Monday, September 29, 2008

Inverting Wachovia

The story, “Citigroup Buys Banking Operations of Wachovia,” written by Eric Dash and Andrew Ross Sorkin by the New York Times is a very good example of a hard news piece featuring the inverted pyramid and its characteristic qualities. The lead, “Citigroup will acquire the banking operations of the Wachovia Corporation, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation said Monday morning, the latest bank to fall victim to the distressed mortgage market,” answers the most important part of the lead’s job: the 5 Ws and H. The next step in hard news is to place only the most important information at the beginning of the story and other information less pertinent or more colorful later. For example, the authors did not articulate how much Wachovia would be sold for until the fifth paragraph into the story. Even further down in paragraph ten, information is disclosed as to how long Wachovia has been hurting financially due in large part to bad mortgage practices. The final piece of information given to readers in the article is the impact the addiction of Wachovia to Citigroup will have on the future of customers and outside clients and investors. The information supplied in the last paragraph is nowhere near as important to readers as the lead. The ending information could easily have been left out of the story. An important aspect of news stories is to put information in chronological order. For example, in the article, information from Monday morning, located in the lead is before information about the negotiations from Sunday (See paragraph eleven). Even this information precedes the news about discussions with major banks Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Banco Santander of Spain last week in paragraph fourteen. The point of the inverted pyramid technique in hard news is two-fold. One goal is to help readers get the most important news without having to analyze entire articles and sort information unnecessarily. The other goal is to help writers and editors cut down articles that are simply too long for the space provided in the layout of the news source.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Calling all CSI fans--A Series on Science (My news idea)

Photo courtesy of
After doing some research into a few local events coming up in the next two weeks, I found the perfect event for me. The Title of the event is “Saturday Science Presents: Skin and Bones-Using Science to Solve Crimes.” Hosted by the Hackerman Academy Saturday Morning Science Series, the interactive lecture is scheduled to discuss how technology and science are helping to solve crimes. This event in particular interests me because I am a huge Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) fan! On September 27th, 2008, in Smith Hall Room 326, attendees will get the opportunity to explore the latest advances in technology as presented by Dr. Dana Kollmann, of the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice of Towson University. The only information I am supplied is the information provided by Towson University’s Daily Digest. Since this presentation is part of a series, I will conduct research on former productions from this group. Finding out about past discussions could be very helpful in going into a bit more depth in the later paragraphs of my final article. My first source of information will be the presenter, Dr. Dana Kollmann. Next, I could speak to the Department Chairs about the program. While they may not be the most bountiful source of information on the series, I could get some very good quotes for the article. Another good source for quotes would be any volunteers or event attendees. An important piece of any article is the pictures which go along side to give it a human face. The information I already have indicates the event will be interactive so I could get photos of live action. The most important aspect of the article tells readers how this event is important to their lives. I will brainstorm how I can make this really pertinent to the readers at Towson University. My initial thought to relate this article to students is to study the crimes at Towson University itself and how the new technology could help solve, and potentially curb the crimes themselves from being committed. Also, since this event is likely to occur again featuring a new topic, the article will stay relevant time wise. This article could encourage people to attend the next event. The questions I will ask include: why this is important to college students, what this new technology means for the professional world, why was Towson University chosen for the series, what are the beginning and ending dates for presentations and what the presenters want attendees to get out of the program now and in the future. I look forward to attending this event because while it is news, it does not hold the stereotypical boring attitude. The information presented through the Daily Digest also makes me feel as though the new technology will be explained in real terms and not in industry jargon.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Tweet, tweet! What are you doing?

While reading the twitter posts of my classmates from the past week, I have become more aware of how much I actually do not say when I write. I find I often write for the beauty of the written word and not so much to answer the almighty five W’s and H questions. The first twitter I looked at was by Rachel2789. Rachel's twitter seemed to fit into the median range of the class' spectrum of information. She was unable to answer all of the questions, but she did paint a picture for the mind to interpret how the game played out. The next twitter, written by DanieljGross, contains most of the information I needed as a reader to understand the story. He used actual names in his twitter which tells me he knows what he is talking about; however, I didn't need to know his name because the player is not very prominent. The final twitter I reviewed is by bwrigh5. This person, while they are able to paint a picture for the mind, does not give enough information for readers. This oversight, makes the information relative to almost any game and not just for the game from the Spiders. Overall, I feel as though my classmates are beginning to hone in on the events happening in and around Towson. As I twitter, I am becoming more aware of the details I need in order to make my readers as aware as possible. While I did not attend the game on Saturday, by combining the information from each of the leads, I am able to figure out the five W’s and H.

Who: Towson Tigers
What: Lost to University of Richmond
Where: Richmond, Virginia
When: Saturday, September 13, 2008
Why: Interceptions and Turnovers rampant
How: Misguided plays by Towson

Print screen Courtesy of Rachel2789 from (Below)

Print screen courtesy of DanieljGross from (Below)

Print screen courtesy of bwrigh5 from (Below)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Attack on US Embassy in Yemen

I just found out that at 9:15 this morning an attack to the U.S. Embassy in Yemen occured. I found this article on Last semester I took a middle eastern history course which has helped me a lot to understand the region, wars and general anger of the people. Below is a link to the article I found.

I will post more about this attack later.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Could it be a from a press release? NO WAY! Well, maybe...

Logo courtesy of

As a reporter with a few years under my belt, I have had my share of story ideas presented by an editor based off a press release. While canvassing the and, I found two articles which to me, represent a story that could have been written from a press release and another, which could not have been. The first story I would like to share is headlined, “For O’s, prospects brighter down on farm.” This story could have been written after a press release came out because it is not as timely as say an article of major newsworthiness. The article itself is written as most major league teams are coming down to their last games of the season.

The second story I found through, I feel, could not have been written based off a press release. In “Fed to Loan A.I.G. $85 Billion in Rescue,” reporters simply do not have time to wait for an official press release to announce the deal between the federal government and the insurance company. Further, in order to create this copy, multiple reporters from different cities were used to complete the article.

Hanging out with my Shorty.

“ExxonMobil agrees to $4 million settlement,” is an example of a short report used by the Baltimore Sun. This is a great example because it tells the audience exactly what ExxonMobil will do to make amends for its leakage. A short report more specifically aims to capture the audience’s attention quickly and efficiently in the fewest number of words.

Here is a link to this interesting story:,0,5362850.story

Photo by: Richard Perry/The New York Times
"The scene Tuesday outside American International Group's building in Lower Manhattan." (New York Times). Story below.

In today’s news, one of the best summary leads read, “in an extraordinary turn, the Federal Reserve was close to a deal Tuesday night to take a nearly 80 percent stake in the troubled giant insurance company, the American International Group, in exchange for an $85 billion loan, according to people briefed on the negotiations.” This lead works very well to inform the reader immediately because it answers the ever-important questions we need answers to. Although the lead is a bit long coming in at 45 words, I found the following information:

Who: Federal Reserve
What: a deal to take a stake in the troubled giant insurance company
When: Tuesday night
Why: exchange for an $85 billion loan

Unfortunately, the lead does not include the where or how. This information is found in the next paragraphs. Not having every W and the H answered from the beginning makes me as a reader want to continue reading past the lead. This lead also gives proper attribution to its source.

This article can be found at the link below:

Monday, September 15, 2008

News and its Values

The first story I selected to review for newsworthiness from the is headlined, “People didn’t leave,” by David Zucchino and P.J. Huffstutter of the Los Angeles Times (story published 9/14/08). The lead writes, “Officials race against time to find thousands who defied Ike, evacuation order Power goes out for more than 3 million Texans, may not be restored for weeks.” The following factors substantiate the article’s newsworthiness.
· Impact- the Gulf of Mexico has many oil, natural gas and petrochemical industries, which were ordered to evacuate prior to the storm. Their shutdown has caused gas prices to rise across the country. The article reports that many places now sell gas at over $5 a gallon. Personally, my family is affected by Ike because over night (from Friday 9/12/08 to 9/13/08) gas prices near my family home jumped 28 cents per gallon.
· Currency- The article references the previous hurricane to hit the United States (Gustav) Even though Gustav only happened within a month, its currency to Ike is astounding as people in New Orleans were ordered to evacuate, yet many stayed behind because they feared the aftershocks (Looting, vandalism, destruction of property, ect.) of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
· Conflict- The rescuers face many dangers in trying to say the people who stayed behind after evacuation. Many people are stuck in their homes, which have flooded and can only wait for help. Much of the conflict in this particular story resides against nature and the warm waters of the gulf.
· Timeliness- Hurricane Ike just recently made landfall at about 2 A.M. on Friday, September 12, 2008.
· Human Interest- There is a lot of human-interest focus in this article because rescuers are in a frenzy to find those who stayed behind. Officials are very angry because an evacuation order was put into effect to make sure everyone was safe from the storm and the damages that would follow afterward. The people who did not leave endangered not only their own lives but the lives of the people who had to save them.

The second story I chose to study for the news values studied in the textbook was titled, “With public divided, campaign to pass slots measure heats up.” Written by Gadi Dechter and Laura Smitherman, this story is major news for Major news for the people of Maryland. Let’s look at why.
· Impact- If the state government of Maryland were to pass the legislation allowing slots into local areas, most notably Laurel Race Track in Prince Georges and Howard counties, the new revenue is slated to be injected into the education of school children up to grade 12.
· Prominence- There are many names involved including the Governor of Maryland, Martin O’Malley.
· Currency- The topic of slots in Maryland has been debated for many years. Former governors have tried to pass this same legislation but were only met with protest.
· Conflict- Although the general public has long since backed the idea of slots, approval ratings are now giving way.
· Proximity- This article and the legislation itself is extremely close to the people of Maryland.

The final story is one less focused on news, but rather the entertainment world. During the premiere of the 34th season of Saturday Night Live (SNL), local Olympic champion Michael Phelps hosted. Although critics say he did not fare so well, others involved made the show shine once again. The story was written by David Zurawik of the Baltimore Sun newspaper. The blog post shows much newsworthiness.
· Prominence- Two main names were used in this article which gave it a lot of prominence: Michael Phelps and Tina Fey.
· Unusualness- Critics of Phelps as a comedian say he did only “okay” until his last skit when he clearly lost his focus. Phelps took on 8 skits for the show. His load was incredible.
· Timeliness- The premiere of SNL recently occurred within the past week.
· Proximity- Although SNL is not produced in Maryland, its host for this show was—Phelps was raised in the Baltimore area.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Mobile Journalism Kits

After looking at a few of the outstanding portfolios provided by, I found myself particularly drawn to Rachel Youens, an Assistant Editor and Staff Reporter for the Community Impact Newspaper in Austin, Texas. It is probably her young, refreshing perspective on local happenings, which stimulates my sensibilities the most. In my opinion, her mobile journalism kit probably resembles something like Mary Poppin’s famous bottomless bag. I would imagine Ms. Youens spends most of her reporting time hitting the pavement on the streets of Austin to collect information and new sources. In her bag of journalistic goodies, my perception is she brings along with her a minimum of an audio and video recorder, her iPod, a digital camera, and a laptop complete with only the latest software for html formatting, photo editing and internet compression software. I could not find any relevant photos, although I did find a video of her current work (below).

Rachel Youens website:

Example of Rachel Youens current work:

I found the backpack of young college journalist Jared Silfies compelling to say the least. While other classmates have condemned him as nothing more than out of touch with present day students and journalists, I on the other hand, find him inspiring. His mobile journalism kit reminds me of all the old movies I watched as a kid when journalism was all about being at the right place at the right time. I still feel largely this is the way journalism still works today. After all, if I as a reporter get a scoop and I have nothing with me to prepare a package or even a report at the least, someone else just got my story. I am sure my producer or editor would not be pleased with me if this were to happen. On the subject regarding whether Mr. Silfies (or even myself) should carry around a copy of “Elements of Style,” I say, why not? It never hurts to be prepared. I think by carrying around this book, Silfies is trying to separate himself from every other journalist trying to catch the same story.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Welcome One and All to My Blog!

Welcome everyone one to my new blog! I have not used a blog in over a year, so pardon my rustiness. First, I want to tell you a little bit about myself. I am a 21-year old junior at Towson University. I am currently studying Mass Communication in the Journalism and New Media Track. I enjoy doing things outdoors, especially if it is shopping at an open-air outlet center. I have an addiction to purchasing shoes. At one point, I owned over 50 pairs of shoes. I spend most of my time either at school, hanging out at home with my roomie, or at work. Currently, I work for a background-screening agency in the Baltimore area. Many of my projects include verifying employment/education histories for my company’s clients to stuffing envelopes to send reports out to the client’s applicants.

Secondly, there have been many moments in my life where I have doubted not only my abilities as a writer and editor, but also the journalism profession and the direction it is moving in. I ask myself if my name were never to be in print again, but rather on someone’s computer screen, would I still be just as happy as if it were in print. Although I love the print aspect of journalism, I cannot ignore the ever-increasing accessibility of news on the internet. I love to write and informing the public is important to me. My own ego will have to give way to things more important than me. My own background, I believe, has prepared for a career in print media. I spent two years in high school on the newspaper staff, one of which I was Editor-In-Chief. Before coming to Towson University, I spent two and a half years at Howard Community College (HCC), in Columbia, Maryland. There I earned not only my Associates Degree in Journalism but I also got a lot of valuable experience as the Editor of the newspaper (“The HCC Times”) for three semesters.

Finally, I would like to welcome you once again to my blog. I hope my posts will stimulate readers to leave comments. I welcome any constructive criticism of my works. I look forward to reading everyone’s blogs throughout the semester as we all come from different perspectives and show them best when we write. I wish you all good luck.

Amber : )