Reporting & Writing for Media
- Imagine a media system that is entirely publicly funded and that does not allow commercials of any kind. What problems may arise with a publicly-funded media system and how do you think programming may be different?
- Use the following information, which is from a story in the Hastings (Neb.) Tribune, to write a contrast lead. “Dan Bryan was sworn in as district county judge for Fillmore, Saline, Thayer and Nuckolls counties last month. He was appointed to the position after Judge Ray Cellar retired. Bryan and Cellar are from Geneva, Neb. Bryan is no stranger to the court. For 15 years he was prosecuting cases as the Fillmore County attorney. Bryan graduated from Creighton University. He is 39 years old. He started hearing civil cases this month, but he probably won´t be hearing any criminal cases in Fillmore County for about a year because he has to complete his affairs as county attorney first. Then he won´t be prosecuting cases. Instead, he will spend most of his time listening and making decisions. The Fillmore County Board appointed Bryan´s law partner as the county attorney. Bryan said that in his new position, he´ll "have to learn to keep my mouth shut and listen."
- Use the following information, which is from a story in The Arizona Republic in Phoenix, to write a narrative lead. “The Chandler Ostrich Festival was held Saturday in Chandler, a city in the metropolitan Phoenix area. Your story is being written for the Sunday paper. The racecourse is 100 yards long. More than 1,000 spectators attended the festival. Joe Hedrick of Nickerson, Kan., owns the birds that participated in the festival. The birds weigh as much as 400 pounds each. Hedrick said that he is one of only two people in the country offering ostrich races to the public. He brought nine birds for the Chandler Festival. The riders race bareback on the birds. In one race, a bird fell on its rider, another rider fell off his bird and one bird returned to the starting gate. Sylvester the ostrich won one race. Before the race he stretched his legs and eyed his opponents. A yellow flag signaled the start of the race. When the yellow flag fell, Sylvester looked at the spectators and then bolted forward as fast as his long, muscular legs would carry him. Sylvester has been racing for seven years. In this race, he took an early lead. He hugged the inside lane and never broke stride. The race took him only seconds to win. He made it to the finish line 25 yards ahead of the second-place bird. The Chandler Festival continues from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday. The festivities include a chili cook-off, art auction and jazz performance."
Slanted News Reporting_ As in other countries, news reporting by the mainstream media in the United States is often slanted sometimes heavily so. There is often an agenda at work in the way certain stories are presented. That probably comes as no surprise, but it’s nevertheless disturbing when a clear incident occurs. Following is an example and some lessons to take away. On September 28, 2011, a glance at the headlines on Yahoo! revealed a story from the Associated Press about a U.S. citizen arrested for a terror plot against the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol. Clicking on the headline brought up the story, which explained in the first paragraph that the alleged perpetrator had planned to use large, remote-controlled model airplanes filled with explosives. Curiously, the man’s name was not mentioned up front. It did not appear until the third paragraph: Rezwan Ferdaus. This seemed to be a Muslim name, so the mystery of its prior absence was becoming clearer. Yet it wasn’t until paragraph four that the man was actually identified as Muslim supposedly inspired to act by a website for jihad. Thus the Islamist connection was central to the story. So why was it buried in the fourth paragraph? An immediate search on Google for the man’s name yielded a large number of news reports. Yet alarmingly, for the first nearly two pages of search results, nothing came up identifying him as Muslim. Many article titles referred to him as a “U.S. man” or something similarly generic. The second story that came up on Google, from CBS News, was titled “Mass. Musician Accused of D.C. Terrorist Plot.” That’s right: Massachusetts musician! While accurate, it’s misleading completely overlooking his alleged connection to radical Islam. The claim of U.S. officials that he was an aspiring jihadi was clearly being intentionally obscured or hidden on a wide scale. What makes the deliberateness even more obvious is that not putting central elements of the story up front is contrary to proper news reporting. In journalism, there are two basic writing formats. One is feature writing, in which an article is essentially organized like a speech with an introduction, a thesis, a body of supporting points and a conclusion. (This is typical for our publications.) The other writing format is reporting, wherein the most important elements of a story are typically crammed into the first few sentences of the article as the lead, which is followed by details of decreasing importance. This allows readers to skim the beginning of each news item to get the gist of the story. It’s also done for the sake of copy fitting by editors. If a story is too long, an editor can just chop off the bottom since all the important details appear up front. Which brings us back to the jihad connection not appearing up front. After all, what’s more important that an alleged terror plotter is a musician or that law enforcement has tied him to radical Islam? While Mr. Ferdaus is to be regarded under the law as innocent until proven guilty, the religious aspect of this story ought to have been reported at the outset, according to normal reporting standards. We might also consider that had the man been a “right-wing Christian,” that fact would likely have been trumpeted in headlines and article leads. Yet when it comes to Islamic extremism, the media has been willing to keep quiet. While they may be attempting to prevent the spread of Islamophobia, hiding the truth is no way to successfully do this. (It could even be that the agenda here is a political one in part, painting conservative Christians as the real threat to America and playing down fears against Islam, as such fears can rally support for conservative political candidates and causes.) What can we take away from this? We must learn to read the news critically. Why is information being presented the way it is? Is it following a natural progression? Or are important facts being buried or left out? Consider that there is often an agenda at work and strive to not be taken in. Just reading the whole story from a source is not enough. For if a story shows evidence of being slanted, should its reporting really be trusted? In controversial stories, always look to multiple sources including those outside the mainstream media. And even be wary in reading stories that don’t seem controversial. An agenda, or at least a wrong perspective, may be widespread. As we follow Jesus’ instruction to watch world events (Luke 21:36), let’s make sure to watch not only what’s going on, but how we’re being informed about what’s going on as well. (Sources: Associated Press, Google, CBS News.)
1.Why is September 28, 2011 significant date to remember? Analyse and Comment upon the same.
2. Critically analyse the case and comment upon the role played by online media in this scenario.
3. What is the relevance of being the “right-wing Christian” in this case study? Discuss the issue being highlighted in the case study at length and choose if you are in favour of it or against it and why?
Question No. 1 Marks - 10
The bulk of news reporting is made up of
- investigative reports
- soft News
- hard News
- none of these
Question No. 2 Marks - 10
The two main sources of news are staff reports and
- press releases
- wire services
- none of these
Question No. 3 Marks - 10
In broadcast media, personnel, budgets, and equipment are the responsibility of the
- executive producer
- assignment editor
- managing editor
- news director
Question No. 4 Marks - 10
In broadcast media, a news producer
- decides which stories are covered, who covers them, and how they are covered
- decides the order in which stories appear in the newscast
- determines the amount of time each story is given
- all of the above
Question No. 5 Marks - 10
Along with AP, which of the following wire services provide national and international news through their various bureaus?
Question No. 6 Marks - 10
News consultants are credited with a fundamental shift in the traditional definition of news because they introduced which idea to local stations?
- audience surveys
- online news
- computer-assisted reporting
- none of the above
Question No. 7 Marks - 10
An important principle for all types of news reporting is
- Honesty and Accuracy
- Balance and Objectivity
- All of the above
Question No. 8 Marks - 10
The most significant advance in reportorial tools since the telephone is the
- none of the above
Question No. 9 Marks - 10
The expansion in the news job market can be attributed to the
- emergence of two-hour newscasts at large-market stations
- growth of all-news cable networks
- increased prominence of local stations
- all of the above
Question No. 10 Marks - 10
A news story is said to possess timeliness if it
- Stresses events that have occurred in the last month.
- Stresses events that occurred today or yesterday.
- Has been written within the last six hours.
- Has been read or heard within the last six hours.
Question No. 11 Marks - 10
In regard to news values, prominence refers to
- The extent to which the story will affect a number of people.
- Whether the story has one central, or prominent, character.
- How well known the people involved in the story are.
- The location of the story on the newspaper page or in the news broadcast.
Question No. 12 Marks - 10
A news story possesses singularity if it
- Takes the point of view of just one person involved in the events.
- Is reported and written by a single individual.
- Describes events that are completely unique in human history.
- Reports on unusual events that deviate from the commonplace.
Question No. 13 Marks - 10
Journalists recognize two types of news stories: hard and soft. In this regard,
- “Hard news” is about complicated topics, like science and economics, and “soft news” is about things like entertainment and fashion.
- “Hard news” stories have long, complicated sentences, and “soft news” stories have short, simple sentences.
- “Hard news” is about serious topics and recent events, and “soft news” refers to human interest stories.
- “Hard news” stories are always 2,000 words or more, and “soft news” stories never exceed 500 words.
Question No. 14 Marks - 10
People often complain about the amount of bad news in newspapers and news broadcasts. Systematic studies have shown that
- People understate the amount of crime news in the media.
- People understate the amount of upbeat news in the media.
- People exaggerate the amount of crime news in the media.
- People exaggerate the amount of upbeat news in the media.
Question No. 15 Marks - 10
Public or civil journalism is a movement that says
- Journalists should do what they can to support broad involvement in public affairs.
- The best journalism is that which focuses exclusively on public affairs and ignores such things as sports and entertainment.
- Journalists should reveal every step they take in the reporting process to regain public confidence.
- Journalists should provide only the news the public wants to read or hear.
Question No. 16 Marks - 10
Bias is most likely to appear in a news story when
- The reporter relies on multiple sources and gives abundant time or space to all sides of a controversy.
- The reporter’s story is reviewed by a large number of editors and supervisors.
- The reporter is writing about a topic that she or he already knows a lot about.
- The reporter relies on one source or gives disproportionate time to space to one side of a controversy..
Question No. 17 Marks - 10
Which of the following is NOT among the kinds of details news organizations avoid including in their stories?
- trade names
- names of criminal suspects
- grisly or gruesome photographs
Question No. 18 Marks - 10
Which of the following is NOT one of the factors that leads to inaccuracies in news reports?
- carelessness and laziness
- lack of understanding of the topic
- use of generalities instead of specifics
- having editors check and question a reporter’s work
Question No. 19 Marks - 10
Journalists avoid using trade names in news stories because
- Editors often consider that to be free advertising for the product.
- Federal law prohibits the use of trade names in news stories.
- Companies are likely to sue over the unauthorized use of trade names.
- Trade names diminish the credibility of the story.
Question No. 20 Marks - 10
One of the goals of public journalism is to
- Make horse-race coverage of politics more interesting.
- Publish information desired by political elites rather than the general public.
- Encourage people to participate in democracy.
- Emphasize the voices on the extremes of the political spectrum and not the center.
Question No. 21 Marks - 10
The concept of proximity suggests that a news organization is likely to carry a story about a murder, if that crime
- Involved a well-known person.
- Was committed locally.
- Occurred within the last 24 hours.
- Was unusually gruesome.
Question No. 22 Marks - 10
The successful public affairs reporter needs to cultivate the following four habits:
- Diligence, knowledge of sources, accuracy, ability to write clear explanations.
- Diligence, contempt for sources, accuracy, ability to write complicated explanations.
- Knowledge of sources, ability to flatter politicians, fondness for windy speeches, accuracy.
- Accuracy, ability to use long words, fondness for bureaucratic detail, knowledge of sources.
Question No. 23 Marks - 10
The first assignment for many reporters is the police beat. Which of the following is NOT one of the things young reporters learn from working the police beat?
- The community, both geographically and sociologically.
- How to trick sources into telling reporters things the sources should keep confidential
- News values and the need for accuracy
- News values and the need for accuracy
Question No. 24 Marks - 10
The work of police reporters varies from community to community in part because,
- Minor crimes and accidents are newsworthy in small communities but not in big cities.
- Crimes and accidents are never newsworthy in small communities although they are in big cities.
- Crimes and accidents are never newsworthy in big cities but they are in small community
- Crimes and accidents are newsworthy in big cities only if they involve famous people.
Question No. 25 Marks - 10
In order to get the details they need to write news stories about crimes, reporters need to interview
- The police department’s public affairs officer.
- The police chief.
- police officers who were at the scene of a crime because
- Any police officer who has seen the official incident report.
Question No. 26 Marks - 10
Reporters and police officers often distrust one another; therefore, it is the job of
- The police to demonstrate professionalism and gain the trust of the reporter.
- The news organization’s managers to mediate disputes between reporters and police officers.
- The reporter to demonstrate professionalism and gain the trust of the police.
- The police chief to make sure officers accommodate the demands of reporters.
Question No. 27 Marks - 10
How well police officers in any community cooperate with reporters depends on such things as
- The public records law of the state and the phase of the moon on any particular day.
- The traditions and culture of the community and the season of the year.
- The public records law of the state and the political party in control of local government.
- The public records law of the state and the traditions and culture of the community.
Question No. 28 Marks - 10
Of all the information usually included in crime and accident stories, the most important usually is
- The identity of the investigating officers.
- The name of the victim.
- Any deaths or injuries.
- The exact charges filed against the suspect.
Question No. 29 Marks - 10
What is the problem with the following sentence? “A man was arrested Sunday and charged with aggravated battery.”
- The statement should be a direct quotation.
- The story should describe the specific crime and not just the legal charges.
- The verbs should all be in the present tense.
- The statement should be attributed to the prosecuting attorney.
Question No. 30 Marks - 10
The central point of a news story about a trial should be
- A recapitulation of the charges against the defendant.
- The most important testimony or ruling of the day.
- A review of the crime that the defendant is accused of having committed.
- The probable reaction of the jury to the evidence presented that day.
Question No. 31 Marks - 10
Which of the follow sets of information must a reporter conducting interviews for a news story about a crime or city council action discover?
- Facts and details, including dates, names, locations and costs.
- A chronology showing the unfolding of events.
- Anecdotes that illuminate events or issues and make them more dramatic and understandable for readers or viewers.
- All of the others.
Question No. 32 Marks - 10
When interviewing for a personality profile or other feature, reporters often
- Complete their interviews in 30 minutes or less.
- Spend many hours with the subject of the profile.
- Conduct their interviews over the telephone.
- Avoid visiting the subject so as not to prejudice their views of that person.
Question No. 33 Marks - 10
Which of the following is NOT part of the planning process for interviews?
- Devising ways to trick the interview subject.
- Defining the purpose of the interview
- Identifying areas of inquiry.
- Anticipating possible answers to questions.
Question No. 34 Marks - 10
In seeking the best available source to interview for a news story, the reporter primarily is looking for a person who
- Has a knack for saying things that are controversial.
- Will look good on video or in a photograph.
- Knows enough about a topic to bluff his or her way through an interview.
- Has relevant expertise or experience and is articulate.
Question No. 35 Marks - 10
In deciding how many sources are enough for a particular story, the reporter must take into account these four factors:
- Deadline pressures, the expertise of the sources, the degree of controversy raised by a topic and the complexity of the topic.
- Deadline pressures, the complexity of the story, the minimum required by the editor and the interest of the reader.
- The complexity of the story, the ignorance of the readers, the minimum required by the editor and the degree of controversy raised by the topic.
- The expertise of the sources, the probable apathy of most readers, the complexity of the story and the reporter’s own boredom with the topic.
Question No. 36 Marks - 10
Which of the following is NOT one of the reasons reporters should perform background research before they interview a source?
- They are more likely to have documented all relevant facts.
- They will not waste time by asking about issues that have already been widely publicize
- Sometimes they can write the story without having to waste time on an interview.
- They will not embarrass themselves by appearing to the source to be ignorant of the topic.
Question No. 37 Marks - 10
Which of the following is NOT one of characteristics of a good question to ask during an interview?
- The question is likely to elicit an anecdote.
- The question encourages the source to provide details.
- The question starts a subject talking about her or his experiences.
- The question encourages the subject to respond with a “yes” or “no.”
Question No. 38 Marks - 10
The best location for interviewing a source is
- In the person’s home or office.
- In the reporter’s newsroom.
- In a restaurant.
- In a place where there is lots of background noise.
Question No. 39 Marks - 10
When asking questions of interview subjects, reporters often
- randomize their questions so that the source will never know what will be asked n
- Organize their questions by topic to make it easier for the interview to move from one topic to the next.
- Try to think up their questions during the interview so as to encourage spontaneity
- Read questions verbatim from a prepared list.
Question No. 40 Marks - 10
One way of organizing questions for an interview is called the funnel, which arranges questions
- From the most specific to the most general.
- From the most general to the most specific.
- From the most personal to the most impersonal.
- From the most impersonal to the most personal.