Midterm, Fall 2010

Here’s the midterm, not including the AP Style Book section, that the #J361 class is finishing up right now, on a beautiful autumn day (sorry for the timing, y’all; if it were raining, I’m sure you would like the midterm experience that much more):

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 this, you will receive the online analysis/questions; third, you’ll have an AP quiz; finally, you’ll have the neighborhood story assignment.

1. What’s yellow journalism? Where did that term come from? Bonus: What war brought about the rise of yellow journalism (or really, was caused by yellow journalism)?

2. What are two things reporters need to remember about readers, according to Harrower? Bonus: Do you think online readers want the same things newspaper readers do? Why or why not?

3. Your name comes underneath a headline for a story that you wrote. What’s your name called in news-speak? Bonus: What’s another name for a cutline?

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

5. In news leads, should you use someone’s full name? If so, under what circumstances?

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

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

8. Tape recorder or notebook? List two pros and cons for each one.

9. What are four tips for successful interviews? (Some can be for before; some during; some after, and remember, if you don’t know the exact answers, this is a fairly logical question. Just relax, breathe and think.)

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

11. If you’re a newsroom in Eugene, what major events might you know your staff should be prepared for (list at least two)?

12. Pick ONE of the math problems!
A. In one Eugene neighborhood, home sales don’t appear to be slowing. You need to get your boss at the AP stats on home sales. Here is a list of 21 recent sale prices. Give that boss the mean and the median prices of homes in this wealthy ‘hood (maybe South Eugene ☺ )

$845,000 $459,000 $353,000 $615,000 $739,000
$476,000 $758,000 $987,500 $277,000
$513,000 $345,000 $567,000 $403,500
$1.34 million $969,000 $465,000 $761,000
$375,000 $275,000 $458,000 $399,000

The mean is:

The median is:

Bonus: What’s the range?

B. In Eugene, there are 50 green heron nests with a total of150 eggs. Raccoons got into 18 of the nests and ate 42 eggs. What percentage of green heron eggs in Eugene did those pesky, hungry raccoons eat? Bonus: What kind of graphic might you use to show off your math skills in a story about this?

13. Let’s say you’re a feature writer for People Magazine. What kind of features are you likely to be writing? (Yes, this question is as simple as it looks. No tricks.) Bonus: What are two techniques (specifically listed in Harrower!) that writers use to create this kind of feature story?

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

15. Explain this enterprise story thing to your significant other/boss/parent who needs to understand why you won’t have free time for the rest of the term (What is an enterprise story? What kind of work do you need to do? When?).

Bonus section
In Best Newspaper Writing, section one, tell me the topics of the stories.

List four beats (not including crime) you’re likely to see in a large daily; you may specify the city and specific beats (Eugene is not a large city, FYI).

When you’re writing the part of your enterprise story that consists of
observation, what are the two senses you’re most likely to use, and why?

Midterm, Part II

You have until 4 pm to answer this portion. Please use complete sentences and provide links to support your answers. Each question is worth 5 points. Thoughtful answers will earn you more points than flippant or dashed-off answers.

1. Check out the top tech trends of 2010 as predicted by Amy Webb (@webbmedia) of KnowledgeWebb. (You can skim this document for two or three that interest you in some way; you don’t need to read the entire thing deeply.) Please pick two you believe can help the news industry this year, and explain why and how they could help.

2. Please read Jason Stverak’s piece Joining the Online News Bandwagon at the Online Journalism Review. Write a paragraph-length response to it, using other people’s work to back up your own (links, that is). Hints: Do you believe that it will still be news this year if a major WSJ or NYT reporter leaves the paper for a start-up? What about the digital divide (you might check for sources on that, statistics that explain if it still exists)?

3. Consider the career of Nancy Loo, as she related it to you and as you read online when you were preparing for her Skype visit. What inspires you about her career, and what worries you? What advice of hers would you follow right now, and why? Refer to her website to look at what she’s doing and how she interacts with her visitors. You may, but it is NOT required for this question, refer to other links and other journalists’ sites.

4. You’re thinking about starting a hyperlocal or a niche news (i.e. beat-blog type of) news site in a town or city. 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.) You might refer to published work by Michele Mclellan, Jan Scheffer (with a very recent piece) or Susan Mernit for your links.

5. Read Alan Mutter’s “Ice-cream shop out-‘fans’ S.F. Chronicle.” He suggests that newspapers need to do three things to become better at social media and survive. Look at his entire article, but respond to his three suggestions. Do you agree with them? How do you think that, for instance, the Oregonian, the Register-Guard or the New York Times could follow them? (Hint: Give an example of an online news organization that DOES follow his suggestions, and explain how the O, or the Register-Guard, or the New York Times could follow that online news organization’s lead.)

Midterm, Part IV

Meet with your group and prepare to go into your neighborhood to write a 400-600 word news story on this question: *What do you think will happen with Tuesday’s elections, and how will that affect your neighborhood?* (<–Remember, you have information about the ballot measures and the gubernatorial race from previous work! You may call upon that research to help you conduct these interviews.)

You need at least three sources. They may be people who work, live and/or play (for instance, bring their kids to a playground or go out to eat or to a pub) in your neighborhood. Try to find sources of different ages, genders and backgrounds.

By 11:59 p.m. on TUESDAY night, post your story, with photos, to the blog. Pro tip: Post your story early and double-check each other’s name spelling, quotes and facts.

Remember: You all need to spell names correctly AND THE SAME WAY (but I will Google the people, so get their names right); you all need to get the correct spelling of street and avenue names; if you quote someone, make sure you all have THE SAME WORDING of the quote (again, pro tip: Bring a digital recorder for double-checking!).

Also remember: If any of these things are wrong, everyone in your group gets a zero for this portion of the midterm.

People not to interview: Drunk or otherwise impaired people; people you know (though you CERTAINLY may interview other sources you’ve met in the neighborhoods!); anyone associated with the J-school. BE SURE TO TAG YOUR STORIES AND TO PROVIDE AT LEAST ONE LINK WITHIN THE STORY.

I’m aware this is a tough assignment. I’ll be looking at your leads/ledes, your context graf, your facts/names/quotes and your tags/links/photos. 400 words is totally fine; if you go to 600, that’s also fine, but don’t think it has to be long.

You can do it! Good luck, and I promise to watch my direct messages very carefully tomorrow!

About Suzi Steffen

Suzi Steffen teaches, writes, edits, reviews and rides (an 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 in Oregon State's New Media and Communications program. Suzi also edits Lane Monthly and works as an arts journalist across the state and country. Email her at suzisteffen at gmail dot com; find her on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook for more info; and check out Lane Monthly in print around Lane County and online at lanemonthly.com.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s