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Post Mortem, late….

04/11/2009

The road to hell, some say, is paved with good intentions.

Well, I’ve lived with the burden of good intentions all my life. Does that mean I’m on the road to …?

I ask (somewhat rhetorically) because I’ve minted a new intention: to conduct a weekly “post mortem” of blogs written in Com 300.

It’s my intention, with this new intention, to discuss briefly some problems I’ve detected in our weekly run. The plan is to offer solutions to these problems. And then I want to point to a few minor glitches I think I’ve found.

This first one applies to the blogs of April 3 and earlier. That’s why I’ve described this first entry as “late…”

Comment 1: Leads

The best one of the bunch was Kelsey Dewey’s: “While public school officials battle state and local budgets, private schools expect significant decreases in enrollment as more unemployed parents choose between costs of living and costs of education.”

What’s good about it? It’s a straightforward summary of the “facts” she unfolds in her story. She hits the who ([public school officials and parents), the what (expect decreases in enrollment), the how and why (as unemployed parents choose etc.)

Her “when” is understood, I think, because she’s writing about an ongoing, unfolding issue. A “where” would have been nice…

In your leads, strive for a summary of the news you’ve gathered. What made Kelsey’s lead even more significant is that everything else she included in her story related only to living costs, enrollment and education costs.  Her lead also didn’t imply or directly offer her opinion.

And finally, her lead wasn’t passive. “private schools expect” is not passive. Way too many leads are constructed with “has been,” “has pleaded,” “has been put,” “has proven to be,” “is finally here.”

Try to construct leads in which the actors act but are not acted upon. Here’s a great site to learn about how passive deflates action.

Comment 2: Sourcing

Sourcing continues to be troublesome. For some, it’s clumsy or awkward. For others, it’s nonexistent. The problem is so pervasive, I’ll try to draft a separate post to show in detail what I mean.

Minor comments:

Please remove the ! (exclamation point) key from your keyboards.  Unless it’s part of a quote, it’s almost never (!) ever(!) used in newswriting.

Over vs. more than:  Use over to refer to heighth or positioning. “The Green Giant stood over Jack.” Use more than to say something exceeds. “The Obama campaign raised more than $200 million,” not “over $200 million.”

Due to vs. Because….When “due to” is used as a preposition, “The Royals lost due to bad fielding,” replace it with because or because of.

That’s it for that week’s blogs. On to the latest round…

Worth reading: “Got Rules? Then Don’t Be Afraid to Share Them,” by Andrew Alexander, the ombudsman of the Washington Post. Of particular note: paragraphs 11, 12 and 13.

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