Journalism: write a police story

This week you will complete a police news story enhanced for an online audience as your Story 2 assignment. Your news story will be based on this police report (click to download document). This assignment is due Sunday by 11:59 ET. You can click on the upload button below to submit it here.

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  • Story 2 has two parts: 1) a 300-350-word news story based on a police report or police story scenario assigned by your instructor; and 2) Web or social media enhancements (i.e. links to relevant Web resources, tweets, Instagram photos, Snapchat texts, Pinterest posts, etc. ). n.b. You must use the police report provided in this assignment post. Do not try to complete this exercise using a story you have selected from the news. 

  • Use the Checklist for News Story Exercises to help you perfect your story. Submit the completed worksheet with your assignment.

  • The lead for your story should contain no more than 20 words and a single sentence. Write it in the active voice. Include the most important detail of the story.

  • Answer these questions in the lead: What happened? Who-did-what-when?

  • Use The Inverted PyramidThe Central Point and The Body of a News Story lectures to help you write the story in inverted pyramid style. Start with the most important detail. Each paragraph should include the story’s next-most important detail. The last paragraph should be unimportant. 

  • Use the Transitions lecture to help you ensure every paragraph has something to do with the ones before and after it. Ask yourself: What does this sentence have to do with the one before it? If you can’t pinpoint the relationship, you’ve got your paragraphs in the wrong order. Use the News Article Paragraph Organizer to help you figure out an appropriate flow for your story.

  • If you use a quotation, make sure it is a direct quote. You may not put quotation marks around anything that you cannot attribute to an individual. If the scenario does not have quotation marks around a sentence, do not add them. It is inaccurate (and a serious journalistic offense) to enclose paraphrased material in quotation marks. Be sure to follow the rules for punctuating quotations outlined in the Newsgathering and Interviewing lecture.

  • You can learn about enhancing your story for online publication from the Packaging Online News lecture and this Tipsheet for Using Online & Social Media.

  • Do not offer any opinions or draw any conclusions. Do not wrap up the story in the last paragraph. Avoid adjectives; most are value-laden and may even be considered libelous. Use the Libel and Ethics lecture as a guide.

  • Delete any unnecessary words. Your goal: economy of language. Write short, simple words, short paragraphs, short sentences. (But try not to make your writing choppy.) Use the Concise Writing lecture to help you.

  • Look up all style points in the Course AP Stylebook lecture.

  • Check spelling and grammar. Use the Proofreading Tips to help you proofread for errors. A typo costs you as much as a misspelled word. Consider also using the free Grammarly software for a final double-check.

  • Make sure your facts are absolutely accurate. Do not add or assume anything that’s not there in black and white.

  • Spell names correctly. For this exercise, the names in the police report are spelled correctly. You’ll lose a full letter grade for a misspelled name.

  • Write literally. Avoid misplaced modifiers.

  • Read the “Try it!” feedback from your instructor and peers in Weeks 3 and 4. You will find a lot of tips there that you can use to make Story 2 an ‘A’ paper. (Keep checking back throughout each week; your instructor will provide as much feedback as possible each day.)

  • Take advantage of my offer to mark up drafts. I will accept Story 2 drafts in your Story 2 workbook folder in Assignments until noon on Sunday and will return it to you as quickly as possible. I can’t respond to drafts received after noon Tuesday. Drafts are optional but they can make a big difference in your final assignment grade! Please do not submit drafts anywhere but in the Workbook area of the classroom. Please also do not paste the draft as text into the message area of the workbook.

  • Please do not submit a draft until you have studied and learned the rules for writing in inverted pyramid style.

  • To submit your draft, click on the upload button in the appropriate workbook folder under the Assignments link in the blue navbar.

  • To get a look at how this assignment relates to the next one, Story 3, go here to review its instructions.

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