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: