Spring 2010 Midterm!

The original's at http://department.monm.edu/english/printing-press/midterms.jpg (and of course, for us it's a quarter, not a semester, but still).

This post by Suzi Steffen, journalism torture expert Reporting 1 instructor.

Parts I, II and IV (Part III is an AP text). All given today, the last portion due tomorrow at 11:59 p.m.

Reporting 1/J361
Suzi Steffen
May 4, 2010
Midterm, Part I

Instructions: The first part of the test is worth 30 percent and covers the chapters of the book that you have read and digested thoroughly. Each question is worth two percentage points. When you are finished with Part I, you will receive a five-question longer answer portion that requires you to use the Internet. For Part III, you will receive an AP quiz, worth 20 points,; finally, you’ll have an assignment in your neighborhood, worth the final 30 percent.

1. What two titans of the industry squared off over selling more papers, using yellow journalism in such a way that they may have encouraged a war? What was that war?

2. Name at least four of the five essential pieces of equipment for a reporter to carry, according to Harrower. Bonus: Name another essential piece of equipment for an Oregon reporter in the winter.

3. Math! Pick A or B. Do not do both!
A. You’ve been assigned to write a story about the Memorial Day Bird Count in your neighborhood. The story will be published on the blog at 6 pm, and at that point, birders say, about 35 percent of the birds they’ll eventually count won’t have been counted yet. At 5:45 pm, you get the word: So far, volunteers have counted 49 adult and 21 juvenile raptors; 134 adult and 56 juvenile small birds. In the story you’ll write, what’s the total number of birds predicted to be in your neighborhood? Bonus: If the numbers hold, about how many more raptors (adult and juvenile together) do you expect volunteers to find? (Do round up. Partial birds can’t be counted.)

B. In your neighborhood, the mean home price is $231,500. Give me the final number of the 10 here that you have added up (and divided) to find the mean price (I screwed this one up and typed “median” when I meant “mean”; kudos and an extra point to Brooke for catching me out!):
1. $197,450       6. $255,350
2. $365,500      7. $187,000
3. $215,000      8. $211,000
4. $123,250      9. $230,500
5. $245,000      10. $

4. You take a photo and put it online with a story. What are two names for the information you write to identify the people, place, etc. in the image? Bonus: Congratulations! You’ve become a staff writer at the International Reporting1Blog. We happen to have a list of our editors, staff writers and other important employees, a list we publish online and in every issue of our monthly print version. What’s that list called?

5. Is it OK to put opinion in a hard news story? What about a sports story?

6. In news ledes, when and why would you use someone’s full name?

7. Draw (and label) the three story structures Harrower talks about in Chapter 3.

8. What can an editor do to help you during a story, according to Harrower? (List at least four things for full credit.)

9. Where do stories come from? (Name a couple of sources that spark story ideas, according to Harrower.)

10. What are two things to do when you’re covering a beat? What are two things not to do when you’re covering a beat?

11. List three styles of news ledes you should avoid.

12. You’re interested in bringing a story of courage, anguish, loss and recovery to the public, a story of Sierra Leone orphans making it in the U.S. as adults. Is this a backgrounder, a flashback or a human-interest story?

13. What are some (at least two) examples of literary techniques a feature writer can use that a news writer usually can’t?

14. If a profile is painting a portrait, what are two techniques good feature writers use to create accurate and artistically secure portraits?

15. In news stores, why do you need a context or nut graf?

Reporting 1/J361
Suzi Steffen
May 4, 2010
Midterm, Part II

In this portion, please use the Internet, your experiences and your notes to answer these questions. Don’t forget to do some independent research and link to interesting pieces by journalists that relate to the question you’re answering. Each answer is worth four points. You must reply to me (and only me, unless you feel like sharing it with your friends) with this either as an attachment or pasted into the email by 3:30 p.m.

1. What does transparency mean for a reporter working in the digital age, and what does it mean for a newsroom? (BIG question. Hint: Use examples in your answer!)

2. Consider this one carefully, and please use anything by Steve Buttry, Mindy McAdams or other Twitter experts (be sure they’re experts!) to help you answer it. How are professional journalists expected to use Twitter? In what ways can it help their news organizations?

3. You’re thinking about starting a hyperlocal news site for a town or city. Referring to some of the sites in Michele McLellan’s piece or the sites from which people spoke in our live chat (yes, you can look at it), where will you start your site (for what city or town or neighborhood or region), and what kind of goals would you have for the site? Will you pay freelancers? How will you deal with advertising? (Etc.)

4. Read the piece by Robert Niles called “Doing Journalism in 2010 Is an Act of Community Organizing” on the Online Journalism Review (ojr.org) at http://wkly.ws/3q React, using examples to show how and why you agree or disagree.

5. What’s your journalism plan? (How will you go about making yourself known to potential employers? What steps will you take to become successful at this time of economic stress?)

Midterm: Writing Neighborhood News (Part IV)

This portion of the midterm is worth 30 percent of the midterm grade and will be the last portion of the midterm graded (back to you by Tuesday).

Your assignment: With your group, decide together what constitutes the most important problem facing people and businesses in your neighborhood. (Economy? Homelessness? Drug abuse? Unbridled development? Environmental degradation? Cuts to school funding? Yes, you must agree to write about the same thing.) Together, you will go out and interview people in your neighborhood about the issue, and by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, you should have put a 450-600 word news story on the blog.

You must have at least three sources, and they cannot all be a. from the same place or b. from the same kind of place (business/nonprofit/individual). You may have more than three sources. Your story must have paraphrases and quotes; a news lede and a nut graf; a headline, subhed and byline; and yes, images from your neighborhood (you may all use the same photo or photos if you so desire). Remember: News doesn’t contain YOUR opinion.

I suggest that you get together and plan where you’ll go and how you’ll get your interview notes.

Length: 450-600 words. Please help each other copy edit. If members of your group spell names, names of streets, names of businesses differently; give me different facts; or word direct quotes in a different fashion, you will all earn a zero on this portion of the exam.

About Suzi Steffen

Suzi Steffen teaches, writes, edits, reviews and rides (her adult tricycle named Momo) in Eugene, Oregon. For many years, she taught as an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon's School of Journalism and Communication. As of fall 2015, she's teaching at Linn-Benton Community College, and as of fall 2017, she's also teaching at Wenatchee Valley College in Washington State. Suzi edited Lane Monthly and works as an arts journalist across the state and country. You can find her at jprofsuzi on Twitter or email her at jprofsuzi at gmail dot com.
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