615: Week One Warren Watson Director J-IdeasBall State Dept. of Journalism August 21, 2007
WHO ARE WE?WHY ARE WE HERE?
A Special Vocation“The worst journalists are those who consider the craft a job like an any other, to be practiced eight hours a day, and left behind for the domestic delights of wives or husbands, children, dogs and gardens.” --- Pete Hamill, journalist, editor, novelist
Situation: A Crisis of Readership• Daily newspaper penetration in the U.S. is at an all- time low.• In 1977, 67 percent of Americans read a weekday daily newspaper. Today, that number is about 47 percent.• If newspaper readership had continued at the same rate after 1950 as it had before 1950, there would be 25- million more readers today.• The Internet is becoming a dominant form, but can it provide the depth and breadth -- and context as newspaper journalism?
Strategies to Stem the Tide• 1) To make the newspaper easier to use and follow.• 2) To use Readership Institute imperatives. • --- Better, more local news, brand, promotion, ads, more-positive culture• 3) To improve content, to lengthen the time people spend with a daily newspaper.• We’ll be talking about No. 3 in this course!
Why a Different Content Approach?Traditional definitions of and approaches to the newshave handcuffed us, inhibited us from reaching newreaders, and insulated us from the lives of an ever-diversifying audience.So, we must be the conscience, the heart and the soul, ofour communities Reporters must listen and see, but alsoobserve and understand, and prioritize and lead.We must see the multiple dimensions of stories.
What Does It Mean• Our stories must inform, but also form.• Our stories must reach down and show how people live and die, cope and thrive.• Our stories must include a wider cast of players -- young and old, black and Hispanic and Asian, majority and minority.• Our stories must reflect the community and what makes it unique.• Our graphics and photos must tell the story at different levels. They must add emotion but also sort out complexity.• Our page designs must help to lubricate the news.
Add the 5 i’s to the 5 w’s• A new approach to the news would add meaning and depth.• We must: * Inform as well as report * Illuminate how people really live * Instigate action when appropriate * Integrate the different parts of the community * Be involved, not detached
Course Structure• Textbooks by Don Murray and the IRE team of Brant Houston, Len Bruzzese and Steve Weinberg.• Examinations of investigative work done in 3 singular works of investigative newspaper journalism (Watergate, Enron, government policy).• Quizzes.• Short and long papers.• Visits to see experts, guest appearances here in 392.• Discussions, presentations.
Investigative Journalism“The reporting, through one’s own initiative and work product of matters of importance to readers, viewers or listeners. In many cases, the subjects of the reporting wish the matters under scrutiny to remain undisclosed.” --- Brant Houston, Upcoming PIR Speaker
Seek It Out, Hunt For It¥ Good reporters donÕ wait for the news. t They seek it out. They hunt for it.¥ News is often unannounced by official sources. Stories about trends, migrations of people to the cities, disputes, subtle movements and fluctuations behind events have to be uncovered.¥ As Gene Roberts, former editor once said, ÒReally important things seep and creep .Ó creep.Ó
Premise of This Course“Every journalist can be an investigative journalist … It requires an intense curiosity about how the world works, or fails to work. Such curiosity must be accompanied by skepticism stopping short of cynicism or nihilism, abetted by undying outrage that expresses itself through comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.” --- Brant Houston
Essence of Investigations“Most good investigations come down to one of two things -- either a process did not work or people did not follow the guidelines … if a baby dies, was it one child protective service worker who screwed up or is the whole system failing.” --- Tom Honig, editor in Santa Cruz, Calif., writing in the “IRE Journal.”
Effective WritingÒEffective writing is constructed byrevealing specifics -- quotes, facts, images,descriptive details.Ó details.Ó --- Donald Murray, writing coach, author
Murray’s ‘Writing to Deadline’“I wrote with information: specific revealing details, concrete images, quotations, statistics, records, facts. Meaning came from connections between pieces of information, not from connections between words. The words were the symbols for information. … so it had significance, order, logic, structure, meaning.”
Writing to Deadline: Murray Pointers• Explore• Rehearse• Focus• Select and develop• Draft• Clarify• Also, revise!
Finding the Focus¥ Seek the language fragment, the word, phrase or line that contains the tension that will release the energy to drive a story forward.¥ Look for the unexpected, what is contradictory; this will produce material that provides tension to hold the reader.
Finding Winning Ideas on Your Own Reporters and editors can develop strong antennae to mine content. HereÕ how: s ¥ By thinking stories forward, backward , outward ¥ By brainstorming ¥ By anticipating readersÕquestions
Anticipating Reader QuestionsAs you do a first edit, anticipate * No kidding!the questions of the reader: * Why did he do that? * Tell me more!* How come?* How do you know that? * Stop it! I’ve heard enough!* Says who? * Get to the point!* I don’t get it! * So what!* What do you mean? * Hold it. Back up. * I’d like to know more about that.
Finding Winning Ideas: Brainstorming Topics¥ A way to discover what you, others know¥ Write down everything that comes to mind¥ DonÕ be critical t¥ Goal is to harness the illogical, silly, irrational¥ Be surprised by yourself and others¥ Create an idea fountain by doing it in groups
Finding Winning Ideas: NPR • The National Public Radio approach: * Think a story forward: * What’s coming up next? * Think a story backward * What’s at the root of the issue? * Think a story outward * How have others dealt with the issue?
From Sam Stanton, ASNE Distinguished Award-Winner Deadline writing keys:• Be prepared: read, research, interview, anticipate, rehearse.• Search for detail: inventory the senses; get color, but also sounds and smells; write down more than use.• Be flexible: change direction, go against the grain, zig when they zag, look for the surprise.
Freedom of Information: First Amendment and More• An important part of the course will be a consideration of the importance of Freedom of Information issues.• We’ll spend a couple of weeks talking about this early in the course.
READING, WRITING, MORE
What We Know About All Readers¥ Readers make connections ¥ --They relate events to their own experience¥ Readers want context ¥ -- So what? Who cares? I donÕ understand. t¥ Readers are intelligent ¥ -- No need to dumb down¥ Readers appreciate news in various forms ¥ -- Stories, photos, graphics, lists, charts¥ Readers read! ¥ -- They will make the time if itÕ worth it s
Ô Information AnxietyÕÒ Good instruction is built on gooddescription. Words, pictures and numbers -- use the right means to describe your ends.Learning is remembering what youÕ reinterested in.Ó in.Ó -- Richard Wurman (1990) in book of the same name (Book was recently updated)
Writing: Power of Simplicity“Strike Three. language. What did you doGet your hand off my knee. last night? Enter into a meaningful romanticYou’re overdrawn. involvement or fall in love?Your horse won. What did you have forYes. breakfast this morning: theNo. upper part of a pig’s hind leg with two oval bodiesYou have the account. encased in a shell laid by aMother’s dead. bird, or ham and eggs?”Basic events require simple
The Inverted Pyramid¥ First, real juicy stuff at the top of story¥ Then, more real important stuff¥ Then, less important material¥ Then, some background¥ Then, more stuff¥ Then, bs bs bs¥ Then, zzzzz
Inverted Pyramid: Overused and AbusedÒ is a safe and rigid formula É Formulas Itare rigid. Formulas are death. The invertedpyramid is an enemy of reading. It takesaway the basic pleasures of reading. Itgives away the ending.Ó ending.Ó --- Tom French, St. Petersburg Times
From Wayne GretzkyÒStatistically, 100 percent of theshots you donÕ take donÕ go in!Ó t t
It All Starts With An Idea“The word I always twin with enterprise isidea. … Execution is a major part of it. Butif you’ve got a great idea, you’ll have thepassion for executing it.” --- Bill Dwyre, sports editor, Los Angeles Times
Turning Ideas Into Stories: Ask These Questions First• Will the story have • Does the news value justify something to say? the reporting time?• Can the idea be stated • Does the idea center ona simply, in 1 sentence? person or group?• Is the idea timely? • Is the idea fresh?• Do you have a grasp on • Is the idea more than a the length of the story? governmental hiccup?• Is the idea feasible? • Is the reporter capable of pulling it off ?
Due Next Week: Backgrounding• 350-word (minimum) “warmup” paper.• Do backgrounder on your instructor.• Find as much as possible about Warren Watson -- his work and private life, interests, writings, teaching etc. Treat him like you would any public figure.• Write a short personality profile.• Any online or (hard-copy) document source can be used.• No personal interviews with Watson. No other person- to-person or email interviews.• Name, assignment, date at top left of paper.
Long-Range Team Assignment: Examining 3 Works• Woodward and Bernstein --- ‘All the President’s Men’• Bartlett and Steele--- ---‘America: What Went Wrong’• Smith and Emshwiller --- ‘24 Days …’