Week 16 Planning your career

Steps to Planning Your Journalism Career

Join journalists from around the Bay Area for a rollicking holiday party!
The event is free. If you’d like to pitch in, bring a beverage or a dessert to share.

Cohosted by SPJ NorCal, Pacific Media Workers Guild, AAJA-SF, SF Press Club, Solutions Journalism Network, NAHJ, BABJA, ONA SF and Hacks/Hackers.

Wed, December 19, 2018
6-9 p.m.

Pacific Media Workers Guild, 433 Natoma St., Second Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103



Week 15 Preparing for Final Exam

Dec. 10-12
Today we’ll review for final exam
The final exam will be held during our final exam time on Saturday, Dec. 22, 10:30-12:45 p.m.  Please bring your Associated Press stylebook.

Reporting Jeopardy

Your final project, posted to iLearn AND eportfolio, and all rewrites are due in class Dec. 17.

Review for Final Exam:

Review the Associated Press Stylebook here.

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

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
  • Lie/lay
  • Further/farther
  • Who/Whom
  • Comma splice
  • Its/it’s


Week 14 Crime/ePortfolio

Dec. 3-5

MONDAY: Review Crime story

Write a news story based on this information:

San Francisco Police Department press release

Bio of Steven P. Sabin

Statement from Christ Church Lutheran

Press release from Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Examiner coverage:  http://www.sfexaminer.com/sunset-district-church-pastor-among-men-arrested-child-porn-stings/

Chronicle coverage: https://www.sfchronicle.com/crime/article/SF-church-pastor-among-five-men-arrested-in-child-13409874.php

Final project check-in

WEDNESDAY: Eportfolio training

News quiz


Week 13 Crime stories/The Far Away Brothers

Monday, Nov. 26 Crime Story

Write a news story based on this information:

San Francisco Police Department press release

Bio of Steven P. Sabin

Statement from Christ Church Lutheran

Press release from Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Wednesday, Nov. 28

Guest speaker, Lauren Markham, author of The Far Away Brothers

Prepare 10 questions to ask her (and submit for grading)

Also due Wednesday: Profile (if you can’t meet this deadline, turn it in on Monday for 10 points off)

New deadlines:

Final Project Outline and Source List: Monday, Dec. 3

Trial story: Wednesday, Dec. 5


Week 11 Election Day Coverage/Covering Courts

On Election Day we will be taking the pulse of Bay Area voters for a Solutions Journalism project with Bay City News/Local News Matters. You will be going to a polling place or election night party and gathering quotes from at least five people.

You can focus on a specific precinct OR a demographic subgroup based on race/ethnicity, party affiliation, geographic location (neighborhood), gender, age, etc. Go to YOUR polling place, or where YOU live, or a specific neighborhood with a certain demographic identity that interests YOU.

For each person you interview get:

  • Name
  • Age
  • City of residence
  • Occupation
  • Other information relevant to voting (this is the first time they voted, they switched parties, they worked on a campaign, etc.)
  • Contact info: telephone number and email address
  • Quotes of a few sentences answering some of the following questions:
  • For Polling Places: Approach voters AFTER they have participated, identify yourself as a reporter working on a SFSU/Bay City News project and ask questions like:

    • What groups or associations influenced your decision to vote?

    • How was that done? By social media? In person? With paper fliers? Radio or TV? What was most effective and why? (Keep in mind we are looking for descriptions of Get out the Vote efforts, not just a candidate saying, “Vote for me.”)

    • Did this election seem different or more important or more urgent than previous elections and, if so, is that what motivated you to participate?

    • Did you volunteer with any campaigns or participate in any activities to get out the vote? If so, what did you do and why?
    • What do you hear from friends, relatives, colleagues or neighbors who chose not to participate? What do you think would help persuade those people to join the voting next time?

    For Election Night Parties: Gather video and photos of voting, parties and campaign headquarters, pulling in tweets (optional) and using a narrative and quotes to make the groups and issues come to life. Similar questions as above:

    • What efforts do you think most influenced voter turnout?

    • Which get-out-the-vote media/vehicles do you think were most effective? Social media? In person? Paper fliers? TV or radio? What was most effective and what lessons can be learned about the outcome of these different efforts? (Keep in mind we are looking for Get out the Vote initiatives, not just a candidate saying, “Vote for me.”)

    • Did this election seem different or more important or more urgent than previous elections and, if so, is that what motivated you to participate? How do they feel watching the returns come in: Hopeful? Discouraged? Energized? Complacent?

    • Did you volunteer with any campaigns or participate in any activities to get out the vote? If so, what did you do and why? What felt most effective?
    • What do you hear from friends, relatives, colleagues who chose not to participate and do they have ideas for how to persuade those people to join the voting next time?


Debbie Rodriguez
Age: 52
City of residence: San Francisco, Mission District
Occupation: bookkeeper
Polling place: St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Oakland, Glenview District,

First-time voter; native of Mexico; became a citizen in 2015
“My daughter, who is a student at San Francisco State University, really encouraged me to vote. She said my vote would count. She went out canvassing to Modesto and Stockton to get people to vote. When I look at the news showing the families being separated at the border, I know it’s important that we fight the Trump administration.”

“I got a lot of calls and mail about this election. I think the thing that really made a difference for me was the personal phone calls, where I could talk to real people. When I heard a recorded announcement I would just hang up but when a real person was on the other end of the line, I would listen.”


Election reporting debrief.

Local News Matter story

Next we’ll discuss covering courts.

How a case moves through the courtsSource: American Bar Association

Writing the court story

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

Witness testimony: Sabrina Fulton

Tips for Finding a Trial

Ongoing court cases:

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) or what happened in the case (arraignment, bail hearing, etc.) that day.
  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?


Week 10 Crime and Breaking News

Public documents

SFPD CrimeMaps

SFPD News Releases

How to obtain a police report from SFPD

Oakland Crime Map

Oakland PD News Releases

Steps of crime coverage:

News breaks: Breaking news alert, tweet, other social media

First news story — usually brief, a few facts, a quote or two if you have interviewed people

For larger stories: What we know, stories about suspect, stories about victim

For major national/international stories: Wider impact. Think: Who will be affected? Who will have something to say?

Prosecution: filing of charges, arraignment of suspect, bail hearing, plea hearing, preliminary hearing, trial, sentencing.

CNN: Breaking coverage of synagogue shooting

WEDNESDAY:  Michael Barba, crime and courts reporter for the San Francisco Examiner



Week 9 Covering Events

Week 9: Oct. 22-24

Wednesday:Finding a subject for your final project

News Quiz

News coverage of last week’s Board of Supervisors meeting:

India Basin: SF Chronicle

India Basin: Curbed SF

India Basin: San Francisco Examiner

Cannabis Oversight Committee: San Francisco Examiner

Look for an issue or trend in your neighborhood.
How to find a story:
  • See what’s been written before about your neighborhood
  • Talk to key sources (merchants association leader, aide to district supervisor or city council member, local historian)
  • Look for a major event that is happening or going to happen (opening of new shopping center, tearing down of a historic landmark, opening or closing of a business or housing development that will change the neighborhood in important ways)
  • Look for a trend
  • Look for a new initiative (new free bikes program, anti-crime program, public transit change)

Steps to finding a story:

1) Look at what’s been in the news lately. Are there deeper issues to explore?

Example MISSION: Proposed Mission brewpub cap

Example SOMA: San Francisco’s Filipino Cultural District in SoMa

Example HAIGHT: Too many dogs on Haight Street

Example CIVIC CENTER/TENDERLOIN: Increased police presence in UN Plaza

2) Look for a major change, like a new business moving into your neighborhood or a significant construction project.
3) Look for an institution that’s going through a tough time or a major change, like a legendary business closing or a dispute threatening a business.

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



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


TEXT STORY: Dorm Living for Professionals Comes to San Francisco

Monday: Covering Events

Why do journalists cover events? What are you trying to convey?

What to include:

  • A lede that captures the mood and spirit of the event
  • Who, what, where, when and why (either in the lede or the nut graph)
  • Quotes from organizers
  • Background/history (is this an annual event? how did it start? who organized it?)
  • Size of crowd (estimate, get crowd estimates from organizers, police)
  • Vignettes
  • Scenes
  • Quotes from participants
  • Capture the sights, smells, sounds, tastes of the event; use evocative description to make the event come alive

Event story ledes

You can start with a news lede like this:

Hundreds of thousands of onlookers, thousands of participants and an incalculable number of firecrackers filled the streets of downtown San Francisco and Chinatown to celebrate the Year of the Horse with the annual Chinese New Year Parade on Saturday evening.

Full story at: https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Chinese-New-Year-Parade-draws-hundreds-of-5239523.php

or a feature lede like this:

Streets were so packed for Saturday night’s annual Chinese New Year Parade that Andrew Loukas had to use his grandson as a periscope.

“I can’t see anything,” said Loukas, who stood with his grandson George on his shoulders amid the throng at Powell and Geary streets.

“I can see dragon heads and fish,” George reported. “There’s weird people in weird hats in a car.”

“Thanks,” Grandpa said.

With tens of thousands of people lining the route, other viewers climbed on mailboxes, trashcans and Chronicle news boxes, while many peered out from department store and apartment building windows.

The full moon and clear skies drew the multitudes that stayed away from the soggy spectacles of years past. It was a perfect night to watch a dragon dance, a trumpeter trumpet and a beauty queen smile beatifically.

Full story at: https://www.sfgate.com/living/article/S-F-Chinese-New-Year-parade-of-dragons-3251846.php

Where to find events:


Possible events for you to cover:

Wednesday, Oct. 24

Netflix Film Shoot: “Tales of the City” Is Coming Back to SF | Dolores Park

Thursday, Oct. 25

Trick or Treat: Special Halloween Game Expo

Night Lantern Ghost Walk & Concert | The Presidio (also Friday and Saturday)

Friday, Oct. 26 Critical Mass 2018 Halloween Bike Ride

Scaregrove 2018: Halloween Festival in the Park

2018 Halloween Beer Crawl & Costume Party | Mission District

Night Lantern Ghost Walk & Concert | The Presidio

Saturday, Oct. 27
Sunday, Oct. 28 2018 Fiesta On The Hill | Bernal Heights

18th Annual “Halloween Hoopla” Festival & Costume Parade | Yerba Buena Gardens

Monday, Oct. 29 2018 Halloween Ghost Walk at City Hall | SF
Tuesday, Oct. 30 2018 Day of the Dead Party: Live Mariachi Band, Craft & Street Decorating | Berkeley
Wednesday, Oct. 31



Friday, Nov. 2




Saturday, Nov. 3


Sunday, Nov. 4


2018 Moscone Halloween Parade | Marina

Haunted House & Trick or Treat Trail


2018 Día de los Muertos: Community Altars & Ceramic Sugar Skull Painting | Berkeley

“Día de los Muertos” Community Celebration | Mission Dist.

2018 Dia de los Muertos Procession | SF

2018 Leap Sandcastle Classic | Ocean Beach


23rd Annual Dia De Los Muertos Fest: Altars, Dance & Traditional Artisans | Oakland


Week 8 Field Trip to City Hall

Oct. 15-17

On Tuesday, October 16 we will meet at 1:50 p.m. at San Francisco City Hall, 1 Dr Carlton B Goodlett Place. Please come to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors chambers, Room 250, on the second floor. Here is a map and directions: http://sfgsa.org/index.aspx?page=1175. The meeting starts at 2 p.m.

Please try to get there a little early so you’ll be sure to get a seat and to see the whole meeting. The meeting will probably go till 5 p.m. or beyond. You don’t have to stay for the whole thing but please plan to spend at least three hours there.
From SFSU, the best way to get to City Hall is to take the M-Oceanside inbound/downtown to the Civic Center station and then walk west on Grove and north on Polk Street. You can’t miss City Hall, it’s the grand building with the dome.
If you plan to drive, metered parking is available on Van Ness, McAllister, Grove, and Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place. A CityPark underground parking lot is located on McAllister, between Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place and Larkin. For driving directions, please see the directions here, or visit Google Maps.

The agenda is available online. Please review it before coming to the meeting.

You are expected to write a 350- to 500-word news story about one item on the board’s agenda and post it to iLearn by 11:55 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. .17 Remember to include your source list (with names and contact info for all your sources) at the end of the assignment.

MONDAY, Oct. 15:

Review Agenda

Sample issue: Maya Angelou art and city policy requiring that 30 percent of works of public art depict women
Legislation: https://sfgov.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=3093298&GUID=D44E1AB3-2520-4FB3-90E3-220D386B89EA

Chronicle preview story before legislation is introduced: https://www.sfchronicle.com/news/article/S-F-s-monuments-to-male-supremacy-the-11214724.php

Examiner story after the legislation passes out of Board of Supervisors Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee: http://www.sfexaminer.com/sf-increase-womens-representation-public-art-building-street-names/

KQED story after board passes the legislation: https://www.kqed.org/news/11695768/s-f-moves-toward-requiring-more-representation-of-women-in-public-spaces

Examiner coverage of Cannabis Oversight Committee: http://www.sfexaminer.com/sf-launch-cannabis-oversight-committee-monitor-industry/


Debrief from San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting.

Here’s the video of the meeting: http://sanfrancisco.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?%20%20%20%20view_id=10

If you decide to write about the India Basin hearing, here are some resources you might find useful:

San Francisco Planning Department India Basin site


News stories from previous hearings:






Week 7 Covering Local Government — Meetings and Elections

Oct. 8-10


Meet Colleen Leigh, director of admissions at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY

Check in on election stories

Discussion of how local government works and how to cover government meetings.

Oakland City Council

SF Board of Supervisors

SF Supervisorial Districts by Neighborhood

Board committees

San Francisco Government TV

The lingo

  • Ordinance — legislation which amends municipal codes and makes laws; must be approved by 6 of the 11 supervisors. Ordinances require consideration at two separate meetings with at least five days intervening, a first reading and a final passage.
  • Resolution — a policy statement to express approval or disapproval; must be approved by 6 of the 11 supervisors.
  • Motion — a formal proposal for action
  • Environmental Impact Report — a report that provides the public and the decision-makers with detailed information about a project’s environmental effects, ways to minimize the project’s significant environmental effects, and reasonable alternatives to the project
  • Ralph M. Brown Act: “All meetings of the legislative body of a local agency shall be open and public, and all persons shall be permitted to attend any meeting of the legislative body of a local agency, except as otherwise provided in this chapter.”

Brown Act Primer: Access to Meetings, First Amendment Coalition

Pocket Guide to the Brown Act
A guide to the Ralph M. Brown Act

California Sunshine Ordinance: San Francisco
California Sunshine Ordinance: Oakland

How legislation is introduced, reviewed and adopted

Next Tuesday we will take a field trip to San Francisco City Hall. Meet in the Board of Supervisors Chambers on the second floor of City Hall, 1 Dr Carlton B Goodlett Place, San Francisco, CA 94102.  If you are traveling from SFSU take the M Oceanside line toward downtown and get off at Civic Center.  Walk north on Larkin or Polk Street and make a left on Grove. Directions to City Hall.

Please download and study the agenda, which will be available online on Thursday or Friday.

Sample Board of Supervisors agenda

WEDNESDAY: How to cover a meeting
Sample news stories about a board meeting:

Week 6 Story pitches, public records and and finding a profile subject

How to write a good story pitch.

Assignment: Write a story pitch for your pre-election story to present in class Wednesday. Pitch should sell the story, show that you’ve done research on the subject and explain why it’s newsworthy. Include a list of at least five possible sources. Bring a paper copy to class. Assignment is worth 10 points.

Here are two examples of bad and good pitches:

Voter Bad Pitch Good Pitch

Profile Bad Pitch Good Pitch

Public Records

Every time a government agency spends money, licenses a professional, investigates or evaluates something or counts something, there’s a public record. All citizens, not just journalists, have access to these records.

California Public Records Act

The People’s Business, A Guide to the California Public Records Act

Exemptions to the California Public Records Law

Some examples of public records:

San Francisco Health Department Restaurant Inspections

Sacramento Bee State Worker Salary Database

Some examples of stories using public records:

Newark Advocate: Restaurant Inspections

He earned $540,000 working at two California jails. Was that too much?

The final tally is in — UC’s highest one-year payout for sex harassment settlements, Marjie Lundstrom, Sacramento Bee

When looking for public records, think:

  1. What record might a government agency have?
  2. Which agency or department keeps the document?
  3. Who is the custodian of that document?
  4. Ask for the document(s). Be specific about what you want.
  5. If you are denied access, note the name of the person who is denying access and ask them to cite the law enabling them to withhold the record.  If you are certain of your legal right to access the document, point to the law and ask the custodian to refute it. Take notes.
  6. If you are looking for a document held by a state or local government agency (police, state board of health) use the Student Press Law Center’s State Open Records Law Request Letter Generator.
  7. State and federal government agendies each have a set number of days (between 3 and 20 working days) from the time the written request is received to supply the document or offer a valid legal reason for withholding it.
  8. During the countdown, continue to call or visit the custodian of the record and issue reminders of the upcoming deadline.
  9. If at the end of the waiting period, you still have not received the records or have received an insufficient response, contact a media law expert.

For your public records assignment, you must use government records from the original source, not websites like Zillow that use government records. Many of the records can be found on the Library Guide for JOUR 300.

Profile: Start looking for a subject for your personality profile. Write a pitch and be ready to pitch to the class on 10/8.

News quiz
Election pitch meeting

Some common problems from the Business story:

  • Insufficient reporting. You need to have multiple sources representing a mix of perspectives.
  • Not enough authoritative sources; too many random people who don’t have much information about the issue.
  • Don’t editorialize. Don’t let your opinions creep into the story.
  • Read over your work. Make sure every sentence makes sense.
  • Don’t take quotes from other news stories. If you must, attribute to the source. Example: “We’re excited to partner with Kilroy to create a new home for our growing team,” Drew Houston, CEO of Dropbox, said in a statement.


    “We’re excited to partner with Kilroy to create a new home for our growing team,” Drew Houston, CEO of Dropbox, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

  • Quotes:
    • Put attribution after the first sentence of the quote.
    • Proper punctuation: “Put attribution after the first sentence of the quote,” said Rachele Kanigel, a professor of journalism at San Francisco State University. “That way the reader knows who is speaking.”
  • If you have trouble with basic writing skills or if you got below a 75 on this assignment, please come see me or set up tutoring with Supplemental Instruction.