MCom 100w

Writing Workshop

Archive for the tag “United States”

Extra credit

Write a 350-word film review on the documentary, Under Arpaio, which will be screened today from 4-6 p.m. in Engineering 189. Following the screening, director J.M. Aragon will answer questions about the documentary and situation in Maricopa County.

Alternatively, you can write a 350-word news story suitable for the Spartan Daily on the screening of this film and Director J.M. Aragon’s Q&A session.

Under Arpaio shows the grassroots resistance to Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who prides himself on being the “toughest sheriff in America.” Arpaio is known for immigration raids on migrant and Latino neighborhoods and for human rights violations in his jails. More information about the documentary can be found on the Justice Studies website.

This extra credit option is worth up to 15 points. (Remember, you can submit  a maximum of 30 points worth of extra credit options this semester , so if you’ve already done that, you can’t do this one too.)

You can submit your film review or news story as a hard copy, or post it on your blog. If you haven’t written a movie review before, make sure you write an actual review, not a simple plot synopsis. Here are some good resources on writing reviews:


Watch the debate

If you’re planning to watch the first presidential debate tonight (and I sure hope you are), you might want to consider joining other SJSU students and faculty at the downtown San Jose Hilton Hotel.

The SJSU political science club is hosting a debate party at the Hilton, starting at 5:30 p.m. The debate airs live from 6 to 7:30 pm. Expect some local media to be on hand for local reactions. (Yes, if you go, you could end up on the evening news.)

You could also write about the presidential debate for extra credit for this class. Please refer to the Assignments page of this blog and review the directions for Blog Post #6 (NPR interview) to get some ideas of things to watch for (and write about) while viewing the debate.

Field trip!

Here we all are at the Japanese Internment Memorial, outside the federal building in downtown San Jose.

What a great looking group!

Hiring uptick

It looks like your chances of finding a job when you graduate are starting to improve … if the increasing number of recruiters coming to Bay Area campuses is any indication.

Check out “Hiring surge brings recruiters to Bay Area campus job fairs” for details.

Focus stories

What’s a “focus story” you ask? It’s a story about an issue or trend that starts out by focusing on an individual.

Focus story structure allows you to “humanize” or “put a human face” on a complex issue or trend. It’s an effective way to draw attention to an important issue or trend that might not otherwise engage our interest.

Stories written using the Wall Street Journal formula are often focus stories.

For an example of focus story structure, read the opening paragraphs of this story, “Nail salon workers exposed to toxic chemicals,” which appeared a while back in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Notice that the extended lead — the two opening paragraphs — tells the story of a nail salon worker who’s become ill. Then, in the third and fourth paragraphs, writer Elizabeth Fernandez introduces the larger issue: cosmetic products contain hazardous chemicals that are unregulated. Next, you find out that state Sen. Carole Migden is holding legislative hearings on the hazards posed by these chemicals and what should be done about them.

Consider how less interesting this story would be if the writer had simply written about the legislative hearings. By using focus story structure and focusing on an individual, the writer helps us recognize and understand the issue’s impact and relevance.

For another example of a focus story, check out “Who Will Care for Dana?” in April 3 issue of Parade magazine. It’s about a young woman with autism and the difficulties she and her family will face as she “ages out” of the existing, school-based support system for people with autism. But it’s not just about this one young woman — it asks what will happen to all children in the U.S. who have autism as they get older.

Here’s the nut graf that makes the transition from Dana’s story to that larger story:

In the next 15 years, an estimated 500,000 autistic children like Dana will graduate out of school systems in the U.S. and into the unknown. Meaningful programs for them are scarce, and funding even scarcer. “We’re at the moment of truth to address the numbers of children aging into adulthood,” says autism activist Linda Walder Fiddle. “Their lives are hanging over a cliff, and we must not let them fall.”

Why spelling matters

See: J.D. Hayworth Campaign Misspells McCain’s Name In Response To Attack Ad, thus reinforcing McCain’s message that his opponent is kind of dumb.

Also see the definition of the phrase, “Hoist by his own petard.”

Field trip

Students viewing the Japanese Internment Memorial, located a few blocks from campus, just outside the entrance to the Robert Peckham Federal Building in downtown San Jose.

See a broadcast, earn extra credit

KTEH (Public Television 54) is broadcasting a town hall meeting on the mortgage crisis at 6 p.m. this Sunday, Aug. 30 … and JMC students are invited to join the studio audience.

Facing the Mortgage Crisis,” a live program, will feature a panel of local mortgage and foreclosure experts answering questions about coping with the mortgage crisis.

By taking part in this broadcast, you’ll have the opportunity to see how a five-camera shoot is handled. Broadcast Prof. Diane Guerrazzi adds that the KTEH station manager will give students a tour of the control room after the broadcast.

To reserve a spot in the studio audience, please email KTEH ( Include your name, telephone number, email address, and number of tickets you would like. If you have a question for the expert panel, please include it.

When: 5:45 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 30
Where: KTEH, Channel 54, 1585 Schallenberger Road, San Jose

P.S. If you write a blog post about this experience, you can also earn 10 points extra credit for 100W.

Resume resources

resumeSince you’re working on resumes and cover letters this week, I’ve added some resume-writing links to the Texts/Resources page of this blog. You’ll find them listed under the heading Samples & Examples.

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