Profile Assignment for J361

Profile Assignment

Assignment: Write a 650-800 word profile of someone who lives, works or plays in your neighborhood or area.

Look for someone who has a good story – maybe someone who runs a business, someone who works at a nonprofit, someone who volunteers or works out or shops in your neighborhood. You can look at the blog for examples from earlier classes. People you may not pick: School of Journalism and Communication students/faculty/staff; your friends; Frog; Doug the Jesus Guy; someone who’s not connected to your neighborhood.

After you find a person you’re interested in, and the person agrees to the profile – remind your person that this will be findable online! –  and Jen or Suzi approves your choice, you need to find some time to be with the person while the person is in action. That would mean working, volunteering, interacting with others, walking dogs, taking care of kids, etc. This is a requirement because you need to see the person interacting with her environment and with other people in his life – and you need to talk to at least one of those other people as well.

During the time you’re with your subject, ask questions about her work or his family or what she’s studying or what he’s cooking, etc. You must also talk about your profile subject with at least one other person who knows your profile subject.

Do a lot of scene-setting: Notice the sights, sounds, clothing, friends, interactions, physical characteristics that are unique to your person. Look at the work (or play) style, speed, energy, attitude of your person you’re profiling. How do the people around your subject react to and treat her or him? What about pets, partners, children? How does your subject move? Remember to jot down details.

Use Tim Harrower’s discussion of profiles in Ch. 6 to help you out. Remember: Capture details. Re-create scenes. Add quotes and dialogue. Make sure you have a memorable, feature-style lead! It will most likely be an anecdote or a scene-setter lead.

Search for subjects and email a pitch (I’d like to profile this person, who’s worthy of a profile because … ) to Jen (River Road, Whiteaker, Amazon, Trainsong) or Suzi (Churchill, JWN, Downtown, Friendly) by 11:59 p.m. Saturday, May 12.

Draft of profile due over email to Jen or Suzi by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, May 16.

• Final profile due on the blog by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, May 23. The piece is due with photo(s), tags and links for chance at full credit.

Value: 50 points (of 300 in the class)

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
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