A Career in Journalism

May 13 Class Party

Optional but strongly recommended assignment for the summer: Create a professional website, join LinkedIn and make business cards.

Some examples of websites of SFSU journalism graduates:

Here are some places to design and purchase business cards.

Last-minute review for Final Exam

Here are some tips for last-minute review for the Final Exam. You should know how to:

  • Punctuate quotes
  • Write numbers (ages, addresses, millions, thousands, percentages, dimensions like height)
  • When to use a hyphen
  • When to use singulars and plurals
  • Possessives/plurals (its/it’s, their/they’re, your/you’re)
  • How to write names of states, street names, titles
  • You should know that businesses, agencies, boards take a singular pronoun (Chevron opened ITS new headquarters; the San Francisco Board of Supervisors will hold ITS meeting)
  • Which/that
  • Affect/effect

AP Style Quiz

AP Style Review

You should be familiar with newsmakers from the past few months. To review you can look over:

Review for Final Exam/Breaking News

Week 14 4/29

The final exam will be held during regular class time on May 6. Please bring a green Zeus sheet, two number 2 pencils, a set of headphones or ear buds and your Associated Press stylebook. You will have most of the class period to complete the test although it probably won’t take you nearly that long.

Your blogs and all rewrites are due in class next week.

Review for Final Exam:

Review the Associated Press Stylebook

You should be familiar with newsmakers from the past few months. To review you can look over:

On May 13, the last day of class, we’ll have a joint class with Jesse, starting at 12:35, where you’ll show the rough cut of your videos and we’ll talk about getting read for a career in journalism — networking, internships, scholarships, etc.  Let’s talk about food (pizza? potluck?).

Covering Natural Disasters
U.S. Geological Survey Earthquake Hazards Program

U.S. Geological Survey Top 10 Lists and Maps


Week 13 Project Reporting and Breaking News

Today we’ll talk in more detail about your final projects.


VIDEO: http://www.nytimes.com/video/us/100000002543563/the-changing-mission.htm


Final Project Checklist:

  • Main story
  • Sidebar, infographic, infobox or map
  • Video (for Jesse’s class)

What your final story should include:

  • Strong lede that captures the essence of the story and makes readers want to read more — may be news lede but probably a feature lede
  • Nut graph (may be 2-3 paragraphs) that explains what the story is about and why readers should care
  • Statistics (when possible) — how big, how many, how much?
  • Financials — how much does this cost?
  • History, background, context
  • Multiple points of view — at least 6 sources, including officials, experts, regular people with varying perspectives
  • Strong quotes that capture opinion and context
  • Description of the scene, the place, the person
  • Characters — look for a main character who will help you tell the story

Next we’ll discuss breaking news and how it’s covered by print, online and broadcast news outlets. We’ll follow a major Bay Area news story from last year and see how the news unfolded, how different news organizations covered the story and some reporting and ethical challenges the story presented for journalists.

Monday, Nov. 4
5:20 p.m. Teen set on fire while riding AC Transit bus home from school; taken to burn unit
First news stories appears on TV and online that evening

Tuesday, Nov. 5
Suspect arrested but not named

Mother gives first interview to print reporter with Bay Area News Group

Wednesday, Nov. 6
Donation site collects more than $20,000 in 24 hours

Thursday, Nov. 7
Suspect charged as an adult with hate crime; suspect’s family members give first television interview.

Debbie and Karl give first television interview.

Friday, Nov. 8
Students organize “Skirts for Sasha” event at victim’s school; community organizes rainbow ribbon display along the bus line where the attack occurred.

Two more television crews interview Debbie and Karl


Karl Fleischman Facebook page
Fundly site: Help Sasha Have a Speedy Recovery
Richard Thomas Press Release
Richard Thomas complaint


  1. How should you approach victims of tragic/traumatic events and their family members?
  2. What information should you be looking for?
  3. How do you ask questions?
  4. Is it fair to use pictures and comments from victim’s and family members’ Facebook pages and other forms of social media?
  5. Should news media name the suspect, who is a minor, if they can find the name? Should they name the suspect if the District Attorney’s office releases it?
  6. If Sasha Fleischman prefers to be referred to by the pronoun they, rather than he or she, should reporters respect that?

Week 12 Long-form journalism and narrative writing

Week 12, 4/15


Thomas Peele

Today we’ll meet Thomas Peele, an investigative reporter with the Bay Area News Group and author of Killing the Messenger. You can follow him on Twitter @thomas_peele.

We’ll also have a quiz on news from the past week and discuss upcoming assignments — your trial story and the final project.

Here are some examples of trial stories with the San Francisco Chronicle’s coverage of the Yusef Bey IV trial:

Opening statements: Prosecutor: Evidence links bakery, Bailey killing

Eyewitness testimony: Chauncey Bailey killing described by witnesses

Devaughndre Broussard testimony:
Chauncey Bailey killer takes stand in murder trial

Chauncey Bailey shooter laughed at killings

Antoine Mackey testimony: Chauncey Bailey murder defendant testifies

Closing arguments: Bakery defense calls star witness a murdering liar

Conviction: Your Black Muslim Bakery leader guilty of murder

Tips for covering a trial:

  1. Write a lede that sums up the highlight(s) of the day in court (often a news lede, occasionally a feature lede)
  2. Look for moments of drama, surprise, emotion
  3. Translate jargon
  4. Include both (or all) sides
  5. Get direct quotes
  6. Use proper attribution
  7. Include background information about the crime:
  • Name of victim(s)
  • Name of defendant(s)
  • Date and location of crime
  • Charges
  • Name of court (San Francisco Superior Court, Alameda County Superior Court, etc.)
  • Possible sentence
  • What is the question in this case?

If there’s time we’ll also do a narrative writing exercise.


Week 10 Covering Courts

Week 10, April 1
Today you’ll pitch your final project ideas and we’ll discuss how to cover a trial or court proceeding.

We’ll start with a news quiz.

Then you’ll pitch your project ideas.

Next we’ll cover the basics of how the U.S. criminal justice system works:

Diagram of How a Case Moves Through the Courts, American Bar Association

Then we’ll review these resources:

Access to Courts: Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

And we’ll look at examples of court coverage:

Trayvon Martin trial


Defendant: George Zimmerman

Victim: Trayvon Martin

Witnesses: Sybrina Fulton, Martin’s mother
Jahvaris Fulton, Martin’s brother

Defense attorney:  Mark O’Mara

Prosecutor: Bernie de la Rionda

Optional News U Course: On the Beat: Covering the Courts

Finally, we’ll do an exercise to help get you started on your final projects.

Next week: No class. One-on-one conferences to discuss your progress in this course and your final project ideas.

Week 8 Covering Crime

Week 8 3/18

Today we’ll catch up and get you ready for several upcoming assignments. Our agenda for the class:

News Quiz

Review Board of Supervisors meeting assignment

S.F. supervisors back ban on sale of plastic water bottles
Marisa Lagos, San Francisco Chronicle

SF becomes first major city to ban sale of plastic water bottles
Joshua Sabatini, San Francisco Examiner

San Francisco Moves Closer To Ban On Plastic Water Bottles

Covering Crime

SFPD CrimeMaps

Oakland Crime Map

SFPD News Releases

Final Project



Week 7

There will be no class on March 10; your instructor will be in New York City at a college media convention.

Please use the time to create your interactive map and add posts to your blog, which will be graded the week of March 18.
By then you should have at the minimum:

  • 5-6 posts (including the two assigned posts — first impressions and a third place). For some good examples of what to write about, check out Caty’s Japantown Journal
  • An interactive map
  • an about page that describes the blog and gives some information about you. For a good example check out the about page on Sara’s Sunset Scribbles blog.
  • a list of links (this could be a list of resources, a blogroll listing blogs relevant to your neighborhood or both. See list of community resources on Dayvon’s Nob Hill Sun and Cecilia’s TL Like It Is blog — Cecilia, that’s not really a blogroll; you might want to change the title to Community Resources or something like that.)
  • photos (Amanda’s Oakland Chinatown is a good example)

Please read over assignment sheets for PROFILE, CRIME and FINAL PROJECT. We’ll discuss them in class on March 18. Email me if you have any questions.

Week 6 Covering City Hall

Today we cover the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Meet at 1 p.m. on the steps of City Hall. Review the agenda for the meeting. Your story is due at midnight on March 5.

Next week: No Reporting class (instructor will be out of town for College Media Association board meeting and convention.)

Week 5 Public Records and Databases

Week 5 2/25

Nicole Allensworth of the SFSU Library will share research strategies and resources for finding public records, databases and other electronic sources of information. She’ll help prepare you for the public records assignment and also show you sources of information that will help you later this semester and in your journalism career.
Research Strategies for JOUR 300

We’ll also review what we learned last week from Marisa Lagos about local political reporting and prepare for next week’s field trip to San Francisco City Hall and the Board of Supervisors meeting. Next week we’ll meet at 1 p.m. on the steps of City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place. Here’s a map. If you’re taking public transit from SFSU, leave by noon and take the M train to Civic Center and walk two blocks west to Polk Street. City Hall is the building with the big dome. You can’t miss it!


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