Instructor: Kim Pearson
Asst. Professor of English
Fall Semester, 1997
Office Hours: Tues, Thurs, 2-5pm, and by appointment
104 Bray Hall
This course will allow you to become proficient in writing short features for newspapers and magazines. We begin with a foundation in hard news reporting: the classic inverted pyramid. Then, we examine the kinds of stories below the fold on page one, and throughout the rest of the paper: the news analysis pieces, opeds, profiles,lifestyle stories and investigative stories. These are all common types of feature stories. Every writer who hopes to make a living in print or electronic media needs to know how to create these kinds of stories.
In particular, this semester, the entire class will work on one large story: Is the recent reported drop in crime real, or a numbers game? For reasons that will soon become clear, we will focus upon New York City. This investigative story will form the basis of a special issue of UNBOUND, the online news magazine created by journalism students at this college. This will require the accomplishment of many tasks simultaneously:completing the background readings, forming and participating in reporting teams, and participation in the editorial process. Thus, each of you will be required to lead class and e-mail discussions of the the readings, turn in bi-weekly reporting journals, and write four 1000-word stories, at least two of which must be ofsufficient quality and newsworthiness as to justify inclusionin the special issue. The stories that are selected for UNBOUNDmust be in HTML format, and you must supply documentation for fact-checking purposes. They MUST be submitted in both paperand electronic form, or the assignment will be considered incomplete.
Public Affairs Reporting
Handbook of Feature Writing
Reporting for the Media or AP Stylebook
Bouza, Anthony. The Police Mystique
Fallaci, Orianna. Interview With History
Mitford, Jessica. Poison Penmanship
Vera Institute for Criminal Justice; New York City Crime Atlas
Vera Institute for Criminal Justice: Crime Vicitmization Studies
Grades will be based on combination of grades on first drafts of stories, final portfolios, participation in writing and reporting teams, homework assignments and class participation.
An e-mail address to me by 9/8: 5 percent
One panel presentation of readings, posting of e-mail discussion questions to the class list: 10 percent
Thoughtful responses to any 5 e-mail questions during the course of the semester, posted to the class list -- 10 percent
Bi-weekly reporting journals from each reporting team, distributed to me and each team leader -- 15 percent (group grade
Four 1,000-word stories, as specified above -- 50 points
Fullfillmeent of editorial responsibilities as assigned -- 10 percent
4 What feature writing is and why it matters. Introductions. Types of feature stories. Look at .Pulitzer Prizes site.
Discuss crime reporting story. Form reporting teams.
11 Cultivating sources
16 Research Journalists' Toolbox
18 Interviewing: Read Fallaci -- Introduction, Interview with Kissinger
23 Fairness, context and data interpretation. One controversial example: America: Who Stole The Dream, along with commentary Series Triggers Sharp Opinions
, and threaded discussion from Inquirer Readers
25 Focus on the Criminal Justice system: Overview
Improving Criminal Justice
ACLU CJ Site list,
30 Approaches to Crime reduction -- Policy arguments -- From Left and Right The War on Drugs The War on Drugs is Lost, NRA newsletter, Noam Chomsky on Crime Policy,Th e Clinton Administration Plan
2 The Courts
The Craft of Justice
7 The Police. Read;The Police Mystique
9 Police, Crime and the Media
14 Status of Story proposals. Review Production schedules
16 Reporting on both sides of a controversy. Choose one of thefollowing pairs of interviews from the Fallaci book:
21 Youth Crime Heritage Foundation Report
23 Leads, verbs, and evocative detail. Read Rosa Lee's Story, Are The World's Fisheries Doomed?
28 Exposition Read Seeking a Good Death
30 Story status
5 Commentary. Read Pulitzer Prizes for Commentary(1997), Prize-Winning Commentary for 1996
7 Criticism. Prize-Winning articles in Criticism, 1995
12 Editorial Writing An Editorial Investigation
14 Story Status. Media Race and Power,News Reporting and Race.
Deadlines and readings tba
4 Film and discussion