Midterm, Winter 2011 (Example 3)


Midterm, Part I

Part I of the midterm is worth 30 percent of the MT grade. If you can’t remember the answer to a question, move on and come back later. No notes or books or Internet or phones except for the math question, for which you may use your phone or the computer as a calculator. You have about 45-50 minutes for this portion.

1. What’s a Q&A? When/why would you put one out there for your readers to see?

2. List three of Harrower’s “5 Reasons to Hit the DELETE Key” as you revise and rewrite. How might you find these problems with your draft?

3. In what topic area/section of the paper is it most likely to have no opinion from the writer in stories? What two areas require opinions?

4. List two advantages and two disadvantages of each: notebook vs. recorder. Bonus: Name another tool you might use to take notes during an interview.

5. What does convergence mean for reporters?

6. List the five tools Harrower says every reporter needs in the field (some of them have now converged into the same tool). Bonus: What’s an extra tool a reporter living in Oregon might need for the winter?

7. What’s yellow journalism? Where did that term come from? Bonus: What war is most associated with yellow journalism?

8. In the thrilling graphic novel “Jenny Deadline,” what did the editor cut from the reporter’s story and why?

9. Your name comes underneath a headline for a story that you wrote. What’s your name called in news-speak? Bonus: What’s another name for a caption?

10. In news ledes, should you use someone’s full name? If so, under what circumstances?

11. Math question! Do A OR B (you can do both if you want, but I’ll only count one).
A. Home prices have been falling in Eugene for a couple of years. Your editor gives you a list of current home prices and asks you to find the mean, the median and the range of prices. Here’s the list:
$229,000 $457,000 $275,000 $237,000 $348,000 $362,000
$697,000 $334,000 $137,000 $530,000 $179,900 $224,000
$137,500 $299,000 $465,000 $599,000 $579,900 $189,900

The mean is:
The median is:
The range is:

B. Of the 200,000 people eligible to vote in Eugene, 58,000 voted in a January election. Of those voters, 34,800 people voted “Yes” on a ballot measure, and 23,200 people voted “No.”
i. What percentage of eligible voters cast a ballot?

ii. What percentage of those who voted marked “Yes” on their ballots?

12. List two kinds of news lead to avoid, in general. List three kinds of “feature leads that succeed” (according to Harrower).

13. What do print readers want that might be different from what online readers want? Bonus: What do mobile readers want/need (that means they read on mobile devices like a smart phone, and iPad or a Kindle)?

14. When you have a beat to cover, name two things you should do and two things you should not do. Bonus: What are a couple of unusual beats you might find in Oregon?

15. What are four types of possible sources for news and feature stories? (For instance, public records.)

Bonuses: (Don’t spend too much time on these as you have three other portions of the midterm to get through)
How can an editor help a writer as the writer works on a story (four examples for full credit)?

You have to give tips for interviewing to next term’s #J361 classes. What four things would you tell them? (You can tell them things to do and things not to do, before, during &/or after the interview.)

Midterm, Part II

Part II of the midterm is worth 20 percent of the MT grade. Please use the internet, your critical thinking skills and your creativity and inspired love for your profession to answer these questions. I’m looking for depth of thought and evidence that you spent some time considering the questions, along with at least one link in your answers. You have about 45 minutes for this portion of the test. Simply email it back to me when you’re finished!

1. Consider Chapter 8 of Harrower and Alex Tizon’s lecture about journalism ethics. You may use your book, and you may use your notes from Prof. Tizon’s lecture or Prof. Phil Glende’s lecture about neutrality/objective writing (or you might check out your own or your peers’ stories about those events) to answer this question, and you should DEFINITELY look for some online examples to help bolster your answer:
The internet sometimes requires a different kind of work from reporters than does print. How might a journalism practitioner now think of ethics in a different way, considering Twitter, Facebook, websites, blogs and other tools that a print-only reporter never had?

2. AOL bought the Huffington Post for $315 million yesterday. Looking at places like GigaOm, Mashable, AllThingsD, Business Insider and/or The Daily Beast, summarize the reactions to this news from around the internet, and then tell me what you think it means for either company or both companies.

3. Read Ethan Zuckerman’s interview with NPR’s Andy Carvin:

What did you learn from this interview about using Twitter to get information to your followers? If the Pacific Northwest suddenly decided to create its own country and secede from the United States, how would you as a journalist use Twitter and/or other online tools to cover this (unlikely) event?

4. Read the news about the Medill School of Journalism and the Knight Foundation. Let’s say the UO were applying for a similar grant. How would you, an experienced hyperlocal (neighborhood) reporter, want the UO to use the money? What courses would you want to take, and how would you redesign your curriculum? (This is a complicated question, so remember this is only worth four points, and use your time accordingly.)

5. WikiLeaks publishes secret documents from countries, businesses and other places all over the world. Often, these are documents that well-off countries do not want WikiLeaks to publish. Consider the idea that the thrust of journalism is often said to be “to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” or “to give voice to the voiceless.” And consider that the New York Times, The Guardian, Der Spiegel and other newspapers worked with WikiLeaks for the publication of various caches of documents & an analysis of those documents. Using online sources and your own brain, explain to me why WikiLeaks is or is not engaged in journalism.

Part III is an AP Style quiz.

Midterm: Writing Neighborhood News (Part IV)

This portion of the midterm is worth 30 percent of the midterm grade and will be the last portion of the midterm graded (back to you by Wednesday, Feb. 16).

With your group, you may do one of two things. The first is this: Decide together what constitutes the most important problem facing people and businesses in your neighborhood. (Economy? Homelessness? Drug abuse? Unbridled development? Environmental degradation? Cuts to school funding? Yes, you must agree to write about the same thing.)

The second choice (pick one OR the other, NOT BOTH): Find out what people in your neighborhood thought about the Super Bowl commercials. Which one was the best? Why? Which the worst? Why? Which one can they not get out of their heads today? Game or commercials — which did they enjoy more? (Only choose this one if you watched the commercials, which are all available on Hulu.)

Together, you will go out and interview people in your neighborhood about the issue OR the Super Bowl commercials, and by 4 p.m. Wednesday, you should EACH have posted a 450-600 word news story on the Reporting 1 blog. Pro tip: I’d suggest you have this written/saved as a draft the night before and that your group carefully look at each other’s drafts. See the final sentences of this part of the midterm.

You must have at least three sources (not people you know, not in the SOJC in any way), and they may not all be a. from the same place or b. from the same kind of place (business/nonprofit/individual).

You may have more than three sources. Your story must have paraphrases and quotes; a news lede and a nut graf; a headline, subhed and byline; and yes, images from your neighborhood (you may all use the same photo or photos if you so desire). You must tag your stories, and I’d suggest using the SAME tags for consistency’s sake (please include the tag midterm!). Remember: News doesn’t contain YOUR opinion.

I suggest that you get together and plan where you’ll go and how you’ll get your interview notes.

Length: 450-600 words. Please help each other copy edit. If members of your group spell names, names of streets, names of businesses differently; give me different facts; or word direct quotes in a different fashion, you will all earn a zero on this portion of the exam.

About Suzi Steffen

Suzi Steffen teaches, writes, edits, reviews and rides (an adult tricycle named Momo) in Eugene, Oregon. For many years, she taught as an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon's School of Journalism and Communication. As of fall 2015, she's teaching in Oregon State's New Media and Communications program. Suzi also edits Lane Monthly and works as an arts journalist across the state and country. Email her at suzisteffen at gmail dot com; find her on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook for more info; and check out Lane Monthly in print around Lane County and online at lanemonthly.com.
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