Lecture 3: Crime stories


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  • Welcome to lecture 3, writing crime stories.
  • First, a reminder. Don’t forget that your first AP style quiz is posted online at MyClasses. You will have 10 minutes to complete the quiz, which will be available from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Use your book and notes to help you find the answers, and don’t forget to read the whole entry. Today we’re going to learn how to write a crime story, which you will do for your first writing assignment starting today. I’m going to provide you with the details for your assignment.You will note that I have assigned you peer editing partners on our class website. I will explain your duties as a peer editor at the end of this lecture.
  • Before we continue on, please open and have handy practice prompt I provided you. We’re going to go over some examples from the prompt, so please be sure you have read through it and attempted to write the story before continuing on.
  • Remember the most important things you learned about writing a hard news lede. You want to make sure it is one sentence, and it is less than 30-35 words. Let’s take a look at this example… Notice I have used the “who” to lede off the sentence. You are free to approach it any way you like, with the exception of starting with the when and where at the start of the sentence. You’ll note that I used delayed attribution, saying “a Delmar man,” and “a local bar.” Also, I only focused on what happened; you do not want to put the charges in the lede. You’ll also note that I did not say “a Delmar, Md. man.” That is because you do not need to include the state name when you are writing about the state you are reporting in.You’ll also note that I included the most interesting part of the story in the lede: the sledgehammer. It is the sledgehammer that makes the story different and interesting, because how often do you hear about someone using a sledgehammer to break into a place? Also, there is no need to attribute in the lede, as there really is not any subjective information. You’ll want to attribute later.
  • A couple of notes about referencing law enforcement officials in news stories…
  • After the lede, you’ll want to list the charges. Take a look at this example, and try to mimic it as closely as possible. You will see almost every crime story with charges structured this way. Make sure you carefully check the name, as misspelling it would be a fact error. Also, note where the commas are in this story. Ages written the way this one is count as non-essential clauses, so they would need commas on both sides. Also, there is no comma after the and in the series of charges: burglary of a business…
  • Next, I listed the chain of events as they occurred…You typically only want to attribute once per paragraph, as over-attribution will make the paragraphs too long. You also do not need to include all of the times that appear in the police report in the story. It is not important what time the police were called, what time they arrived, etc. You can use a more generalized time in the middle, like 3 a.m.Make a note of the correct AP style for the address. The direction, street number and abbreviated roadway are all written in correct AP style. You will also see that at no point in here have I said Burgess committed the crime. By using attribution and careful wording, you need to be sure you don’t convict the person – you are simply relaying the information from the report to readers, who can make their own decisions. Notice too how this paragraph is only 2 sentences. Remember, I will deduct points if you write grafs that are more than 1-2 sentences. One last note, you will always use last names only after first references. You see here how I only said Burgess after introducing him in the previous graf.
  • Here is more of the chronologically ordered story…A few tips:
  • Let’s talk about a few more law enforcement terms before we finish up the story. You should know that the words burglary, larceny, robbery, and theft are not interchangeable words…
  • Finally, you can end the story simply with the information that the reader would likely care least about…Notice the ending is broken up into two simple sentences instead of using a comma to connect them. Also, it is important to continue to use past tense: Burgess WAS transported, and bond WAS set at $12,000.
  • Go ahead now and open the homework prompt that I posted on the website. Your homework will be due via email by 5 p.m. on Friday….
  • I have assigned you peer editing partners on the website for this week. You will need to exchange your news stories BEFORE you email them to me, which means you will want to get started on them as soon as possible. You can exchange them via email, Google docs, or any other method you want. You can also give each other feedback any way you want. You can exchange numbers, email comments, or do comments right on the document. Here are some things to look for: …
  • Foryour homework, …
  • Lecture 3: Crime stories

    1. 1. Writing Crime Stories Jennifer Cox http://cmat240summer.wordpress.com
    2. 2. objectives• Quiz reminder! On MyClasses from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.• Learn the structure of crime writing• Go over assignment• Learn to work together to improve your writing
    3. 3. Crime story prompt• Open practice prompt from the website• Read through it carefully• Keep it handy as we discuss
    4. 4. Most important/interesting info first A Delmar man was arrested early Tuesday morningafter deputies said he was trying to break in to a local barusing a sledgehammer.• 24 words • No state name needed• Delayed identification • Eye-catching info• No conviction • Attribution
    5. 5. Law enforcement• Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office – deputies• Salisbury Police Department – police• Maryland Highway Patrol – troopers• All - officers
    6. 6. Details next Jerome Vincent Burgess, 20, was charged with burglaryof a business, possession of burglary tools and criminalmischief.• List of charges• Carefully check the name• Commas – non-essential clause & commas in a series• One-sentence graf
    7. 7. Chronological order Deputies responding to a call of loud noises after a manreported spotting Burgess attempting to break into Brewer’sPub shortly after 3 a.m., according to a Wicomico CountySheriff’s Office report. He was seen using a sledgehammerto pound on plywood siding near the door of thebusiness, located at 5820 NW 34th St. • Attribution (once per graf) • AP style for address • Omission of unnecessary • Still no conviction items (times) • Last name only on • Distribution of details subsequent references
    8. 8. Chronological order Deputies said Burgess admitted to attempting to get intothe business to steal money, according to the report. Burgesshad been inside the bar at about midnight and saw businesswas good. After talking with a former employee who told him moneywas kept inside the club overnight, Burgess felt it would be agood time to break in, according to the report. • Don’t begin sentence with attribution if you can help it • “A” report; then “the” report • Concise, chronological • Unimportant details omitted
    9. 9. Law enforcement termsBurglary, larceny, robbery, theft• Burglary – entering a building (not necessarily breaking in) and remaining unlawfully with the intention of committing a crime• Larceny – the legal term for the wrongful taking of property • non-legal = stealing or theft• Robbery – involves the use of violence or threat in committing larceny• Theft – larceny that did not involve a threat, violence or plundering• Use the terms listed in the charges
    10. 10. Least important/last info at the bottom Burgess was transported to Wicomico County Jail. Hisbond was set at $12,000.• Two simple sentences• Past tense
    11. 11. homework• Write in inverted pyramid• Omit unnecessary information• AP style, grammar, spelling errors = -2• Fact errors = -10 (check your proper nouns)
    12. 12. Peer editing• Grammar errors • Commas, punctuation, capitalization• AP style errors • Addresses, ages, city without state• Summary lede• Inverted pyramid• Delayed identification• Last name only on second reference
    13. 13. homework• Remember, crime story due at 5 p.m. Friday• Don’t forget to take your AP style quiz by 9 p.m. tonight• Your current events/readings quiz will be available from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. tomorrow• Read Chapter 18 (Speeches, News Conferences & Meetings)• Thursday: Covering meetings