Category: J3117 – Summer 2017

The quote formula

J3117 - Summer 2017J3300 - Summer 2017Journalism Thoughts

The most fluid and clear way to structure a quote is to use what I call the quote formula. It has two parts. The first part is the introduction, where you would give the full name and title (if it is the first reference of that person) as well as a brief explanation as to why they are important to the story.

The second part, which is its own paragraph, is the direct quote. You should only use direct quotes for the most compelling parts — think of it as the text version of a soundbite. Everything else should be paraphrased.

An example: Andy Garmond, a climate scientist and professor at Florida Atlantic University, said poorer areas of north Miami-Dade County are particularly vulnerable to sea-level rise.

“The city of North Miami is just screwed,” he said. “It’s going to be a real mess.”

Other tips (which you should read as “requirements” for the purposes of this class):

  • Do not stack quotes. That is, do not quote person A and, in the next paragraph quote person B. Each time you switch sources, you must use the quote formula.
  • Use no more than three sentences for any direct quote. You should really be shooting for no more than two. 
  • Put the attribution (that is “he said”) after the first sentence. This makes it clear to your reader who is speaking.

Week 6 – Final schedule

J3117 - Summer 2017
A few details about Monday’s class, which will primarily a chance for you to work out the kinks in your stories. As noted before, the first pass of your final paper is due Monday at 12 pm.
(Note: I am not calling it a draft, as it should be essentially complete. I’m doing this to keep you from falling to the traps of incomplete information, bad sourcing or factual errors.)
During our class period, you will be asked to do the following:
– Edit and give in-depth suggestions to five of your classmates regarding their draft. (This means, of course, you will need to bring in five copies of your articles. Do not forget to do this.)
– Do your evaluation of this class
– Do a one-on-edit with me of your draft
Once these three pieces are completed, you are free to go. I will be spending as much time as needed with each of you, meaning we may go overtime. If you are unable to stay, I will give you the edits via email. I do not recommend this, but I also understand reality.

Week 5 assignments and due dates

J3117 - Summer 2017

Field Work:

  • Wednesday’s class is IN THE FIELD. Work on your second story. A reported draft (99% complete with at least two sources) is due June 12 @ 12 pm. (That’s next Monday!)
  • Bring in five (5) printed copies of this draft that day for peer editing.


  • Secondary edits of your first story are due June 6 @ 6 pm. If I don’t receive those edits by that time, I will be grading your first edits (aka the second version).
  • AND, the final paper itself is due June 14 @ 6 pm.

First story edits: Note

J3117 - Summer 2017

As I mentioned in the WhatsAp deal (and via email), you have a week from today (June 6 at 6 pm) to make any corrections, edits or to answer any questions I have posed. If you do not, I will grade the version you turned in today. Let me know if you need help with sourcing or getting any other information.

General thoughts

J3117 - Summer 2017J3300 - Summer 2017Journalism Thoughts

Here’s a few things to remember and keep in mind as we go through this semester:

  • Sourcing: When trying to get a specific piece of information, don’t just go to the obvious source. Take a moment and consider who else might have the information (and an opinion on that information, if need be). Then, reach out to multiple people at the same time. Don’t wait for your sources to return a call, just continue reaching out. Why? Because if Source A blows you off (or doesn’t have the info you’re looking for) Source B might. And if they both call back, bonus!
  • Photos: In our online world, photos, videos or graphics are increasingly vital. This means you may be asked to provide your own images. However, you need to get the names of anyone identifiable in your photos. Remember, get close! No one wants to see images 100 feet away from your subject. (Also reduces the number of people you need to get names from.)
  • Interacting: Remember that basic friendliness can go a long way. This does not mean butt-kissing or otherwise being obsequious, but it does mean to remember to be open, friendly and unfailingly polite.
  • Identifying yourself: You should identify yourself as a reporter for South Florida News Service as soon as is practical. First, this is basic journalism ethics: The people you speak to should know you’re a member of the news media. Second, that means your potential source is now on notice you may be writing down what they say. No additional notice or permission is required. This only applies to people who reasonably would be considered sources. It does not mean you have to blurt out to every receptionist, clerk or other gatekeeper that you’re a reporter. (They’re probably going to ask, though.)
  • But: Realize that this may mean people will treat you differently. This is natural. Remember, however, that you can put people at ease by saying that you’re just looking for some help finding some information, not that you’re going to quote them. Obviously, be truthful if you say this.
  • Finally: Know your rights. Reporters have no more rights than members of the general public to see documents, public records or other types of access. But it means we don’t have less right to see things or be in specific places than others. Don’t let public officials push you around. If they say you’re not authorized to see a document, ask for the specific exemption in the Sunshine Laws that allow for this. (If this is a low-level person doing this, politely ask to see their supervisor.

Wednesday’s class

J3117 - Summer 2017

Instead of a traditional class on Weds, we will be having one-on-one editing sessions on the final version of your first story, which is due on May 31 at 12 pm. This is to emulate how editing happens in a newsroom. This is what each of us will be doing during each students’ 15-minute block.

Because many, if not all, of these appointments will be next to one another, plan to be here at least five minutes ahead of your scheduled time. You only need to show up during that time slot, but attendance is necessary. We will be meeting at AC2 303.


Week three assignments

J3117 - Summer 2017

Field Work: 

  • Wednesday’s class is IN THE FIELD. You must give me a draft of your first story by May 24 @ 6 pm. Your draft must have at least two sources. Your final story needs three.  


  • Work on and complete NewsU module “Sources, Verification and Credibility.” Send a screenshot of your completion by May 26 @ 12 pm. 
  • Your first story is due by May 31 at 12 pm. Note that this is a Wednesday due to the Memorial Day holiday.
  • Attend a City Council/Commission meeting on your beat. You should do this as soon as possible, but due to schedules, that may not be possible. This is due by the end of class, which is June 14 @ 6 pm. Instructions and an example are in the attachment below.

City Council Memo Assignment [PDF]

Parts of a news story: Example

J3117 - Summer 2017J3300 - Summer 2017

By way of review, here are the basic parts of a story, annotated:

Federal prosecutor found dead along the beach [headline]

Grading Rubrics

J3117 - Summer 2017

Hi all,

Here are the rubrics I’ll be using to grade your pieces. Please review carefully.

Grading Rubric – Final [PDF]

Grading Rubric – First Pass [PDF]

In particular, note that there are significant penalties for factual errors (defined as anything that would require a printed correction, including misspellings of names) and missing deadline. In particular:

  • Minus 2 for each grammatical error
  • Minus 2 for each AP style error
  • Minus 25 for each misspelling or factual error
  • Minus 50 if deadline missed

Grammar Review & Writing Guide

J3117 - Summer 2016J3117 - Summer 2017

Here are electronic copies of the grammar and writing guides I passed out to the JOU 3117 class. If you’re in my JOU 3300, you only got the writing guide, but feel free to download the grammar one for review. Additionally, I strongly suggest you get a free account at in order to avoid some basic grammatical errors. The paid version is likely worth your while as well.

Grammar Review Writing & Reporting Tips [PDF]

Grammar Review [PDF]

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