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Tate 1 Brandon Tate Dr. Angela Sowa WRIT 1133 2 June 2014 A Brief Introduction to Journalism Studies at DU Journalistic writing as well as newswriting and reporting has drastically changed since the innovation of the printing press in the 1500s to deliver the most pressing content to people, which for its time was the fastest way to do so. Fast forward to the inception of the internet, and the content you can read from the most mainstream news sources or other venues for journalism literature are a click away. With that instant access to communication among millions of people, comes a highly competitive market of professionals looking to pounce on any opportunities to present themselves as the best journalists out there. Enter you, a raw student with the determination to put a press pass on and get to the bottom of things as soon as possible. It may seem as though that prospective students must jump right into the fray and become top notch reporters right from the start. Fortunately this is not the case. There is a process of sorts that you must do to get yourself out there in the grand sphere of journalism, and of course, that relies on you taking the time to put in the work in your classes. It may seem boring at first, but the sums you will gain will benefit your potential journalism career greatly. A component of beginning your journalism adventures will involve looking at what material exists in the sphere of the study to begin with. Developing your own style of writing


Tate 2 will not come easy if you do not know what kinds of writing has been put out to the public already. This does not entirely mean read drawn out news articles one after another. The Associated Press (AP) Stylebook is its own beast that oversees what genres of journalism are out there. Being informative by being boring in a story is not your only avenue. You could look at satire of news like The Daily Show or The Onion as resources to develop your own writing. The norms laid out by existing works of journalistic writing are meant to be bent as you see fit. In conjunction with this, we will later explore and investigate various “genres” within the journalism major, and their importance to you as a student. Such genres set the guidelines for courses in the major and how you can seek to use them to your advantage. Within those class outlines are the tools that, which will be discussed in more detail later in this book’s second chapter. Applying what is discussed in context for the major is also important, and thanks to our special guest in Chapter 3, we will delve into more information there, as well as an extension of some thoughts dealing with what ails the how the major is taught at DU, and how you can go about remedying this problem yourself. It seems that these concepts that have been presented on the surface are all easy A things to tackle to earn a quick degree. The journalism studies major requires consistent dedication to understanding the aspects of writing that drives the field. In addition to said writing, it also demands one’s desire and ability to apply their writing through a variety of platforms. So with that, let us get into the fine details.


Tate 3 Chapter 1: A Review of Existing Literature Websites such as Facebook and Twitter have become powerhouses for delivering newsworthy content to a large variety of people who all have some broad range of interest they think is most relevant to the world, in their minds. In addition, in the ever changing landscape of Twitter, while users can still customize who and where on the web they receive their daily news content from, information can get stacked and buried under fresh tweets within seconds. The stacked tweet or status update challenge continues even with articles getting filed under “what’s trending” to try and organize the chaos, it will remain in those worldwide subfolders. The Cable News Network, better known as CNN, spurned controversy for their firestorm of coverage regarding the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, bolstering Twitter traffic on the aircraft even further.1 So as a prospective journalist, one must wonder: “how do I go about making my news provide the best content for my organization?” or even moreover “how do I create my brand with my content?” By reviewing in detail some of the existing materials out there that serve as examples or guidelines for being able to attain a decent understanding of how writing in the journalism is meant to function. Even with the amount of content and methods of publication out there, the way journalistic writing is executed does not deviate largely from the norm, which we will discuss later. In conjunction with being able to be the first ones to break a big news story to the public or not, online journalism has also become big on advertising revenue for the news organizations. When Miley Cyrus controversially twerked her way to the top of CNN’s leading stories the morning of August 26, 2013, CNN.com Managing Editor stated “It was an attempt to get you to click on CNN.com so that we could drive up our web traffic, which in turn would allow us to increase our advertising revenue.”2 It seems as though controversial stories are the best way to


Tate 4 establish the premier journalists, even if the content may not be the most newsworthy. As a student in the major you may be tasked with researching and developing controversial stories, maybe not to the degree of famous pop stars drawing up a scene on television, but at least something that may stir discussion on campus. If you are looking for a more relatable example, the articles written in regards to the Boone mascot controversy at DU are a good place to start, especially if you are interested in controversy that means more than Miley being explicit on stage. Professors across the country may find themselves blogging away to analyze the ways of writing within the major itself. They may question what is or is not working to prepare students, and students themselves may take it upon themselves to read these thoughts as a guide for what specific areas of journalism they could pursue. According to California State University East Bay journalism professor and former New York Times (NYT) writer Gary Moskowitz, his aims at teaching students revolve around his philosophy of “student journalists my colleagues and I teach are not being trained to be writers; they’re being encouraged to become multimedia producers, mobile reporters, hackers, graphic designers, website scrapers, and web entrepreneurs.”3 As such, emphasis relies more in modern times on the spread of content across a wide variety of technological mediums and understanding its importance as a student. With information being fired off by the second, to have one’s content be successful is to craft one’s own voice in their writing, even if they are required, this pertains strongly to newswriting, to maintain objective reporting. This also fills in with a problem, and possible remedy, we will present in Chapter Four. Journalists are charged with being a messenger for the wide variety of causes that rise and flame out over the course of many years. However, they are never going to


Tate 5 be autonomous drones seeking to dish up information to the public and repeat the cycle, but rather act as individuals who, despite possibly disagreeing with their interviewees on some level, are still a resource for informing the masses about what is going on in the world. In summation, and as former National Football League player and journalism graduate would put it “The secret to success…Find and nurture your unique voice.”4 Possibly the best part of finding your voice in your journalistic writing is to stick to some of the main norms that exist in the process of such writing. Get well acquainted with those writing styles, make them your best friends, for lack of a better phrasing. The formulas for writing journalistic pieces most likely will not change from where and how they were adopted into such work. The most common inverted pyramid will be a staple of journalism now, and for the future.5 Using a strong headline, lede and a “nut paragraph” to present an extremely controversial subject to readers is enough to spark a comments section frenzy assuming they jump to conclusions reading at least the headline alone. Although it may seem cruel to attempt to illicit irrational reactions from the many audiences across the country or globe. Using a chronological or narrative framework5 to describe some of the most terrifying things that people may learn from your articles are also viable methods of writing, but are also less common. In addition to having to adhere to the pyramid and other styles of writing, there exists the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook, dictating how you must write to the detail and to that standard no matter what. The so called “journalism bible” will often contain yearly updates for 100 plus terms.6 These are all just technicalities that cannot be avoided and must be treated as mentioned in the book no matter what sort of article you are writing. However, that does not stop you from still using your voice.


Tate 6 These same standard rules apply to internet content as well. According to writer Herbert Lowe: “Abide by the Associated Press Stylebook as much as possible in your tweets…Always use correct grammar, spelling and punctuation. Remember the adage about doing what’s right even when no one’s looking? Well, demonstrating good writing in short bursts helps prove you take it seriously.”7 In addition, with Twitter posts being limited to a 160 character count, creating text can be strenuous, even after copying and pasting, and maybe even compressing links. A good solution? Provide a very brief background to the story or use the headline in the tweet itself. Better yet, at least try to incorporate one, maybe two, of the most pertinent details of a story to attract attention to the piece, and hope for the best that someone on another end of cyberspace picks up on it and retweet, favorite, and watch it spread elsewhere. Of course, there are other writers out there creating links to or spreading around other content that will strike the fancy of journalists, including you. So share the links that connect to the most important things you see happening in the world. News from Europe and Asia can hit the net in seconds, so take charge and start the discussion by writing or spreading around the writing that someone else wrote and are a first responder to an event or situation. Being a professional about sharing content is also essential, as journalists should aim primarily to provide the masses with information, rather than toss around poor minded language on the internet can be haunting for journalists, let alone amateur, and crazed, article readers.8 While the aforementioned concepts may not necessarily be new in any way, it never hurts to pound them into one’s head and live by them. A way to look at it would be to say the norms that are in place are a gateway to future possibilities in the newsroom and the field, creating that


Tate 7 central brand that makes a journalist in the modern era a journalist who people want to seek and collect the most recent knowledge at hand.


Tate 8

Works Cited 2

Artley, Meredith. "Let Me Explain Why Miley Cyrus' VMA Performance Was Our Top Story This Morning | The Onion - America's Finest News Source." Let Me Explain Why Miley Cyrus' VMA Performance Was Our Top Story This Morning | The Onion - America's Finest News Source. The Onion, 26 Aug. 2013. Web. 08 Apr. 2014. <http://www.theonion.com/articles/let-me-explain-why-miley-cyrus-vma-performance-was %2C33632/>.

4

Berens, Charlyne. "Advice From The Master: Find Your Own Unique Voice." College of Journalism and Mass Communications. University of Nebraska - Lincoln, n.d. Web. 09 Apr. 2014. <http://journalism.unl.edu/cojmc/alumni/jnews/0304_winter/williams.shtml>.

5

Brooks, Brian S., George Kennedy, Daryl R. Moen, and Don Ranly. News Reporting and Writing. 11th ed. New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2013. Print.

8

Buttry, Steve. "Twitter Tips for Journalists." Mmm Smooth Buttry Goodness. N.p., 9 July 2009. Web. 10 Apr. 2014. <http://stevebuttry.wordpress.com/2009/07/09/twitter-tips-for-journalists/>.

6

Christian, Darrell, Sally A. Jacobsen, and David Minthorn. Associated Press Stylebook 2013. N.p.: Associated, 2013. Print.

7

Lowe, Herbert. "How to Write a Twitter Bio Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll Make You Stand out as a Journalist | Poynter." Poynter. N.p., 7 Sept. 2012. Web. 10 Apr. 2014. <http://www.poynter.org/how-tos/journalism-education/187145/how-to-writea-twesume-aka-twitter-bio-thatll-make-you-stand-out-as-a-journalist/>.

3

Moskowitz, Gary. "How Important Are Writing Skills for Modern Journalists?" PBS. PBS, 7 June 2011. Web. 09 Apr. 2014. <http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2011/07/how-important-are-writing-skills-for-modern-journalists187/>.

1

Stewart, Jon, Elliot Kalan, Dan Amira, Steve Bodow, Travon Free, Lauren Sarver, Hallie Haglund, J.R. Havlan, Matt Koff, Dan McCoy, Jo Miller, Zhubin Parang, and Daniel Radosh. "The Daily Show with John Stewart." The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Comedy Central. New York, New York, 24 Mar. 2014. Television.


Tate 9 Chapter 2: Genre Investigation Unlike some other majors in university education which involve a possible loose set of norms of how they are taught a wide range of interpretations of those said rules, the journalism major has a pretty standard formula and method for approaching journalistic writing. Thanks to the advent of the internet and the ever increasing modern legal discrepancies that come up in, norms are being carried over to the internet, where journalism will continue blossom. Dr. Derigan Silver of the University of Denver’s Media Film and Journalism Studies (MFJS) department even spoke to some of these legal issues, such as how it is common law now for laws regarding defamation as they apply to television and radio to extend to social media.1 In addition to that, he also discussed how, should they feel it utterly necessary, can at the very least accuse people of “Twibel”1, that is, libel proliferated via Twitter. Looking at the concept of genre here, you may or may not have run into some of what is discussed later in this chapter depending on if you had any journalism experience in high school. Kerry Dirk describes in “Navigating Genres,” in terms of writing academic papers, that “Although textbooks are directed at students, they are often more formal affairs meant to serve a different purpose than this essay. And because the genre of this essay is still developing, there are no formal expectations for what this paper might look like.” Journalism is a special beast in this regard, as much of the genres already set out there, which again we will discuss, are meant to serve as a basic foundation for the journalism student to catapult from. In addition to this, these genres play into the legality of how a journalist may go about their craft, which indeed is controversial, and a topic to be discussed in later courses in the major. As such, it is very necessary of you, the prospective journalism major, to pay attention to media law and the norms and conditions that have been in place for decades so that first of all,


Tate 10 you can avoid getting yourself stuck in disgusting legal battles that could brew and sit on the table for who knows how long, and two, you can maximize the best out of finding your voice that we so strongly pushed for in Chapter 1. So let us dive into these standards at the surface all journalists have to learn at some point or another, hopefully sooner than later. Although the following material will expand quite deep and apparently become more complex as you further your studies, it is there, and you have to learn it, for there is no way to avoid it. First, we will look at general expectations some journalism professors will have of students at the University of Denver in the form of class syllabi, our mutual benefactor the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook, student applied content in the form of school newspaper articles, additional standards laid out by one of the most reputable journalism schools in the nation, the University of Missouri, and a professionally written article, which, depending on your pre-collegiate university journalism adventures, you may have encountered yourself. As with other University of Denver majors, there are a certain number of credit hours you must complete as well as highly specialized courses that are without a doubt essential to having a clue about what is going on in the major. The journalism major at DU requires one class in particular that details the journalistic writing process. Since we are breaking down what writing in the journalism major involves, Professor Andrew Matranga, MD, teaches the class â&#x20AC;&#x153;Newswriting and Reportingâ&#x20AC;? for the MFJS department. The core of this class revolves around being able to use AP Style2, as well as focusing on simply good journalism techniques and writing styles. The syllabus of the class3 contains a week by week schedule, as most DU classes do, detailing what is to be learned for that week. In addition, the grading requirements of the class also mandate that you, the prospective journalist, must be involved on Twitter.3 Failing to


Tate 11 do so will not only hurt your grade hard, but be a detriment to you as a journalist. Twitter can be difficult to navigate at first, but it does not take a whole lot of stressful time to get into the groove. Let us get back to the class again. While Matrangaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s class focuses on newswriting and the methods involved, the syllabus also outlines that online interactions, like Twitter, are a fundamental aspect of journalism itself. The syllabus dictates a strong need for students to know how to use Google Drive, Blogger, Calendar, and Maps for exchanging documents among other, more complex tasks that the course handles. Because of the normative nature of journalism, this genre of presenting journalistic concepts rarely deviates from course to course, so do not expect these to change in the journalism major, even if you end up taking one of many classes that are more geared toward journalism history rather than the actual writing process. In conjunction to the classroom syllabus, there are the required reading materials, be it textbooks or web uploaded articles. Like the syllabus, the readings rarely change up, sticking to the path that the instructor has intended them for. As this entire book pertains to how writing functions in the journalism, we will revisit the News Reporting and Writing textbook from Chapter One. The ninth chapter of this textbook is dedicated solely to a writing technique that is most often used when writing for journalism, what is commonly and most well-known as the Inverted Pyramid style of writing.4 Whether it be news, entertainment, sports, or specialized sections that a news source may have, it is absolutely vital to have the most pertinent details of a story up front in whatever article you may find yourself writing. By following the inverted pyramid, you can be very sure your professors (or editors if you go further) will not continuously harp on you for leaving out the most important details of a story. The Inverted Pyramid follows the classic


Tate 12 who, what, when, where, why, and how style of presentation.4 In roughly 30 words or less, we will say that maybe at least three of these have to be addressed right from the get-go to capture the most important details of a story. To break it down, we will look at the lede, or first sentence, of a news article published on April 16 in the DU Clarion, DU’s student run newspaper, regarding increasing bike thefts on campus, titled “Bike bandits steal 14.” “According to the Department Campus Safety (DCS), bicycle theft has increased since last year, from zero reported incidents in 2013 to 14 this year.”5 Who: Department of Campus Safety What: Bike thefts Where: N/A When: 2014 Why: N/A How: N/A Following the Inverted Pyramid model, details, quotes, and other information are incorporated into the article, in a manner of decreasing importance.4 This is done so when the readers see it, they can get the most important information with the first few paragraphs they read, stick around on the page if they are interested enough and comment on it (with varied degrees of professionalism), or then move on to the next story, and repeat the process. While it may seem at first the Inverted Pyramid is some mandated school writing only style that you will never likely use beyond your university education, think again. It has many


Tate 13 numerous applications on a daily basis with the amount of news that flies around the internet in seconds. Here’s another example. After Stephen Colbert faced a fierce Twitter backlash after posting a controversial tweet seen as derogatory to Asians and racist, the hashtag #CancelColbert spread like wildfire. After Colbert responded to the movement, indicating obviously that his show would not be canceled, activist against Colbert would remain persistent. Let’s look at a lede from the news source Mediaite.6 “Two of the activists behind the #CancelColbert trend wrote a piece that was published on TIME Magazine’s website yesterday standing by their protest after the announcement that The Colbert Report will be cancelled…because of Stephen Colbert’s selection to follow David Letterman on The Late Show. The defiantly state from the outset, ‘This is aggression that we do not have to accept. We will protest this until it ends.’”6 We will not pick apart this lede as we did before, but you should at least understand the general basis of why putting the most important information in a story first is. Plus, regardless of if the readers choose to stay for seconds and gloss over your story or read it for a while to look into topics more, them clicking in builds vital advertising revenue for your organization, as well as the presence of being a reliable, or frequented, source. This for sure could help open up more positive doors in your journalism career. So you have got the story that you want to get out to the world to be read, but how do you get people to even consider clicking on it? It seems as though we have made writing out to be the main focus of the journalism major. Thanks to the wonderful world of the internet, it is not anymore. Since Twitter’s inception, the use of hashtags and journalism helps package relevant


Tate 14 stories based on relevant events happening in the country or world. Facebook has also recently jumped on the hashtag and “What’s Trending” deal to help provide potential readers with interesting articles across the web. However, Twitter is limited to 160 characters per post, so tweeting stories may be difficult. Because of this, posting journalistic material to the internet can be a genre itself. Former ReadWrite writer Marshall Kirkpatrick affirms that you as a journalist should not be afraid of social media, especially Twitter, when getting your stories out there. “One of the most defining characteristics of Twtitter is its ease of use. While getting engaged enough to find value in the service does require some initial investment of time and energy – on a day to day and minute by minute basis, Twitter is remarkably easy to post to. As a result people often posting things they discover to Twitter before or instead of posting it to a blog. Whether it’s natural disasters, political developments or breaking tech news – it’s common to discover items of interest first on Twitter.”7 To help move things along, what topics or hashtags are trending right now, or have been trending for the past few hours, maybe days? Of course you have your #mcm’s (man crush Monday), #wcw (women crush Wednesday), and #tbt (throwback Thursday), but what is the value of those to you as a journalist? Absolutely none. Just because young teenagers are firing off pictures for a day does not do anything for you. Instead, and as a suggestion, start looking at political hashtags for a guide. Many conservative pundits will tweet with the hashtag #tcot (top conservative on Twitter) to organize their content with likeminded people. On April 8, commonly noted as “Equal Pay Day” both conservative and liberal amateur reporters may take, and probably do, take to the web with the tag to make their arguments in regards to fair wage legislation. It is topics like this that help you organize your content. If you happen to publish a


Tate 15 story that coincidentally may fall under the general scope of a popular hashtag or trending topic at the moment, do not be afraid to include that in your tweet. It might net you some followers back who agree with and may support you! Now do not forget, you have a character count, so every single space and letter matters. It does you no good to the genre of online posting if your links are very extensive, as they eat up unnecessary space, so get used to using link compressors. That alone will save you space to lead readers into an article. In summation, stay on top of what is trending at your university, state, or the whole country. You could end up writing something on it and reaching into a readership market that encompasses 645 million plus people who may read the news, especially if they find that falls in line with their beliefs or interests. So in general, the main takeaways we have from this chapter are that the norms journalists and those in the major have are there for a good reason, as they help develop solid articles for the public to view, and to help you build yourself as a professional, before stepping into the professional world. Also, pay attention to what is going on in your surroundings. If you take the initiative to find a story in something at your university or beyond that, capitalize on making the most of your online tools at your disposal.


Tate 16 Works Cited 4

Brooks, Brian S., George Kennedy, Daryl R, Moen, and Don Ranly. "Chapter 9 - The Inverted Pyramid." News Reporting and Writing. 11th ed. New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2013. 167-71. Print.

2

Christian, Darrell, Sally A. Jacobsen, and David Minthorn. Associated Press Stylebook 2013. N.p.: Associated, 2013. Print.

6

Feldman, Josh. "Cancel Colbert Activists Speak Out in TIME: â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;We Will Protest This Until It Endsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;." Mediaite. Mediaite, 11 Apr. 2014. Web. 17 Apr. 2014. <http://www.mediaite.com/online/cancel-colbert-activists-speak-out-in-time-we-will-protestthis-until-it-ends/>.

7

Kirkpatrick, Marshall. "How We Use Twitter for Journalism." ReadWrite. ReadWrite, 25 Apr. 2008. Web. 17 Apr. 2014. <http://readwrite.com/2008/04/25/twitter_for_journalists#awesm=~oBFoKittp045TX>.


Tate 17 Chapter 3: An Interview with Sarah Ford Up until this chapter, the main focus of looking at the journalism major has revolved around looking at what is on paper, what is required of you, why if you do not do what was laid out in chapters one and two, your grade will tank and you will not amount to be at least a solid journalism student. There are all kinds of regulations journalism students have to abide by, and so far we have not seen any benefit from adhering to the rules. Let us apply this in context, with some thoughts from a DU student who knows the ins and outs of the journalism world. Sarah Ford is a DU senior double majoring in journalism studies and international studies. Along with her studies, she served as the Managing Editor of the DU Clarion. Most of her writing experience within the major comes from starting as a news writer for the Clarion, and then working her way up, with news remaining her focus. Ford has found since beginning her collegiate career that newswriting is highly valued within the major. “Most of my experience is in newswriting, that’s what I did starting off my freshman year,” said Ford. “So I cover a lot of breaking news on campus, anything that’s going on event wise. Since then I’ve expanded and have been doing work that is more in depth, and little more investigative stuff for class and the Clarion; anything investigating ‘what’s going on?’” Ford also stressed that many Media Film and Journalism Studies (MFJS) department professors search for a student’s ability to remain “concise, but accurate.” In other words, getting straight to the point of a story right away and incorporate the most important and relevant factoids and quotes to a story in the style of the inverted pyramid, which we mentioned in Chapter Two. In addition to this, so far we have stressed the importance of reaching out through the internet to be an effective media producer. Ford reaffirms this, commenting on how


Tate 18 professional journalism content creators, and for the purposes of this essay, your professors, are looking for those developed skills. “[Professors] are now really looking for your ability to go beyond just the writing and do something like write for web and be able to format it in a way that is fit for the internet,” said Ford “Also to bring in many multimedia aspects and be able to see these opportunities and incorporate them in a way that’s effective.” As a journalist, it is vitally important to heed the advice of feedback given to you by professors, your peers, or whatever primary editorial body is reviewing your work. A core component of Andrew Matranga’s class that we mentioned in Chapter Two is the need for constant peer reviews on assignments, as the editing process indirectly contributes to bettering your class grades, and more importantly, your ability to weed out common edits that you will eventually get to the point where you can review your work within minutes and at least patch the easy AP Style errors. Regardless if you become the expert connoisseur on making the minor edits, it will never hurt you to have a second, or even third, set of eyes take a good long hard look at your work for clarity or a need for fact checking. “Most of the stuff I know I learned from people who taught me,” said Ford. “I do work a lot with peers in class as far as developing writing goes. I especially go to my professors a lot and I work closely with them on anything I am doing for classes. Since then if I’m working on a piece that is a little bit more serious or something that’s a little more broad, or something that’s going to be controversial, I always do send it to professors and have them check it out sometimes.”


Tate 19 As such, Ford believes the willingness to pay attention to edits can be greatly beneficial for looking at going into a journalism career as a true professional. “That’s what people need to do now is get a story of quickly and accurately that is informative, but fast,” said Ford. “I keep going back to digital but that really is where it’s at right now. If you can’t write and edit an article for the web and if you can’t incorporate web elements, like being able to spot the time when you should use a video or a nap, photo slideshows and so on, it will hurt you. Learn those basic skills because it’s important to look at those other aspects. Ford praises the MFJS department for being able to incorporate online mediums into their course material; she feels it is a great asset to students looking to pursue the major and write for online first before print. According to the 2011 Annial Sirvey of Journalism and Communication Graduates, those who extend themselves to the internet are able to earn an average of $5.2 thousand more than a regular writer for a weekly publication.1 Being able to successfully right a journalism piece according to Ford involves being able to “talk informatively about what you’re writing about” so that you may be able to bring it up with your interviewees at any time, whether you’re seeing them to take care of business or not. Some of the background research needed for you to understand the grand scope of a story may not even make it into the final product itself. Being tasked to write very in depth articles may even require the need to locate archives, both physical and within the realm of cyberspace to find information pertaining to the said story you are writing. Lastly, Ford elaborated on a fundamental principle of journalistic writing, and that is no one gets their writing right on the first try. Instead, it comes down to a series of trial and error in seeing what successfully amounts to a publishable story for the classroom and beyond.


Tate 20 “It’s just a lot of practice,” said Ford. “It’s just a lot of doing it over and over; you can’t really like sit down and ‘study’ journalistic writing and get it right. You have to do it, and it’s a hands on process. The only way you’re going to get good at journalism and really understand how to construct a story and how to do an interview, especially how to do an interview that’s going to get you the information that you want is to just do it. You could get to your junior year and have a 4.0 [Grade Point Average] in your journalism major and still not know what you need to know to go into the actual career field. The most important thing is that you go out and do it.”

Works Cited 1

Vlad, Tudor, Konrad Kaplen, and Lee B. Becker. 2011 Annual Survey of Journalism and Communication Graduates. Rep. N.p.: n.p., 2011. Print.


Tate 21 Chapter 4: Where to go now? A main theme that was prevalent throughout Chapter 3 courtesy of the conversation with Sarah Ford is “writing for the web” since that is the main direction where newswriting is headed. Well, there is a slight problem with being introduced to the idea of writing for the web, and that is that the functions of the internet are always expanding and someone out there comes up with some idea for a social media site that somehow finds a niche audience with varying amounts of popularity. There is Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, and many more social sites that serve as beyond excellent starting points for delivering your content as a media professional. While Facebook and Twitter have become the most widely used sites to transmit news content to the world, some online users outright object to using these two for whatever reason best suits them. All the while, university students as the prospective news agency leaders of the future are left to wonder what the best way to get content out to the masses is. The best solution to this abstract question is to encourage journalism students to think for themselves, and be active in the social media world on whatever new and possibly popular platforms may arise. You as the journalism student must get out there and capitalize on the many opportunities presented on social media to spread journalistic content. So what kind of insight does Ford have for us on this pressing dilemma? “I know that some people don’t have a Twitter account because they don’t believe in Twitter,” said Ford. “[As a journalism major] you can have a favorite way or platform to deliver content as far as work in journalism goes, but you need to be able to use all of them, and if you can’t then you aren’t doing your job. You have to be able to use Twitter and you have to know how to utilize every platform that’s out there. You also have to know how to use and leverage those platforms to be effective or otherwise you’re not going to get your content to your audience, which you need to do, or understand your audience base.”


Tate 22 Thankfully, some of the required courses at DU for the journalism studies major at least touch base on website and online content management as well as how to use the most popular social media congregations to the best of their possible and slowly expanding functions. However, the millennials and post-millennials are a difficult generation to cater to due to the fact that they are picky with how they use the internet based around their core interests. It seems as though we have made the most recent generations of technology users out to be some sort of enemy force that impedes your progression as a journalism student. Not even in the slightest are they this way. Where we have thought of the question of if there is a single, definite methodology to get content out to viewers as a journalism student, you can thank your readers. Why? Because a good chunk of them like to use multiple social media sites together, because that is how they want to go about their lives while they pursue their many interests. Another helpful factor to you as a writer is how many social media sites allow users to post or repost content over two accounts simultaneously, making the dissemination of your information that you have for your college nation that much faster, and easier, on your part. This nifty function of most social media allows you, the writer, to reach audiences you may not have intended for. The best example of this would be tweeting a hot story out to your followers, but also linking your Twitter account to, say, Facebook, and have it post for you whenever you tweet something interesting from the world news or something of your own creation. Another added bonus is that you can reach readers who might not use Twitter, but use Facebook, and vice-versa. The only thing you have to be dependent on is if there are readers who utilize this feature themselves, read your material, and share it with whoever their “friends” or “followers” are. Of course, and hopefully, a domino effect can take place where users repost your


Tate 23 material via the user who was the original poster of whatever you gave to the reading sphere of cyberspace. To sum things up, you and your potential readers have the power to reach audiences you normally would not just by straight up posting to just Facebook or just Twitter. So let us bring it back to our main point that is, being able to uses all of the different social media platforms is in fact a core method of progressing in the journalism major. You may have been told in the past that social media is silly and/or would never catch on. False! In fact, there are special jobs for when you hit the job market that are geared towards pure social media interactions. News agencies and other media outlets are looking for people that are proficient in social media functions as full-time employees. Sure it may require a location move, but whatever the employer requires of their social media coordinator can range over the many different platforms we have talked about throughout this entire description of the journalism studies major at DU. Unfortunately, as we have again stated earlier, not enough emphasis in the major is placed upon directly cross connecting platforms, but rather the most important ones. However, keeping Fordâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s aforementioned statements in mind, doing your research on the next potentially hot social internet medium could go a long way. Social media websites are geared to be user friendly, so if you take the time to analyze its basic features and use them to the best of your ability to spread your work around to your academic peers, and possible future employers, pick it up and run with it. You could also try to push it on your professors to see if it will catch on, and hope for the best. The journalism major often requires a lot of out of class work, and this could be considered as such. So with that in


Tate 24 mind, take the time to explore new budding sites and determine for yourself if they could be useful to what you might eventually do. Who knows, maybe you will be the one to pioneer new social media linkages that are revolutionary for their time. Again, Ford sums this proposal up well, “You can focus in and kind of have a platform that’s your favorite,” said Ford. “I love Twitter and it’s my favorite thing. [But as a journalism student] you have to be able to use and know all of them if you want to be effective, whatever social networking you take on. It’s kind of what you make of it. The internships and jobs are out there, so you just have to get out there, look, and learn.”


Tate 25 Chapter 5: In Summation In summation, we have laid at least a chunk of the foundation regarding what the journalism major at DU is about. Then again, if you have not deduced already from this book alone, it is a rapidly changing major and professional field. Many of the “conventional” norms laid out by the Associated Press are always changing to meet the demands of the news cycle for student and actual journalists alike. We will hear all the time in celebrity and sports tabloids about actors, musicians and athletes “being on top of their game.” Well, as a journalism major, that is something expected of you from your very first day of stepping into your first major related course. Every minute something is happening that could end up being very relevant to a course you are taking. As such be ready to jump on it and write about it or share what is going on, all on a local, national, or global scale. Writing still remains a vitally essential component of the major, but its uses are ever expanding yet remain mostly the same to their original roots.

As discussed in previous

chapters, writing’s usage in journalism curriculum applies to a variety of different content delivery mediums. We have discussed the usual writing an article for a website, to crafting tweets, Facebook status updates, and more to draw readers in while presenting the most informative bits of information within said post. Everything that has been discussed through the course of this reading provides a basis for things as they are now in the journalism world. As we have said time and time again the major and what is taught in the curriculum is constantly changing to attempt to prepare young prospective students like yourself for the real world.


Tate 26 “But wait, what’s the use of going to school for journalism if the ‘standard’ is going to change nearly every year?” Because the writing principles of journalism stay the same! If you were to look at a news section of a newspaper from the 1970s and an online news article from one of your favorite sources, and you will likely see that the writing itself is structured at least somewhat similarly. It is the dynamic in which that writing is changing on a regular basis in the physical and cyberspace worlds. You as the student must be willing to go the extra mile to conquer the new frontiers of writing for the web and jump on them before your peers do. That mentality of advancing together is a no go for the journalism major. If you take the time to jump ahead on something before your classmates, friends, or even professors even think about it, you are setting yourself up for success right from the get go. In doing so, you could end up being hailed as one of the next great innovative minds of journalism, but again, only if you choose to go all out and apply yourself. Be the student and writer who seeks accuracy and proper timeliness to pursue stories. If you can be the first one to break a big story to the general public, you will catch the eyes of significant people beyond the classroom who may take into consideration for things like internships, a requirement at DU to complete the major. Reach out and find your voice, but do so not just through your writing, but through your use of the technology so widely available to your generation today. Ask the tough questions as to why things are the way they are. Even as a prospective journalist, you are the future in reporting relevant news stories that help people live their lives or serve as a call to action to the very poor intentions of governments, even your own. Your self-initiative is what will propel you to being a successful journalism major, and professional, if you so choose to go that route and work your hardest for it.

Writing in the Journalism Major - WRIT 1133 Final Project  

A project completed for the WRIT 1133 class at the University of Denver, regarding the functions of writing for the Journalism Studies major...

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