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It’s early in the semester and students at the college where I teach journalism have just turned in their first articles for the student newspaper. Most of them are really good, but as always there are a few common mistakes that students make early on. Here are some of the problems I see most frequently: Long leads and long paragraphs – Remember, news stories should use a one-sentence lead. And paragraphs in news stories should generally be just 1 to 2 sentences each. I can always tell when someone has written their first news story, because it’s invariably full of giant paragraphs that look likeRead More →

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The article, on a journalism website, was on a topic I’ve seen a lot of lately: a college newspaper had ditched print in order to focus exclusively on digital news. Not only that, the staff of this student news operation was expanding its focus to cover not just the campus but even some local and national news. Not surprisingly, the article practically gushed about the idea of these students leaving behind so-called “legacy” journalism to fully embrace online news. This is of a piece with the groupthink that pervades sites that cover the news business. Print journalism is old and thus bad. Digital is shinyRead More →

TONGJI Campus Siping Lu vor der 100 Jahrfeier

Everyone is familiar – and if they aren’t, they should be – with the scene in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” where Linus asks Lucy to give him one good reason why he should memorize his lines for the Christmas play. Lucy tells him, “I’ll give you five good reasons,” then proceeds to curl her fingers into a fist that she shakes menacingly at her brother. “Those are good reasons,” Linus responds sensibly. There are many reasons why journalism students should get involved with their college newspaper, but, using Lucy’s example, let me set out (in an entirely unthreatening way) the five most important. 1) It’sRead More →

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As a journalism professor I see lots of students who have big dreams. They imagine themselves working in glamorous jobs, usually in television, in the not-too distant future. They want to be ESPN anchors, host their own talk shows or be marquee columnists for top newspapers or websites. That’s fine. I never discourage my students from dreaming big. But too often these big dreamers lack three key elements in their thinking: 1) an understanding of the hard work and sacrifice that’s required to achieve such goals 2) a realistic assessment of what kinds of career goals are actually attainable 3) a sense of how importantRead More →

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It’s a time-honored progression: you start writing for your college newspaper and before you know it you’re recruited to be an editor. Suddenly, badly written articles are being thrown at you left and right and you don’t have a clue about what to do. This isn’t unusual. At many college newspapers, editing skills are picked up on the fly. With that in mind, here’s a list of eight things for new editors to watch out for. Buried leads – it’s not uncommon for beginning journalism students to do what’s called burying the lead. That means they put the most important information in a news storyRead More →