Beginning Newswriting

Objective: 

Students will learn how to be productive and successful through time management and study tips. Students will also learn the basics of the AP (Associated Press) Style Guide, including rules regarding punctuation, abbreviations, grammar, and other common "AP basics."

 

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Introduction: 

Welcome to this online beginning news writing class! I'm excited to learn about each others' writing styles and how to become better! This course will cover the basics of online journalism, AP Style, copy editing, the inverted pyramid and so much more.

AP Style Basics

AP Style Basics

Basics of AP Style:

Headlines

  • Only the first word and proper nouns are capitalized. Additionally, the first word after a colon is always capitalized.
  • All stories written in AP style need to have both a short headline and a long headline. This is for the purpose of publishing online.

Referencing People

  • On the first reference, always list the person’s full name and title. On the second, use only their last name. (Note: A few news organizations, such as The New York Times, include titles such as “Mr.” and “Ms.” with  second references. This is not appropriate at the Deseret News.)
  • When using a person’s name with the word “said,” always put the person’s name first. For example: “I love to eat french fries,” Adams said. However, if the person’s job title is long or if he or she needs an introduction, it is appropriate to put “said” first. For example: “Math is my favorite subject,” said Addison Adams, a math tutor at Utah Valley University.

Dates and Times

  • When listing times in an AP article, it is not appropriate to add “at about” before the time.
  • Additionally, times should be listed without colons. For example, “9 a.m.” is correct; “9:00 a.m.” is not correct. Figures should be used, with the exception of noon and midnight. Avoid redundancies such as “8 a.m. this morning.”
  • The following months should be abbreviated: Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec.
  • Include the entire month name when it is used with a year only (for example: December 2017).

Numbers

  • All numbers less than 10 should be spelled out (for example: “one, two three…”).
  • Ages: Always use figures when talking about ages. For example, “The dog is 5 years old.” Only use hyphens for ages written as adjectives before a noun or as a substitute for the noun. For example, “A 5-year-old boy was seen downtown.”
    • When the context doesn’t use “years,” the number is still presumed to be in years. For example, “The girl, 5, was last seen with her mother, 28.”
    • Apostrophes are not used. “She is in her 50s.”

Acronyms

  • Full titles should be spelled out of the first mention (for example: Utah State University). On subsequent mentions, however, generic terms should be used (for example: “the university”).
  • It is not appropriate to put acronyms in parentheses after the first reference (for example, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS)...”).

Punctuation

  • Do not underline or italicize titles or names of reference materials. Quotation marks should be used around the titles of movies, books, songs, games, speeches, etc. Examples: Her favorite hymn is “I Need Thee Every Hour.” He read “Black Beauty” every day for a year.
  • Quotation marks should NOT be used around the names of newspapers, reference materials, magazines or the Bible. Examples: In an interview with the Deseret News, Adams said that she loved to play the piano. She finds daily strength in the Bible.
  • Use only a single space after a period.
  • Avoid using Oxford commas, or commas before a conjunction in a simple series (for example: “I love to eat apples, bananas and oranges”).
    • However, Oxford commas should be used in more complex series: “I like to eat cereal, biscuits and gravy, and macaroni and cheese.”
  • Periods and commas should be inside quotation marks when used in a quote.

A Quick Copy Editing Example

Inverted Pyramid Style

Inverted Pyramid Style

Have you noticed that news articles are written differently than your favorite fiction novel?

This is due to the layout news articles are generally written in: Inverted Pyramid style. This means that the most important information is laid out first (as in, in the first paragraph or so), followed by semi-important facts pertaining to the story, and finally the least important and trivial aspects of the story.

Here are a few more tips:

  • As part of this structure, a hook and nut graf (also spelled nut graph) are recommended. The hook is usually an interesting beginning sentence or story used to captivate the reader. Placed immediately after the hook, the nut graf is a one to three sentence “big picture” view of the article. The who, what, when, where and why are summarized.
  • Articles should always be written in third person. Opinion section articles are the only exceptions to this rule.
  • Shorter words that are easier to understand are preferred. Unfamiliar or pompous words are usually unnecessary.

A Helpful Picture: What an Inverted Pyramid Looks Like

What an Inverted Pyramid Looks Like

Here is a good reference for the Inverted Pyramid.

Another Helpful Resource (Document)

AP Style Guide

How to Be a Successful Online Student

Becoming an Online Student

Becoming an Online Student

Welcome to this online beginning news writing class! Before we jump into the writing and editing, let's start with the basics to make sure you are a successful online student.

As an online student, I've learned a LOT about myself and about how I learn best. It takes a lot of self-discipline and drive to be successful.

Please skim through the following file.

teaching_and_learning_online_handbook.pdf

Some Advice for Online Students

Online Introductions

Let's Introduce Ourselves

Hello! My name is Kelsey Adams. I'm currently on my master of technical communication at Utah State University and I hope to teach news writing to eager online students like yourself. I love writing, USU, good music, delicious food, and my family.

Below you'll see a slide show to help you get to know me a little bit better. It's not required reading, but it's always nice to have a little context and additional information about your instructor!