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NEWS WRITING

NEWS WRITING

news story will be based on this police report (click to download document). This assignment is due Sunday by 11:59 ET. You can click on the upload button below to submit it here.

 

Some tips for success:

 

  • Story 2 has three parts: 1) a 250-word news story based on a police report or police story scenario  2) a 150-word sidebar for which you must do your own newsgathering; and 3) Web enhancements (links to relevant Web resources). n.b. You must use the police report provided in this assignment post. Do not try to complete this exercise using a story you have selected from the news. 

  • Use the Checklist for News Story Exercises to help you perfect your story. Submit the completed worksheet with your assignment.

  • Your main story should be about 250 words.

  • Your sidebar should be about 150 words. 

  • The leads for each story should contain no more than 20 words and a single sentence. Write it in the active voice. Include the most important detail of the story.

  • Answer these questions in the lead: What happened today? Who-did-what-when?

  • write the story in inverted pyramid style. Start with the most important detail. Each paragraph should include the story’s next-most important detail. The last paragraph should be unimportant. 

  • every paragraph has something to do with the ones before and after it. Ask yourself: What does this sentence have to do with the one before it? If you can’t pinpoint the relationship, you’ve got your paragraphs in the wrong order. 

  • If you use a quotation, make sure it is a direct quote. You may not put quotation marks around anything that you cannot attribute to an individual. If the scenario does not have quotation marks around a sentence, do not add them. It is inaccurate (and a serious journalistic offense) to enclose paraphrased material in quotation marks. 

  • You can learn about sidebars and how to enhance your stories with hyperlinks

  • Do not offer any opinions or draw any conclusions. Do not wrap up the story in the last paragraph. Avoid adjectives; most are value-laden and may even be considered libelous.  Delete any unnecessary words. Your goal: economy of language. Write short, simple words, short paragraphs, short sentences. (But try not to make your writing choppy.) 

  • Check spelling and grammar.

  • Make sure your facts are absolutely accurate. Do not add or assume anything that’s not there in black and white.

  • Spell names correctly. For this exercise, the names in the police report are spelled correctly. You’ll lose a full letter grade for a misspelled name.

  • Write literally. Avoid misplaced modifiers.

Consider using the grading rubric associated with this assignment for further best practices guidance.

Questions about the assignment? Post them in Ask the Professor! 

Good luck!

Police News Story & Sidebar Rubric

 

News Lead

Level 5: Sophisticated

Level 4: Competent

Level 3: Developing

Level 2: Needs Significant Improvement

Level 1: Unacceptable

Criterion 1: News Angle

16 points

● Clearly focuses on an at least one appropriate characteristic of news (proximity, impact, prominence, conflict, consequence, timeliness and singularity). 

12 points

● Generally focuses on at least oneappropriate characteristic of news (proximity, impact, prominence, conflict, consequence, timeliness and singularity).

8 points

● Attempts to focus onan appropriate characteristic of news (proximity, impact, prominence, conflict, consequence, timeliness and singularity). 

4 points

Fails to focus on an appropriate characteristic of news (proximity, impact, prominence, conflict, consequence, timeliness and singularity).

0 points

Doesn’t meet minimum requirements.

Criterion 2: News Judgment

16 points

Effectively tells readers the most important thing that happened in the first 5-7 words.

12 points

Generally succeeds at telling readers the most important thing that happened in the first 5-7 words.

8 points

Attempts to tell readers the most important thing that happened in the first 5-7 words.

4 points

Uses a label or agenda lead thatfails to tell readers the most important thing that happened.

0 points

Doesn’t meet minimum requirements.

Criterion 3: Structure

16 points

Meets expectations for all of the following characteristics:

● uses no more than one sentence;

● contains no more than 20 words;

● employs active-voice verbs; and

● stays in the past tense.

12 points

Meets expectations for at least 3 of the following characteristics:

● uses no more than one sentence;

● contains no more than 20 words;

● employs active-voice verbs; and

● stays in the past tense.

8 points

Meets expectations for at least 2 of the following characteristics:

● uses no more than one sentence;

● contains no more than 20 words;

● employs active-voice verbs; and

● stays in the past tense.

4 points

Meets expectations for one of the following characteristics:

● uses no more than one sentence;

● contains no more than 20 words;

● employs active-voice verbs; and

● stays in the past tense.

1 point

Doesn’t meet minimum requirements.

Criterion 4: Style

16 points

Meets expectations for at least 4 of the following characteristics:

● a direct “what happened” statement

● that is complete, 

● contains an appropriate time element,

● conforms to Associated Press style requirements,

● reflects journalistic conventions, and

● does not use names. 

12 points

Meets expectations for at least 3 of the following characteristics:

● a direct “what happened” statement

● that is complete, 

● contains an appropriate time element,

● conforms to Associated Press style requirements,

● reflects journalistic conventions, and

● does not use names. 

8 points

Meets expectations for at least 2 of the following characteristics:

● a direct “what happened” statement

● that is complete, 

● contains an appropriate time element,

● conforms to Associated Press style requirements,

● reflects journalistic conventions, and

● does not use names. 

4 points

Meets expectations for one of the following characteristics:

● a direct “what happened” statement

● that is complete, 

● contains an appropriate time element,

● conforms to Associated Press style requirements,

● reflects journalistic conventions, and

● does not use names. 

0 points

Doesn’t meet minimum requirements.

 

Body of the Main Story

 

Level 5: Sophisticated

 

Level 4: Competent

 

Level 3: Developing

 

Level 2: Needs Significant Improvement

 

Level 1: Unacceptable

Criterion 1: Structure

20 points

Meets expectations for at least 4 of the following characteristics:

 ● 250 words in length on the assigned scenario,

● organized successfully in inverted-pyramid style,

● with effective transitions between

● cohesive paragraphs that

● provide readers with a complete report on the 5Ws&H.

16 points

Meets expectations for at least 3 of the following characteristics:

● 250 words in length on the assigned scenario,

● organized successfully in inverted-pyramid style,

● with effective transitions between

● cohesive paragraphs that

● provide readers with a complete report on the 5Ws&H.

8 points

Meets expectations for at least 2 of the following characteristics:

● 250 words in length on the assigned scenario,

● organized successfully in inverted-pyramid style,

● with effective transitions between

● cohesive paragraphs that

● provide readers with a complete report on the 5Ws&H.

4 points

Meets expectations for at least 1 of the following characteristics:

● 250 words in length on the assigned scenario,

● organized successfully in inverted-pyramid style,

● with effective transitions between

● cohesive paragraphs that

● provide readers with a complete report on the 5Ws&H.

0 points

Doesn’t meet minimum requirements.

Criterion 2: Associated Press Style

25 points

Meets expectations with no more than 10 errors in execution of the rules for

● style,

● grammar,

● spelling,

● punctuation, and

● mechanics 

as stipulated in the Associated Press Stylebook for print publications.

20 points

Generally meets expectations with no more than 15 errors in execution of the rules for

● style,

● grammar,

● spelling,

● punctuation, and

● mechanics

as stipulated in the Associated Press Stylebook for print publications.

15 points

Strives to meet expectations with no more than 20 errors in execution of the rules for

● style,

● grammar,

● spelling,

● punctuation, and

● mechanics 

as stipulated in the Associated Press Stylebook for print publications.

10 points

Attempts to meet expectations with no more than 25 errors in execution of the rules for

● style,

● grammar,

● spelling,

● punctuation, and

● mechanics

as stipulated in the Associated Press Stylebook for print publications. 

0 points

Doesn’t meet minimum requirements.

Criterion 3: Journalistic Conventions

28 points

Meets expectations for at least 4 of the following characteristics:

● paragraphs of one, sometimes two sentences that are

● varied in structure and

● 35 or fewer words each, with

● verbs in active voice and

● the past tense, and

● vocabulary that is clear, simple and concrete, and 

● unmarred by jargon and colloquialisms. 

21 points

Generally meets expectations for at least 3 of the following characteristics:

● paragraphs of one, sometimes two sentences that are

● varied in structure and

● 35 or fewer words each, with

● verbs in active voice and

● past tense, and

● vocabulary that is clear, simple and concrete, and 

● unmarred by jargon and colloquialisms. 

14 points

Strives to meet expectations for at least 2 of the following characteristics:

● paragraphs of one, sometimes two sentences that are

● varied in structure and

● 35 or fewer words each, with

● verbs in active voice and

● the past tense, and

● vocabulary that is clear, simple and concrete, and 

● unmarred by jargon and colloquialisms. 

7 points

Meets expectations for at least 1 of the following characteristics:

● paragraphs of one, sometimes two sentences that are

● varied in structure and

● 35 or fewer words each, with

● verbs in active voice and

● the past tense, and

● vocabulary that is clear, simple and concrete, and 

● unmarred by jargon and colloquialisms. 

0 points

Doesn’t meet minimum requirements.

Criterion 4: Objectivity

24 points

● Attributes most/all claims of fact;

● attributes most/all statements of opinion or interpretation;

 avoids “news analysis” or statements of opinion or interpretations by the reporter;

● avoids personal pronouns such as “I,” “me,” “we,” “us” or “our,”

● generally succeeds at avoiding “sense words” or unattributed adjectives in characterizing information; and

● avoids statements such as “When asked…”; and

● avoids personal pronouns such as “I,” “me,” “we,” “us” or “our.”

18 points

● Generally succeeds at attributing most claims of fact;

● generally succeeds at attributing most statements of opinion or interpretation;

● avoids “news analysis” or statements of opinion or interpretations by the reporter;

● avoids personal pronouns such as “I,” “me,” “we,” “us” or “our;” but

● may use some “sense words” or unattributed adjectives in characterizing some information;

● avoids statements such as “When asked…”

12 points

● Strives to attribute claims of fact;

● strives to attribute statements of opinion or interpretation;

● strives to avoid “news analysis” or statements of opinion or interpretations by the reporter;

● strives to avoid personal pronouns such as “I,” “me,” “we,” “us” or “our,” but

● may use “sense words” or adjectives in characterizing information;

● or may use statements such as “When asked…”

6 points

● Fails to attribute many claims of fact;

● fails to attribute many statements of opinion or interpretation;

 ● includes “news analysis” or statements of opinion or interpretations by the reporter;

● and/or uses “sense words” or adjectives to characterize any of the information;

● and/or uses attribution statements such as “When asked…”

● and/or uses personal pronouns such as “I,” “me,” “we,” “us” or “our.” 

0 points

Doesn’t meet minimum requirements.

 

News Sidebar

 

Level 5: Sophisticated

 

Level 4: Competent

 

Level 3: Developing

 

Level 2: Needs Significant Improvement

 

Level 1: Unacceptable

Criterion 1: Structure & Style

32 points

Meets expectations for at least 4 of the following characteristics: 

● 150 words about a topic clearly related to the main news story,

● a lead of 20 words or fewer in active voice,

● succinct and cohesive paragraphs organized successfully in inverted-pyramid style, and

● conform to AP rules,

● with at least one interesting direct quotation from someone the student interviewed, and

● at least one interesting online enhancement.

24 points

Meets expectations for at least 3 of the following characteristics: 

● 150 words about a topic clearly related to the main news story,

● a lead of 20 words or fewer in active voice,

● succinct and cohesive paragraphs organized successfully in inverted-pyramid style, and

● conform to AP rules,

● with at least one interesting direct quotation from someone the student interviewed, and

● at least one interesting online enhancement.

16 points

Meets expectations for at least 2 of the following characteristics: 

● 150 words about a topic clearly related to the main news story,

● a lead of 20 words or fewer in active voice,

● succinct and cohesive paragraphs organized successfully in inverted-pyramid style, and

● conform to AP rules,

● with at least one interesting direct quotation from someone the student interviewed, and

● at least one interesting online enhancement.

8 points

Meets expectations for at least 1 of the following characteristics: 

● 150 words about a topic clearly related to the main news story,

● a lead of 20 words or fewer in active voice,

● succinct and cohesive paragraphs organized successfully in inverted-pyramid style, and

● conform to AP rules,

● with at least one interesting direct quotation from someone the student interviewed, and

● at least one interesting online enhancement.

0 points

Doesn’t meet minimum requirements.

 

Overall Package

 

Level 5: Sophisticated

 

Level 4: Competent

 

Level 3: Developing

 

Level 2: Needs Significant Improvement

 

Level 1: Unacceptable

Criterion 1: Online Enhancements

8 points

Executes more than the minimum number of creative enhancements to effectivelyenliven the main story and sidebar.

6 points

Executes the minimum number of creative enhancements to generally enliven the main story and sidebar.

4 points

Executes few creative enhancements effectively than the minimum number required to enliven the main story and sidebar

2 points

Executes no creative enhancements or executes no creative enhancements effectively to enliven the main story and the sidebar

0 points

Doesn’t meet minimum requirements.

 

Overall Score

 

Level 5: Sophisticated
154 or more

 

Level 4: Competent
102 or more

 

Level 3: Developing
54 or more

 

Level 2: Needs Significant Improvement
1 or more

 

Level 1: Not Acceptable
0 or more

 

Reflects performance that demonstratesadvanced/complete proficiencyin the knowledge, skills and/or abilities necessary for the task.

Reflects performance that demonstrates near – sufficient proficiency in the knowledge, skills and/or abilities necessary for the task.

Reflects performance that demonstrates mixed proficiency in the knowledge, skills and/or abilities necessary for the task.

Reflects performance that demonstrates a beginner’s level of proficiency in the knowledge, skills and/or abilities necessary for the task; large gaps found.

Reflects performance that does not meet minimum requirements.

 

 

 


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