Sunday, September 21, 2008

Speech Topic: Creator of the Wire Tells of His Experiences

The speech I plan to cover is from creator of "The Wire," David Simon. He plans to speak at Goucher College on September 24 at 8:00 p.m. *Picture from*

As far as advance information there was not much to be found on the actual speech. The website to the event gave a general background on his life and his passions. In the article it talks about his current project, about "musicians in post-Katrina New Orleans." Also I was able to find many of his articles and blogs written about him and by him from the New Republic magazine online.

Who: Kristen Keener ( who is the media director at Goucher was kind enough to give me some information on his speech via email. Luckily for me a lot the my background information was already done, I have been an avid fan of 'The Wire' for a long time. Also his articles and interviews that have been done. One interview can be found on *Picture from*
-Why are you so drawn to the Baltimore area, in your writing and producing?
-Do you wish to change the way things are done and have been done through your writing?
-What draws you to a particular topic?
-What do you want your audience to get from your final product?
-How did you first start researching for "The Wire."
(more questions will be formed but these are the ones burning in me now.)
Additional Details:
I will look for others reactions to what he has to say. Through their body language you can pick up what is particularly interesting. I would love to know how he manages to keep such a sense of reality in his work, how he brings certain issues to the table through entertainment. I will also be looking for "why people are there." What drove them to come, what they want to know about him.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

1-2-3 Twitter:

"USM initiates hiring freeze due to slow economy and expected budget cuts." This follow up, or summary lead by Claire struck me as the most concise lead without loosing the main thought to the story. The first word is the subject and the second is the verb. The active voice is incredibly powerful. The it also gave a very distinct, "why" at the end. Every word had meaning and none were wasted.

"Sean Shaeffer threw 4 INT's Saturday in Towson's second loss of the season to no. 4 Richmond." I particularly liked this one from Mike because there is a lot of information but it is still to the point. I also know that it is a successful summary lead because the active voice makes me want to read on. This is impressive because sports doesn't interest me. Once again the subject and the verb are placed together, making the start of the sentence very engaging.

"Tigers fall victim to the Spiders wrath when quarterback, Sean Schaefer, threw four interceptions." Out of all the summary leads
Christina R.'s, was by far my favorite. The language in it draws me in immediately and once again makes something that I have no interest in... well... interesting. She uses fun words while still being concise and using a strong and enticing active voice. The five "w's" are not only recognizable but jump out at the reader.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Catching the Reader's Attention: Short reports and Summary Leads

In All the News, By Thom Lieb, short reports and summary leads have one major characteristic in common, they both need to strike the readers interest immediately.

Short reports come in four different varieties: broadcast and web bulletins (explained below), email alerts (bulletins relayed via email), crawlers (the short news stories found on the bottom of the television screen and websites, and newspaper briefs (the print equivalent of crawlers that brings summaries of interesting stories). All four types get the message or the story out quickly.

Bulletins will usually run one or two sentences, it will carry with it a sense of immediacy. An example of this would be "Texas damage pushes Ravens game to November." Thoms Lieb says that as a writer as bulletin says, "We don't know much yet, but this seems important for you to know." This bulletin was put on the home page of the tells the reader an important fact before the story is even written. Over the weekend many bulletins were put out as a result of hurricane Ike and its effects on Texas.

A summary lead is the opening sentences of a news story and has an element of time and is written in the past tense. Summary Leads should be specific, they should avoid backing the writer into a corner, they should be concise and use active voice (the subject undertakes an action). An example of this was found on the homepage. "GALVESTON COUNTY, Texas - Rescue crews fanned out across the flooded Gulf Coast yesterday, searching for tens of thousands of Texans who ignored mandatory evacuation orders just before Hurricane Ike crashed ashore in the night with howling winds and a powerful tidal surge." "People didn't leave" by, David Zucchino where the summary lead was found. This summary lead is a perfect example of taking an active voice. It immediately caught my attention. He used powerful words and ensured that the subject was in action. It is also concise and lets the reader know exactly where the story is going from that point on and what information will be received from it.

Monday, September 8, 2008

From Green Polar Bears to Britney Spears

News is anything that address the issues people want to know about concerning the world around them. In the book All the News, Thom Lieb calls this check list of news values, "editorial judgement." He characterizes these into nine different categories: impact, prominence, unusualness, currency, conflict, timeliness, proximity, affinity and human interest. A journalist must always be conscience of the audience they are writing for. Some audiences are only looking for specific characteristics in their news stories.

When reading the news stories on the homepage of the the first one that struck me was an unusual story of green polar bears. In "Zoo visitors in Japan are puzzled by polar bears who have turned green for algae," by the associated press and published on September 8, 2008. (Picture from The main characteristic of this story used by the author is its unusualness. It is an out- of- the ordinary story, used to entertain the audience. The polar bears are not harmed from taking a dip in the algae filled pond, they just get a comical dye job. Lieb states that journalists must be careful with this characteristic. "Journalists need to be careful that this news value does not blind them to important everyday happenings."

The story that caught my eye immediately as a story of prominence was: "Britney Spears to open MTV Video Music Awards," by Nekesa Mumbi Moody, published September 4, 2008. (Picture taken from Lieb states that, "simply put, names make news." Arguably, the small actions of celebrities make more news than politics or world events. Britney Spears is a perfect example of how prominence can "lead to overblown coverage of the inconsequential actions of minor celebrities." -Thom Lieb. This story could also be viewed as a story of timeliness because the VMAs (video music awards) was just three days ago. The story of Britney Spears as a whole could also be called a human interest story. The public always loves to cheer for fallen celebrities who pick themselves back up. Some may even find an emotional connection in her story which is what human interest stories strive to produce.

The next and final story that I read was, "Man charged in fatal shooting of 17-year-old last month," by Gus G. Sentementes, published on September 9, 2008. This story is a story of conflict, proximity and affinity. The conflict stems from the area in which the murder was taken place, he is the second person to be killed in Garrison. The young, 17- year-old, would strike affinity as another characteristic. He, just like those who read the Baltimore Sun, live in Maryland and as far as the authorities know, he was not involved in any gang related activity. The senseless act of murder could have been victimized anyone in the area. The final characteristic is proximity. It occurred in Baltimore, where so many people call home. "Proximity refers to physical nearness," states Lieb. Altogether the story was an important one to be known especially in the Baltimore area.