Podcast on writing profiles

Here’s the latest podcast on writing profiles. This lecture was recorded Sept. 18 in the Section 4 class. I’ve edited it down to about 12 minutes.

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Interviewing lecture podcast

Last week’s lecture on interviewing is now available as a podcast. You can find it by clicking on the “Lectures & Podcasts” tab at the top of this blog, or by clicking on this direct link. I’ve edited it down to a little over 15 minutes.

I played around with this lecture in Garageband, adding a brief introduction and a bit of intro music (you’ve gotta have music!). Let me know what you think. (Oops, the music isn’t working…guess I’ve still got some work to do to figure that part out.)

The second part of this lecture, which will be posted in the next day or so, focuses on working with quotes. It will be shorter, about 8-10 minutes long.

Putting blogs to work

Wondering how you might put a blog to good use (other than for posting your class assignments or for personal journaling)? You might want to take a look at JMC grad student Ryan Sholin’s blog, Invisible Inkling.

Blog as PortfolioHe’s used his blog as a venue to explore his chosen field of online journalism, and to make a name for himself in the field. He’s recently added an online portfolio page to his blog. It does a nice job of showcasing his experience, his skills and his aspirations.

This type of thing works best on a WordPress blog (like the one used for the home page of this class) because it supports stand-alone, linked “pages” as well as chronological blog posts. The Blogger blogs that most of you are using for this class are a little easier to use, but lack that handy “pages” feature.

While you’re taking a look at Sholin’s online portfolio, you might also want to peruse some of his blog posts. You could learn a thing or two.

What’s your Fog Index?

The Fog Index measures the readability of your writing. As our text notes (on p. 51), the index assumes that the longer your sentences and the bigger your words, the more difficult it will be to penetrate your prose.

So this week I’d like you to take a typical example of your writing and test your Fog Index. If you haven’t been able to get a textbook, here are the directions:

  1. Find a typical sample of your writing — about 100 words
  2. Count the average number of words you use per sentence
  3. Count the number of “hard” words you used (that is, words of 3 or more syllables, excluding proper names)
  4. Add those two numbers together (Ex.: if you used 12 words per sentence and 10 big words,  you’d have: 12+10=22)
  5. Multiply that sum by 0.4 (Ex.: 22 x 0.4=8.8)
  6. The resulting number is your Fog Index — that is, the number of years of schooling someone would need to understand what you’ve written.

In your blog post, which is due Sept. 13 (s. 4) or Sept. 15 (s. 8), please include your “100 words,” your Fog Index calculations, and your Fog Index. Then write a paragraph about what you learned from this exercise: Were the results what you expected ,or not? Is your writing too wordy and complex…too simple…or just about right?

SJSU writing workshops

If you’d like some help improving your basic writing skills, you might want to take advantage of some of the offerings at the SJSU Writing Center. In addition to helpful handouts from UNC-Chapel Hill, the Writing Center is offering a series of writing workshops this fall. All workshops are held in Clark 116.

For example, you might want to consider participating in the workshops on paragraph development (Thurs., 9/20, 2-2:50 p.m.) and punctuation (Tues, 10/16, 10:30-11:20 a.m.). There’s also a video on the appropriate use of commas.

Alternative textbook

I understand some of you are still having trouble getting a copy of Tim Harrower’s Inside Reporting, the required text for this class. In the meantime, while you’re waiting for your copy to come in, please read The Process of Writing News by R. Thomas Berner. It is available online for free (always a nice asset).

The Berner book was written in 1992, so it’s a definitely a little dated (that’s why we’re no longer using it as our primary text for this class). However, Berner’s basic info and advice on writing skills, writing leads and writing news stories is excellent. Even if you have a copy of Inside Reporting, you might want to read parts of the Berner Book as a supplement.

You’ll also find a link to the Berner book on the “Resources” tab/page of this blog.