Friday, January 29, 2010

Common mistake in stories

While reading your stories on UCF parking problems, I have noticed a common mistake -- the use of THAT and WHO.

So here's a reminder.

Who or whom, rather than that, should be used when the antecedent is human or when it takes on human qualities.

i.e. The police officers WHO stopped my car were polite but firm.

The candidate WHOM the voters selected has been indicted.

This is one of those pens THAT write upside down.

Courtesy: When Worlds Collide: A media writer's guide to grammar and style.

Ann H

Stories in CFF

You guys are really on a roll....

Allison Lindblade is the fifth member of the class to get a story either published by CFF or posted on the website. Her story on a Haitian relief fundraiser was posted on the CFF website today.

I know some of you have received assignments and I look forward to helping you with the first round of editing and seeing your stories published.

Ann H.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

How to contact Bianca

Bianca Prieto's email address is if you are interested in job shadowing her, send her an email and she will try and arrange something.

Great experience and you have a fun time into the bargain.

Ann H.

How to find out what is happening in news industry

Bianca Prieto mentioned The Poynter Institute today and I we didn't get a chance to talk about it. Poynter is part of the foundation that owns The St. Petersburg Times and is dedicated to journalism. In addition to classes and seminars, Poynter has a blog Romenesko at which posts stories about newspapers, TV and magazines.

Most journalists check it at least once a day to find out what is happening in the industry.

Ann H.

Five questions to find The Hart of Your story -- Fast!

1. Why does my/our story matter?

2. What's the point of my/our story?

3. Why is this story being told?

4. What does it say about life, about the world, about the times we live in?

5. What is my/our story REALLY about? In ONE word?

speedwrite the answers in 30-60 seconds for each.

DAVID VON DREHLE, The Washington Post.


President Obama's State of the Union address at 9 p.m.

We'll be having questions on what he has to say and the reaction.

Homework Jan. 27

Chapter 9, Exercise 2 Page 229... Writing a complete story. Do just 1 and 2.

Prepare for News Quiz on Monday.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


The homework is to finish writing the first draft of your story on parking problems at UCF. Try and find out as much information as possible about the uiversity's parking system to include as background.


The AP Style quiz will be on ADDRESSES - Section 2, page 639.

The speaker - breaking news permiting - will be Sentinel crime reporter Bianca Prieto.

Monday, January 25, 2010


Here is the information that I got from Greg Heinkel for the parking story. You can use this in your own stories.

Senior Greg Heinkel, 21, a humanities major, was sitting reading a book Monday in a quiet corner outside the administrative office in the Nicholson Communications Building. He had more than three hours to kill before his first class.

Heinkel said he has always arrived on campus early after hearing horror stories from other students about the problems of finding parking. To be sure of getting parking, he arrives on campus at 8 a.m. for an 11.30 a.m. class.

"I just sit here for several hours," he said, putting his history book to one side to discuss campus parking. "I work on my homework. It isn't too bad. I can get a lot done."

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Briefs you wrote in class Jan. 20


I've just been reading through the briefs you wrote in class based on the scrambled notes I gave you.

For first attempts you did very well.

Here are some trends I noticed:


REMEMBER THAT AGES TAKE NUMBERS unless you are starting a sentence with an age.

The 5-year-old Putnam County girl. OR Five-year-old Haleigh Cummings.

Percentages also take numbers.

Put the news in the lead -- Stump, a 10-year-old Sussex spaniel, became the oldest dog Wednesday to win the coveted Westminster Kennel Club best in show award.

NEVER start a lead or sentence with the day of the week....Weave time element into the sentence.


If the person you are writing about is not well-known and his or her name wouldn't mean anything to most people, use broad facts for the lead and introduce name in second graph.

Example: An 18-year-old Brevard County man faces child pornography charges after police said he allegedly used his cell phone to send a photo of a former girlfriend's bare breast to a friend.

When a person is UNDER 15 years old, use their first name on second reference unless they are accused of a serious crime, then use their last name. Anyone 18 and older is referred to by their surname on second reference.

Generally use last names only on second reference. When it is necessary to distinguish between two people who have the same last name, use the first and last name even on second reference.

When referring to an person's age in numbers only - e.g. Jennifer Brown, 18, --- remember to enclose the numbers in commas.

Be careful of time elements -- your story will appear in the newspaper the next day, sometimes more than 24 hours after events occurred. So don't use terms like she is "currently being questioned" because it is doubtful that would be the case when a person was reading the paper.

Check your facts: i.e. Stump was NOT the 10th oldest dog to win the best of show award. He was THE oldest dog.

We'll be doing regular briefs writing exercises to build your speed and knowledge of how to construct simple, informative sentences.

Ann H

Friday, January 22, 2010



You did really well on the Style test, a couple of you even getting a perfect score.

One mistake was MY fault - It is Drug Enforcement Agency not administration as I told you. Obviously, I didn't penalize anyone for writing administration.

One common mistake most of you made - you abbreviated the names of states in a senence. You only abbreviate when it is part of an address i.e. 66 N. 31st Street, Orlando, Fla. or She lives in Montgomery, Ala. But it is .... The FBI took part in mass arrests in California, Texas, Hawaii, New York and Illinois.

Often helps to read the sentence aloud... you wouldn't say ... mass arrests in Calif., Texas, Hawaii, N.Y. and Ill.

Ann H.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

News briefs


There was some good work done Wednesday writing the news briefs. It looks easy at first but it takes some work to pack in as much information as possible using as few words as possible.

Here is how I would have written the briefs.

1. More than 100 offices from several law-enforcements agencies using bloodhounds and helicopters launched a massive search early Monday for a 5-year-old Putnam County girl who was reported missing from her family's trailer. Police said Ronald Cummings, in his 20s, learned that his daughter, Haleigh, had disappeared when he arrived home from work about 3:30 a.m. and was told by his girlfriend, Misty Croslin, 17, that the child was missing from her bed. Haleigh's mother, who lives in Georgia, was driving to Florida to help with the search. Police said there were no signs of forced entry at the trailer.

2. Education Commissioner Eric Smith warned Florida public schools Wednesday to prepare for another 2 per cent cut in state funding when the Legislature meets in March. More details were not available but Seminole County schools alone face $8.6 million in further cuts. The Seminole schools superintendent said the district stood to lose $64 million next year.

3. An 18-year-old Rockledge man could face child pornography charges after his underage former girlfriend accused him to sending cell-phone images of her bare breasts to another person. Police Sgt. Eric Bell said Bryce Aaron Dixon is accused of stalking the 16-year-old girl, who contacted police as soon as she learned the photo had been sent.

4. Stump, a 10-year-old Sussex spaniel, became the oldest dog to win the coveted best in show award at the Westminster Kennel Club on Wednesday, much to the delight of the New York crowd, which cheered his victory. Stump was retired from the showring in 2004 after he became seriously ill and nearly died.


Covering a meeting on Haitian relief paid off for Liset Valle-Jimenez whose story on the event was published by Central Florida Future.

Remember what Ashley Carnifax said when she talked to the class Wednesday - start off covering live news events like meetings, they are structured and usually you don't have to gather a lot of background and other information.

Ann H.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Homework assigned Jan. 20

Good class today. Thank you for all your energy and enthusiasm. It makes a huge difference.

Here is the homework.

Prepare for AP Style test next Wednesday, Capitalization page 640, Section 3.

Write single sentence leads (no more) exercise 2, page 164 - Do sections 1 through 5.

We will have a news quiz on Monday - 10 questions off current events during the past week. e.g. Who won the Massachusetts senate race?
How could the outcome affect the Obama agenda?

For those who need it, here is the email address Ashley Carnifax gave us to use for contacting her.

Ann H.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Wednesday's Class

Central Florida Future editors will talk to you about getting stories published - one of your main objectives for the semester.

We will have an AP Style test on abbreviations, but this one will be graded - 10 points maximum.

We'll discuss covering the story that we were part of last week and start writing news briefs suitable for online and a newspaper.

And if news happens again, we'll be ready to go.

Ann H.

CFF story meeting

In case you are not yet on the Central Florida Future email list, here is the advisory they just sent out about a meeting today to assign stories.

Yo! Our second writer's meeting of the semester will be tomorrow at 2 p.m. in the communications building. We're going to meet upstairs in the cafeteria in the far right corner of the COMM building. We'll be pitching stories for the Thursday, Jan. 28 and Monday, Feb. 1 issues. Bring your smiling faces and story pitches. Be there or be square! - Justine-- Sincerely,Bianca Fortis and Justine GriffinNews EditorsCentral Florida Future,UCF's student newspaperhttp://www.centralfloridafuture.comCall Bianca at 352-650-8540Call Justine at 727-743-7717

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How Sentinel wrote the story

Check out this link to see how the Orlando Sentinel covered the story.

For them it was a much smaller story plus they didn't have a reporter on the scene to get all the quotes that you guys did, which really made your stories come alive.,0,726591.story

The reporter, Bianca Prieto, is scheduled to speak to the class this month.

Homework - Jan. 13

With all the excitement we had today there wasn't much chance to talk about homework. If you reported on the fire, writeup your story. You can give it to me on Wednesday, Jan. 20, when we meet again.

Also make yourself familiar with AP Style - Section 2: Addresses, page 639.

I'll also contact the CFF editors to see if they will come to class next week.

Ann H.

Real Life Breaking News


Smoke billowing into a classroom, classes evacuated, police cars and fire trucks screaming to the building..... a real life news story. Who could ask for anything more!

Today's smokey-furnace scare was the perfect chance to get a taste of what news reporting is all about. You had to talk to strangers, gather information and stand around waiting for something to happen then some of you hurried back to write your stories.

My congratulations to all of you who hung in there until officials said we could re-enter the building.

Ann H.

Note from CFF news editors

(The good news - Justine, Bianca and Ashley will be at our class today)

Hey guys,

I was disappointed today when only a handful of you guys showed up for the meeting today. I hope you all try to make more of an effort in the coming weeks, and actually meet your NEW news editor, Bianca, in person. Anyways, here are the open stories for the next week:

Stories for Thursday Jan. 21 Deadlines: Draft, Friday Jan. 15, Final, Monday Jan. 18
1. Kiplinger's Recognizes UCF as a Top-40 Best Value University The University of Central Florida provides one of the nation's best values in education, according to a Kiplinger's report published today. UCF ranked 36th, advancing six spots from its 2009 position on the magazine's annual 100-school list of best-value U.S. public colleges and universities. What does this mean to students and faculty?

2. UCF Prof. honored by Obama UCF professor Lesia Crumpton- Young will be honored at the White House this afternoon by President Obama for her success with mentoring women and minorities who are studying engineering and with increasing diversity in her field. Crumpton-Young, a professor of Industrial Engineering & Management Systems, also will receive $10,000 from the National Science Foundation to help further her mentoring efforts. She is one of only 20 mentors nationwide who will be honored today. The Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring, awarded each year to individuals or organizations, recognizes the crucial role that mentoring plays in the academic and personal development of students studying science or engineering and who belong to minorities that are underrepresented in those fields. The 1:35 p.m. ceremony will be Webcast at To view the White House news release, click the link below. To read a fall UCF news release about the award, click the link below.

3. Religious student housing in Sem. County: A group of religious campus groups are trying to get a religious dorm set up next to North Gate Apartments, near the stadium. I believe it’s the Catholic Campus Ministries and Hillel, but other groups may now be involved. Many residents in the nearby Oviedo neighborhoods have been protesting against this. Where is this at now? What are they doing? Will these dorms require Housing RA’s? Is there money in their budget to hire more RA’s? 4. UCF Hockey club profileThe team, although it’s a club level, is ranked #2 in the South. Where do they play? How often do they practice/play games? Against what teams? What kind of audience do they get for this? Russell Pittman, President (954) 854-3908 ttp://

5. Blue Man Group – one of them is a UCF alumni. Profile him! How did he become a Blue Man? What did he study at UCF?
6. UCF Alzheimer’s Discovery Could Lead to Long-sought Preventive Treatment new discovery by University of Central Florida researchers has revealed a previously unknown mechanism that may drive the early brain function deterioration of Alzheimer’s victims, thus opening a new exploratory path in the quest for an Alzheimer’s cure.The research, which will be published Friday, Jan. 8, in the peer-reviewed science and medicine journal PLoS ONE, also demonstrates how the unique application of an existing cell research technique could accelerate the discovery of treatments to exploit the new findings.

7. Rent your books versus buying them: How many students at UCF are interested in renting their books through places like versus buying them? Is it really a cheaper alternative? Find out how many students are using this servie versus buying books? How much are they saving? What is the process like? What do local bookstores think? I believe CB&S started renting books too.Since Chegg started, it has made it possible for hundreds of thousands of students at more than 6,400 colleges save in excess of $84 million. Students at University of Central Florida have saved over $424,348. In addition, for every textbook that’s rented, Chegg will plant a tree through a partnership with American Forests.Angela

For Monday, Jan. 25 Deadlines: Draft, Wednesday Jan. 20, Final Friday Jan. 22

1. Why Do Students Drop Out? Because They Must Work at Jobs TooWhat’s the drop out rate at UCF? What’s the average age of the drop out population? Is this higher than other universities? Why? And the main reasons? What is UCF doing to prevent this?
Seventy-one percent of those surveyed who had quit college said that work was a factor in the decision, and more than half said it was a major factor. About 35 percent of those who dropped out said they had tried to balance work and study, and found it too stressful.

2. How many international students does UCF have?
Most universities have a large international program b/c it helps fund higher tuition and better research. How does UCF compare to other large universities across the nation? How many international students are enrolled currently? How many more are we expecting in recent years? What’s it like to be an international student – what are the constraints? What makes it different than being a student from the U.S. or even Fla?

3. It's a new day at Seminole State CollegeState of the art classroom-library building opens Monday, when college's first four-year degree program starts Why is UCF partnering with the community college? What does UCF get out of this? What are the pros and cons for each student? Faculty? A new era begins at Seminole State College on Monday.In addition to launching its first four-year degree program, the college is opening a new $30 million classroom/library building that caps an $85 million construction campaign that has changed the face of the main campus in Sanford.The new 109,000-square-foot, four-story building, built in collaboration with the University of Central Florida, is called the Partnership Center because it will serve both schools.UCF offers 11 degree programs taught by its own faculty on Seminole State's main campus, allowing students to pursue a bachelor's degree in majors such as psychology, nursing and elementary education without having to trek to the university's main campus in east Orlando.Instead of being taught in classrooms across campus, UCF courses will all be based in the Partnership Center.,0,1713270.story

4. IDEAS –is having an entire media review by the U.S. Department of Energy. IDEAs is a really involved group on campus, and this is the groups first full year on campus. Talk to Prez. Chris Castro – 786-234-5524 5. DREAM WALK –
There are these kids walking from Miami to DC in support of the DREAM Act. UCF kids are going to have some events with them while they're passing through Orlando. Basically it's event coverage but since it's a week long and part of a much larger political issue, I thought maybe we could include it in News. Let me know what you think. There's more info at the facebook event page:

-- Sincerely,Bianca Fortis and Justine GriffinNews EditorsCentral Florida Future,UCF's student newspaper
Call Bianca at 352-650-8540Call Justine at 727-743-7717

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Homework - Jan. 11

Dear Class

I enjoyed meeting you all on Monday and reading your stories.

Here is the homework - Read Basic News Leads Chapter 7, Page 148 of the textbook.

Also familiarize yourselves with AP Style Abbreviations Section I on Page 638-639.

The class on Wednesday will focus on Central Florida Future, launching you on AP Style and writing short news paragraphs.

Ann H.

Monday, January 4, 2010


I'm looking forward to meeting you on Monday - Jan. 11 - and launching our 16-week journey into the world of news reporting. It is a world that I can promise you offers infinite challenges, makes huge demands on your time and energy and is never boring.

There is nothing quite like the adrenalin rush of covering that big story, getting that interview that everyone else wants and turning your copy in on deadline and then seeing your story on the front page the next day. Or getting the copy online before anyone else. And don't let's forget Twitter and Facebook, all important tools for today's journalist.

On Monday, we'll spend time getting to know each other - I've already downloaded your photos so hope to recognize some of you by name - and going over the syllabus so you have a good idea of the rules of engagement. We'll also do some writing.

This is a boots-on-the-ground class so you will be doing a lot of reporting, writing on deadline and interviewing. You'll also be expected to get stories published in Central Florida Future and have a commanding knowledge of AP Style - the golden-rule book that all journalists use when they want to know what to abbreviate, when to use numbers, how to handle measurements and dozens of other challenges that arise every time you sit down to bang out a story.

You'll find basic AP rules in your class textbook Reporting For the Media (Ninth Edition) by John R. Bender, Lucinda D. Davenport, Michael W. Drager and Fred Fedler (Published by Oxford Press). The book should be available in the campus book store.

Even better - try and get a second-hand version from a student who no longer needs the book.

Meanwhile, start thinking about possible stories you could cover. The UCF campus is a goldmine. And pickup and read those free newspapers - USA Today and Central Florida Future. If you have some spare change get the Orlando Sentinel. However, I'll bring my copies from home for you to share.

Ann Hellmuth

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Syllabus Spring 2010

JOU 2100 News Reporting
Instructor: Ann Hellmuth

Contact info:

Class hours: Mondays and Wednesdays 1 p.m. to 2.50 p.m. COM211

Office hours: I will be available before and after classes and you can always email me for advice.

Homework and tips are posted on

Credits: 3 credits.

Textbook: Reporting For the Media, by Fred Fedler, ninth edition.

Bring your textbook and a flash drive to every class.

Purpose: To introduce you to the craft of news reporting, the fundamental skill upon which all of journalism is based. After successfully completing this course, you should be able to:

Use language correctly.
Be accurate.
Work under and respect deadlines.
Recognize, gather and assemble news into a readable form.
Use the Internet to access public records, verify information and develop story ideas.
Write the kinds of basic news stories for print and online that reporters tackle every day: briefs, news releases, news conferences, interviews with newsmakers, speeches and meetings, obituaries, brights and features.

Requirements: Accuracy, attendance and respect for deadlines.

Accuracy: Because accuracy is the No. 1 priority of professional journalists and the readers of their work it is heavily emphasized in this
class. It is imperative that you care enough to keep your work free of avoidable errors. Stories containing a serious factual error or a misspelled proper name will result in a warning on the first offense. Afterwards, a story that contains these kinds of spelling errors will get an automatic F. Be sure to verify the spelling of names with a second reliable source.

For exercises from the textbook, consult the city directory in the back of the book. To show that you have verified a name’s spelling draw a box around the name every time it appears in the story.

Attendance: Your attendance is vital, especially since this is a skills course and the foundational course in the journalism major and the magazine minor at UCF. I will take roll at the start of each class. You are allowed two absences during the semester. If you miss more than the equivalent of two class periods I will reduce your overall course grade by one letter. If you attend only part of a class (you skip out at the break) you will only get credit for half the class.
If you are absent from class you will not be able to make up any of the assignments or quizzes due during that class and will take a zero. The only exceptions to this rule will be the following:

1. If your absence is due to an official university-sponsored
activity. In that case your sponsor must provide me with
advance written notice that you will not be in class.

2. You have registered with the student disabilities office and
you present me with a letter from the office at the
beginning of the term requesting accommodation.

3. Your absence is due to your observance of a recognized
religious holiday. You must notify me in advance.

If you are hospitalized, experience a death in your family or you’re summoned to jury duty. You must contact me in advance and provide documentation (doctor’s note, funeral program/obituary or jury summons) the next time you come to class. People occasionally get sick or have car trouble that causes them to miss a class. I make allowances for that by letting students drop one zero on a quiz or in-class assignment at the end of the term.

Assignments: News reporting is a skill that is learned by doing. There will be frequent exercises and assignments. Some will be for practice; others for a grade. Story assignments should be typed and double-spaced, with your name, slug (story name and date ex: WRITE08) and date in the upper left corner.

Deadlines: A cardinal rule of journalism is making deadline. News organizations are serious about them – so are we. Assignments are due at class time. I do not accept late assignments. If you experience one of the emergencies mentioned above I will extend your deadline. Otherwise, your assignments are due at class time.

Sources: News stories are based on information provided by sources. You should strive to provide the most qualified and authoritative sources for your stories. That means interviewing people who know the most about the subject of your story: experts, eyewitnesses, participants or credible spokesmen and women. Do not use roommates, co-workers, friends or other acquaintances as sources. It’s lazy, unethical and real reporters don’t do it.

Grades: Because this is a skills course you will learn primarily by doing – over and over. There will be frequent graded assignments, quizzes and tests. All of them will be worth a certain number of points. At the end of the term, I will add up your points. If you have 90 percent or more of the total points, you will receive an A; 80 percent or more, a B; 70 percent or more, a C; 60 percent or more, a D; and 59 percent or below, an F.

Borderline grades (defined as 59.1-59.9, 69.1-69.9, 79.1-79.9, 89.1-89.9) are eligible to be bumped up to the next higher grade, depending on your level of engagement and participation during the semester. Note: A minimum grade of “C’’ in this class is a prerequisite for advanced reporting and editing courses. I don’t use pluses or minuses.
Stories: 100 - 150 points

Assignments: 10-50 points

Quizzes/tests: 10-100 points

Final Feature story: 100 points

Published story: 100 points, Additinal stories 50 points extra credit

Grading criteria:
90-100: A
89-80: B
79-70: C
69-60: D
59-50: F

Quizzes: Frequent quizzes will be given in class. The quizzes will be on the assigned reading and current events. You should assume that you will probably be quizzed on each assigned chapter. News quizzes will be on Mondays, unless noted otherwise, and will cover prominent news events from the previous week. Therefore, you should make it a habit to regularly read the New York Times, USA Today, the Orlando Sentinel and the Central Florida Future. The quizzes will usually have about 10 questions.

Why news quizzes? Two reasons:
To help you learn to recognize news, develop news judgment and become more aware of the world around you.
Reporters can’t inform others if they are not informed.

Published story: To encourage journalism students to begin working on their portfolios, all students in the class are required to have a story published during this term by the Central Florida Future. You must give me an original of the clip and it must contain your byline and a date of publication.Your story must be published and you must give me your clip by APRIL 16, 2010. PLEASE, DO NOT PROCRASTINATE. YOU CANNOT GET EVEN A C GRADE WITHOUT A PUBLISHED STORY.

The published article must be a news story (no reviews, opinion columns or letters to the editor). You must do some actual reporting.
It must be a minimum of 300 words and contain three sources.
Cheating: The School of Communication’s Journalism Division adheres to the Code of Ethics adopted by the Society of Professional Journalists. Journalism is a limited-access program, and students who violate the code – who plagiarize or fabricate, for example – will be dropped from the program. At faculty members’ discretion, violations of the code – or of UCF’s Golden Rule – also may be referred to the Office of Student Conduct.

How your stories will be graded:
A (Excellent)

Story is newsworthy, exceptionally well written, thorough, free of errors.
The lead is clear, concise, interesting and emphasizes the news (the latest,
most interesting, unusual or important details).
Body is well organized and contains effective transitions, quotations,
descriptions and anecdotes. The story requires little editing.
The story is based on information from a variety of authoritative sources.
Because of the story’s obvious merit editors would be eager to publish it.

B (Good)
Story could be published after minimal editing.
The lead summarizes the story accurately but could be more interesting.
Following paragraphs are reasonably well organized.
Story could be more interesting, thorough or cohesive.
Story contains a few (2-3) style, spelling or grammatical errors.
Story is based on information from at least two sources.

C (Average)
Story is superficial or could be published only after extensive editing.
Lead is too wordy or may fail to emphasize the news.
Story is disorganized.
Story contains several (3-5) style, spelling or grammatical errors.
A few sentences or paragraphs have to be rewritten because they are too
long, awkward, wordy, passive or confusing.
The story is based on a single source.

D (Poor)
Story is superficial or requires extensive rewriting and editing.
Story contains numerous (5 or more) style, spelling and grammatical
Story is of questionable newsworthiness.
The story is based on weak sources (little or no authority or credibility).
Story could not be published without extensive rewriting.

F (Fails)
Story could not be published nor easily rewritten because it is too
confusing, incomplete or inaccurate.
Story contains a misspelled name or other serious factual error.

Class Schedule Spring 2010


Instructor: Ann Hellmuth
Contact info:
Textbook: Reporting For the Media, by Fred Fedler, ninth edition.
Bring your textbook and a flash drive to every class.

CLASS SCHEDULE – In the news business nothing is predictable, so this schedule will change and change again throughout the semester as we react to the news.

The aim of this course is for you to get as much practical experience as possible in writing stories with speed, accuracy and style. Each week we’ll do assignments based on the news of the day. There will be weekly tests on current events and AP Style. Learn AP Style – you can’t succeed without KNOWING the rules of the game. So learn a few rules each day and by the end of the semester expect to be tested on how AP Style applies to everything you write from ages to numbers to addresses and titles.

You can email me with questions and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Also checkout the class blog at I post the homework and story tips there.

Here’s how the grades will work. News quizzes and AP Style tests carry 10 points each –those tests can add 20 points a week to your grade, so take them seriously.

Original news reporting stories carry up to 50 points.

Classroom assignments from 20 to 25 points.

There will be occasional Extra Credit assignments.

Deadlines must be observed. Late assignments will not be accepted. DON’T EVEN ASK.


JAN. 11 - Getting to know you and learning the rules of the class. Assignment will be to write at least 250 words telling me about yourself and what you hope to get out of the class.

JAN. 13 – The importance of Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. We’ll start learning to write simple news briefs for newspapers and the web. Chapter 7 on basic news leads will help you get a start. We’ll have our first news quiz so you get a taste of what is expected and we’ll start learning AP Style. Central Florida Future editors will be on hand to discuss getting published in CFF, a major assignment for the semester.


JAN. 20 - Sentinel Breaking News reporter Bianca Prieto will discuss her job. Get prepared by reading pages 399-408 on crime reporting

JAN. 25 and 27 – We'll start working on a Valentine's Day assignment, checking out all the events and sounding out students on their plans. There will be tests and in-class assignments.

FEB. 1 and 3 – You’ll get a chance to practice your interviewing skills and write a news story when a UCF police officer Jeanette Emert talks to the class on Feb. 3 about crime on campus and what you need to know about avoiding trouble. Read Chapter 10 on quotations and attributions. We'll start working on a Valentine's Day assignment, checking out all the events and sounding out students on their plans. There will be tests and in-class assignments.

FEB. 8 and 10 – Finishing off our Valentine's Day assignment. Deirdre Macnab, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida will speak to the class on Feb. 10, marking the 90th anniversary of women getting the vote and the League's 90th birthday on Feb. 14. You'll write a spot news story off her speech.

FEB. 15 and 17 – Sentinel Breaking News Editor Greg Miller will be with us on Feb. 15 to discuss what to expect when covering breaking news. We also need to get out and about on campus and take a sounding of what students have on their minds in preparation for writing a story combining all that you have learned so far – AP Style, interviewing, writing punchy leads, compiling information from different sources. More writing on deadline. There will be tests and in-class assignments. Read Chapter 5.

FEB. 22 and 24 – There is more than one way to approach a story – the alternative lead. Laura Brost will speak to us about AIDS orphans in Africa and you'll sharpen your interview skills and write a story on deadline. Read Chapter 8 on alternative leads.

MAR. 1 and 3 – Let’s take stock of what we have learned. There will be writing and AP Style tests. You'll interview students and write stories in class on Spring Break – can they afford it this year? Does it mean anything anymore? We’ll come up with questions to ask and story angles in class.


MAR. 16 and 18 – Time to get out and cover a meeting. Prepare by reading Chapter 13.

MAR. 22 and 24 – Professor Rick Brunson will teach a public records class on March 22 and 24.

MAR. 29 and March 31 – You may be surprised to learn that obituaries are among the most popular stories in the newspaper. Writing them is an art you’ll need to learn so let’s start by reading Chapter 12. You’ll pair up with another student, interview each other and write their obit from the perspective of being 60 years old.

APRIL 5 and 7 – Moving on to feature writing - Chapter 15. Speaker TBA.

APRIL 12 and 14 – Writing a news feature on deadline. Speaker TBA

APRIL 19 and 22 – Practice writing features in preparation for your end of the semester project – a news feature that will carry a possible 100 points.

APRIL 26 - Deadline for handing in your published story with byline and date. THIS IS WORTH 100 points. We’ll work on news feature projects.


MAY 3 - FINAL SESSION WEEK – You’ll get your papers back and we’ll discuss how the class went.