Week 16 Final Class

You’ve made it! You’ve completed a semester of Reporting!

Today we’ll discuss your final projects and then discuss Mission High by Kristina Rizga.

We’ll watch part of a video of Kristina Rizga talking about the book.

Then we’ll discuss the book.

  1. How did she make characters come alive? How did she use detail and description to make you care about them?
  2. How did you think Kristina Rizga built trust with her sources so that they would open up and reveal personal aspects of their lives?
  3. What do you think of the way she wove the history of education in America with personal stories from Mission High?
  4. What did you like about the book? What didn’t you like?

Then we’ll have pizza and talk about what comes next in your journalism career.


Week 15 Final Exam

This week we’ll spend most of the class period on the final exam. We’ll also plan for next week’s class party.

For next week: Come ready to discuss Mission High by Kristina Rizga. Unfortunately, Kristina cannot join us but please be ready to discuss the book. Some questions to consider:

What is your definition of a “good” school? Is Mission High a “good” school? How does it serve its students? How does it fail them?How does Mission High compare with the high school you attended?
How did Rizga make the characters real? Which characters did you think were the most vividly drawn? How did she use detail and description to make you care about them?

Week 13 Reporting Review

This week we’re going to review for the Final Exam and discuss what you learned in this course.

Reporting Jeopardy

We’ll also discuss your education stories and your final projects.

Here are some resources to help you prepare for the final exam, which will take place in class on Tuesday, Dec. 1.

Associated Press Style Summary
President Obama’s Cabinet

Chiefs of State, CIA

Week 13 Update

Members of the public and reporters will be barred from the courtroom when undercover FBI agents testify next week in the Chinatown racketeering trial of Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, a federal judge ruled Friday (Nov. 13), according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer granted a request by prosecutors to shield the agents from public view when they testify against Chow. The public will be able to watch the proceedings by video elsewhere in the courthouse, with the agents hidden from view.

Here are some more examples of coverage of the Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow trial:

Week 12 Crime and Courts

Week 12 Nov. 10

Covering Crime

SFPD CrimeMaps

SFPD News Releases

How to obtain a police report from SFPD

Oakland Crime Map

Oakland PD News Releases

Covering Courts

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

Background on Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow Trial

U.S. District Court Web Page for Media

And we’ll look at examples of court coverage:

Trayvon Martin trial

Breaking News Reporting

Week 11, Nov. 3
Today we’re going to talk about reporting on breaking news.


Breaking news sources:

Authoritative — city officials; police, fire, emergency workers; people who can speak with authority about this particular breaking news event
Experts — researchers, professors, non-governmental organization leaders who can provide context, history, background data

Victims, victims’ families — people who have been injured or family members of people who have been hurt or killed

Witnesses — people who have witnessed a breaking news event but weren’t hurt or personally involved

Person on the street reaction — regular folks who didn’t directly witness breaking news but can provide reaction to it.

Also on the agenda:
Update on Mission High author Kristina Rizga

Resources for Breaking News Coverage:
U.S. Geological Survey
Governor’s Office of Emergency Services
San Francisco Department of Emergency Management

Week 9 Event Coverage

Week 9, Oct. 20
Today you’ll pitch your final project ideas and we’ll discuss how to cover events.

We’ll start with a news quiz.

Your professor will be in Austin at the College Media Association Fall Convention the week of Oct. 26-31 so we will not have class on Oct. 27. Your assignment is to cover a community event in the next two weeks and write a story about it within 24 hours (6 hours if possible). Post the story to iLearn.

In choosing events, look for something that has a lot of activity. A festival or political demonstration would be good. A concert or movie is too passive and won’t give you many opportunities to interview people and gather color. You want someplace where you can wander around and talk to organizers and participants. The event does not have to be in your neighborhood. See Fun&CheapSF and Fun&CheapEastBay and suggestions below.

Once you find an event to cover, do some background research. Try to track down one of the organizers and interview them. Some possible questions:

  • Is this a monthly or annual event? A one-time thing? The first ever?
  • What is its purpose? Is it a fundraiser or community building event?
  • How many people are expected to attend?
  • Is there a fee?
  • Who else can tell you about the event?

Once you’ve gathered the basic information, get ready to attend the event. Make a list of possible sources or people you may want to look for. Bring a camera and an audio recording device (these can be your fully charged smart phone), as well as a notebook and a couple of pens. Go to the event early so you can catch people on their way in. Try to talk to 6-10 participants. Ask:

  • What brings you here?
  • Have you attended this event before? If so, how does this event compare with previous ones?
  • What do you like about it? Why did you come?

Try to gather some interesting, colorful anecdotes and take notes on scenes. Try to estimate how many people attend the event. Gather string on sights, sounds and smells. Look for details that capture the event and also some surprises, things you wouldn’t expect.

With each person you quote, gather some personal details: Name, age, city of residence, occupation, where they work or go to school, other info relevant to this particular event (the person has attended every year, a costume the person is wearing).

Try for an engaging lede — a scene or an anecdote. Try to avoid the formulaic “X number of people gathered at X place to attend X event.”

Here are some events you can cover. If you have another idea, please run it by me in an email.

Wharf Fest

The Wharf Fest is a street fair in the Fisherman’s Wharf District. This event often includes a Clam Chowder competition, the chance to hop aboard a Segway to test it out, and several other activities. All events are between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Potrero Pet Parade
1 p.m. 18th St at Arkansas St.

9th Annual Halloween Hootenanny
11 to 4 p.m.
Skate park next to the Kezar Pavillion

Fiesta on the Hill
This Bernal Heights festival features live music, street artists, and gourmet food. Bring the kids along for pumpkin carving, petting zoos, and more. All activities take place in a seven-block area on Cortland Avenue.

Pop Up Launch: Repair Revolution

Days of the Dead Community Celebration
October 25 @ 11:00 am4:30 pm
Oakland Museum of California,
1000 Oak St., Oakland

Spooktacular Halloween Trick or Treat Party & Parade
1 to 5 p.m.
Japantown Peace Plaza and Japan Center Malls
Post and Buchanan Streets, San Francisco2015 Patchwork: Fall Indie Craft Festival & Live Music
55 Harrison St, Oakland, CA
11 to 5 p.m.

Critical Mass Halloween Bike Ride
Gather at Justin Herman Plaza – Market Street by Embarcadero BART/Ferry Building
Halloween Critical Mass is often the largest SF critical mass bike ride of the year.
6 to 8 p.m.

Halloween Hoopla at Yerba Buena Gardens

Noon to 1:30pmDia de los Muertos Celebration & Street Fest

Feel the Beet Farmer’s Market, 970 Grace Ave., Oaklland
MONDAY, Nov. 2
San Francisco Day of the Dead
Festival of Altars – Honor the life of a loved one that has passed away at Garfield Park (25th/26th & Harrison Streets).
4 p.m. – 11 p.m.

I’ve tried to find free events but some of these events may have fees.


Week 8 Features and Profiles

Agenda for today:
News quiz
Discussion of news features and profiles
Description exercise
Discussion of final projects. Example:

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

Final Project Checklist:

  • Main story
  • Sidebar, infographic, infobox or map

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

Story Maps


Dead and Buried: Forgotten Homicides
Houston Chronicle

Journey to Nowhere: Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
Al Jazeera America

Wisconsin’s New Craft Breweries
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Mass shootings in the U.S.
Mother Jones

10 Truck Crashes in Georgia, 33 Lives Lost
Atlanta Journal-Constitution


StoryMap Tutorial

Google Tour Builder


Free Poynter webinar: Strengthen your Digital Storytelling with TimelineJS, SoundCiteJS and StoryMap: A Digital Tools Tutorial

Telling Your Story Through Maps: StoryMap JS vs. Google Tour Builder

Week 7 Library Resources/Public Records

Here’s the agenda for today:

Guest Speaker: Hesper Wilson, SFSU  librarian


Research Assistance Desk:

JOUR 300 Research Guide
News Quiz
Public Records:

Public records assignment is due next week, 10/13.

Science/Health/Environment story pitches

Some examples of community resources that might yield stories:

UCSF (Sunset)
Oaksterdam University
(Uptown Oakland)
South of Market Health Center (SoMa)
OMI Family Resources Center (OMI)
Temescal Acupuncture Center (Temescal)
Radiant Health SF (Marina)
The Bay Institute (North Beach)
La Clinica Fruitvale (Fruitvale)
Sea Lion Center (near North Beach)
Mission Neighborhood Health Center (Mission)
Poder, a grassroots environmental organization in the Mission
Seedling Projects (Fort Mason/Marina)
Lake Merritt Institute (Lake Merritt)
San Francisco General Hospital (Mission)
Save the Bay (Oakland)
Tenderloin Health Services (Tenderloin)
Friends of the Urban Forest
Golden Gate Raptor Observatory (Fort Mason)
Friends of San Francisco Environment
Community Grows (Western Addition)
San Francisco Zoo (Sunset, near Lake Merced)
SF Health Network (list of primary care clinics around the city)
Kaiser Permanente Medical Center Oakland
(near Temescal)
Kaiser Permanente Medical Center San Francisco

Week 6

Here’s the agenda for today:

News Quiz
Review of Meeting Assignment
Coverage of last week’s San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting:

Profile pitch

  • Who is the person?
  • What makes this person interesting or newsworthy?
  • What’s your angle on the story? How will you make this person come alive?

Reporting the profile story

  • Show, don’t tell.
  • Use sensory detail in describing scene — sight, smell, touch, sound, taste.
  • Use anecdotes rather than simply facts to make the person come alive. Get the subject and other sources to tell stories about the subject’s life.
  • Find sources that know different aspects of the person — co-workers, family members, friends, mentors, supervisors. Try to find out about the person’s professional and personal life.
  • Try to observe the person in action — at work, with their family, interacting with people, moving.

Profile Examples:

Profile: Frank Giorgi of Molinari & Sons

Jack Jacqua – San Francisco’s ‘Street Soldier’

Review websites

Assessment test

For next week: Look for a scientific, health or environmental resource or institution in your neighborhood. This could be a hospital, clinic or treatment center; an environmental feature such as the ocean, a creek or a lake, a park or recreation area; a college or university (City College, USF, UCSF, SFSU, Samuel Merritt College, Laney, California Institute of Integral Studies). Start looking for a health or science story emerging out of that institution or resource.


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