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Student Media of Kennesaw State University

The Sentinel Newspaper

Style Book THE  SENTINEL  STYLE  BOOK   1  

The goal of this manual is to provide writers with guidelines to adhere to the policies and protocols established by the KSU Student Media. The material presented here will ensure that consistent quality is maintained in all issues of The Sentinel. General guidelines to all writers are presented below, followed by guidelines for specific sections of the newspaper. The Sentinel is the registered student newspaper of Kennesaw State University, under the umbrella of KSU Student Media. Updated Feb. 2013.

Table of Contents THE  SENTINEL  STYLE  BOOK   I.   General  Guidelines  for  all  Writers   .........................................................................   3   A.   Getting  the  Story  ..............................................................................................................................................  3   B.   Tips  for  Writers  .................................................................................................................................................  4   C.   Bad  Writing  Habits  of  Beginning  Journalists  .......................................................................................  5   D.   Pitfalls  of  Beginning  Journalists  ................................................................................................................  8   II.   AP  Style  in  Brief  ....................................................................................................   9   A.   KSU-­‐specific  AP  exceptions  ......................................................................................................................  11    

2   THE  SENTINEL  STYLE  BOOK  

I.

General  Guidelines  for  all  Writers  

Supplies: • Voice recorder • Media Pass (staff and senior staff writers only) • Reporters notebook • AP Stylebook

A.

Getting  the  Story  

• Sources: All stories, whether news, feature or opinion, are based on fact. All stories should include at least three sources, only one of which can be an Internet source. Acceptable sources are people affected by the story, experts on the topic, professors at KSU who specialize in the subject area, directors, coordinators, leaders and presidents of related or affected groups, organizations or departments, official government or university documents, news releases (only as initial information, not to be quoted), police reports, interviews with affected students, faculty or staff, etc. Unacceptable sources are Wikipedia, unverified information (if info is from social media or online, it must be confirmed through at least two credible sources) and anonymous sources. Stories are generally about people, so your primary source of information should be people rather than stored sources such as news releases and other prepared statements. • Research: Before contacting sources, you should learn as much about the story topic—and the source, if appropriate—as possible. This will allow you to be confident and professional. • Contacting Sources: You can contact sources by email initially, but always follow up with at least two phone calls unless they answer immediately. If no phone number exists, try physically going to their office location. • Interviewing Sources: All interviews should be taped to ensure accuracy of information; direct quotes must be verbatim. You can use a voice recorder, smartphone, etc. You must inform your sources that you are taping the interview to ensure that they are comfortable with being recorded. Always dress in a manner appropriate to the interview setting. You are representing yourself, as well as The Sentinel, and you want to build a relationship with all sources that you contact. Story Format: All stories should be written in 12-point Times New Roman and double-spaced. Use a single space after periods. Always edit your story for accuracy, grammar and AP style prior to sending it to the section editor. Suggest a headline for your story and include a byline. Deadlines: The Sentinel is designed and prepared for production on Mondays, so THE  SENTINEL  STYLE  BOOK   3  

section editors must have all stories completed by Saturday at the latest. See individual section editors for specific deadlines. Failure to meet your story deadline will result in one written warning, and if you fail to meet a deadline again you will no longer be allowed to write for The Sentinel. Individual section editors have the right to handle the firing process differently, with prior consultation from the editor-inchief, according to specific scenarios. Story Submission: Completed stories should be emailed to the section editor as a Word attachment. A separate document should include interview notes so quotes can be verified for accuracy.

B.

Tips  for  Writers  

Headlines Goal • Grab  reader’s  attention   • Provide  gist  of  the  story   • Provide  typographic  “relief”     Writing headlines • Read  story   • Decide  what  details  to  focus  on   • Pick  key  words  from  story   • Write  idea  head  w/o  concern  for  space   • Modify  to  fit  when  you  see  space  limitations   • Think  “someone  did  something”  i.e.,  headlines  should  have  a  verb,  but  not   helping  verbs  or  articles   • Think  about  how  story  affects  reader  (e.g.,  Regents  pass  new  budget  vs.   Tuition  hike  scheduled  in  new  budget)   • Avoid  “label”  headlines  (no  verb)   News stories should have news leads. Use puns and cute/funny leads with caution: they need to be understandable and not make light of a serious situation. The line between a “good” headline and a “cheesy” headline is often a fine one. Format • PRESENT  TENSE   • Subject  and  verb   4   THE  SENTINEL  STYLE  BOOK  

• Indicate  future  by  using  to  rather  than  will  (e.g.,  Obama  to  appoint  new   judge)   • No  period  at  end   • Comma  instead  of  and  (e.g.,  Gas  prices  rise,  going  even  higher)     • The  first  letter  in  the  first  word  is  the  only  one  that  needs  to  be  capitalized   Things to keep in mind • Make  every  word  count   • Make  sure  headline  says  something   • Make  sure  headline  is  accurate   • Watch  for  libel-­‐  don’t  convict  someone   • Don’t  command   • Don’t  sensationalize   • Don’t  editorialize     Photo Cutlines Guidelines • Present  tense  when  possible     • Complete  sentences   • Ties  photo  to  story  but  should  be  able  to  stand  alone-­‐  can  include  info  not   in  story   • Name  people  in  photos  (unless  a  large  group):  Identify  from  left  to  right   • Identities  of  students  should  also  include  major  and  class  standing   (Senior,  etc)   • Don’t  state  the  obvious  (pictured  here  is…,  shown  in  the  photo  is…  

C. Bad  Writing  Habits  of  Beginning  Journalists   By: Tom Pierce, former adviser, professor, copy editor Tampa Bay Times • 1st  Person  hangup:  Subjective  editorializing,  use  of  I,  we,  me,  us,  our,  my,   etc.,  including  references  to  school  or  campus  as  “here,”  students  as  “us,”   entities  of  the  school  as  “our.”   • Paragraphs  too  long:  Misapplying  Freshman  Comp  techniques  of  “full   development  of  paragraphs  from  topic  sentences”  instead  of  making  a   new  paragraph  of  virtually  any  change  of  angle  or  aspect.  Worst  cases  are   200-­‐word,  single-­‐paragraph  “stories.”   • Too  many  direct  quotes:  Story  reads  like  a  transcript.  Unimportant,   casual,  mundane  utterances  are  repeated  verbatim.  Needs  to  be   supplanted  with  indirect  quotes,  partial  quotes,  paraphrasing  and   summary.    

THE  SENTINEL  STYLE  BOOK   5  

• Awkward  placements  of  attribution:  Frequently  at  beginning  of  quote;  too   often  at  end  of  quote;  not  often  enough  at  break  between  clauses  or   phrases  in  middle  of  long  quote.   • Inadequate  attribution:  Remember,  not  only  do  the  words  of  a  source   need  to  be  attributed,  but  so  do  the  ideas.  Whether  it’s  indirect  quotes,   paraphrasing  or  even  summary,  you  need  a  “he  said,”  or  “she  said.”  Don’t   let  the  reader  be  confused  as  to  the  source  of  this  information.   • Dependency  on  single  source:  Story  needs  to  make  it  clear  to  readers  that   the  reporter  is  not  the  mouthpiece  for  propaganda  from  one  person,   regardless  of  how  authoritative  the  person.   • Beginning  with  date/time  element:  The  result,  likely,  of  too  many  years   being  trained  to  head  papers,  tests,  letters,  reports,  logs,  diaries,  etc.  with   the  date.   • Leaving  date/time  element  out:  Just  because  it  shouldn’t  come  first   doesn’t  mean  it’s  not  important.  Work  it  into  the  lead  gracefully.   • Improper  reference  to  time  element:  Writer  has  to  remember  when  the   reader  will  be  reading  this  and  phrase  accordingly:  If  within  a  week,  the   day  of  the  week,  will  do;  if  longer,  the  date  is  proper,  but  the  year  is   seldom  necessary  or  appropriate.  Also,  use  the  proper  abbreviation  for   the  month  and  never  yesterday  or  tomorrow,  and  today  only  with   approval.     • Improper  1st  &  2nd  reference:  Use  titles  and  first  names  only  on  first   reference  and  then  use  last  names  only.  (See  exceptions  in  the  KSU-­‐   specific  AP  rules.)   • Using  anonymous  or  unattributed  sources:  The  pros  don’t  do  it  except  in   very  special  situations  and  then  only  with  the  editor-­‐in-­‐chief’s  permission.   NO  SHORTCUTS  BY  QUOTING  FRIENDS  (i.e.,  the  golden  rule  is  if  they  are   your  Facebook  friend  you  can’t  quote  them).   • Beware  of  homonyms:  words  that  are  pronounced  alike  but  have  different   meanings  such  as  their,  they’re,  there/  bore,  boar/  four,  fore/  liar,  lyre/   sane,  seine/  rein,  reign,  rain.   • Using  incorrect  grammar:  Just  because  it’s  not  for  an  English  class  doesn’t   mean  the  rules  of  standard  edited  English  don’t  apply.  Look  out  for   disagreement  of  subjects  and  verbs,  pronouns  and  antecedents;  avoid   comma  splices,  dangling  or  misplaced  modifiers,  sexist  language,  wrong   use  of  apostrophes,  sentence  fragments,  run-­‐on  sentences,  etc.     • Failing  to  identify  people  named  in  your  story:  Is  this  person  a  student  or   a  faculty  member?  Give  some  kind  of  ID:  Joe  Smith…  Cindy  Curtis,   accounting  major…  Jack  Jones,  economics  professor…  Sue  Bouchard,   secretary.   • Using  blah,  unimaginative  leads:  Don’t  begin  a  story  about  a  club’s   meeting  with  the  fact  that  they  held  a  meeting  -­‐  they  always  do  that!  What   of  importance  or  interest  was  decided?   6   THE  SENTINEL  STYLE  BOOK  

• Telling  a  story  in  chronological  order:  Sometimes  it’s  necessary  to  explain   a  complicated  series  of  events,  but  that  would  only  be  after  a  lead  that   summarized  what  had  happened  and  set  up  the  chronological  details  with   something  like  this  several  paragraphs  after  the  lead:  “Police  said  the   accident  happened  when  Brown’s  Taurus  blew  a  tire,  crossed  the  median   and  struck  the  Smiths’  southbound  Ford  Explore.  The  Explorer  then   swerved  into…”     • Failing  to  follow  common  journalistic  style:  Spell  out  numbers  zero   through  nine  but  not  ages  and  measurements,  abbreviate  properly,  follow   AP  spelling  preferences,  etc.   • Overusing  one  type  of  lead:  Like  questions  leads  or  “you”  leads  or  the   name  of  the  key  person  or  organization  (like  KSU).  Many  textbooks  have   cliché  leads  to  avoid.     • Larding  up  the  copy  with  “wordfat”:  That’s  unnecessary,  superfluous   wordage  that  weighs  down  the  story  and  makes  it  bulky,  unattractive  and   often  unclear—  all  characteristics  you  don’t  want.  Here  are  some  types:   Look  out  for  them—the  cut  them  out!!   EDITORIALIZING- Putting the writer/reporter’s opinion into news and even feature stories where it doesn’t belong; watch out for commenting adjectives, connotative verbs or cheerleading endings. EUPHEMISMS- “Cushion” words and phrases that are supposed to buffer the harsher, grosser, uglier realities of life but don’t: e.g. passed away, terminated, economically depressed area, strategic withdrawal. CLICHÉS- Old, tired out, hackneyed, trite, bromidic, overused, stale, second-hand phrases: old as the hills, dull as dishwater, ugly as sin, whatever, all that, etc. JARGON- Specialized “in” language of a particular group that many of your readers may not understand. If you feel you must use a jargon term, then you must provide a brief explanation. SLANG- Almost always outdated, passé or too informal, too colloquial, too dated, too connotative and sometimes too confusing. REDUNDANCIES- Extra, superfluous words that repeat meaning: completely destroyed, drowned to death, qualified experts, knots per hour, etc. POLYSYLLABOSIS- Overly elegant, erudite, arcane, exotic or esoteric rhetoric. Eschew obfuscation! IRRELEVANT DETAIL- More than the reader needs to know for the purposes of this story INFLATED SYNTAX- Don’t use a paragraph when a sentence will do; don’t use a long, compound or complex sentence when a shorter, simpler sentence will do; don’t use a clause when a phrase will do; don’t use a phrase when a single word will do; don’t use a long word when a short word will do. WRONG STYLE- Not the way magazines would do it. Use the THE  SENTINEL  STYLE  BOOK   7  

preferences set forth in The AP Stylebook or The Sentinel Stylebook. WHO, WHAT, IT- People are “who”; things are “that”; organization names and team names are singular and take the singular pronoun “it.” Handling Notes and Quotes from an Interview 1. Direct  Quotes-­‐  You  want  to  use  SOME  of  what  the  interviewee  said   verbatim,  but  only  that  which  is  profound,  meaningful  or  exciting.   Attribute  the  quote  before,  after  or  in  the  middle  of  the  quote.  If  you   choose  to  attribute  in  the  middle  of  the  sentence  it  must  be  at  a  natural   break,  like  between  clauses  or  after  a  phrase,  in  a  fairly  long  quote.   2. Partial  Quotes-­‐  A  very  good  phrase  but  less  than  a  complete  sentence   which  you  “set  up”  with  paraphrasing  in  your  own  words  but  using  quote   marks  to  show  the  exact  phrase  the  person  said.  Must,  of  course,  be   attributed.   3. Indirect  Quotes-­‐  Close  to,  but  not  necessarily,  the  exact  words  of  the   interviewee.  Uses  no  quote  marks  but  often  uses  relative  pronoun  that   (but  it’s  not  always  needed).  First  person  pronouns  may  need  changing  to   third  person.  Attribution  to  speaker  still  needed.   4. Paraphrasing-­‐  Keeping  very  close  to  the  original  words  spoken  but   translated  somewhat-­‐  perhaps  shortened-­‐  into  clearer,  more  standard  and   more  understandable  phrasing  (yours).  Still  must  be  attributed.   5. Summary-­‐  Condensing  and  refining  the  original  into  a  much  tighter,   briefer,  perhaps  more  abstract  and  generalized  statement-­‐  still  attributed   to  the  speaker.   Concluding advice: Don’t get into a rut and use too many of the same type of presentation of what people say. And always be accurate as to his/her meaning, avoiding subjective interpretation. And always attribute.

D.

Pitfalls  of  Beginning  Journalists  

• In  reporting   o Too  few  sources   o “Wrong”  sources   o Making  it  hard  for  source  to  contact  you   o Sloppy  interviewing  &  notetaking   o Not  recognizing  news  values,  reader  interests,  manipulation  by   sources   o Procrastinating  on  assignments,  writing   o Not  getting  enough  info,  background,  quotes   o Not  getting  source’s  phone  number  for  checkback   o Not  appreciating  “contacts”   8   THE  SENTINEL  STYLE  BOOK  

o Making  promises  you  can’t  keep   o Remember  that  no  writer  can  “promise”  a  story.  The  only  member   of  The  Sentinel  who  can  say  whether  a  story  will  run  or  not  is  the   editor-­‐in-­‐chief.   • In  writing   o Not  staying  objective  (editorializing)   o Being  inaccurate   o Not  attributing  almost  everything   o Weak  leads  (dull,  cliché,  confusing,  wrong  angle)   o Awkward  quotes  (direct  and  otherwise)   o Paragraphs  too  long   o Stories  too  short   o Not  in  journalistic  (AP)  style   o Committing  “wordfat”  

II.

AP  Style  in  Brief  

Abbreviations • Spell  out  the  names  of  organizations,  companies  and   colleges/universities  on  first  reference  and  use  the  acronym,  if  it  has   one,  on  second  and  subsequent  references.  Don’t  include  the  acronym   in  parentheses  after  the  name.     • State  names:  Spell  out  state  names  when  they  stand  alone  but   abbreviate  when  accompanied  by  a  city,  e.g.,  Fred  lives  in  Georgia.  BUT   Fred  lives  in  Atlanta,  Ga.   o Eight  states  are  NEVER  abbreviated:  Alaska,  Hawaii,  Texas,   Ohio,  Iowa,  Idaho,  Maine  and  Utah.   o State  abbreviations  in  AP  style  are  NOT  the  same  as  the  two-­‐ letter  postal  code  abbreviations.   o Streets:  abbreviate  only  with  numbered  addresses:  135  Elm  St.   BUT  He  lives  on  Elm  Street.     § Never  abbreviate  road,  alley,  circle  and  drive.   o Months:  abbreviate  only  with  specific  date:  Jan.  12  BUT  January   2008.   § Don’t  abbreviate  March,  April,  May,  June  or  July.   Capitalization • Capitalize  the  names  of  holidays,  historic  events  and  special  events.   • Do  not  capitalize  seasons:  autumn,  spring.   • Capitalize  recognized  geographic  regions  but  not  compass  points:  the   Midwest,  the  North  and  Southern  California  BUT  He  traveled  north  on  I-­‐ 85.   THE  SENTINEL  STYLE  BOOK   9  

Numbers • Spell  out  numbers  one  through  nine  and  use  figures  for  10  and  above   UNLESS  it  falls  under  one  of  the  exceptions.   • Ages  are  ALWAYS  figures.   • Don’t  begin  a  sentence  with  a  figure;  spell  out  the  number  or  rephrase  the   sentence  so  it  doesn’t  begin  with  the  number:  Twenty-­‐five  people  filed   claims  after  the  tornado.   • Use  figures  for  billion  and  million:  3  billion,  $1  million.   • Round  off  numbers  larger  than  1  million:  3.65  million  rather  than   3,653,298.   • Use  figures  with  percentages  and  spell  out  percent:  6  percent.   • Use  figures  and  cents  for  amounts  under  a  dollar:  75  cents  rather  than   $.75.   • Spell  out  fractions  that  are  less  than  one  and  use  a  hyphen:  two-­‐thirds.   • Dates:  use  figures,  but  don’t  include  th  or  st:  June  1  rather  than  June  1st.   Punctuation • Do  not  use  a  comma  before  the  last  item  in  a  series:  red,  white  and  blue.   • Use  a  hyphen  with  compound  modifiers,  i.e.,  two  or  more  words  that   express  a  single  concept  before  a  noun:  6-­‐year-­‐old  girl,  right-­‐to-­‐work  law,   a  first-­‐quarter  touchdown,  6-­‐foot-­‐tall  man.   • Use  quotation  marks  to  enclose  names  of  books,  TV  shows,  movies,  songs,   etc.  but  not  the  names  of  newspapers.   Time • Use  figures  and  a.m.  and  p.m.;  for  whole  hours,  omit  the  zeros;  6  p.m.   rather  than  6:00  p.m.   • Use  the  day  of  the  week  (rather  than  tomorrow/yesterday  or  the  date)  if   the  event  is  within  seven  days.   • When  including  a  date  and  a  time,  put  the  time  first:  My  plane  leaves  at   2:30  p.m.  March  2.   Titles/Names • Capitalize  formal  titles  before  a  name  and  check  the  stylebook  for   appropriate  abbreviations:  Director  of  Student  Life  Kathy  Alday,  but   lowercase  titles  after  a  name:  The  director  of  student  life,  Kathy  Alday.   • Generally,  don’t  use  courtesy  titles  such  as  Mr.,  Mrs.  or  Ms.  except  to  avoid   confusion.     • Identify  people  by  their  full  name  on  first  reference  and  by  last  name  only   on  second  and  subsequent  references.    

1 THE  SENTINEL  STYLE  BOOK   0  

A.

KSU-­‐specific  AP  exceptions  

• Students  should  be  identified  by  name,  major  and  year.  Majors  are   capitalized.   • President  Papp  is  identified  as  “President  Daniel  Papp”  on  first  reference   and  then  “Papp”  on  subsequent  references.   • KSU  is  abbreviated  even  on  first  reference.  We  assume  that  all  readers   understand  we  represent  Kennesaw  State  University.     • Department  names  are  capitalized  (ex.  KSU  Department  of  Mathematics   and  Statistics).   • Semester  designations  are  capitalized  (ex.  Fall  Semester;  Fall  2012).   • Building  names  are  capitalized  (ex.  Burruss  Building).   • Common  places  around  campus  are  capitalized  (ex.  Campus  Green;   Student  Center).   • MCT  articles  are  referenced  as  “MCT”  on  the  byline.  

THE  SENTINEL  STYLE  BOOK   1 1  


KSU Sentinel Stylebook