MCom 100w

Writing Workshop

Archive for the category “Assignments”

Back to the present?

When we visited the visited the Japanese-American Internment Memorial in downtown San Jose last week, you probably thought we were talking about the history, looking at the past. But the next morning, I found this headline on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle: “Japanese Americans’ furor blocks internment-era artifact auction.”

The story opens: “Facing anguished protests from Japanese Americans, an auction house late Wednesday canceled Friday’s planned sale of 450 artworks and mementos from the camps where the United States held 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry during World War II.”

A follow-up story was published the next day: “Backlash cancels auction of internment camp item.”



Schedule updates

We will indeed be going to the MLK Library for a library research overview session this Wednesday, however we will be meeting in Room 213, not 125.

As noted on the class schedule, please download the Library Scavenger Hunt assignment and bring it with you (on your laptop or as a print-out) to the library session. Librarian Toby Matoush will point you to the answers for many of the questions in this assignment, which is now due Wednesday, March 4.

Also, I’ve added links to the News Story assignment on both the assignments page and the class schedule page. I’ve pushed back the due date for this assignment to Monday, March 2. Submit this assignment in class as a hard copy; do not post it on your blog.



Missing blogs?

If you haven’t yet set up your blog for this class, and emailed your blog’s web address to me, the time to do that is NOW.

Time’s a wasting …

Typo time

On Monday I’ll review AP style and the “Copy Edit the World” assignment. To help you get your “editing chops” up to speed, here are some fun errors I spotted and photographed over winter break.

The way the Copy Edit the World assignment works is that you must identify and correct an error to get credit. In this case, I’m offering two points extra credit to the first person to add a comment to this blog that identifies and corrects an AP style error, typo or other error in any of these pics.

Ypromo typoou’ll probably notice more than one error, but please just pick one to identify and correct in your comment. That will give more of you a chance to experience some of that “extra credit love.” (Also, please first check any published comments to see which errors have already been identified and corrected.)

surfing typo  menu typo

What’s due

If you didn’t finish your scholarly journal article summary in Monday’s class, please submit it Wednesday, along with the Library Scavenger Hunt assignment. Be sure to attach a copy of the first page of your scholarly journal article to your summary.

Submit both assignments as hard copies — do not post them on your blogs.


News story assignment

You’ve had some practice writing leads and a short news story in class. Now it’s time to write a news story that will be fully graded.

I’ve posted a link to the fact sheet for the News Story assignment, which is due next Monday, Sept. 29, on both the class schedule and on the assignments page. Please check the assignments page to review the requirements for this assignment. (Note: It’s the third item listed under the Outside Writing Assignments heading.)

This is a shortish new story. Make it around 200 words, which is about a page double-spaced.

Do not post this assignment on your blog. Print it out and submit it in class Monday as a hard copy.

Interviewing tips

When we talked about interviewing, I used to show a Pew Center for Civic Journalism videotape on conducting better interviews. It’s titled “Interviewing: New Questions, Better Stories.” Now you can find it online on Vimeo at

TBoxlogoThis video demonstrates how you can develop more complete and accurate stories by asking better questions and by listening for patterns of thought, instead of just listening for good quotes. And it suggests one general type of question that you can use to improve almost any interview.

Frankly, I wish someone had taught me this stuff back when I was working as a reporter. Check it out.

Some schedule changes

I just realized that I need to push back the due date for your Classmate Profile from April 2 (our first day back from spring break, because of Cesar Chavez Day) to Wednesday, April 9. That will give you time to talk again with the person you interviewed, just in case you realize over spring break that you need some additional information.

That change led to a couple of other changes — a ripple effect, you might say. So now your scholarly journal article summary #2 is due April 14 instead of April 9, and your blog post #8 – IMHO (In My Humble Opinion) is now due April 16 instead of April 14.

These changes are noted in orange on the class schedule.


Welcome to the class blog for MCOM 100w, sections 1 & 2.

You can find information about this class — including the syllabus, class schedule and assignments — on this blog. You can download a pdf copy of the course syllabus from the syllabus page of this blog. Or click below:

>> Download_spring ’14 syllabus (pdf) <<

When we do in-class writing assignments (which we’ll every week), I’ll put the links to those assignments on the class schedule page. You can find descriptions of the assignments for this class on the assignments page of this blog.

Please check this blog regularly, as the class schedule, assignments and due dates can change. If they do, those changes will be noted on the class schedule in orange so they’ll be easy to spot.

Throughout the semester, I expect you to write like an entry-level media professional — that is, I expect your writing to be accurate, clear and concise. If you have any unresolved writing issues, this is the semester to work them out. Don’t make me resort to “vandalism.”


Feature story checklist

imagesAs you work on your final feature or trend story, here’s a feature story checklist you can download to make sure you’ve got all the bases covered.

I recommend that you use this checklist to review your draft of your final feature or trend story before you bring it in to class for peer editing, and again before you submit your completed feature or trend story package at the end of the semester.

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