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Posts Tagged ‘Tom French’

Students learn journalism best if you teach them several different ways.

A colleague who’s starting her first journalism classes as an adjunct professor asked, “Any advice for the first-time professor?” I’ll answer here and in at least a couple more posts over the next week or so.

Update: I originally posted this before hearing back from the colleague about whether it was OK to use her name (since she asked the question in a private email). She quickly identified herself after I posted:

I’m teaching my 10th college class now and have learned a few things about teaching in the classroom (and in hundreds of workshops and seminars for professional journalists). But I recognize that many friends in journalism schools have far more classroom experience than I do. So I invite them (you, if you’re teaching journalism) to weigh in with some advice, too. Much of this applies as well to training your professional colleagues. For my colleague and other new journalism professors (and perhaps for veterans, who should always be learning, too).

I’ll start by addressing the wide variety of ways that students learn and how I gear my lessons and assignments to teach students in a multitude of ways. I believe students learn in at least these ways (several of which overlap): (more…)

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I have been meaning to post more of my old workshop handouts from No Train, No Gain to this blog. Unfortunately, I was prompted to post this one and another, about attribution, by a plagiarism incident at the Middletown Press. I encourage all of my Journal Register Co. and MediaNews Group colleagues to read this. Attribution is one of journalism’s most serious issues. Plagiarism is inexcusable.

Scandals in newsrooms large and small have forced news organizations to apply the same skepticism to some staff members that they do to the institutions they cover. Journalists and newsrooms can no longer presume that every journalist understands that you don’t steal and you don’t make things up. A 2005 study by the Center for Academic Integrity found that 70 percent of college students admitted to cheating and 77 percent did not consider “cut and paste” plagiarism from the Internet a serious issue. Newspapers have to recognize that some of these students find jobs in newsrooms and need to learn standards of the field that should (but can’t) go without saying. (more…)

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This is another Training Tracks blog post from the archive of No Train, No Gain, originally published Oct. 25, 2004:

My initial reaction when an editor asked me to adapt my “Becoming a Storyteller” workshop to stress stories under 12 inches was cynicism.

I thought (and still think) that newspapers risk shooting themselves into the foot when they set arbitrary limits on stories. Certainly too many stories (not necessarily the longer stories) in newspapers are too long. I have developed a workshop to teach writers and editors how to tighten their stories. But I’ve always believed that newspapers need more, not less, of those spellbinding stories that the reader just can’t put down. (more…)

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This is the handout for my workshop on short narrative writing. I used to do this workshop quite often, but haven’t done it for a couple years. The handout was originally posted at No Train, No Gain. I am posting some of my NTNG handouts here, with some updating, because NTNG is no longer online.

A common conflict in newspaper newsrooms today is newsholes getting tighter and writers complaining about space limitations on their stories. While space is not limited online, busy digital readers still favor tighter stories. Without question, some stories lose important substance as they get cut for tighter newsholes. But writers should not assume that length restrictions preclude quality narrative writing. Listen to some of your favorite ballads. Study the storytelling of the songwriters. They tell powerful stories in fewer words than the average daily news story. Use those techniques in your stories. (more…)

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When I read Philip Lee’s ignorant anti-Twitter rant, Notes on the triviality of Twitter, my first reaction was that I needed to write another anti-anti-Twitter-rant rant.

But I’m getting tired of those rants (maybe you are, too). I previously noted how Leonard Pitts, Edward Wasserman and Paul Farhi wrote foolish things about Twitter without bothering to learn what they were talking about. Do I repeat myself just because Lee has echoed their whining, or could I find something new to say?

Lee did say lots of ignorant things about Twitter, but they are things I’ve addressed before, so I won’t dwell on them here. He has tried Twitter out (barely, 34 tweets in nearly a year), which the others noted above had not.

I want to address Lee’s concern about Twitter and storytelling: (more…)

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