Grading continues apace

I’m working my way through last week’s assignments. I’ve finished grading about half of them today; I’ll try to finish reviewing the rest of them tomorrow. I’ll also email your first AP style exercise tomorrow.

This time I started grading from the top of the alphabet; next week I’ll work from the bottom up so that those of you at the end of the alphabet aren’t always getting your grades last.

I’m seeing a few recurring problems in these assignments, so here are some things to remember:

  • Most of you are not identifying the news values present in your top news story. See Inside Reporting, p. 19, “What Makes a Story Interesting to Readers?” for a list of news values.
  • I’m seeing a tendency to write leads that sound like headlines, not sentences. Make sure your lead reads like a sentence. One way to do that is to make sure you include the words “the” and “a” in your leads.
  • Don’t start with your lead with the “when” or “where” of a story. Start with the most important and/or interesting info, which is generally the “who” and/or “what” of the story.
  • Keep your lead paragraph to 25-35 words, and preferably to one sentence. This means not all information will fit in the lead. It’s up to you to figure out which information is the most important (such as what happened, when and where), and which information can go in a subsequent paragraph.
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