Introduction to News Articles

For my third genre, I will be exploring the possibilities of news articles. The goal of most news articles is to tell a specific story that recently occurred. If written well, even the articles that only contain facts can be very engaging because of the significance of the topic the author is writing about. Some news articles that go more into depth on the topic and are written with a certain point of view/angle of the story are called news feature articles. Those typically focus on a specific person or event, rather than something very broad.

However, all news articles have the same components. The article must have a strong title that indicates what the topic or issue at hand, while also being eye-catching. Right underneath is the author’s name and a couple words about who he/she is to provide credibility, called the byline. Then, the first paragraph contains the lead. The lead is important for giving a detailed preview of the entire story. It includes the basic facts and explains why the piece is noteworthy, which determines whether or not the reader will continue reading. Next is the body, which contains the story or explanation using research. This portion often contains interviews, quotes from researchers, or comments from community people directly affected that would represent the public’s perception. The article is concluded by wrapping up the opening statement or providing a future direction to the story.

News articles are written with a similar style too. They contain short paragraphs, maybe 2-3 sentences, without topic sentences or closing sentences like in an essay. Depending on the medium, they are often formatted into columns. The story is told in an active voice, beginning with the most important facts or in chronological order. All language is very simple and straightforward; there are no metaphors or too technical terms. Background information is always included because of the assumption that no one reading is an expert.

This is an article from the San Francisco Chronicle that provides new updates on the Mendocino Complex Fire. It contains a lot of the typical features of a news article, such as an intriguing title and attention-grabbing facts. Here is an article from The New York Times that is a great example of a news feature article. With its longer length and upbeat tone, it tells a story about Jonathan Kos-Read.

This genre is appealing because I would be able to provide an overview about the current situation with the California wildfires, while still including firsthand experiences or stories. For example, with a news feature article, I could spotlight someone who personally experienced one of the fires. Quotes from someone knowledgeable in environmentalism could also be useful. Hopefully, these outside sources are what make the news article more unique and interesting.

Introduction to Satire

I’m so totally excited for exams! I mean really! Exams are what I, as a student, live for. They tear down my GPA and just give me such a confidence boost!

That, my friends, was sarcasm, or as a literary genre, satire.

I love sarcasm and being ridiculous in that sense, so it only makes sense that I would do a satirical piece for my third and final experiment in re-imagining my origin piece critiquing the Stanford Prison Experiment.

I’m surprisingly really excited for this experiment. I say surprisingly because until about 5 minutes ago, I had no idea what genre I was even going to do, whereas the others I knew almost from the beginning of the semester. So I did what any good college student does; I googled. I was sifting through all the different literary genres out there when I saw it — the satire!

A satire is a piece that uses hyperbole and irony to make fun of a topic of controversy or critique. I interpret this to mean sarcasm and overly-exaggerating certain key aspects of the Stanford Prison Experiment. Satire pieces generally twist the truth and exaggerate, so that they almost write the opposite of what they mean, but in a humorous obvious way that readers can enjoy.

I think for this experiment I plan on writing an essay focusing on the thought process or experimental design. Basically I want to examine what was going through Zimbardo’s and his research assistants minds when initially setting up the experiment and then as they were actually conducting it. I think this could be a really funny and creative way to criticize the flaws of the design.

I am excited for this piece because it is so radically different from the previous experiments, in that this is more fun and less serious. I also feel that this is one of the only classes that I’ve taken where I could do something along these lines and that is another reason I am excited to do this experiment.

I’m a little nervous on finding the balance between stupidly obvious sarcasm and setting a tone that could almost be serious but isn’t. I want this to have meaning and not just be a joke, so I think finding that balance will be one of my key struggles in writing this sample.

Intro to the Open Letter

As each day passes, formal letters are becoming more and more obsolete. The process of writing a letter, mailing it out to someone, and waiting for a response isn’t a common practice anymore now that social media exists. Open letters, on the other hand, have a much more relevant place in modern day society. They are different than a regular letter because they are meant to address a broader audience. While open letters could be addressed to a specific person, there is always an underlying message that the author wants a wider audience to understand. My relationship with open letters started freshman year in the typical English 125 classroom. For one assignment, we had to write an open letter to the author of one of the essays we had read for class. It was framed as being a wake-up call to the broader society, addressing some real-world problem and brainstorming solutions for said problem. My final product, however, looked more like a argumentative essay I would have written for AP English Language class in high school. It didn’t have a broad scope and it didn’t call anyone to action either. That’s what made me want to revisit the open format- I wanted to write something that would actually accomplish something outside the classroom.

Open letters are a bit more complicated to write than regular letters. For one thing, they’re supposed to be concise and to the point. According to several open letter authors, conviction is a key component of this genre since most people don’t have the time or patience to read through some super long letter about some problem that might not even relate to them. It’s also important to have a general understanding of your audience so that you don’t come off as aggressive or condescending. You need to find a common ground where people take you seriously enough to actually do something about the problem you’re describing. With my origin piece focusing heavily on mental health, I think that the open letter format would help me frame the issue in a way that makes people want to take action and end stigma.

Welcome to the genre of journal entries

Journal entries are a genre we all know — a style of writing we’ve likely all dabbled in at some point. Still, it’s not easy to classify normative conventions. We write journals about all types of things, people, places, etc. What exactly differentiates a journal entry? What makes it distinct?

I think, upon reviewing journal entries and considering how I personally feel, it all starts with tone and audience. Primarily, journal entries are meant to be personal. This doesn’t mean they always have to possess our deepest, darkest secrets. It just means there is no intended audience beyond yourself. This is supposed to satisfy our own personal mode of expression through writing — a style that is as cathartic as it is linguistic. Write how you feel. Write for yourself. Don’t worry about the rest.

Most picture a “dear diary” style confession when they think of journal entries. My project will be slightly different from that expectation. I will be taking my origin piece, an article in the Michigan Daily from the Final Four last year, and turning it into a series of personal journal entries about what the experience was like to travel the country and cover the basketball team. It will be written as if I was reflecting hours or days after the experience — not months ago. This will allow for a more emotional expression. I will write one journal entry for every week I traveled somewhere different (this amounts to four entries in total). It will encompass my experience as a reporter at these events.

Image result for gif dear diary

In terms of language conventions, journal entries are not devoid of them. Largely, they’re casual. They are often written in phrases that might sound like spoken word. People don’t tend to write long entries that wax poetic in fancy language. But it’s also a personal endeavor that varies from person-to-person. As someone who likes to write, my journal entries might be a bit more formal than someone else. This, in my opinion, should be left up to the writer.

If this were to become my project, I’d likely hand-write these entries, and add some design component, filled with images from my time and however else I seek to improve the design. I think there is some potential there, though I’m still not certain whether I want this to be my final project.

Would love to know what you guys think!

An Introduction to the Feature Article

I am opting to explore feature articles for my second experiment! I have always enjoyed reading feature articles in newspapers and magazines. I am drawn to this type of journalism because it provides more in-depth looks at relevant topics and makes the news or pop culture feel more relatable somehow. I also like how diverse the genre is. You can read a feature article in a magazine like Cosmopolitan or in a distinguished newspaper like The New York Times. Feature articles can also range in content. For example, an investigative reporting piece, a profile of a celebrity, and an article about an emerging trend can all be considered feature articles, depending on their conventions.

As for convention, feature articles differ from traditional news articles written solely to inform. They often include a more human aspect to them and are longer than news articles. The purpose of a feature article can be to inform or entertain, or both. They typically focus on a specific topic or individual, and place what they are talking about in context. The subject of a feature article should be timely, meaning the author should have a reason for writing the piece at that given time. Speaking of the author, they can write in either first or third person point of view, depending on what is most appropriate for the situation. Feature articles generally start with a lede, which is a hook that engages the reader right from the start. This can come in the form of a quote, a statistic, imagery, etc. Following the lede is the nut graph, which provides some background information or context introducing the topic that will be discussed in the article. The piece should end with a kicker, which wraps up the article and may give the reader some food for thought. Other features of a feature article include:

  • An interesting title
  • Bylines that make the reader interested
  • Interviews with a subject or subjects
  • Pull quotes from these interviews
  • Subheadings
  • Photographs of subjects or scenes relevant to the article

 

For more information about the conventions of a feature article, click here. If you’re interested in learning more about different types of feature stories, check out this article.

If you’ve ever seen the movie Spotlight, the journalists are investigative reporters that write feature articles. Their purpose is to inform readers of shady things that are going on in and around Boston. If you haven’t seen the movie, it is about reporters at The Boston Globe who uncover the rampant sexual abuse committed by priests in the Catholic Church and the cover-up by the Church. It’s on Netflix!

Here is an example of a profile article about a gymnast abused by Larry Nassar that was published in Cosmopolitan. Here is another from The New York Times, about ISIS. Here is yet another from The New York Times, a Pulitzer Prize-winning series about bribery and Walmart.

 

P.S. Sorry for the lack of original pictures in this post. My computer is not cooperating.

Introduction to the Feature Profile

When I first think about a “feature story” or a “profile”, I think of someone’s face plastered across the top of an article, in an exploitative way that is somehow not exploitative. The unwritten consent of this person to have their entire life summarized, spelled out, and in some ways simplified, in black and white print is derived from their fame, success, or often, wrongdoing. However, in a less subjective definition, the reference site ThoughtCo teaches us that the feature profile is  an “article about an individual, such as a politician, celebrity, athlete, or CEO” which “seeks to give readers a behind-the-scenes look at what a person is really like, warts and all, away from their public persona”. According to this “How To” article in the archive of the NYT,  the person profiled is often popular in the news at the time.

The feature profile is the print news media’s version of a documentary, or biography. This story telling of another’s life has been adapted into other forms, as well: one of my favorite Podcasts to listen to is NPR’s “How I Built This” with Guy Raz. I believe that his podcast, a dive into the success stories of prominent business people such as Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, founders of Ben & Jerry’s, would also fit into this genre of feature.

I plan to do a feature story about Colin Kaepernick, as he was the catalyst behind the player’s protests of 2016 that have led to so much debate and controversy in the political and athletic realm. In no way do I intend to imply that Colin Kaepernick is the main crusader of this movement.

Since a main aspect of feature articles is the interview with the person or people who know the person, and Colin Kaepernick, as well as his friends, have better things to do than talk to me, I will have to find a way around this. Possible tactics to avert this possible setback include reading features that have been done on Kaepernick, such as “Colin Kaepernick Has a Job” via The Bleacher Report (s/o Max for the recc!), or any writings done by Kaepernick himself.

One interesting aspect to think about feature profiles, is the current state of feature profile’s in today’s age of social media. With so many opportunities for public figures to create their own public image through this platform of social media, will the feature articles survive? Is there any advantage to the celebrity to transfer the image creation out of their own hands, into the hands of a stranger? These topics and more were explored in this September 2018 article from the NY Times.

Examples of features:

Carl Karcher, founder of Carl’s Jr.

https://www.ocregister.com/2016/07/21/75-years-of-carls-jr-how-carl-karcher-created-a-better-burger-and-viral-sensations-before-their-time/

Sheila Michaels, crusader of “Ms.” movement

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/06/us/sheila-michaels-ms-title-dies-at-78.html

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author and cultural icon

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/06/04/chimamanda-ngozi-adichie-comes-to-terms-with-global-fame

 

Introduction to the Photo Essay

For my second experiment, I decided to do a photo essay. I’ve never really explored this medium before so I’m really excited about trying it.

I also think this will be a really cool way to reimagine my origin piece (my college essay). My college essay focused on me and my first experiment–an op-ed–still included quite a bit of my own experience but also aimed to more broadly speak to the college essay itself–what it is, if they are truly representative of individuals, what they should be, etc. I think a photo essay will be a great medium to get to explore the representativeness of individuals, both at the time they were written (approximately the end of junior/beginning of senior year of high school) and now. I craft my photo essay similarly to Humans of New York, which is a blog based in New York City which features photos of individuals with quoted brief stories about themselves and their thoughts and experiences. I plan to ask some of my friends and peers how they feel their college essay represented them when they wrote it, what they aimed to convey, and how true their college essay is now, approximately three years later. This testament will be paired with a picture of the individual which well represents their personality and/or the topic of their essay.

Photo essays are a genre that allows for quite a bit of flexibility and creativity. Generally, the point is for a series of photos to tell a story, often accompanied by text–but the photos are the core of the project, as the primary point that people will see, think about, and imagine a story for before even reading the text–which is why capturing pictures that represent my friends and their experiences is so important. Humans of New York is a bit different than a typical photo essay, but I think it’s the best format for me for this project.

Some important elements of a photo essay are:

  • the story that is conveyed through the pictures alone
  • a variety of photos that keep viewers interested and engaged
  • ordering the photos in such a way that they effectively create a narrative and follow a logical sequence
  • being both informational and emotional
  • including captions that provide descriptions to ensure the viewer understands the story you’re telling

Ultimately, the most powerful parts of photo essays are the emotional and representative aspects, creating a strong narrative. A lot of people have really interesting stories and college essay topics, and I am excited to attempt to capture them through my photo essay.

An example of a photo essay:

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/08/22/world/middleeast/gaza-israel-walk-war-anniversary.html

My friend Michelle’s photo essay (her MiW Gateway final project):

https://mphi90.wixsite.com/mysite

Some of my favorite HONY posts:

http://www.humansofnewyork.com/post/150127870371/i-was-taking-a-law-school-admissions-test-in-a

Introduction to the Photo Essay

I have chosen to use a photo essay for my second experiment. Photo essays convey a story or a topic through visual means, with minimal text. Ideally, a photo essay should use images to evoke the same, or a more powerful, response than a traditional written essay. A specific topic or theme is important for a photo essay so that it can evoke meaning and emotion in the viewer. According to Collective Lens, there are two types of photo essays, narrative and thematic. Narrative photo essays tell a story, while thematic photo essays all center around an idea or theme. I expect my photo essay to be more thematic, as I plan to include photos that I take or that I edit surrounding activist work.

The organization of a photo essay is also important. There should be one or two lead photos that introduce the topic of the photo essay to the viewer. Then, the creator of the photo essay should use discretion of what other types of photos to use throughout, but it is usually suggested that a variety of different types of shots should be utilized throughout the essay. There also should be an impactful closing shot that brings the photo essay together.

I became interested in doing a photo essay after seeing the emotional impact that visual images surrounding activism can have on people. For example, visual images from women’s marches across the world in January 2017 seemed to capture the spirit of the movement. I’m intrigued to make my own impact with photos surrounding activism. I also have always been interested in photography but have not had the time to study it, so this would be a great opportunity to look at one use of photography.

This photo essay is impactful to me because it creates a narrative through showing the everyday experiences of various people. It is very thematic, and also includes text to further explore the experiences of people in Addis Ababa in the past. I enjoyed this photo essay because I did not have prior knowledge of the lives of Ethiopian people in the past, but I feel as if this photo essay educated me and evoked more emotion than words could. I am very excited to see where my photo essay takes me!

Another Introduction to the Op-Ed? Why Not!

Like many of my classmates before me, I have chosen the well-known and well-respected op-ed for my next experiment cycle. While I’ve skimmed what seems like a million and a half op-eds, I never really knew its conventions before I got to class. As someone who pushes her opinion whenever she feels it necessarily, you’d think that this would occur to me way before this class. But, y’know, you just sort of accept things as the norm, and move on, without really questioning how they work or why you like them.

The op-ed’s founder, Herbert Bayard, stated,

“It occurred to me that nothing is more interesting than opinion when opinion is interesting, so I devised a method of cleaning off the page opposite the editorial, which became the most important in America … and thereon I decided to print opinions, ignoring facts,” 

and if that ain’t me, I don’t know what is.

Op-eds stand for opposite editorial. Op-eds are often given from an individualized perspective, whether it be from the voice of a community, or an individual ready to go all in on a topic (I stole that quote from Wikipedia, the opposite of an op-ed). A majority of op-eds are written by individuals not affiliated with the medium to which they submit the op-ed. Ideas and conversations that may not always be brought up on the front page have the chance to make a real impact. With the internet being as popular as is it (wow, shocking observation, Briana), it’s not surprise that the op-ed has taken off in these past few years. Our society places a lot more faith in individual opinion now than it has in the past, or at least from what I’ve seen in my short, short lifetime.

Op-eds are usually shorter, and contain quick facts to help give its audience context for the topic. Titles are short, witty and attention grabbing, without being insanely click-baity. The topics are relevant, and gives readers something to think about. Although most sources say op-eds range between 500-800 words, I agree with what Olivia said in class: they can definitely be way longer. Points are narrow, and have a lot to do with the writer. Obviously, mine would start out with talk of how I fell into the trap of the male gaze (a huge part of me also thinks this has to do with my fascination of classic Hollywood’s standard of beauty, my own race, and my opinions on beauty…which…is messy…but makes for a good read, probably).

Image result for eye roll
Me, after reading the Burkett piece

After reading an extremely controversial op-ed by Elinor Burkett, I felt it was my civic duty to tell you what I think about the male gaze, the feminism that comes with it, and how our society is helping dismantle it (or making it drastically worse). I’m currently trying to find movies to use as an antithesis for the male gaze, and I think a lot of the examples we talked about in class can prove this. But, recently, I also have begun to think music and television are moving a lot faster than movies at doing this, and that’s something to take into consideration. Television and music aren’t bogged down by the “blockbuster atmosphere” that support the male gaze. The industry of music and TV have a larger pools of diversity, in both production and directing, in comparison to movies. Artists like SZA, and series like Issa Rae’s Insecure are making huge strides that push back on the male gaze, and what it means to be a woman in Hollywood. These are mediums (or…genres?) that deserve to be looked at, even if they are different from that of movies.

Maybe I should just pitch my own movie, instead of writing an op-ed…

Although, after reading all this theory, I’m struggling currently to not totally go off about how toxic I think white feminism is to the WOC community. 

Introducing you to my Visual Essay

For my second experiment, I am switching what I planned to do on Thursday and am going to write a visual analysis on two images taken during the Kavanaugh hearings.  A visual analysis breaks down the components of an image and conveys an understanding of what those components symbolize and are trying to communicate to the audience. The three steps to a visual essay are describing, responding, and analyzing. First, you must describe the subject looking at colors and shading, background, people and places, and arrangements of the elements on the page. After you describe, you then must respond to the description. This section includes reacting to the image and seeing how it made you feel and think. It is then important to include context and analyze the image and the purpose it holds. The thesis should contain the main idea that surrounds the understanding of the visual subject.

 

https://essaybasics.com/how-to-write-a-visual-analysis-essay/

 

Here are the two photos I plan on analyzing and comparing in my visual analysis

These two photos are of the same act, Brett Kavanaugh and Blasey Ford being sworn in, but have very different angles, backgrounds, and evoke different reactions. Comparing these two images side by side represent the discrepancies and injustices between men and women in our society and the societal structures that enforce them. I will also be able to use the biases in my analysis and explain how they evoke sympathy and demand attention from the public, a strategy that journalists and newsmakers use.

I think this genre will be perfect for my topic because it will allow me to use and analyze the visuals I want to include as well as incorporate the two biases of personalization and authority disorder bias. Having images is a huge component of my origin piece. I will touch on the biases that draw people’s attention to the media, and a visual analysis will fit those topics them in seamlessly. Excited to hear what you guys think 🙂