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COM 300 - Writing in Communication (3 CREDITS) Spring 2016 Office Hours: By appointment Email: rkrichardson@wsu.edu MATERIALS & ...

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Quotations & Attributions in Writing

So, you've conducted your interviews for your story...but what's next?

How do you know what is worthy of quoting and including in your story? Also, what about attribution? Is there a proper way to give credit to a source that you interview in your reporting?

Additionally, are there times that it makes more sense to simply paraphrase information rather than quote your subject directly?

Answers to all of these questions and more can be found in the above presentation, which focuses on quotations and attributions in reporting.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

WEEKS 5 & 6 OVERVIEW: Summary Ledes & Organizing your News Story


For these weeks, we will:
  • Review and practice "summary ledes"
  • Review the "inverted pyramid" format
  • Learn tips and tricks in organizing the information in your traditional news story
  • Learn about the "hourglass" style of news reporting
  • (Optional) If you choose to do a re-write of your personality profile, then please make sure to turn it in on Friday, Feb. 26
  • News story is due Friday, Feb. 19 for in-class peer editing. A final draft will be due by the next Friday, Feb. 26.
  • Third writing assignment due Friday, March 11.
  • Read the following chapters:
    • 2: Selecting and Reporting the News
    • 7: Basic News Leads
    • 8: Alternative Leads
    • 9: The Body of a News Story
    • 10: Quotations and Attributions
    • 11: Interviewing
    • 17: Feature Writing

Qualities of Good Writing -- Slides

Here are some links related to today's lecture:

Organizing Your News Story

Once you determine your story and conduct your interviews, you'll need to start assembling the structure of your news story. For traditional news reporting, there are some expectations on how you will organize and order the information in your story.

Most news stories use the "inverted pyramid," while a less-common approach is the hourglass reporting format.

Find out all about these newswriting styles and more in the presentation below.

Organizing A News Story 

Looking for an example of a traditional news story? 

Here is one from The New York Times:
Learn more tips and tricks on organizing your story:

The Hourglass Style

The hourglass style of writing is gaining acceptance in mainstream journalism. For a detailed explanation, visit this Web site:

The Hourglass: Serving the News, Serving the Reader

Here are some sample news stories with an "hourglass" structure:

About Summary Ledes

Examples of Summary Ledes

For your news story, you should use a summary lede. Here are some examples of strong summary news ledes.

British Police Arrest Nine on Terror Charge (from the Washington Post) - Use of "active" voice in the lede. 

F.D.A. Widens Safety Reviews on New Drugs (from New York Times) - use of active voice in lede; contextualizes relevance of news development (the "so what" factor)

The Five W's: Which Should Lead?

The same news story can be written numerous ways. The following are examples of different summary lead strategies for the same news story:

Emphasizing who:

Dave Benyl and Jim Conway are experts when it comes to broken cars, and they warn motorists to steer clear of highway construction zones.

Emphasizing what:

Until the $20 million construction project to improve Chandler Boulevard is completed, auto repair experts are advising motorists to find an alternative route.

Emphasizing where:

Chandler Boulevard from Kyrene Road to Dobson Road is not the place these days for motorists trying to avoid damage to their cars.

Emphasizing when:

The $20 million construction project to improve Chandler Boulevard will not be completed until June, and until then auto repair experts are advising motorists to steer clear.

Emphasizing why:

Because of all the nails, screws and bad bumps, auto repair experts are advising motorists to steer clear of Chandler Boulevard.

Emphasizing how:

The best way to avoid the bumps, screws and nails on Chandler Boulevard during the six-month construction project is to find an alternative route, auto repair experts say.

Thursday, February 4, 2016



For this week, we will:
  • Learn about best practices in pitching a news story
  • Learn tips and tricks in organizing the information in your traditional news story
  • Personality Profile (Written Assignment #1) due Friday, Feb. 5
  • Prepare three news story ideas
    • We will decide the story topic based on your pitch to the class. This will be the focus of your second writing assignment (draft due Friday, Feb. 19).
  • Read the following chapters:
    • 2: Selecting and Reporting the News
    • 7: Basic News Leads
    • 9: The Body of a News Story
    • 10: Quotations and Attributions
    • 11: Interviewing
    • 17: Feature Writing

What is Newsworthy?: Traditional Journalism Basics

What is it that a reporter should consider as newsworthy? In the following presentation, we explore the basic ingredients of news writing criteria.

ASSIGNMENT: Traditional News Story

Overview: Develop and apply news writing and reporting strategies and techniques, interpersonal communication skills, and writing skills that are critical for success in upper-division courses throughout the Murrow College.

Your Task: For the second writing assignment, we will explore the traditional news reporting format. Your task is to write a publication-ready news story using AP style guidelines. Remember that this is not an opinion or feature story -- so your personal opinions or biases should not be present in the story structure, source selection or word choices in your reporting.

Peer Edits Due Date: Friday, Feb. 19

Due Date: Friday, Feb. 26

Your Audience: Readers of a traditional daily print newspaper, such as The Seattle Times or The New York Times.

Minimum Length: 500 words

Secondary Sources & Interviews: Choose (and use in your story) TWO secondary sources. These sources should not be random -- make sure that they have some credibility, expertise and/or connectedness to the subject matter on which you are reporting! Citing other publications is not considered a source. Also, please avoid anonymous sources and try to avoid using friends or direct family members for your interview subjects. Please include the names and contact information for your sources when you turn in the final draft of the story.



Prepare three story ideas for a traditional news story. You will present these ideas to your classmates and the class will collectively decide which of your story ideas you will pursue (deadline for first draft: 2/19).

For each story idea, please flesh out the potential story in a "pitch" that you might make to your editor. Include background information and the anticipated angle of the story. Be sure to justify why the story is newsworthy.

In your story pitch, you should:
  • summarize the idea
  • explain why this story idea is worth doing (why it is newsworthy for your intended audience)
  • list at least two specific possible sources representing both sides of the issue
  • identify the specific media outlet it is intended for
The completed story should be about 500 words. It should use at least two human sources that are directly related to the story. Internet sources may be used to background your stories, but you should use LOCAL sources to comment on these materials.

Make sure that each story idea is ACHIEVABLE given your deadline and resources. In other words, don't attempt to interview President Obama (unless you have good connections in the White House).

Remember that you will actually be writing the story that is selected by your classmates!

Pitching News Stories

Got a good news story? You'll want to "pitch" it to your editors first. Here's the scoop on pitching your news story ideas...

Tips & Tricks: Story Pitches

Here are some tips & tricks on creating your pitches: