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Class notes and review

Genre

A critical factor in the success of your writing is understanding the specific genre in which you are working. That doesn't just mean your "beat." It means knowing exactly what kind of journalism you are conducting. Here are some of the standard genres in writing about Arts and Entertainment.

 

Summary/Summary Review

This is just straight reporting--Who, What, Where, When, How, and Why questions. You might find something like this as a short description of a film or restaurant. These rarely contain an evaluative element. Your audience just wants to know what something is or what happened. A story like "Chris Brown Plays to Full House at Austin's 360 Ampitheatre" would fall into this category. Just the facts.

 

Review

The review takes the facts required for a summary and adds the element of evaluation: is the thing under consideration good or bad or somewhere in between? Good or bad in the context requires a criteria match according to standards for the category. For example, one might evaluate a show featuring tap dancing on its liveliness, but a ballet like Swan Lake doesn't aspire to liveliness. What makes a slapstick comedy movie good? Make a list of criteria--you can appeal to an authority like a dictionary for the criteria or you can state them yourself. Good or bad in this case is not a matter of taste or opinion; it is a comparison to standards that you share with most readers. Things you might review

  • restaurants

  • movies

  • television shows

  • performances

  • art shows

  • fashion collections

  • vacation destinations

 

As the textbook says, "Much of arts coverage is devoted to the business of practicing an art, whether professionally or as a hobby. Every artistic endeavor has some sort of commercial transaction at its heart. Equipment and supplies are manufactured and purchased. Tickets to performances and showings are sold. And, in most instances, the art itself--whether it's film, fashion, or food--is placed on the market and offered up for public consumption." Reviews help audiences decide whether participating in the commercial transaction of art is worth their investment.

 

Profile

Profiles are where stories come to life through individuals (or, occasionally, groups) involved in your beat. Profiles involve the standard components of reporting and add description and quotes to tell an engaging and timely story. You will need to interview people, go places, and conduct library research to gather your material and then you'll decide how to package this information as a narrative. And, as a narrative, it will involve the elements of storytelling that you know from creative writing: beginning, middle, end, building action, conflict, climax, resolution, denoument. Profiles that read like Wikipedia pages are dull to write and dull to read. You might profile a

  • choreographer

  • visual artist

  • musician

  • producer

  • actor

  • writer

  • chef

 

Personal Essay

The next step is to take what you've done in the earlier genres--summarizing, reporting, evaluating, interviewing, resesarch, etc., and insert yourself as a character. This is sometimes called immersive or gonzo reporting and it allows readers to experience what you are writing about through your eyes. It requires more storytelling strategy than the simpler forms of review and profile and, at its best, can express truths about the environing culture.

 

Mid-term Review

The test will be over your lecture notes, textbook reading, and assigned reading. All of these are available on the calendar page.

 

Important concepts

Journalists' Questions (The "W" Questions)

Knowing your publication

Research

Documents

Expert and Personal Sources

Interviewing Strategies and Techniques/Questions

Structure

Beginning, Middle, End

Narrative Arc

The "nutgraf"

Building Blocks: Anecdotes, Facts, Examples, Quotes, Weight and Pacing

Set-up/Pay-off structure

Background

Diction/Word Choice

Sound Qualities

Words of Attribution (Signal phrases)

Transition

Voice

Character

Theme

Conflict

Resolution

Immersive Reporting

Interior Monologue

Rising Conflict

Resolution

Narrative Detail

Action

Angle

Classic Profile Structure

Alternative Story Forms

Through Line

Q&A

Opinion

Reflection

Inciting Event

 

Final Review

The final will be cumulative. In addition to the material covered on the mid-term, please review the following.

Chapters 4, 5, 6, 10, and 11.

The differences between reporting, reviewing, and criticism

Pitches/Queries: standard elements + "why me/why you" paragraph

What makes stories publishable and attractive to editors?

"Ride-along" as immersive reporting

Newspaper reporting versus magazine reporting

Angle/slant/scope

Ledes/hooks