Read the following information and write a focus sentence at the top of your story. Then jot down an order for your story. Assume that you are a reporter in Tampa, Fla., and you are writing this story for the Monday morning newspaper.
Location: Riverview section of Tampa.
Facts: This information comes from Tampa sheriff’s deputies: Two robbers burst into a home in Riverview at 11:30 p.m. Sunday. The home was owned by Grace Ford, 20. Ford was sitting in a front room with her baby, Brandi, 10 months old, who was in a playpen. Ford’s sister, Cynthia, 16, also was in the room.
According to sheriff’s reports: Both men were described as white, from 18 to 20 years old and of medium height and weight. One man was wearing a ski mask and jogging pants with the letters “UF” (for University of Florida) on the side. The other wore a white shirt and a baseball cap. Neighbors heard shots and called the sheriff’s deputies. The men got away in a car that had been waiting in a nearby cemetery.
[The following information comes from an interview with Grace Ford.]
She said the robbers pushed her, her baby and her sister from room to room. They took about $5,000 worth of jewelry. The dog, a Rottweiler named Elka, began barking. The robbers fired three shots at the dog. They missed. The baby began crying. Ford said she picked her up and found a bullet hole in Brandi’s diaper with the bullet imbedded in the diaper. Direct quotes from Ford: “There was about an inch left to the diaper that it didn’t pierce. They were extra thick.”
Based on a story from the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times. Used with permission. 3-2. Find the focus
Read the following information and ask yourself what is the most important or interesting fact. Write a focus sentence identifying that newsworthy angle:
a. The New England Journal of Medicine released a study today. The study says people who abruptly quit drinking coffee may suffer effects of caffeine withdrawal. Some of the symptoms include headaches, depression, anxiety and fatigue. The study says that even people who drink fewer than three cups of coffee a day may be affected.
b. A new law went into effect yesterday in Maine. The law affects all businesses that have more than 25 employees. The law requires employers to hire one physically challenged worker for every 25 employees. Under the law, employers must post advertisements seeking individuals with physical challenges as defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
c. A professor from another college is scheduled to speak on your campus. The speaker has written that those who attacked the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, were justified in their actions because of previous U.S. abuses. Alumni have asked that the speech be canceled.
d. Police suspected two men of drug dealing. Police witnessed the men exchanging money and what appeared to be heroin. But after they arrested the men, police couldn’t find the heroin. Police called in their drug-sniffing dog. The dog headed directly to one man’s sneakers. Inside the sneakers was a pound of heroin. The two men were charged with drug trafficking.
e. A man in your community received a postcard yesterday from his father, who lived in a nearby town and had just returned from a trip. “Please come over so your mother and I can show you pictures of our trip,” the postcard said. “I guess my father wondered why I never came over,” said the son, Jason Gott. His father and mother died several years ago. The postcard that arrived yesterday was sent 30 years ago.
Write a news story based on the following information. Decide what material needs to be attributed. Use yesterday as your time frame, but write the day of the week, which is the preferred AP style. Use a new paragraph for each new thought and a new paragraph for the start of a quotation.
This information comes from Lynn Wilbur, University Place assistant fire chief:
A fire occurred in a Tacoma suburb called University Place in Washington. Wilbur said the fire started in a corner unit at the Meadow Park Garden Court apartments. It spread to a two-bedroom apartment next door through a common attic the two apartments shared. Both apartment units were destroyed, and two others were damaged. Four families were left homeless. About 12 people had to be relocated. It was a two-alarm fire (which means two fire companies responded to the fire). Investigators have not confirmed the cause of the fire. The fire may have been started by a stove that was left on in one unit. “The pots were melted down on it.” No one was injured. A pet cat died in the fire.
Information from apartment manager Steve Edwards:
He said he couldn’t relocate the families in the apartment complex because it was filled to capacity. He said some residents may have to seek shelter with the American Red Cross.
Information from Rosemary Hurlburt, who lived in one of the apartments:
Her apartment was gutted. She said she and her two daughters were at a convenience store when the fire started. She said she lost a lot of new possessions. “We just got new stuff,” Hurlburt said. “My 5-year-old daughter just had a birthday party. We just got her a brand-new bunk bed set.”
Based on a story from The Oregonian. Used with permission. 3-4. Program advance
Instructions: A program about date rape will be offered at your school tonight. Your editor hands you a press release and tells you to write a story about the upcoming program. This type of story is called an advance. You interview one of the panelists who will be on the program, and you get comments from people sponsoring the event. Instead of writing a lead announcing the program, try writing a lead based on something one of your sources tells you. Ask yourself what you find most important or interesting, and use that in your lead. Then write a nut graph giving the basic information about what, where, when and so forth. You do not need to use all the quotes. Here are your notes:
Notes from a press release: There will be a forum tonight about date rape. The program is called “Date Rape, Acquaintance Rape.” It is sponsored by the Emily Taylor Women’s Resource Center. The program will be held in the Pine Room of the Student Union on your campus. It will be conducted from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. It is open to men and women. The forum will feature a film, “Campus Rape.” Panelists will discuss issues in the film and an audience-participation discussion will follow.
Notes from interview with Sherill Robinson, graduate assistant in the Resource Center: She said the forum would address problems that contribute to date rape, such as miscommunication, drugs and alcohol. “Regardless of those things, unless a woman says ‘yes,’ it’s rape,” she said. She said she hoped people would become aware of what date rape was. She shows you an advertisement for the forum that defines date rape as forced sexual intercourse by someone you know.
Notes from interview with Barbara Ballard, director of the Resource Center: She said the center sponsored an outreach program, which brought sexual assault programs to residence halls, scholarship halls and fraternities. “When I came here there was no such thing as date rape or acquaintance rape,” she said. “Those things didn’t even have a title. Now it’s a topic that’s discussed, and people are a lot more educated about it.”
Notes from interview with Sharon Danoff-Berg, a graduate assistant in the Emily Taylor Resource Center: At least one in four women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. About 90 percent of college rape victims are violated by someone they know. She says that is why she agreed to be one of four student panelists on the program. “There’s this myth that most rapes are stranger rapes, where someone attacks you from out of the dark. That does happen, but not in the majority of rapes. People need to understand it’s not the fault of the woman. Nobody deserves to be sexually assaulted or does anything to ask for it. The rapist is the one who needs to be held accountable.”
Based on a story from The University Daily Kansan. Used with permission. 3-5. Burglary
Instructions: Write a news story based on the following information. Write a focus sentence on top of the story. You are a reporter for a Louisville newspaper, and you interviewed this man after you read the report of the burglary in the police records. Be careful to attribute any material that you cannot substantiate as factual. You do not have to use the quotes in one block. Use them where you think they fit best. Your time frame is yesterday (but use the day of the week).
Information comes from Roy L. Jones, 60: He was having lunch with a friend at a Shoney’s restaurant, 811 Eastern Parkway in Louisville. He parked his 1990 Oldsmobile in the restaurant parking lot. Inside the car he had a package wrapped in a plastic bag on the floor. When he returned to his car about 30 minutes after he entered the restaurant, the package was gone. The back door was open, and the glove compartment had been rifled. Inside the package was an $8,000 artificial leg. He had gone to Falls City Limb and Brace Co. before lunch to have his hip-to-floor prosthesis adjusted. He reported it to the police yesterday, but the leg has not turned up. He had locked the car, but the thief broke into it.
“I’m disgusted as hell, is all I can say. I bet whoever took it, when they opened the package is as disappointed as I am. I just hate to go through all the hassle of getting another one made. You have to go down there for a fitting, and then you have to go down there again.”
He said the leg is probably covered by insurance but that doesn’t make him feel any better. He lost his left leg more than 30 years ago in an industrial accident. He uses a wheelchair when he goes out. He uses the artificial leg to move around his house. He had another one, but it no longer fit. He needed further amputation two years ago. That’s why he needed the new leg. He lives at 950 Samuel St. in Germantown.
Information from Louisville police Sgt. Frank Lavender: No one has been arrested. The item that was stolen has not been found. He said that this misfortune reinforces a point that police have been trying to convey to citizens: It’s not enough just to lock your car. “We’re trying to encourage people to look into their cars and see what’s in there and put it in the trunk. People need to be more careful.”
This exercise is designed to help you decide what information should be in direct quotes and what should be paraphrased or not attributed at all. Copy this story in your word processing program; then edit the story by crossing out quotes where they don’t belong or adding them where they do.
Package Arrives -- 25 Years Late
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A package from New York City to a Washington address finally arrived – albeit more than 25 years late.
“The package containing three 16 mm reels of the 1954 movie classic, ‘On the Waterfront,’ that was mailed July 3, 1974, was delivered Saturday to a townhouse in Northwest Washington,” authorities said.
“The addressee, Martin Brinker of the District Living Cooperative, no longer lives there.”
The package was left with Jason Ferguson, a 22-year-old George Washington University student.
“I'm going to grow up and graduate from college in less time than it took the U.S. Postal Service to deliver this,” Ferguson said. “I would really like to think it’s a hoax, but it doesn’t look that way.”
Postal Service spokesman Gus Ruiz said while things like this occur, they don’t happen very often. “When they do, we have the same question, 'Where was it?’ ’’ he said.
Ruiz speculated because the films were shipped parcel post, they could have “been lost” either on a train or a bus.
The films were sent insured by the Audio Film Center of Mount Vernon, N.Y. Brinker apparently rented the film for $24 and the invoice warned him to “return promptly after use to avoid overtime charges.
Adapted from a story by The Associated Press. Used with permission.