Sunday, January 25, 2009

Guidelines for your profile story

From the syllabus:
*Your subject could be someone who works within AU or outside of it but is related somehow to AU. For example, you might choose to interview an administrator, a professor (not one of yours) or a groundskeeper. You could focus on a healthcare worker or a reference librarian. For a subject who works outside AU, you might choose a vendor or the director of a partnership or someone who drives an AU bus. Other suggestions:
• Someone who started a new association or charity on campus
• Someone who studies avian flu or another interesting topic
• Someone who updates the Web site for a campus department
• Someone who works at WAMU

The basic idea is for you to write a profile that focuses on a person whose job could only be done in relation to AU. No restaurateurs, bartenders or food service workers.

Think of your story as part of a bigger package that will show the variety of people, interests and careers that converge on campus and how people view their role working in or with the university.

I require you to use a minimum of three human sources, at least two of whom must be interviewed in person. As in the first assignment, this doesn't mean you'll only interview three people; it means you'll find three people among all of those you interview who give you the best quotes to back up the focus of your story. Lesser interviews may be conducted by telephone. E-mail interviews should be limited to sources outside the Washington area. If you do an e-mail interview, the article should say that.

Your grade will be based on the enthusiasm, diligence and depth you bring to the assignment. In other words, don’t settle for the first subject you come across. Find someone who has a story to tell. And tell all subjects the article will be published on your class-related blog.

You may not: interview a relative, friend, employer, student, one of your own professors or an acquaintance. You must base this story on a stranger who works in an area with which you are not intimately familiar. You must also go beyond the obvious.

Your story must include statistical information that puts your subject’s job in perspective. For example, if you choose a building security guard, how many security guards work on campus? If you choose a professor, how many other professors with that title are in that department, on campus overall? If you do an administrator, how many are in that office – on payroll generally?

Look for profile stories in The Washington Post and The New York Times for inspiration.

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