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Whether you are writing an article for your local newspaper or creating a newsletter for your FFA chapter, you will need to ask yourself, “What makes a good story?” and “What is the best way to tell …

Whether you are writing an article for your local newspaper or creating a newsletter for your FFA chapter, you will need to ask yourself, “What makes a good story?” and “What is the best way to tell it?” This workshop will cover the steps for writing a good article from brainstorming and researching your topic, to interviewing sources, to writing and revising your first draft, to publishing a finished article. By the end of this workshop, you will have a better understanding of the news and how you can make it.

This presentation was for the Virginia FFA Convention on June 29, 2011.

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Transcript

  • 1. June 28, 2011
    Telling Your Story and Making the News
    Michael Sutphin, Writer, @michaelsutphin
    Lori Greiner, Communications Manager, @lgreiner
  • 2. Overview
    How can I make the news?
    What makes a good story?
    How can I tell it?
    2
  • 3. What is the news?
    Timely, immediate – not history
    Affects many people in some way
    Innovative or interesting
    What journalists decide as news
    3
  • 4. Sources of news
    Word of mouth
    Print
    Broadcast
    Web
    Social media
    4
  • 5. Making the news
    News releases
    Pitches
    Reporter queries
    Newsletters and magazines
    Multimedia
    Social media and blogs
    5
  • 6. What is newsworthy?
    6
  • 7. What is newsworthy?
    Timeliness
    Proximity
    Impact
    Prominence
    Novelty
    Conflict
    Human interest
    7
  • 8. Why write?
    8
    Keep a record
    Organize thoughts
    Express creativity
    Share ideas
    Persuade others
  • 9. The writing process
    Brainstorming
    Prewriting
    Drafting
    Revising
    Editing
    9
  • 10. Step 1: Brainstorming
    List topics that come to mind.
    Draw a map with your main topic in the middle and other topics radiating from it.
    Create an outline.
    Work as a group or share ideas with others.
    10
  • 11. Step 2: Prewriting
    prewriting
    —noun
    Preparatory work for a piece of writing, as idea formulation, an outline, or research.
    (Random House Dictionary, 2009)
    11
  • 12. Who is your audience?
    12
  • 13. Background research
    Archived news
    Documents
    Websites
    Friends and contacts
    Google
    13
  • 14. Interviewing
    Be polite.
    Explain the purpose of the interview.
    Make it a conversation.
    Ask follow-up questions.
    Take good notes.
    14
  • 15. Step 3: Drafting
    15
    Photo courtesy of KrissSzkurlatowski
  • 16. The six questions
    Who?
    What?
    Where?
    When?
    Why?
    How?
    16
  • 17. Activity: The inverted pyramid
    17
  • 18. Writing a good lead
    Informative
    Concise
    Creative
    Attention-grabbing
    18
  • 19. Ways to open a story
    Summary
    Picture
    Background
    Contrast
    Quotation
    19
  • 20. Bad leads
    Buried
    Wordy
    Dense
    Uninformative
    Dull
    20
  • 21. Direct vs. indirect quotes
    “This year’s FFA Convention will give hundreds of Virginia students a chance to share their passion for agriculture,” said Wes Kline, president of Virginia FFA.
    Wes Kline, president of Virginia FFA, explained that the 2011 convention will help more than 2,000 Virginia youth better understand agriculture in the commonwealth.
    21
  • 22. Article length
    22
  • 23. Headlines
    23
  • 24. Step 4: Revising
    “The difference between the right and the nearly right word is the same as that between lightning and the lightning bug.”
    —Mark Twain
    “Half my life is an act of revision.”
    —John Irving
    24
  • 25. Step 5: Editing
    25
    Photo courtesy of Jan Verbist
  • 26. Style
    Question: What is the single most important element of writing style?
    26
  • 27. Style
    Answer: Consistency
    27
  • 28. Common mistakes
    Passive voice
    Too many prepositional phrases
    Mixed tenses
    Dangling modifier
    Redundancy
    Non-agreement
    Careless repetition
    Mixed construction
    28
  • 29. Keys to success
    Write about what you know.
    Tell your story.
    Do your research.
    Ask questions.
    Stay focused.
    Think outside the box.
    29
  • 30. Questions?
    30