Category: J3300 – 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 That is, do not quote person A and, in the next paragraph quote person B. Each time you switch sources, you must use the quote formula.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 article and schedule

J3300 - Summer 2017
Just as a reminder, the first pass (note I’m not calling it a draft b/c it should be essentially done) of your third and final story will be due at 12 pm on Tuesday.
During our class period, you will be asked to do the following:
– Edit and give in-depth suggestions to four of your classmates regarding their draft. (This means, of course, you will need to bring in four 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
I realize the syllabus says “potluck” but know that I’ll be bringing in some goodies for us. No need for any of you to worry about it.
Thank you all for your hard work and dedication this semester. Taking this class during the summer is a challenge, but I hope it was a rewarding experience.

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.

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]

May 18 Story Budget

J3300 - Summer 2017

Slug: New synagogue under construction in North Miami Beach

Writer: Olga Castro

Summary: Bais Menachem Chabad, a synagogue in North Miami Beach is under construction and is slated for completion within the next three months. The synagogue is one more in the city of North Miami Beach which has a large concentration of orthodox Jews.

Live Art/Photographer: Yes, of current construction underway and plans (Castro).

Words: 500
Deadline: May 18 @ 6pm


Slug: MOCA Haitian Flag Day Celebration

Writer: Briana Boone

Summary: The Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami is hosting a Haitian Flag Day Celebration on May 18th from 5pm-8pm. South Florida is the one of the largest Haitian populations in the United States, and hundreds of people are expected to show up at the event.

Live Art/Photographer: No

Words: 450

Deadline: May 18 @ 8pm


Slug: More open space

Writer: Alexandra Rodriguez

Summary: There was change to an ordinance to change the meaning of “open space” which is an area of well-kept landscape that can be accessed by anyone. it used to only mean the space between the ground and the sky. The change was to include rooftop gardens, patios and terraces.

Live Art/Photographer: No

Words: 500

Deadline: May 18@ 6pm


Slug: North Miami Gentrification

Writer: Eduardo Fuentes

Summary: Generally, Miami is known for its nightlife and city that doesn’t sleep type of attitude. Is North Miami an outlier or is it becoming an area of gentrification starting with projects like the redevelopment of the Liberty Square public housing projects in North Miami. Is this increasing its inhabitants and visitors?

Live Art/Photography: Yes (Fuentes)

Words: 600

Deadline: May 18 @ 6 pm


Slug: US citizenship classes

Writer: Luis Centeno

Summary: The City of North Miami Beach Public Library is offering free citizenship classes every Tuesday evening. This includes preparation for the civic knowledge interview and for the writing/reading test. I plan on interviewing the person teaching the classes, and one or two students. Also, I plan on seeing if there is a trend or a spike in the amount of people participating in the classes.

Live Art/Photographer: Yes, of public library (Centeno)

Words: 600

Deadline: May 18 @ 6pm


Slug: Carl Blencowe and SuperGreen Solutions

Writer: Alexander Toledo

Summary: This up-and-coming company is all about going green and helping others do the same, providing energy-efficient (and time-efficient solutions) for business, residences, etc. They do customized designs and handle installation as well, making it easier on the consumer to save energy and save money. The man who opened this particular franchise location, Carl Blencowe, has an interesting backstory involving his homeland, family, construction and business.

Live Art/Photographer: No

Deadline: May 18 @ 6pm


Slug: Adult Soccer

Writer: Damian Gordon

Summary: This program runs from September to June, featuring teams for adults and youth alike to play in. Speaking to the players about their experience and also one of the coordinators on how things are prepared and such. Talking to the adult players would be fascinating, seeing what kind of jobs and lifestyles they have outside of it and why they come to play.

Live Art/Photographer: Players practicing/field (Gordon)

Words: 500

Deadline: May 18 @ 6pm


Slug: Aventura Mall’s expansion comes at what expense?

Writer: Ingrid Padron

Summary: Sure, Aventura Mall’s newest three-story indoor and outdoor wing may bring in more money and tourists, but what to local residents and surrounding businesses think about this new addition to the already popular mall.

Live Art/Photographer: Yes, of Aventura Mall now and traffic. (Padron)

Words: 600

Deadline: May 18 @ 6pm

Budget Line Format  

J3117 - Summer 2017J3300 - Summer 2017

In most newspaper organizations, reporters are required to pitch stories to their editors in a specific format. This is often called a “budget line.” This is a summary of the proposed story, its intended length, whether there will be art or other multimedia included and its deadline.

This gives the editor a quick, easy-to-read way to see all of the articles that are expected for that person’s planning purposes. Because of this, the budget lines need to be done in a uniform way. When filling one out, use the format below:

Slug: English-only highway signs
Writer: Jayda Hall
Summary: When driving on the roads of Miami-Dade and Broward counties, motorists are reminded every few miles to use their turn signals, not to jump in and out of the traffic lanes and all manner of other reminders. But these signs are only in English. Why not Spanish as well?
Live Art/Photographer: Yes, of highway signs (Hall)
Words: 600
Deadline: May 11 @ 6pm

Note that this requires you to have a solid understanding of the story you are writing, have already talked to some potential sources and know your deadline. For class purposes, art or multimedia is extra credit, but required for SFNS stories.

Summer 2017 — General Policies

J3117 - Summer 2017J3300 - Summer 2017

To eliminate any confusion or concerns, I want to lay out a few of the general policies regarding deadlines, how I see myself as your instructor and you responsibilities in this class. Specifically:

  • Deadlines are real. This means that all assignments and articles will receive a 50% markdown if they are turned in late. This is better than no credit, however, so you’re better off doing it even if it’s late.
  • Articles that receive a 70% or lower can be rewritten for a higher grade. The highest grade a rewritten paper can receive is an 80%. However, the rewrite is due within a week of my returning the paper. So, for instance, if you turn in a paper on Monday and I return it to you on Wednesday, any rewrite will be due a week from that Wednesday.
  • Because we are normally only meeting in person once per week, I need you to be on time for the start of class and fully expect it will last the full time period. 
  • Understand that you will be evaluated on your command of AP style and standard American English grammar. I understand that English may be a second (or third) language for you. However, you have chosen to get a degree in American-style journalism. As such, you need to be held to professional-level standards in order to prepare you for the real world. 
  • If you are concerned about your abilities, please make an appointment with the FIU Writing Center. This is an excellent resource.

Finally, I want to stress that these classes are being run more similarly to a newsroom than a traditional class. That is, I am less of a professor and more of an editor. The difference? I am looking to collaborate with you, to guide you in finding stories and sources, and to help you improve your writing and general storytelling abilities. I will be treating you as professionals, meaning I will not hound you about your work process as long as you get it done and done on time.

This means that you need to reach out to me for help when you need it. But it also means I will expect you to have read the instructions and requirements of each assignment. If I have already answered a question you pose, I will ask you to read that answer and get back to me if you still need clarification.

Week One Assignments

J3300 - Summer 2017


  • Thursday’s class is IN THE FIELD.

Field Work:

  • Go to your beat. Find the contact information for everyone you can possibly think of that will help you find and write your stories… And at least 10. Those will need to be inputed into this Google Sheet: by May 11 at 6 pm. 
  • Contact as many of those sources as possible. From your conversations, you will need to generate three story ideas. This can be just a sentence or two. This should be emailed to me. Due May 11 at 6 pm.
  • Order your SFNS business cards. The template is on under the SFNS category. Send a screenshot of the order screen by May 16  at 12 pm.


  • Complete the readings on sourcing and the “Role of a Journalist” as identified in the syllabus.
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