer tackling seated man, waving gun in Vallejo (non-education story – wahoo! – good not only for fairness, but what happens when one side doesn’t call you back? and where’s the nut graf)

Outrage over dean altering story in Santa Clara campus paper (How to cover news and be fearless at a private university… and where’s the nut graf)

Monday, February 27, 2017

Getting Started, or Ignore Your Notes

Sailing Analogies for Interviewing Techniques

Who are you as an interviewer?

The wind I face represents my natural disposition as an interviewer, in this case timidity. To get the information I want, I need to interview more aggressively. That is, I "sail" into the wind, forcing myself to be as direct as possible - which is never going to be straight ahead.


 The wind behind me represents my natural disposition as an interviewer, in this case combative assertiveness. To get the information I want, sometimes I need to interview less aggressively. That is, I "sail" with the wind - without piling on too much sail. Sometimes one needs to slow down.


Or just jump in the water and go for it, clumsily but persistently. Dog paddlers can get there, too.

(But be careful about trying to persuade through analogy as I have just done.)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Assignment for Friday 2.24.17 - Reaching Out to Profile Subject

The assignment is simple: Ask someone to serve as your subject and corroborate the request. The best way to ask for an interview is usually face to face, though a phone call followed by an email is fine if your potential subject is not someone you rub up against every day.

You will satisfy this assignment through an email to your subject asking for an interview which you copy to me. Of course, if you ask your subject face to face and he/she agrees, the email you copy to me will consist of thanks to your subject for agreeing and confirmation of when your interview will take place.

Employ the GOSS model in your interview. (Some people call this the GOSSY model, the Y standing for all the times in your interview that you ask Why.)


O=obstacles to achieving those goals

S=solutions to overcoming those obstacles

S=first step in implementing the solutions

The point of your interview is understanding how your subject came to USF and how your subject sees her/his future at this fine institution. Was getting a job here a specific goal or one of many possible satisfying outcomes? What is your subject's most important goal now that she is teaching here?

You will collect basic biographical information, but you will be alert to how that information plugs into the GOSS model.

Finally, I want you to ask what your subject makes of the current labor troubles at USF. (We will talk about this in more detail in class.) I'm guessing the outcome of the faculty vote on the recent contract offer from the university will influence your subject's goals, both personal and professional. This will be true even if your subject is not a faculty member because I heard at a recent union meeting that faculty salary increases are tied to that of other campus unions, which was explained to me as meaning that our actions could result in other employees getting bigger - or smaller - raises.

Addendum: You may want to ask several people for interviews. Since there will be a penalty for late stories, you want to make sure you have *somebody* to interview. You also want to have a fallback position if your first choice agrees, schedules the interview close to deadline and then blows you off.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Which Lead Do You Prefer and Why?

1) Most coaches would steer clear of a team that went 5-27 the year before but being that bad was exactly what Jennifer Azzi was attracted to when she took the job of head women’s basketball coach at the University of San Francisco at the start of the 2012 season.

        Azzi, 45, says that she loves the Bay Area and couldn’t pass up the opportunity of coming in at this point in the team’s history, “I’d been through it as a player and so I was looking at this as a diamond in the rough.”

2) It was not the pickup line Marcia Clay was expecting to hear when the handsome man in the
tuxedo flirtatiously approached her.

      “What’s it like to be so cross-eyed?”

       Offended and slightly irritated she replied, “Some of us are lucky enough to have defects that     show.”

        He thought she was talking about his big ass, Clay says, but she was actually alluding to his arrogance.

       Clay looks like the girl next door, blonde hair and blue eyes,  —if the girl  next door had
 Cerebral Palsy.  Her big blue eyes are crossed, her tall frame is slightly hunched due to her limp,
and one of her hands falls near her side and curves in.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Some Thoughts in Your News Conference Stories

1)Jacobs presents the problems at the jail in this order:

 a) crumbling walls
 b) overcrowding
 c) 17 escapes caused - by implication – by previous two problems
d) jail food
e) rape of juveniles, which he called “the worst part”

I liked it when you changed the order in which you presented these. Some of you put food last, which I liked because it is not related to the state of the actual building. Jacobs said he was quitting because he couldn’t get a new jail. Food is a complaint that would not be resolved by a new building. I also liked it if you put the rape problem higher – since Jacobs suggested it was the “worst” problem and I also liked it if you put escapes higher since arguably that’s something that would immediately affect the community. Even if you don’t care about how “jailbirds” are treated, you care if they are back on the street.

Bottom line: I liked it when you used news judgment to change the order in which Jacobs presented his complaints.

2)Jacobs final comment that “As of 8 p.m. tonight you won’t have my butt to kick around anymore. San Francisco here I come” was tricky because your deadline came before 8 p.m., and it wasn’t clear if Jacobs meant he would officially resign at that time or if that’s when he was leaving town. Remember that he said he was announcing his resignation, which is not quite the same as specifying that he had already done it. Some of you used his final comment as a kicker, without trying to explain it. That was fine. Some of you ignored it, which was acceptable since the news is the resignation.

3)Yes, Jacobs’ theatrical excess was a trap. I didn’t want you to spend too many words on his behavior and not on what he said. But neither did I want you to ignore his bellowing, cigar-throwing and wall-pounding.

4) Usually I want you to bury the “when” in your lead. But in this case, I can imagine leading with “Less than two hours ago….”

5) That Bronze star. It’s actually irrelevant, but I didn’t mind your mentioning it near the end of the story. The Juanita rumor. Oh no. It’s unconfirmed, and irrelevant given what we know at this moment. Therefore, its ethically dubious to include it. Moreover, it’s potentially libelous, something we will talk about in more detail soon. If it turns out to be false, it could result in a libel suit the newspaper might lose.

6) Big big point. The thing we learn during the press conference – the news – is that Jacobs is resigning as sheriff. That’s the news, and I wanted it in the first 100 words.