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Writing and reporting news~a coaching method, 6e wadsworth, 2010

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Writing and
Reporting News

Carole Rich

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Writing and Reporting News:
A Coaching Method, Sixth Edition
Carole Rich
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Brief Contents
Part One • Understanding News
1 • Changing Concepts of News 3
2 • Blogs


3 • The Basic News Story 35
4 • Convergent Media Writing


Part Two • Collecting Information
5 • Curiosity and Story Ideas 71
6 • Sources and Online Research


7 • Interviewing Techniques 107

Part Three • Constructing Stories
8 • Leads and Nut Graphs 131
9 • Story Organization


10 • Story Forms 183
11 • Storytelling and Feature Techniques 199
12 • Broadcast News Writing 223
13 • Online Journalism 251
14 • Public Relations Writing 269

Part Four • Understanding Media Issues
15 • Media Law 289
16 • Media Ethics 307
17 • Multicultural Sensitivity


Part Five • Applying the Techniques
18 • Profiles and Obituaries


19 • Beat Reporting 357
20 • Speeches, News Conferences and Meetings


21 • Government and Statistical Stories 393
22 • Crime and Punishment 413
23 • Disasters, Weather and Tragedies 443
24 • Media Jobs and Internships 473

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Preface xi
Acknowledgments xv
About the Author 1

Examples of Basic News Stories

Quotes and Attribution 50
What Do You Think? 55
Exercises 55
Featured Online Activity 57

Part One • Understanding News
1 • Changing Concepts of News 3
Media Convergence 4
Changing Delivery of News 7
Economic Changes in Media 8
Changes in Online News 8
Citizen Journalism 10

4 • Convergent Media Writing



Anatomy of a News Story: P.R., Broadcast
and Print 64



Anatomy of a News Story on the Web
What Do You Think? 68
Exercises 68
Featured Online Activity 69


Hard News and Features 17
What Do You Think? 19
Exercises 20
Featured Online Activity 20


Part Two • Collecting Information
5 • Curiosity and Story Ideas 71


Curiosity 71
Observation 73

Blogs as News Sources 24
Citizen Journalism 26
Transparency 26


Print vs. Broadcast and Online Stories

The Coaching Method 11
Qualities of News 12

2 • Blogs




Ways to Find Story Ideas 76
The Internet 81


Ethical Issues 28
Blogs in Public Relations and Marketing
How to Write a Blog 30
Podcasts 31
What Do You Think? 31
Exercises 32
Featured Online Activity 32


6 • Sources and Online Research
Human Sources 88
Anonymous Sources

3 • The Basic News Story 35



Idea Budgets 82
What Do You Think? 83
Exercises 83
Featured Online Activity 84


Finding the Focus 36
Nut Graphs 37
Basic Questions 37
Elements of the Basic News Story






Multicultural Sources
Written Sources 95
Online Sources 96




viii Contents
Public Records 100
The Freedom of Information Act
What Do You Think? 103
Exercises 105
Featured Online Activity 105


Body Building from Start to Finish
What Do You Think? 179
Exercises 180
Featured Online Activity 180


10 • Story Forms 183
7 • Interviewing Techniques 107
Gathering Details 109
Sensitivity 109
Listening and Note-Taking Skills 110
The Pros and Cons of Tape Recorders 110
Listening Tips 111
Note-Taking Tips 113
Tips for Interviewers 115
E-mail Interviews 122

The GOAL Method of Interviewing


Part Three • Constructing Stories
8 • Leads and Nut Graphs 131
Hard-news Leads, Soft Leads and Nut
Graphs 132
Hard-news Leads 133

Soft Leads 145

Tips for Finding Your Lead 156
What Do You Think? 156
Exercises 157
Featured Online Activity 159

9 • Story Organization 161
The Writing Process 161



Hourglass Structure 189
List Technique 190


Question/Answer Format 192
Sections Technique 193
What Do You Think? 193
Exercises 195
Featured Online Activity 197


Telephone Interviewing 125
Interviewing Problems 127
What Do You Think? 127
Exercises 128
Featured Online Activity 128


Inverted Pyramid 183
The Wall Street Journal Formula


Story Structure



Making Middles Move 170
Endings 173

11 • Storytelling and Feature
Techniques 199
Narrative Writing 200
Reading to Write 201
Reporting Tools 202
Writing Tools 203
Descriptive Techniques



Storytelling Structure



Serial Narratives 218
What Do You Think? 219
Exercises 219
Featured Online Activity 220

12 • Broadcast News Writing 223
Producing a Newscast 224

Writing Tips 229
Job Qualities 229
Broadcast vs. Newspaper and Web Writing 230


Teasers and Lead-ins 236
Writing for Radio 237
Broadcast Style 238
Story Structure 239
Revising Stories 245

Contents ix

Glossary 246
What Do You Think? 247
Exercises 247
Featured Online Activity 248

Online Legal Issues

13 • Online Journalism 251
Reporting for the Web


Deception 307
Plagiarism 309
Privacy Issues 310


Story Structure 263
Personal Storytelling 265
Revise 265
Take Risks 266
What Do You Think? 266
Exercises 266
Featured Online Activity 267





Video News Releases 278
Public Service Announcements 280
Media Kits 281
Corporate Publications 283
Corporate Web Sites 284
What Do You Think? 285
Exercises 285
Featured Online Activity 287

Part Four • Understanding Media
15 • Media Law 289


The Language of Multiculturalism
Minorities in the News 322

Gender Differences 325
Guidelines for Writing About Special
Groups 327

What Do You Think? 332
Exercises 333
Featured Online Activity 333

Part Five • Applying the
18 • Profiles and Obituaries
Turning Points 337
Profile Planning Tips 338
Basic Elements of Profiles 338
The GOAL Method 339


Organizing the Profile 341
Putting It All Together 342






Libel 290
The Importance of Accuracy
Invasion of Privacy


17 • Multicultural Sensitivity 321

Forms of Delivery 270
Writing Skills for News Releases 271



Ethical Reasoning

Codes of Ethics 318
What Do You Think? 318
Exercises 318
Featured Online Activity 319

14 • Public Relations Writing 269

Structure of News Releases

Copyright 304
What Do You Think? 304
Exercises 304
Featured Online Activity 305

16 • Media Ethics 307


Online Readers 255
Story Planning 256
Writing Techniques 258
Headlines, Blurbs and Briefs





Writing Snapshot Profiles



x Contents
Obituaries 348
The Importance of Facts 350
Obituary Guidelines 351
What Do You Think? 353
Exercises 354
Featured Online Activity 355

22 • Crime and Punishment 413
Crime Stories 414

Court Stories

What Do You Think? 436
Exercises 439
Featured Online Activity 441

Developing Story Ideas 358
Cultivating Sources 359

23 • Disasters, Weather
and Tragedies 443


Records and Research 360
Beginning a Beat 362
Covering Specialty Beats 364


20 • Speeches, News Conferences
and Meetings 377

24 • Media Jobs and Internships 473

Preparation 381
Stories About Speeches

Finding Jobs and Internships 474
Applying for a Job or Internship 475
Writing Cover Letters 477



Stories About News Conferences
Stories About Meetings 385
What Do You Think? 389
Exercises 390
Featured Online Activity 390


21 • Government and Statistical
Stories 393


Airplane Crashes 460
Natural Disasters 461
Weather Stories 463
Personal Tragedy 466
What Do You Think? 466
Exercises 471
Featured Online Activity 471



Reporting Tips
Visuals 397






Reporting Techniques

What Do You Think? 374
Exercises 374
Featured Online Activity 375

Media Manipulation




19 • Beat Reporting




Writing Tips 398
Statistical Stories 402
Budget Stories 404
What Do You Think? 409
Exercises 410
Featured Online Activity 411



Résumés 483

Interviews 486
What Do You Think? 488
Exercises 489
Featured Online Activity 489
Appendix 1—Grammar and Usage
Appendix 2—Style Guide 502
Credits 515
Index 523


We are living in an age of rapid changes in the media, but the basic principles of
good writing, accurate reporting and ethical behavior are timeless. However, this
sixth edition of Writing and Reporting News: A Coaching Method incorporates many
of the changes taking place in the media. It emphasizes convergence throughout
the book to help you prepare for careers in the media that require knowledge of
print, broadcast and online journalism skills. This book includes information about
blogs, podcasts, and social networking sites. As in previous editions, the coaching
concepts of this book are designed to help you acquire the writing and reporting
skills you will need no matter which media field you choose to enter. The book also
emphasizes media ethics in every chapter so that you can gain an understanding of
the problems you might encounter and learn ethical principles that will help you
resolve them.
The coaching method, which is the foundation of this book, is a way of helping
writers discover their problems and learn techniques to solve them. The book features tips from leading writing coaches and award-winning journalists.

New Material in This Edition
This sixth edition of Writing and Reporting News: A Coaching Method has been
substantially revised to include an emphasis on convergence media skills in every
chapter and the following new material:

Convergence Coach boxes in every chapter
Interactive questions—“What Do You Think?”—at the end of every chapter
Chapter 1—Changing Concepts of News—has been completely revised and
Chapter 2—Blogs—is a new chapter about blogs, podcasts and citizen
Chapter 4—Convergent Media Writing—is a new chapter that includes the
anatomy of a news story for print, broadcast and the Web
Chapter 12—Broadcast News Writing—completely revised
Chapter 13—Completely revised chapter on online journalism including
award-winning student Web sites and the Virginia Tech massacre
Increased emphasis on public relations throughout the book
Comparison of print and broadcast versions of stories in several chapters
Emphasis on blogs and social networking sites in several chapters including
the chapters on media law and ethics
New examples throughout the book—including new cases in the ethics chapter such as the Duke rape case and the television show, “To Catch a Predator”



Separate chapter on story organization, emphasizing transitions, endings,
revision of stories
Separate chapter on story forms, including models of the inverted pyramid,
the Wall Street Journal formula, lists, question and answer and other basic
More interactive quizzes and assignments on the book Web site academic.cengage.
Student workbook now incorporated into the book Web site at no extra charge
Grammar is now in an appendix, as is an abbreviated Associated Press Style

How the Book Is Organized
If you are an instructor who has used previous editions of this textbook, you will
find many changes. Although this textbook is arranged sequentially to take students
through the steps from conceiving ideas to constructing stories, you do not have to
use the book in the order it is written. Each chapter is self-contained so that you can
design the course as you prefer.
Most of the material in the fifth edition has been retained, but because new chapters have been added, the order of the chapters has changed as follows:
Part One: Understanding News
1 Changing Concepts of News (no change)
2 Blogs (new chapter)
3 The Basic News Story (was Chapter 2)
4 Convergent Media Writing (new chapter)
Part Two: Collecting Information
5 Curiosity and Story Ideas (was Chapter 3)
6 Sources and Online Research (was Chapter 4)
7 Interviewing Techniques (was Chapter 5)
Part Three: Constructing Stories
8 Leads and Nut Graphs (was Chapter 7)
9 Story Organization (was Chapter 8)
10 Story Forms (separate chapter was included in Story Organization)
11 Storytelling and Feature Techniques (was Chapter 9)
12 Broadcast News Writing (was Chapter 11 and has been completely rewritten)
13 Online Journalism (was Chapter 12 and has been completely rewritten)
14 Public Relations Writing (was chapter 10 but moved here because it incorporates
print and broadcast writing skills)

Preface xiii

Part Four: Understanding Media Issues
15 Media Law (was Chapter 13)
16 Media Ethics (was Chapter 14)
17 Multicultural Sensitivity (was Chapter 15)
(Global Journalism, former Chapter 16, eliminated)
Part Five: Applying the Techniques
18 Profiles and Obituaries (was Chapter 22; moved up to give students practice in
these skills earlier in the course)
19 Beat Reporting (was Chapter 17)
20 Speeches, News Conferences and Meetings (was Chapter 18)
21 Government and Statistical Stories (was Chapter 19)
22 Crime and Punishment (was Chapter 20)
23 Disasters, Weather and Tragedies (was Chapter 21)
24 Media Jobs and Internships (was Chapter 23)
Appendix 1: Grammar and Usage (previously Chapter 6)
Appendix 2: Style Guide

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I would like to thank many people at Cengage Learning who made the sixth
edition of this textbook possible. They include: Lyn Uhl, publisher of English,
Communication and College Success; Michael Rosenberg, publisher of the
Humanities division; Megan Garvey, assistant editor of Humanities; Tiffany
Kayes, content project manager for the Academic and Professional Group;
Rajni Pisharody, project manager in charge of production and George Watson,
copy editor.
I would also like to thank the reviewers, who contributed their time and advice
for this edition. They include Barbara Adams, Ithaca College; Zita Arocha, University of Texas at El Paso; Ronald Bonn, University of San Diego; Robert Cundiff,
Clearwater Christian College; George Daniels, The University of Alabama; Bonnie Davis, Virginia Commonwealth University; Kym Fox, Texas State University;
Dave Garlock, University of Texas; Gary Larson, University of Nevada, Las Vegas;
Carol Madere, Southeastern Louisiana University; Wanda Mouton, Stephen F. Austin State University; Sandy Nichols, Towson University; Scoobie Ryan, University of
Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications; Ivana Segvic Boudreaux,
University of Texas at Arlington; David Smith, University of Texas at El Paso; Susan
Smith, University of Wisconsin–Madison and Kate Tillery-Danzer, University of


This page intentionally left blank

Courtesy of Carole Rich

About the Author
Carole Rich has spent 20 years teaching journalism at four universities and
coaching professional writers throughout the U.S. She has taught at the University of
Alaska–Anchorage and has served as chair of the journalism department at Hofstra
University in Long Island, N.Y. She began her teaching career at the University of
Arizona in 1985 and then taught journalism at the University of Kansas from 1987
to 1998 when she was hired as the distinguished Atwood professor in Alaska. Prior
to becoming a professor, she worked for 16 years in the newspaper industry. She
was a reporter for the former Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, city editor of the SunSentinel in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and deputy metropolitan editor of the Hartford
(Ct.) Courant.
Rich has been a visiting writing coach at newspapers throughout the United
States and has conducted many writing seminars at journalism organizations, including a seminar for professional journalists in Spain. She is also the author of
Creating Online Media: A Guide to Research, Writing and Design on the Internet,
published by McGraw-Hill.


Coaching Tips
Consider different ways to
present your story for print,
broadcast and online media.
Compare how similar stories
are presented in print, online
and broadcast media.
Ask yourself how your story
affects your readers.
Consider whether your story
needs a photograph, graphic,
audio or video.
Plan to update your story for
online delivery.
Plan interactive elements for
online responses.

It [convergence] used to be defined as multiple
media—a newspaper and a television station
and a radio station and a Web site working
together to best tell a story. . . . To me it’s much
more about serving the audience however the
audience wants to be served, so that they can
have our content whenever they want it and
however they want it.
—Rob Curley, vice president
of WashingtonPost.Newsweek Interactive


Changing Concepts
of News


t’s shortly after 1 a.m. and the police officer’s patrol is uneventful, except for
the man carrying a 5-inch-long rat on his shoulder. No crime; it was just a man
who bought a rat at a pet store. At 5:42 a.m. a young mother wakes to the cries of
her hungry 10-month-old daughter. At noon a homeless woman with a canister of
pepper spray in her bra waits for lunch at the local soup kitchen, and as midnight
approaches three fraternity members celebrate the last day of classes by climbing on
the merry-go-round at a shopping mall.
These are just a few of scores of stories and photographs that chronicle one day
in the life of residents in Lawrence, Kansas. The project could be done in any community. But when the Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World tackled the subject, it created
a “multimedia time capsule” by producing the story in the newspaper, on television
and on its Web site with text, photos, audio and video.
That’s not unusual these days. What made this project distinctive was that the
newspaper and its partner TV station asked residents to participate by sending in
reports about their day in any form: podcasts, broadcast, blogs, video, photos or text
via e-mail.
This project was one of several innovative methods the Lawrence Journal-World
has produced in the last several years to interact with its readers and viewers in
multimedia forms. And it is an example of how the nature of news is changing.
Joel Mathis, managing editor for convergence at the Journal-World, says the project was created to focus on stories about how people live on a daily basis. “It was
telling the stories we don’t often tell because we’re so busy telling stories about tax
increases. Almost every news organization has done a 24-hour story but what made
this different was the participation from the community.”
Mathis chuckles when he talks about the entries via YouTube. “I expected something from the high schools, but we got nothing from them. Th e only YouTube submissions came from the senior citizens at the senior center.”
In addition, reporters and photographers from the newspaper and TV station
blanketed the community to document life in the city throughout the day and
Mathis says the project was the most complicated he has ever organized. “It
involved every reporter and staff member on the newspaper and 6News (TV). We
had to make sure everyone had their assignments at every hour.”

Courtesy of the Lawrence Journal-World

4 Part 1 ■ Understanding News

Only some of the stories could be published in the newspaper for the three
days of the series, but all of the stories and photos are posted on the Web where the
project will remain indefinitely, Mathis says.
Not only is the delivery of information available in many forms, but the definitions of news are also evolving, and economic factors such as mergers of media
companies have changed the landscape of the news industry.
Declining newspaper circulation, increased competition from cable television
news stations, and access to millions of sites on the Internet are forcing news organizations to expand ways to interest readers and viewers.

Media Convergence
Good writing is still the cornerstone for all media, but the lines between print and
broadcast news are blurring. The days of writing for a single medium have ended at
most news, public relations and advertising organizations.
This mixture of media is called “convergence,” “multimedia,” “integrated media”
and other terms. Although many of the skills you need to become a journalist are still
grounded in basic reporting and writing principles, in today’s market you’ll need to
gain some knowledge of how to present information for print, broadcast and online
Peter M. Zollman, a founder of Advanced Interactive Media Group in Florida,
says news organizations must be prepared to provide information on a variety of
devices: “You have to serve your audience with content and information they want
in whatever form they want it. That means print, audio, video on any device they
want. People will want the information they want when they want it. Your deadline
is whenever the heck you get it and make it available to your audiences.”
Rob Curley, who is considered one of the most innovative pioneers in online content, echoes Zollman’s perspective of providing the audience news in any form they
want. But he says the concept of convergence is changing. In the past a TV station
would cooperate with a newspaper by telling viewers to read more about the story
in tomorrow’s newspaper and the newspaper would promote something on the TV
station, or they would promote something on their Web sites. Curley says that was
the nature of convergence, but he says it was really just “cross-promotion.”

Bill Snead

Chapter 1

Changing Concepts of News 5

At many news organizations, that concept of convergence as
cross-promotion is still practiced, but more newspapers and broadcast news programs are increasing the content on their Web sites
with an emphasis on interacting with readers and viewers. Although
the terms “multimedia” and “convergence” can be considered interchangeable, some journalists consider multimedia as information
specifically created for several media with special elements designed
for the Web. The Lawrence-Journal World was a forerunner in this
respect, due in part to Curley.
Prior to his current position as vice president of the combined
interactive division of the Washington Post and Newsweek, Curley
gained national attention for the innovative Web sites he created at
the Lawrence Journal-World in Kansas. Because nearly 30,000 people
are students and employees of the University of Kansas in Lawrence,
Curley decided to create a separate Web site to appeal to the college audience. This site, www.lawrence.com, features content such
Rob Curley, vice president of product
as weekly drink specials, local bands, entertainment listings and the
development for Washingtonpost.Newsweek
most popular feature—blogs, which are personal journals written by
college students or members of the community.
“We really go all the way out with Lawrence.com,” Curley said in an interview
shortly after he created it. “Six weeks into the site, it broke a million page views. We
give a free print edition targeted to college students, but 100 percent of the content
of the print edition is from the Web. We believe it is important to create separate
brands. We built a really ‘edgy’ site. The Web site can e-mail you and remind you of
items on your cell phone. The Web site will call you. It features a database of all the
bands in town. The bloggers are the most visited part of Lawrence.com. We don’t pay
them. We do read all the blogs; we’re looking for some stuff that could be slander or
libelous. All of our bloggers have to use their real names.”
Another site Curley created, geared to the KU sports-loving community, is
www2.kusports.com. “We offer updates on game days every five minutes,” Curley
said. “We’re trying to appeal to our audiences. We hire the smartest college kid we
can find to do promotions.” The site also features live chats with the coach of the KU
Jayhawks basketball team and other sports-related personalities.
Curley’s influence is still apparent at the Journal-World, which continues to publish innovative multimedia projects, such as a recent one about underage drinking.
The project features an interactive map, which the reader can click on at different
locations to show the number of violations for each bar and liquor store.
The innovative nature of the Journal-World is due largely to the vision of its owner/
publisher Dolph C. Simons Jr. In 1991, long before convergence became a popular concept, Simons declared that the newspaper was no longer the only way to operate a media
business. The company publishes the newspaper and owns a cable TV station, provides
an Internet service and even offers telephone service to the community.
“We believe it is important to look upon our business as an ‘information business,’
not merely a newspaper or a cable television operation,” Simons said at an event
celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Journal-World. “We want to stay abreast
of new developments and be able to deliver news and advertising, as well as other
information, however a reader or advertiser might desire.”

Bill Snead

6 Part 1 ■ Understanding News

Convergence desk at the
Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World

Ten years later, Simons converted a vacant post office building into a modern
convergent newsroom. A circular multimedia desk dominates the ground-floor
atrium, which is surrounded by a balcony on the second floor, where the JournalWorld and cable TV reporters work. Editors on the multimedia desk coordinate with
print and broadcast reporters and editors.
Although the Journal-World is a morning newspaper, news is posted and updated
throughout the day and night. When reporters get a story, they have to write it for
the Web, where it will be posted shortly after the event occurred. Reporters may also
appear on the company’s cable television station, Sunflower Channel 6, where they
might report their story or discuss it with the anchor on the nightly news. Then the
reporters write a more complete or updated form of the story for the next morning’s
newspaper. The Web site also features chats with reporters and editors.
The most vivid example of convergence is the way the reporters collaborate. Reporters
who share the same beats from the newspaper and TV station sit together. The JournalWorld city government reporter’s desk is next to the reporter who covers that beat for
cable 6News, and the sports reporters and editors
for the newspaper, the TV station, and the Web site,
KUSports.com, also sit next to one another.
As the 21st century began, convergence took
a different form. Media organizations weren’t
just merging different technologies in the same
story; they were merging with other companies
that could provide the audio and video for their
online sites. Consider convergence more like a
marriage or partnership, in which each type of
media retains a distinct identity, but instead of
competing with one another, the different media
cooperate and contribute to the total product.
The Taj Mahal of media convergence is the
$40 million glass and concrete News Center
building, home to The Tampa Tribune, its partner
television station, WFLA-TV, and the joint Web site, www.tbo.com, all owned by
Media General Inc. The first floor houses a modern television station, complete with
robotic cameras, and the fourth floor contains administrative offices. But the nerve
centers are on the second and third floors. The heartbeat of this four-story monument is the multimedia center, a group of semicircular desks in an open atrium on
the second floor. Multimedia editors can look up to the third-floor newsroom of
the Tribune, or reporters can peer down from the balcony to the multimedia center.
More often, reporters stop by the desk to pitch their stories for the Web.
Although news decisions for the TV station and the newspaper remain separate, the multimedia staff coordinates stories that both media will cover for the
Web site. Kenneth Knight, multimedia coordinator of the News Center, says that
despite the sophisticated computer equipment, much of the collaboration occurs
by “sneakerware,” running upstairs to the Tribune newsroom or downstairs to the
TV producers’ offices, which encircle the second floor. On an almost daily basis,
the multimedia desk will use video from the TV station and print stories to produce multimedia packages on the Web site.

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