#J361 Midterm, Spring Term 2014

It’s a May Day midterm, and boy is the weather warm for Eugene in early May.

warmThis term’s #J361 has finished up Part I of the midterm as I type, and everyone is working on Part II. I am so grateful that many other journalists and journalism instructors and the internet provide excellent pieces of writing for the students to consider and think about.

Before Part I began, of course, there were Voodoo Doughnuts (and gluten-free cookies for my GF student from Crumb Together).

Voodoo 2014

And now for the midterm itself. It’s in four parts. Yes, these students are TOUGH.

May 1, 2014 Your name:
Suzi’s #J361/Reporting 1

Midterm, Part I: Tim Harrower’s “Inside Reporting”

• This portion is about “Inside Reporting” by Tim Harrower, and nothing else except where explicitly stated.
• You have until about 10:45 a.m. for this part.
• Each question is worth two points of 100 total for the midterm.
• You may not use notes or the internet, but 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. Harrower tells you that you’ll need five different tools when you go out on assignment. What are those five tools? Non-book Bonus: What apps might you use in order to capture and/or edit multimedia from the field?

2. Harrower says in Chapter 5 that you need to remember five things when you’re writing about politics. What are four of those five things? Bonus: In that same chapter, Harrower writes about covering fires. Tell me one thing he recommends that you do if you’re out at a fire (aside from wearing fire-resistant boots).

3. In your new job at BuzzFeed, you’ve written enough listicles that your editor now rewards you with a feature story about your dream beat.

a. List two ways the editor can help you before you start working on your story.

b. List two things (not specific to the beat, but more like what Harrower says editors do) the editor might talk to you about as you write the story.

4. You’re a reporter anywhere in Oregon or Washington. You have a car. What do you keep in your trunk (aside from normal items like a jack and spare tire)? Why?

5. Your roommate has to write a profile but unfortunately sold the Harrower textbook back to the bookstore and cannot remember how. Give your roommate several (3-4) pieces of advice from the book about writing profiles (Chapter 6).

6. You’re a sports reporter for a nationally known publication or broadcast. After the game, what kind of interviews are you likely to get? If someone else asks a question & you use the answer, do you have to credit the other reporter? Should you?

7. When you were observing for 30 minutes at a spot in your neighborhood, which of your senses did you use? Which others does Harrower list? And for what kind(s) of stories are you most likely to use these senses?

8. You’re a beat reporter who usually writes obituaries (that’s where a lot of new reporters start out). Harrower says there’s a certain amount of information you must have. What are two pieces of info you really need in an obit? Bonus: How does Harrower recommend that you be sensitive to people who have recently lived through a tragedy?

9. You’re about to interview at Vice. You know from a friend who Snapchatted you after her interview that one of the questions will be about features. What four kinds of feature stories will you pitch to Vice (Chapter 6), and what will their local to Oregon or California subjects be (your choice)?




10. In a general newspaper or that general paper’s site: a. In what sections or in what kinds of stories should you definitely find opinion? b. In what sections or kinds of stories should you definitely not find opinion? c. What sections or kinds of stories are more flexible about having opinion in them?

11. As you read your news story draft out loud before you submit it, what are five reasons that you might hit the delete key (according to Harrower)? Non-Book Bonus: What’s one strategy you could use to check for jargon in your story?

12. You’re writing a news lede for the Oregonian about a UO student who was killed in a bizarre Allen Hall elevator shaft accident. a. Of the classic “five Ws,” which two will you emphasize in your lede? b. Will you include the student’s name in the lede? c. Will you include the name of the building in the lede? d. In what tense will you write the full story?

13. Please correct these quotations, assuming that the first two quotes are first references for the people quoted, and the next two are subsequent references (these are bastardized from this wonderful New York Magazine profile of Morrison).

a. “Wasn’t that stupid” said writer Toni Morrison, “I feel ruined.”

b. “The school was a leveling agent—like the cemetery,” Jeanne Atanasoff, a high-school friend of Morrison’s who corresponds regularly with her, claimed, “She was way ahead of the rest of us,” she added.

c. ‘She had the most beautiful singing voice in the world, and she could sing anything’, Morrison cries.

d. “She has an incredibly adorable side,” Atanasoff admits, “which I shouldn’t be talking about. She’s told me: “For the public, I have to be very severe—just keep it at bay. Otherwise they just devour you.” ”

14. Please sketch and fully label (as in the book) the three shapes for various stories. Make sure you explain what kind of story you’d write with that basic shape, and make sure you show in your sketch what information goes where. Also, name the shapes. (Chapter 3)

15. Math! Do A or B. (Chapter 4)
A. Here are 10 of the PAC-12 schools’ average costs per year – includes tuition, fees, room and board – for out-of-state students (the UO is not in this list):

$39,918 $46,689 $41,910 $38,752 $56,198
$62,595 $41,754 $56,446 $51,323 $46,661

1. What’s the mean cost of attending one of these PAC-12 schools if you’re from Maine or Michigan or Malaysia or anywhere that’s not in state?

2. What’s the median cost?

Bonus: Which two numbers are for Arizona schools, and which three are for California schools?

B. The NBA had 459 players in 2012-2013, the last year for which data is available. Of those players, 20 identified as Latino; 350 as African American; 87 as white; 1 as Asian American; 1 as other; 86 as international.

1. What percentage of the players in 2012-2013 identified as Latino?

2. Of the non-white and non-international players, what percentage identified as African American?

Bonus: If the NBA had 33 head athletic trainers in that same year and 24 were white, what was the percentage of head athletic trainers who identified as people of color?

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

Snapchat: How can newsrooms or publications of any kind use it to build audience or readership?

What have you learned in any other SOJC class(es) this term that is applicable in Reporting 1?

Part II: Reflection and Analysis (Meta-News)

This portion of the midterm is worth 20 points (20 percent) of the midterm grade, with each mini-essay 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 question and move on to the second question. You MUST be finished by 11:25 so you can take Part III.

Each question has two options. Please pick EITHER A. or B. to answer in each case. (Pick 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 (or mobile apps) 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.

1. Please read the Nieman Journalism Lab‘s Q&A with Craig Mod on making writing more mobile-friendly, and where digital publishing is headed.  Then answer A *OR* B.

A. Thinking about what Craig Mod said about the internet and apps and ease of use, how would you design a writing process for YOUR PHONE, whether it’s a smartphone or not? You might considering referring to other apps you’ve seen or to Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, texting, WordPress, other content management systems, etc., in your answer.


B. Consider Mod’s discussion of travel writing. How do you think travel writing and travel journalism have and will change, given mobile access and given a desire to get information from people who live in the place where you’re traveling? Feel free to refer to recent studies about apps/sites like Yelp or Airbnb, to consider the percentages of people who have mobile phones in countries that don’t have a lot of Wi-Fi infrastructure, etc.

2. Please read Mindy McAdams’ (Re)Defining Multimedia Journalism at Medium  and then answer ONE of the following questions:

A. How should the School of Journalism and Communication be preparing you for a world in which you need to follow McAdams‘ prescriptions for innovation and multimedia? What classes should you be taking, or how should our sequence be (re) redesigned? Feel free to refer to other J-schools’ curriculum or to any other classes in this J-school. You might take a look at OR Mag and EnvisionUO (both have beautiful iPad editions) and think about the Pathway sequence of classes you need to take as a journalism major.

B. Think about data journalism and interactives or graphics. Look at the three examples McAdams talks about in her piece, and if you have time, look for other places online that contain info like this (the NYTimes often has good graphics that are vaguely interactive, and the Oregonian JUST had a big graphic on poverty in Oregon by county, for instance, but you can find other things too – check fivethirtyeight.com or vox.com).

Now tell me what kind of data-rich interactive you’d like to see in SOJC student media. What kind of story would it tell? What kind of data would you need? What kind of team would you assemble to tell this story? (Think sports, paying for school, housing, drug use, number of hours students might work, etc.) This is a tough question, so I won’t be looking for a LONG answer but for a THOUGHTFUL answer. If you need to provide some kind of visual material to go with this answer, go ahead and sketch something out and return it to me. (No, I won’t be passing your answers on to the Emerald! But if they’re good ideas, I might ask you to talk to Ed Madison and OR Mag or Lisa Heyamoto and Flux about them … )

Best of luck! You may email your answers within the body of an email or as a Word document. MAKE SURE YOUR NAME IS ON ANY WORD DOCS YOU SEND.

 Part III: AP Style and Quotations/Attributions/Commas

Instructions: Find at least one error in each of the sentences below. You may use the internet and your AP book or an AP app. Though there are more, a full score for this section would be finding 20 errors. Any miscorrections or created errors will be subtracted from the grade for this portion, so be very careful what you correct. You have about 30 minutes for this portion. Further note: In correcting offensive language, be sure to suggest replacement language, or it’s not a correction.

1. Vatican City, ITALY — Two famous Pontiffs were made into saints at a ceremony earlier this week.

2. EUGENE — When Journalism Professor Suzi Steffen asks her students to Tweet but takes away they’re cell phones, the twenty-somethings think its unAmerican for those born in the U.S.A. not to be able to Text.

3. Palo Alto — The President said that he had signed the bill, and the Under Secretary of the interior said that she remembered the day, that was the worst day of her life, when the bill failed last year.

4. At the Geography Bee, the kids had to know how to spell all of the 8 states starting with the letter “M”, including MO, MT, MI, MS, MN, ME, MD, and MA.

5. Madison, Wisc. — Andre Jackson told the newsmen that the Winter wind-chill index and wind speeds of up to thirty miles per hour would combine with heavy snow and a temperature of 20 degrees to create “Severe Blizzard” conditions.

6. Note: You may need to use the internet to correct one of the errors in this sentence. When he synchs his ipad to his computer, he sometimes feels like he has the super-power of the Greek God Mercury.

7. OSLO — The 3 girls on Spring Break from the University of TX, ages 20, 21, and 22, were not phased when their oiuji board began to shake.

Quotations/Attributions/A Few Commas – No AP correx necessary in these (and feel free to rewrite, though don’t change a direct quote except in the case of punctuation errors).

8. Douglas A. Berman, an expert on sentencing law and policy at Ohio State University, said “there’s a reasonable modern consensus that death alone should be our maximum punishment,” he claimed, “And it should not be a torturous death.”

9. The man involved in stealing the crab legs was Minnesota resident, Bob Smythe age 45 who lives at 470 East Woodruff Ln. Eden Prairie Minn.

10. L.A. Times columnist, Luna Lovegood, wrote “An army of lobbyists continue to swoop in, trying to pick off our votes.”

Part IV: Neighborhood News 

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 Thursday, May 8).

With your group, you may do one of two things. The first is this: 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.)


The second choice: Find out how people in your neighborhood get their news. Do they watch TV, listen to the radio, read the newspapers (which ones?) in print, go to home pages online, get alerts or look at mobile apps on their phones, use Facebook and what their friends post, use Twitter, get texts from friends … etc. You might consider your news survey story about campus as a guideline for this story (though you don’t need to interview 10 people).

Together, you will go out and interview people in your neighborhood about the neighborhood’s important issue OR how they get news. Tweet or email me group selfies/photos from your trip to the neighborhood. Best if they’re from the places you’re interviewing people for this story.

By noon Sunday, May 4, you should EACH have posted a 350-500 word news story on the Reporting 1 blog. Pro tip: I’d suggest you have this written/saved as a draft the day before and that your group members 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 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). You must tag your stories, and I’d suggest using the SAME tags for consistency’s sake (please include the tag midterm!). Remember: News doesn’t contain YOUR opinion.

Length: 350-500 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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