Friday, May 1, 2009

A Tale of Two Journalism Models

More on the future of journalism.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Journalism schools still popular

Journalism may be under stress, but students are still enrolling. Read about it here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

What we learned!

The TOP SIX things we learned this semester (suitable for framing):

--How to tell a story (vs. dry facts)
--How to orchestrate the process (Writing isn't magic; there is a structure and process to go about doing it)
--Reporting is 50 percent time management and 50 percent luck (with a bit of talent thrown in!)
--There is a revolution going on in journalism and no one has the answers right now
--How to find and engage an audience
--Journalism affects people and has a responsibility to the public

Congratulations on completing a challenging class!

Monday, April 20, 2009

New deadline for final project and other info!

Lots of important information here:

--A reminder that there is a new deadline for our final projects -- Monday, April 27. Everyone should be ready to turn in their projects, and groups should be ready to give about a 15-minute presentation about them, with visuals to show the class. There will be no contest for best project -- just all final presentations on Monday.

--Remember that your contribution needs to meet the criteria I have laid out in two documents -- the suggestions for possible project contributions and the final project rubric. Your contribution needs to have original content -- not just be taken from another web site. Do the best you can in turning it in -- if it's an online visual, describe what it would look like or make a drawing, Indesign, Photoshop, Powerpoint or other type of page, and print out the printed material that would go on it. Spell it out for me so that I know what your concept is. Make it easy for me to give you a grade. Don't forget to grade yourself - and including references to your original content will help, and don't forget to grade your group.

--On Thursday, we will have the journalism division director in class with us, and perhaps other students and professors, to talk about the state of the business and your suggestions for the journalism curriculum. Please read the handout, which can also be found here. If you have not given an SOB presentation, you may turn in a paragraph on a topic related to the article, for extra credit. One place to get more info is on Journchat. There is also lots of information on this blog, including links. These handouts are available in a folder taped to my office door.

--If you missed class on Monday, we did an in-class, breaking news reporting assignment and turned it in for a grade. You may do the assignment as homework with the loss of a letter grade. The info is in a folder taped to my office door.

I will see everyone on Thursday. Attendance is mandatory. Please be prepared for our discussion on the NYT article and your own research, and be prepared to talk about your hopes/fears for the industry as well as your suggestions for the journalism curriculum.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A good example of a meeting story in The Washington Post

A good example of a meeting story can be found here. Thank you for pointing this out, Ethan!

Rubric for final project

Final project rubric

Reporting – Dr. Walker – Spring 2009

20 points – Your contribution to the overall project meets the general criteria in the list of possible projects, or is the equivalent in terms of work/effort (Generally, this means your part includes writing, research and/or finished visuals such as a cut video or narrated slideshow.)

20 points – You use proper journalistic writing techniques for headlines, blurbs, news summaries and sidebars/interviews

15 points – You and your group have an overall conception of the package that hangs together well and presents the information in the most effective and creative way

15 points – You include original material in each aspect of your project, including original photos/videos/interviews

10 points – You include a half page description of your contribution and a sentence or two on the group, and you grade yourself and the group

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Info on the Millstone Power Station

The Millstone Power Station is a nuclear power plant in Connecticut. First, here is the 76-page media manual produced by the plant.
You can read more about the classification levels of events here.
Read about how a nuclear power plant handles emergency situations here.
Here is some basic information about the plant location.
Sources of information:

Three Mile Island Anniversary - loads of background

The Poynter blog, E-media tidbits, recently did a long post on the anniversary of Three Mile Island, which relates to our final project. Go here for the link.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

All about me!

Link to the American Forum.

Story to "Webify"

By Shankar Vedantam
Washington Post Staff Writer

From "Romeo and Juliet" to "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," literature, art and the movies have long found inspiration in the conflicts between parents and their offspring over whom the young people should marry.

Just in time for spring weddings, scientists decided to put what has become an entertainment cliche to an empirical test. Do young people and their parents really disagree about the qualities of a suitable mate?

In a study involving Dutch, American and Kurdish students, psychologists in the Netherlands found that the cliche is, in fact, true. Young Americans told the researchers that qualities they would find unappealing in a potential mate included low intelligence and physical unattractiveness. But they said their parents would object to a mate who was of a different ethnicity, was poor or lacked a good family background.

The responses of Dutch and Kurdish students were similar in that young people invariably considered the potential mate's attractiveness the most important quality, whereas parents uniformly paid more attention to the suitors' social background or group affiliation -- race, religious background and social class.

Shakespeare and Hollywood can duke it out about whether the young people or their parents are right -- "Romeo and Juliet" sided with the young people, whereas a number of recent books and movies have essentially taken the view that "Mom knows best" -- but the interesting question from a scientific perspective is why this conflict occurs at all.

Abraham P. Buunk, Justin H. Park and Shelli L. Dubbs at the University of Groningen, who recently published their findings in the Review of General Psychology, said the consistency of the conflict across cultures suggests the hand of evolution: Parents and offspring clash, the researchers argued, because their genetic self-interests, while overlapping, are not identical.

The reason young people care so much about intellectual and physical attractiveness, the scientists suggested, is that these characteristics are markers of genetic fitness. By contrast, they said, parents care about group affiliations because parents are primarily interested in whether an incoming member of the family is likely to make a good parent -- and a good all-around team player.

When a potential mate has both sets of qualities, parents and young people are likely to agree on the appropriateness of a match. But often, the researchers said, the qualities don't go hand in hand: The tall, dark and handsome guy might make the bride swoon but turn out to have a roving eye, whereas the bald and bespectacled fellow might never be a GQ model but could make a great dad and caregiver.

"When it comes to mating, the key is that the kinds of mates who score high on 'good genes' traits" -- such as attractiveness and sense of humor -- "tend to score low on 'good parent' traits, and vice versa," said Park, a social psychologist who studies relationships.

As with many aspects of evolution, the process by which parents and offspring reach their different conclusions is not a conscious one. Young people don't explicitly check with their genes about what to do; rather, their genes predispose them to find certain characteristics appealing, just as genes predispose parents to find other characteristics more suitable.

"The 'good genes' mates offer relatively higher reproductive payoffs to the offspring (while potentially imposing costs to the parents), whereas 'good parent' mates offer relatively higher payoffs to the parents," Park added in an e-mail exchange. "So, to the extent that parents try to meddle in their children's mating business, they may want to tip the scale toward what's more beneficial for them."

While acknowledging the role of biology in shaping human behavior, historian Stephanie Coontz argues that the researchers did not draw a clear enough distinction between love and marriage. Evolution might play a big role in shaping the reproductive drive, she says, but it would be a mistake to think that the institution of marriage has primarily been about either love or reproduction.

Until very recently, Coontz contends, children and parents were rarely in conflict about whom to marry -- they both agreed that marriage was not about love, but about social and economic ties.

As recently as four decades ago, most American men said they wanted wives who would be good housekeepers. Most American women said they wanted husbands who were "industrious." In contrast to such expectations, U.S. men and women today invariably say they want partners who are intelligent and attractive.

Nearly everyone in the West -- and growing numbers of young people elsewhere in the world -- believes in the ideal of marrying for love, an idea that would have been ludicrous and dangerous a century ago, said Coontz, author of "Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage." Coontz traces the change in attitudes about marriage to the fact that growing economic self-reliance has made it less likely that people need to marry for money.

"Until the 1960s, marriage was the best way a woman could invest in her economic future," Coontz said. "Now marriage is a risky proposition, especially for a low-wage woman, given her pool" of potential mates. A woman who marries someone who is an economic and social drain, in other words, might be better off single today because she can earn her own living.

"Marriage as an institution is a completely unique human invention, and a very political one," Coontz said. "It has to do with making alliances beyond the mating pair, which is why there are so many cultures that allow you to marry someone who is not mate-able. In ancient Sudan, parents would engage their children young, and if one of the children died, the parents would marry the living child to the tablet of the dead child -- to the 'death certificate.' "

Monday, March 30, 2009

Online journalists optimistic about future

These report findings add to our class discussion today:

Journalists working online have an uneasy optimism about the future of their industry—but they are more hopeful than news people from more traditional media outlets, according a new survey of select members of the Online News Association (ONA) produced by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and the ONA.

“I think there’s a huge potential in online journalism, but there’s also a lot of scary stuff out there … We have to try to not lose our way,” said one respondent.

The respondents were less likely to think journalism is headed in the “wrong direction” than are journalists from legacy media, but more than half believe the internet is changing the fundamental values of journalism—more often than not for the worse. Among the biggest changes cited are a loosening of standards (45%), more voices from outside the institution (31%) and an increased emphasis on speed (25%).

Fully 91% praised some aspect of available technology, 30% saw value in the diversity of voices and half believe the move toward more overtly ideological points of view at news sites “is a good thing.”

This optimism also applies to the economics of the online news business. More than 60% say their online unit currently is making a profit, and four in ten respondents are “very confident” that online news can find a profitable model for online journalism.

Still, these economic hopes are largely pinned on Internet advertising, which began flattening out in 2008 with signs of further decline. Roughly two-thirds of journalists surveyed predicted advertising would be the most important form of revenue at websites in three years. Only a quarter of respondents named an alternative model.

These are some of the findings of a survey of nearly 300 of ONA’s 1,800 members, produced jointly with the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, which drafted the questionnaire. The survey was administered by Princeton Survey Research Associates. The survey is a special report included in the Project’s annual report on the health and status of the news industry, the State of the News Media 2009.

The Online News Association is the world’s largest association of online journalists. ONA’s mission is to inspire innovation and excellence among journalists to better serve the public. The membership includes news writers, producers, designers, editors, bloggers, technologists, photographers and others who produce news for the Internet or other digital delivery systems, as well as academic members and others interested in the development of online journalism.

Read the complete survey.

Among the findings:

* When asked what online journalism is “doing especially well these days,” more named aspects of technology like creating rich, engaging media (31%) speeding up the delivery of information (30%), and reaching out to new audiences (30%) than named new forms of storytelling (16%) or exploiting the potential for greater depth or analysis (12%).
* Six in 10 (63%) of respondents ranked original reporting as the most important type of information they produce. This was more than four times as much as the second-most important information type: aggregated material from wires and other legacy outlets (13%).
* Three-quarters of ONA members surveyed said their sites’ home page is “essential to getting their content to users.” This is nearly three times the number that named e-mail alerts (26%) and RSS (26%). Just 9% considered posting to social media sites essential. Postings on the increasingly popular YouTube were named essential by a mere 4%. And four times as many (18%) said YouTube postings were not at all important.
* The vast majority of these respondents (77%) work in for-profit models. And, a majority, 61%, says their sites are currently turning a profit—but “making a profit” may not be as clear-cut here as in other genres. First, few of these sites are being forced to carry the full weight of those profits. Two-thirds of those in for-profit models (67%) say their sites are subsidized by their legacy media outlet. Less than a third (29%) are either an online-only entity or fully separate from the legacy outlet.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Keeping J-School Relevant

Some of the discussions going on about the future of J-School. Available at Inside Higher Education.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

VO/SOT video - for Professor Perri's class

Sample video.

Text of bite:
(SOT) Everybody deserves to be able to express themselves. And the fact that a group of people would pick on anybody else or harm them because of their beliefs, I think, is something that should be abhorrent to everybody.







Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Twitter to seek business revenue

Twitter to seek revenue from businesses
* Twitter to offer business services in 2009
* May try several revenue models this year
* Set to offer commercial accounts

By Alexei Oreskovic
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Internet start-up
Twitter is taking a much-anticipated first-step in its quest to
parlay its popularity into revenue by offering certain
customers an expanded range of services.
The company is preparing to offer commercial accounts in
which corporations and other types of businesses pay a fee to
receive an enhanced version of Twitter, a free service that
allows people to send short, 140-character text messages to
their network of friends.
"We think there will be opportunities to provide services
to commercial entities that help them get even more value out
of Twitter. If these services are valuable to companies, we
think they may want to pay for them," Biz Stone, co-founder of
Twitter, said in an e-mail sent to Reuters.
San Francisco, California-based Twitter has enjoyed a surge
in popularity since its creation three years ago, despite the
fact that the company has yet to make any money. According to
Nielsen Online, which measures Internet traffic, Twitter's Web
site had more than 7 million unique visitors in February,
compared to 475,000 in February 2008.
Last year, the company turned down a $500 million
acquisition offer by social networking powerhouse Facebook. And
some observers have speculated that Google Inc might
have its eye on Twitter, because of Twitter's so-called real
time search capabilities.
Twitter recently closed a round of venture capital
financing pegged at $35 million by media reports, following two
earlier funding rounds totaling $20 million.
While Twitter initially planned to begin seeking revenue in
2010, the company recently decided to accelerate the schedule
and find ways to monetize its service this year.
On Monday, Microsoft Corp and online marketing
firm Federated Media rolled out a special Website dubbed
ExecTweets that allows individuals to monitor Twitter messages
of business executives.
Stone said Twitter has just hired someone to work on
creating commercial products. He would not say when Twitter's
commercial accounts product is set to be introduced, but said
it would be sometime in 2009.
"We have lots of time for experimentation with regard to
revenue generation, so we'll probably be trying a few different
things this year," said Stone.
(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; Editing Bernard Orr)

SOC Job Fair Thursday!

Tomorrow's Job Fair will include recruiters from the following companies: USA TODAY (internships) and USA WEEKEND (internships), EDITORIAL PROJECTS IN EDUCATION (internships); NORTHERN VIRGINIA MAGAZINE (internships); COMCAST SPORTSNET (internships); SIRIUS/XM RADIO (internships); WTOP RADIO/WFED FEDERAL NEWS RADIO (internships); and WAMU 88.5 FM (part-time jobs and internships). Please encourage your students to attend!

The AU Job and Internship Fair

Launch your career with one of the many employers eager to recruit communication students at Thursday's Job and Internship Fair. Explore internship and job opportunities with organizations including:
Broadcasting Board of Governors
Comcast SportsNet
DC Film Alliance
Discovery Communications
Editorial Projects in Education
MS&L Northern Virginia Magazine
U.S. Department of State
WTOP and WFED Radio
Log into AU CareerWeb to view all registered employers
Prepare for YOUR FUTURE.

Monday, March 23
6:30 - 8:00 p.m.
Kogod Student Lounge

Learn from DC's 2007 Best Dressed designer, Ebong Eka, and impress employers with your business attire. RSVP and enjoy gourmet cupcakes from The Blushing Bakeshop.
Wednesday, March 25
12-2 and 5-7 p.m.
The Tavern

Fine-tune your resume during a walk-up advising session with a Career Center advisor.

Access other tools and resources to prepare for the Fair and Your Future at

Please help spread the word, and remember to bring your AU ID for admittance to the Fair!

American University Career Center
Butler Pavilion, 5th Floor
P: 202-885-1804
F: 202-885-1861

Minna Scherlinder Morse
Career Advisor, American University Career Center
Direct Line: 202-885-1809
Appointments: 202-885-1804

HOURS: Monday: 12:30-5, Tuesday 10-3, 6-8, Wednesday 10-3, Thursday 10-5, Friday 9-1

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Monday, March 23, 2009

Need to revise a story? Toss around an idea?

Bring your story ideas, and two pros will help you refine them.
Bring your lunch. Dessert and drinks provided.
NOON-1 p.m.
MGC 200
Grad and undergrad journalism students welcome

Journalist Social Network

Sign up!

Big Quiz!

Review Quiz

Spring 2009


Dr. Walker

Delete all unnecessary words in the following sentences. Avoid rewriting.

1. The car will cost the sum of $250 to fix.

2. With the governor’s signature, the new law takes effect today.

3. We got a lesson in past history from the anthropology professor.

4. A young, 11-year-old boy was injured today in an accident.

5. The police have no suspects at this point in time.

Rewrite the following sentences to make them more precise. Remember: Inanimate objects cannot do the same things people can do.

6. Smaller grocery stores usually know their customers.

7. After paying a $225 fine, the dog was free to go home with its owner.

8. A car stopped to help the accident victims, then called the police.

9. After robbing the convenience store, a waiting vehicle sped east on Northrup Road.

10. American University canceled classes again Wednesday.

Punctuate the following sentences and/or correct any grammatical mistakes. There may be more than one mistake in a sentence, and some sentences may be correct.

11. Goldie Hawn a 50-year-old actress says she has trouble finding work.

12. “If they close school for Christmas, they should close it for Yom Kippur” said Jean Rosenburg a senior.

13. Ann McLaughlin a sophomore from Long Island wants to be a television reporter.

13. The school’s who have the best sports teams are the most popular.

14. My roommate, her sister and me spent the weekend in New York.

15. The woman that called Diane Rehm's radio show told about the accident.

16. In Prince George's County, everyone must recycle their cans and bottles.

17. Nobody in my journalism class is as smart as me.

18. The number of students at American University are increasing.

19. We live next door to the Peterson's.

20. The fate of three students remain in doubt.

21. The Olympic committee were debating Harding's fate.

22. Each student is responsible for getting their paper in by Monday.

23. The D.C. jury reached their verdict in record time.

24. A cat will chase it’s prey if it’s allowed outside.

Correct the following sentences. You may rearrange sentences as necessary.

25. “I love the independence and freedom I find here. I love being my own boss,” says Delrine Alvis, a 42-year-old immigrant from Sri Lanka.

26. Lorraine Hamilton, 38, feels she would have divorced her husband even in her native Bangladesh.

27. Researcher Lisa Chung isn’t surprised by women who refuse to date people outside their native cultures.

28. Fatima Dias, a Sri Lankan, says he is not looking for an American mate. “Dating someone not of your own culture is a disadvantage. Their values and upbringing are different.”

“You have to pick what’s good for you, like buying a skirt. Skirts come in different lengths. You pick the length that suits you best.”

29. Bangladesh native Lorraine Hamilton says life would have been less stressful if she had stayed home. “I would have had my family to help me raise my son and also give me the emotional support I need.”

Paraphrase the following quote, using one sentence only.

30. “I think the media have gone out of their minds with their coverage of this trial because all we ever see on TV anymore is Simpson, Simpson, Simpson. Enough is enough, already. I’ve had it with the Simpson trial. It’s on all the time,” says Maggie Wilson, a senior chemistry major.

Critically evaluate the following news leads. Do not rewrite; just explain their flaws and suggest how they could be improved.

31. Two 7-year-old girls suffocate in unused freezer during game of hide-and-seek at friend’s birthday party.

32. Police Officer Rhoda Brey shot and seriously wounded Robert R. Chuey, 25, of 624 Church St., who fled from the scene of a robbery, then fired at the officer during a foot chase in an alley in the 1600 block of N. 35th St. early this morning.

33. A pollster who spoke to political scientists today began by welcoming them to the city.

34. The Department of Health and Human Services issued a report on alcoholism today.

35. Health care for the poor is substandard in this country, according to medical experts who met at an AMA conference here. They said Vertical Integration Systems will help reverse that trend.

Write a summary news lead that follows the guidelines we have learned in class. Write the lead and then explain how you would construct the second and third paragraphs.(5 points)


a. Yountville is a town of around 3,000 45 minutes north of San Francisco.

b. There’s a not air balloon company in this town.

c. Around 6 a.m., the company was filling 40-gallon portable tanks from a 3,000-gallon tank.

d. One of the 40-gallon tanks exploded as it was being filled.

e. A dozen other 40-gallon tanks exploded.

f. The 3,000-gallon tank was threatened by flames. But a relief valve opened, keeping it from exploding.

g. Several other tanks, one 50,000 gallons, another 10,000 gallons, were also threatened.

h. The town was ordered evacuated by firefighters, who were worried that the larger tanks would explode. They didn’t.

i. No one was killed. One man was injured, hospitalized in stable condition.

j. Yountville is in the Napa Valley.

k. Hot air balloons are inflated by hot air warmed by propane gas burners.

36. An important aspect of covering local government is reporting on:

a. the mayor’s infidelities

b. the city social scene

c. arrests of council members

d. city council meetings

37. According to the reading, many cities have a governing structure that includes the mayor and city council, as well as a:

a. political machine

b. meddling first lady

c. city manager

c. none of the above

38. In the city council story lead in your reading, what elements are missing from the lead, and rightly so? (Tempe is getting most of the noise pollution and too little of the benefits from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, a consultant told the City Council Thursday.)

a. that there was a meeting

b. the name of the consultant

c. the building where the meeting was held

d. the fact that items were “discussed”

e. none of the above

f. all of the above

39. Read the item: “The Reporter’s Preparation” on p. 318 of the Chapter Twenty handout, and write a sentence about what is most important in these four paragraphs.

40. Read the item: “After the Meeting” on p. 320 and summarize in one sentence here:

41. On p. 330, is a section called Working with PIOs. List the three tips on how to do this well that you find most important (not the first three in consecutive order).

42. An important rule in broadcast writing is to write as though you were:

a. imitating Edward R. Murrow

b. talking to a friend

c. trying out for the anchor job

43. Style rules for broadcast writing mainly focus on:

a. hair

b. makeup

c. making numbers and names easy to pronounce for the reader

d. strict adherence to the stylebook

44. Radio is all about sound bites. Television is all about:

a. talking heads

b. sensationalism

c. “happy talk”

d. visuals

45. List and briefly describe five items on the basic checklist and essential tips for effective broadcast journalism that you find most important.