Midterm, Winter 2013

Sky Willamette Ferry Street Bridge jan 26

The Willamette River from the Ferry Street Bridge (a nice escape after the midterm is over)

Here is today’s midterm for #J361.

Part I
• Every numbered question in this portion is about the book Inside Reporting, by Tim Harrower, and nothing else, except where explicitly stated.
• You have until about 2:45 for this part (because you’ll then want to move on to Part II).
• Each question is worth two points of 100 total for the midterm.
• You may not use notes or the internet.
• You may use a phone or the calculator on a computer for the math question.
• If you don’t know something, skip it and come back later.
• The bonus questions are worth half a point apiece.

1. What do reporters need to remember about readers, according to Harrower? (List at least four things.) Bonus: What kind of story are you, personally, willing to invest time in as a reader?

2. Back in the day when the U.S. was a British colony and newspapers got their start, did those newspaper publishers let or put opinion in their news stories?
Also, please list two newspaper areas in 2013 where opinion is not only acceptable but even required.

3. Yes, cats and Lindsay Lohan rule the internet. But you’re a journalist, so you also deeply care about news values. What does a story need in order to be news? List at least four properties or values.

4. You’ve picked your profile subject, and he’s agreed to be profiled by you. Now you’re going to observe him at work. According to Harrower’s “Observation” page, what are four different kinds of things you’ll be recording in your notes as you observe? (Example: Sound or sounds)

5. You’re leaving your beat covering farms and ranches at the East Oregonian to go work for Portland’s Asian Reporter. Please give your successor four general tips about what to do to cover your beat (example: Talk to the editor to find out what she wants you to cover).

6. Please list Harrower’s “5 Essential Tools for Reporting.” How many of them do you (not should you, but do you) have with you at any one time?

7. List four different kinds of feature stories from Harrower’s list of 10 different types. Which kind of feature will you be writing soon?

8. Your colleague has to cover a speech on campus. Please give that person four tips for covering the speech (before, during and after the speech; and/or writing the story):

9. Harrower talks about “today’s changing media landscape.” Please explain at least three ways technology has changed the way people consume news during the past decade. Bonus: How have tablets changed reporting, or how do you expect tablets to change reporting in the near future?

10. You’re assigned a breaking news story on fire in Carson. List four kinds of sources (what kinds of people, documents, etc.) you might use in writing your news story for the Emerald.

11. Please draw and label (fully!) the three story structures that Harrower talks about. Be sure to say what kind of story works best with each structure (sports? Q&A?).

12. Please list the verb(s) reporters should use with quote attribution in news stories. After you’ve listed it/them, list the verb(s) reporters should use with quote attribution in feature stories.

13. You’re helping a new reporter figure out what an enterprise story is, and how to report one. Please give her four tips for finding time for, reporting and/or writing an enterprise story.

14. Please punctuate the quotes below correctly (assume second reference for names, and you may change the order of the quote and attribution or re-paragraph if you need to):

a. “He really loved that bike” said Harrison

b. “How can I go on after her death” she said to a friend “You can and will” the friend said

c. The man said “stop that right now” to his pet bird

d. “I hope we don’t do this again any time in the future” she said quietly “But I bet they said that about Gettysburg. We still haven’t learned anything”

15. Math! Do A or B.
A. You’re writing a story on salaries for reporters at your local weekly paper (note: These numbers are MADE UP though not entirely inaccurate). Here are the 10 editorial staff members’ salaries:

$25,000 $20,300 $27,050 $30,000 $47,650
$24,000 $29,500 $25,315 $33,060 $22,125

1. What’s the mean salary for an editorial staff member at this paper?

2. What’s the median salary?

Bonus: Which person do you think is the managing editor? Which person is the editor-in-chief?

B. You’ve been hired to help grade J101 tests. 217 people are taking the class. Thirty-seven people passed the first test; 102 people passed the second test; 133 people passed the third test.

1. What percentage of the class flunked EACH TEST?
a. Test one:

b. Test two:

c. Test three:

2. Assume that approximately 33 percent of aspiring J-students take J101 at least twice in order to pass it. What is the number of people who didn’t pass test three who will neither retake J101 nor enter into the J-school because of flunking J101? SHOW YOUR WORK, PLEASE.

Bonus: If you had to illustrate these results, what kind of an illustration or graph or graphic (or all three) would you use, and why?

Extra Bonuses:
If we could have a guest speaker in #J361 from newspaper, T.V., radio, or
multimedia, which one would you choose, and why?

What’s your dream job, and how do you plan to make it happen?

Part II

This portion of the midterm is worth 20 points (20 percent) of the midterm grade, with each answer worth 10 points. You have approximately 40 minutes to answer these questions. Please plan your time accordingly, and use your phone alarm if you need to remind yourself to stop working on the first part and move on to the second part. You MUST be finished by 3:25 so you can take Part III.

There are two questions in this portion of the midterm. Each question has two options. Please pick EITHER A. or B. to answer in each case. (Whichever one appeals more to you or you know more about.)

As you answer these questions, please use links and references to OTHER articles or examples on the internet to back up the claims you make in your answers. You may also link to the original article, but you need to have other examples in order to have a chance at full credit for any portion.

Question 1:
Please read “How Journalists Can Create Better Explainers” by Meena Thiruvengadam at Poynter.

Read both of these questions, and answer whichever one works better for you:
A. Consider large news events of the past five weeks (Mali, immigration reform, Inauguration, the Super Bowl, etc. – pick one or two that work for you). Construct a short explainer in the style of Brian Palmer of Slate for any one or two of the news events. Be sure you use links in your explainer. The explainer should be 150-300 words and, again, be in the style that Brian Palmer uses on Slate.


B. Please write a short piece trying to convince Reporting 1 Blog’s publisher to create explainers for topics relating to the news site. Explain to the publisher what’s good about explainers, how you would go about creating explainers for this news site, and how the site’s reporters could create explainers. USE EXAMPLES (links) OF EXPLAINERS FROM OTHER NEWS SITES TO BACK UP YOUR WORK.

Question 2:
Please read the Vine portion of The Nieman Lab’s This Week in Review.

Read both of these questions, and answer whichever one works better for you:
A. Please write a short piece trying to convince your editors at any news site you choose (you may pretend you work for any magazine or newspaper) either that your reporters should or should not use Vine for official work. Use links to support your persuasive essay. (Why should reporters use it, or why shouldn’t they? What can it do or not do for news sites? What are the risks? What are the rewards? Etc.)


B. Using your Google-fu skills, please find news sites that already ARE using Vine, and explain why those sites are successful or are not successful in their use of Vine (for this purpose, Twitter is NOT a news site but a platform to deliver news). Think about what video means for readers, how much readers watch video (you might look for an article that supports your contention here – if you just say “people love video” without any backup, I might not believe you), and different ways Vine works or doesn’t work for official news (or the contributions of citizen reporters).

Part III is an AP Style quiz and not online.

Part IV

Part IV of your midterm is worth 30 percent of the final midterm grade (30 of 100 points). The news story of 450-600 words is due up on the Reporting 1 Blog by 11:59 p.m. Friday, February 8, though you certainly may turn it in before that. IF YOU WANT ME TO GLANCE OVER YOUR DRAFT NEWS LEDE, I CAN DO THAT ON FRIDAY BETWEEN 10 AM AND NOON.

With your group, you may find stories for one of two topics:

1. What do people in your neighborhood think about the proposed immigration reforms – both from the bipartisan Senate commission and from the Republicans in the House of Representatives? You will need to understand both proposals in order to interview people effectively.

If you’re in a neighborhood in Springfield that has a high concentration of Spanish speakers and you have someone in your group fluent in Spanish, it is OK with me that you interview someone in Spanish as long as you record it and as long as the Spanish speaker in your group is willing to provide translation. (The same goes for any other languages for which there is a high concentration of speakers in your neighborhood/area.)


2. Find out what people in your neighborhood predict for the Oscars this year. Concentrate on the big categories – best actress, director, best actor, best film – though you may find out about other options as well. This is a much softer news option, but many people will have opinions about it. Again, you’ll need to know all of the nominees and something about the movies they’re in in order to interview effectively.

Together, you will go out and interview people in your neighborhood about the topic you choose, and by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, February 8, you should EACH have posted a 450-600 word news story on the Reporting 1 blog.

Pro tip: I’d suggest you have this written/saved as a draft the night before and that your group carefully look at each other’s drafts. See the final sentences of this part of the midterm.

You must have at least three sources (not people you know, not in the SOJC in any way), and they may not all be a. from the same place or department in the UO or b. from the same *kind* of place (business/nonprofit/individual).

You may have more than three sources. Your story must have
• BOTH paraphrases and quotes; a news lede and a nut graf
• A headline, subhed and byline
• Images from your neighborhood (you may all use the same photo or photos if you so desire).

You must tag your stories, and I’d suggest using the SAME tags for consistency’s sake (please include the tag midterm).

Remember: News does NOT contain YOUR opinion nor the words “I” or “we” or “our.”

*Please help each other copy edit.* If members of your group spell names, names of streets, names of businesses, names of UO departments differently and/or incorrectly; give me different facts; or word the same 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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