Prepare for writing story for #JOU3109 Lab 7 with interview with Allison Vitt & your own research & interviewing

Thursday’s lecture is designed to help you begin your own independent reporting.

tweet-sustainabilityAllison Vitt, outreach and communications coordinator for the UF Office of Sustainability, will be our guest. She and I will discuss a number of different story ideas that are related to sustainability.

Your objectives:

  • Before Thursday’s class, visit the Office of Sustainability website and identify at least five possible story ideas.
  • Learn about Ms. Vitt through Twitter and LinkedIn.
  • Write questions that you would ask Ms. Vitt about the story ideas you’ve identified. You may have the opportunity to ask her questions during class, after class, or in the news conference she is holding on Feb. 15.
  • During lecture, take notes. You may use your laptop or tablet or you may want to practice taking notes by hand. You also may want to record the lecture. If you have determined your story idea, you can focus your notetaking on that one topic. If you haven’t identified a story focus, you will want to take more notes. Be sure to get several quotes.

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Mark your calendar for important #JOU3109 dates


I reviewed these dates in lecture today. You can see that every lecture includes something important for your class success. So make every effort to attend.


  • Quiz 2 is based on your attendance in lecture on Feb. 16. You don’t have to do any special reading to prepare for this quiz.
  • The Feb. 23 class will be a live tweeting day. In lecture on Feb. 18, I’ll explain the expectations for live tweeting. You are expected to participate in three live tweeting days as part of your Twitter grade.
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Get ready for Labs 6 & 7 with Tuesday’s #JOU3109 lecture and your own preparation

Class on Tuesday will take on two topics to help you be better prepared for upcoming labs.

Rich Shumate's blogConducting interviews and writing personality profiles – Lab 6
We’ll have a quick discussion of how you could write a profile of Mr. Shumate based on my interview (my second interview) with him in Thursday’s lecture. Write a soft lead and nut graph and select at least three quotes that you could use.

Check What’s Happening for a homework assignment for Lab 6.

Office of Sustainability websiteDoing independent reporting on environmental, health, science and technology topics – Labs 7 and 9
You’ll be working on your own independent stories for Labs 7 and 9 — and we hope you’ll get one of those stories published to be a clip in your portfolio and for extra credit. In class, we’ll talk through the process of finding a story idea, determining a focus, identifying and interviewing sources, and writing the story.

Then on Thursday, Allison Vitt, communications director for the UF Office of Sustainability, will be in class. She will be your expert source for the story you’ll write for Lab 7. To help prepare, check out the Office of Sustainability website and identify three possible story ideas.

Please read this memo that is an overview to the independent reporting that you’ll be doing for Labs 7, 8 and 9. Reading the memo will help you better follow our discussion of these assignments in lecture on Tuesday. overview-labs7-8-9_S16


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Check out two sample critter stories — one hard-news format and one news-feature format

critter_plane_geeseAs we discussed in lecture, critter stories can fall into one of two categories:

Hard-news story – An example we discussed was the plane that that crashed into the Hudson River after flying through a flock of geese. This breaking news story follows the hard-news format with a summary lead and inverted pyramid writing style.

critter_eclipse_dogparkNews-feature story – The other approach to writing a critter story is the news-feature approach that uses a soft lead and nut graph and is written with a different tone. Read the story of Eclipse, a dog in Seattle that learned to ride the bus and get off at the park. The story uses a soft lead and nut graph, and the writer includes a little humor.

As we talked about in lecture, selecting the style and tone to use depends in large part on the seriousness of the story/event itself.

You’ll be using the news-feature format in writing other stories this semester.

Be sure to read Chapter 7 and consider the possible soft leads that you can use in starting a feature story.




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#JOU3109 lecture on Feb. 2 focuses on news-feature writing & notetaking practice

Huffington Post - Holly, lost cat, travels 190 miles to reunite with ownersYou have been working on the basics of hard-news writing in Labs 3 and 4.

  • Summary lead
  • Delayed identification
  • Inverted pyramid form
  • Objective/neutral writing
  • Short sentences, short paragraphs

For Lab 5, you are writing a news-feature story. You’ll be using the fundamentals of news writing but will be using a soft lead and nut graph. You’ll also use more sources and more paraphrases and quotes.

critter_bullTo prepare for this writing style, be sure to read the section in Chap. 7 on soft leads and nut graphs. In your news reading, look for news-feature stories and analyze those.

In lecture on Feb. 2, we’ll talk about these two critter stories and analyze them for writing style and structure. Click on the photo to link to the story.

We’ll be looking for:

  • soft leads and nut graphs
  • storytelling
  • use of specific facts and details
  • use of sources – experts, people involved with the event
  • use of sources like reports and websites — and how attributed
  • use of paraphrases and quotes
  • use of attribution, including titles

Please bring your laptop, tablet or smartphone to use in referring to the stories.

You also will be taking notes for a practice assignment, so have your keyboard or paper and pen.

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