School of Journalism University of Texas Spring 2011

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1 School of Journalism University of Texas Spring 2011 FEATURE WRITING AS CONVERGENT JOURNALISM J327 (07475) How to find and develop story ideas, gather information, explore markets, examine feature forms, analyze articles by former students and professionals and help students produce clips from newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, and the Internet (utilizing online, web sites, and social media as both sources and outlets). Prerequisites: Journalism 310 and 315 with grade of at least C in each; credit or registration for Journalism 320D; score of at least 45 on the College of Communication Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation Test; and score of at least 29 on School of Journalism Word Processing Test. INSTRUCTOR: Gene Burd, Office CMA Hours 2-4 MWF Office Telephone: 512/ Class Meetings: MWF 12-1 CMA TEXT: Professional Feature Writing, Bruce Garrison, Routledge: New York, 5 th Edition, 2010 (optional) Writer s Markets, Writer s Digest, The Writer REQUIREMENTS: five publishable articles: PERSONAL ESSAY Due Feb, 11 (10%) PROFILE/INTERVIEW Due Mar. 11 (25%) HISTORICAL ARTICLE Due Apr.11 (15%) EXPLANATORY Due May 11 (40%) SERVICE-HOW-TO-DO Due May 11 ( 5%) Effort, progress, attitude, attendance ( 5%) Each article must attach (separate from body of story): 1. Title (sub-titles, blurbs) 2. Query (letters, phone, informal, or inter-personal contacts) 3. Sources/Research ( interviews, sources-- articles, journals,

2 books, documents, Internet) 4. Visual ideas: photos, art, illustrations, drawings, symbols) 5. A sample of the type of feature in the assignment. ) Articles due at start of class on date due. An X for late and incomplete assignments and course grade will be assigned only if there is documented illness, severe work issues, accident or death in family. Absences tend to lower final grade; attendance tends to raise it. Avoid being tardy and cell phone interruptions. No makeups. No final. Grades are cumulative. ) No previously written or published stories. No fiction or plagiarism. No re-writes unless a real editor requests it prior to publication. ) No errors in grammar, spelling and punctuation and no poorly developed and weak story ideas aimed at an unlikely publication. ) Published stories tend to increase chances for a higher grade. Query Daily Texan, Orange, Reporting Texas, local, state and national magazines, newspapers, websites, social media et al. ) Stories should average about four pages with wide margins on 8 1/2 x 11-inch pages of hard copy preferred; on-line often shorter. ) Always double space. Avoid small font. Include last name and type article (i.e. Smith, historical) in upper left hand corner of first page. Folders, cover sheets, binders, or envelopes are unnecessary and won t be returned. GRADES: A (excellent; has 5 requirements; publication likely) B (good work, publishable, but some problems) C (acceptable, adequate, average, but potential) D (poor work, major weaknesses, factual errors) F (assignment never handed in)

3 Academic Dishonesty: The UT Honor Code forbids and punishes plagiarism and other violations of good conduct. See and heed rules described in Disabilities: Students may request appropriate academic accommodations from the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement Services for Students with Disabilities at and/.or Religious Holidays: You must notify teachers of your impending absence at least 14 days prior to the date of observance, and if you miss a class, exam, assignment or project, you will be given an opportunity to complete the missed work within a reasonable time after the absence. Class Schedule: January 19, 21, 24, 26, 28, 31, February 2, 4, 7, 9 Course requirements, procedures, goals Define feature writing (changes, influence, careers) Principles/examples of personal experience stories Getting ideas, Queries, Specialization. Localization. PERSONAL ESSAY DUE February 11 (10%) February 11, 14, 16, 18, 21, 23, 25, 28, March 2, 4, 7, 9 Interviewing, frames, leads, titles, covers Principles/examples of profiles, personality sketches Photos, graphics, art, illustrations PROFILE/INTERVIEW DUE March 11 (25%) March Spring break March 11, 21, 23,25, 28, 30 April 1, 4, 6, 8 Use of libraries, documents, records, www Laws and ethics HISTORICAL FEATURE DUE April 11 (15%)

4 April 11, 13, 15, 18, 20, 22, 25, 27, 29, May 2, 4, 6 Analytical, longer, in-depth, investigative, explanatory feature Science, technical, business-trade articles, how-to, service TV magazines /convergence of print/electronic Keeping records from ideas to publication From articles to books, movies, TV, Internet (By May 6 course evaluation on-line required) ANALYSIS/EXPLANATION article(40%) hard copy Due 5 p.m. MAY 11 in CMA mailbox or at CMA door ( attachment OK if absolutely necessary). (Check the following Learning Objectives for each assignment) ) Queries may be letters (slow or ), phone and personal physical contacts, or other evidence of an effort to reach editors. Even rejections are useful evidence of attempts to publish. Both staff and free-lance efforts are acceptable. ) With each assignment, include an example (original, xerox, or link) of the TYPE of article (magazine or newspaper) for that assignment, with complete citation of the publication: author, date, pages etc. Exclude Texas publications; and hand in no more than one article from a single publication, so as to broaden your reading. Example need not be on the same topic or from the publication for which you are writing your article. ) Separate the text of your article from a cover page or two which includes your query efforts, proposed titles and visuals, and your bibliographical list of sources, which should include EXACT citations on published materials, i.e. authors, publishers, dates, pages. etc., which may not needed to have been cited in your article, but which you examined and were useful to you. Be sure to list SPECIFICS in www (web) references, i.e. EXACT authorities, publications, dates, etc. Consult library books and journals as well

5 as the Internet. For your final article, you MUST have consulted and cited multiple sources. ) Follow ongoing news stories for feature ideas by noticing errors, buried and hidden leads, noteworthy quotes of the day, and news about the magazine and newspaper world. You may share these observations with the class as class participation. ) MAKE SURE your article is directed toward ONLY ONE appropriate publication chosen by your familiarity with the magazine or newspaper and a query (written, phone, , or interpersonal contact). A good story in the wrong place is like wearing brown shoes with a tuxedo. Be alert to the use of current news pegs, and appropriate local tie-ins to attract both editors and readers. ) Avoid missing classes for interviews for jobs or for assignments; but inform instructor. Attendance will affect your writing and therefore your grade. ) Be ready for classroom discussion of current events, lecture content and hand-outs (especially the samples of stories). ) Carefully copy edit your final draft. Instructor will not edit your story copy before you hand it in. Beware of over-reliance on spellcheck. Same sounding words can have different meanings. And remember, RE-WRITES ONLY FOR REAL EDITORS, NOT FOR HIGHER CLASS GRADE by merely incorporating comments of the instructor, who is not a real editor, but who serves as a literary agent in the absence of a laboratory publication. ) Avoid exaggeration, pompous, over-written copy. Write naturally. Talk to your page as you would speak the story to a person. Avoid excessive use of the passive voice.

6 ) Use examples, incidents, cases, anecdotes, descriptions, etc. to illustrate general or abstract concepts or issues. Lean toward the SPECIFIC RATHER THAN THE GENERAL. Graphic, visual, vivid, concrete images help readers grasp your points. Use the thesaurus and dictionaries for different words to say the same things you are trying to say. ) Avoid libel, bad taste, profanity, advocacy, and opinion, which may frighten away some editors, readers and viewers. The instructor does not censor topics. Leave that to editors whom you are trying to reach. Also, make sure your article fits the type of article assigned. ) Don t bury your lead idea or major point(s) of your story. Sometimes, we don t know what we re saying or thinking until we have put it in writing often near the end. ) Be careful not to wander off your subject or to include things which are not explained and may stall the reader and cause him(her) to not finish reading it and go elsewhere. Explain words and references or omit them. Don t leave the reader wondering. ) Check your facts, spelling, grammar, and attribution. Don t plagiarize. Credit even when material is paraphrased as well as when direct quotes are used. Connect paragraphs with transitions. Use an effective ending which repeats the opening theme. And remember, good features are also solid reporting. ) Don t pad your story; but also don t cheat the story idea by not asking more questions to explore it. Let your draft set awhile after you ve written it and then re-read it as if you had never seen it before; also try having another person (an honest critic, not a close friend or relative) read it and see if they get your message. Finally, get used to being rejected, misunderstood, and sometimes being wrong and incompetent despite your best efforts. Remember, journalism is tough, hard work.

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