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1. Your revised meeting story of 500-700 words with at least one embedded hyperlink. The overall package should contain at least two embedded hyperlinks.
2. Your finalized sidebar of 150-200 words with at least one embedded hyperlink. The overall package should contain at least two embedded hyperlinks.
3. At least one additional online enhancement, such as a Twitter alert teasing the story’s content, an interactive Q&A with people featured in the story, a discussion question with the reporter (you!), an audio clip from an interview you did, a video clip from the meeting, etc., which could be included with the package to engage the readers about the story.
Please keep these success strategies in mind for the meeting story portion of your final project package:
**You must begin your meeting story with a summary news lede that tells readers about the most-important action the officials at the meeting took. Do not write that they held a meeting, that they held a meeting about something, or that they discussed something at the meeting. Write what they decided, what the vote was, what the outcome of the meeting was, etc. Get right to the “meat” of the meeting in the first sentence of the story.
**A meeting story is a news story — the same as the ones we’ve been writing all semester. You must follow all of the rules for writing news stories with a summary news lede and in inverted pyramid style.
**For every person you quote, you must give a first and last name and a title or description. Do not use first names alone, nicknames, made-up names or names without titles. For the audience members, write their names, where they live (the city) and what they do for a living: Brenda Starr, a University of Maryland University College associate professor who lives in College Park, said she’s glad the City Council impeached the mayor.
**Use first names on first reference only (along with a last name and a description or title). Don’t use first names alone for any reason. Use last names alone on subsequent references.
**You may not use any quotes from a source for whom you do not know a first and last name and title.
**Spell all names correctly. I will be checking the Web sites of the agencies whose meetings you write about to make sure all names and titles are correct.
**Do not put yourself in the story. Do not use the following words outside of quotation marks: I, we, us, our, me, my.
**Do not invent any facts or quotations. Every word in the story must be true, accurate and based on your interviews.
**Do not quote or attribute anything to Web sites, other articles or books in your story. You must get the information first-hand from your sources.
**Use the Course AP Stylebook and Concise Writing lectures to correct grammar, AP style, punctuation and spelling before submitting your story.
**Carefully follow all the Newsgathering and Interviewing lecture’s rules for attributing, capitalizing and punctuating quotations.
**Use the Step-by-Step: How to Write a Sidebar handout to guide you in developing your package’s sidebar.
**Avoid passive voice. The ledes in particular must be written in active voice: subject-verb-object. Who did what to whom?
**Avoid writing about your meeting in the order that events occurred on the agenda rather than inverted pyramid style (most to least important.)
**Avoid label leads. Your lead should summarize the most important issue that was decided or discussed at the meeting. If council members discussed a topic, summarize what they said in your lead. Don’t tell your readers they discussed a topic.
How to Get a Grade of A on the Final Draft:
• Submit your meeting story to your assigned Workgroup in Week 7 by midnight, Eastern time, on Sunday.
• Cover a meeting of public officials in person. You may not watch a video of a meeting afterward. You have to be there in person.
• Interview at least two audience members in person during or after the meeting to ask them for their perspective on the important actions taken at the meeting.
• Your article should not sound like the minutes of the meeting. Do not write it in chronological order. Write it in the order of importance–in inverted pyramid style.
• Do background research on the topics covered at the meeting. Read prior articles about past meetings of this same group. Read articles about the topics they discussed.
• If you need more information to understand something that happened at the meeting, call the officials on the phone the next day and ask them questions.
• Make your story interesting. Meetings can be long and boring. Your article should be interesting and readable. Choose the most important information from the meeting to include in your story. Use the sidebar to augment the meeting story in an informative, educational and interesting way.
• Begin both stories with news ledes that follow all of the rules we have learned.
* The meeting story lead should tell readers the most important thing that happened at the meeting in no more than one sentence of 20 words.
* The sidebar should focus on the most important element of its topic without exceeding the one-sentence, 20-word cap.
• Do not write a “label” lede that says a report was released or that someone held a meeting, even if you say what the meeting was about. Neither is newsworthy. What did the council, committee, legislator or group DO at the meeting that IS newsworthy? What is the key information in that report which you should highlight for readers in the sidebar? The most important detail goes in the lede.
• Write the stories in inverted-pyramid style, so the most important detail is in their first paragraphs; the second-most important detail is in their second paragraphs, and so on. The last paragraphs should contain each story’s least-important detail.
• Most of your meeting story, including the lede, should be about one thing, even if the meeting was about several things. Deal with the most important thing that happened. You can mention lesser items toward the end of the story or even use them as the heart of your sidebar.
* Do not make a list.
* Do not present information chronologically in the order that it happened at the meeting or appeared in a report.
• Use transitions throughout the stories. Every paragraph should follow up on the one before it so the pieces flow for the reader.
• Quote the people who are conducting the meeting–the city council members, the school board members, the legislators, the commissioners, etc., as they make statements or argue points throughout the meeting.
• Quote as many officials as possible–but only those who say something relevant. Do not hand in a story that contains no quotes from officials or that contain quotes which are routine, i.e., “We need to vote n this resolution today,” the mayor said.
• Give readers some background information on the meeting and the sidebar’s topic. Explain what they’re reading to the readers. Don’t assume they already know anything about the topics discussed.
• Do not write your own opinion, even if the meeting or sidebar’s information is relevant to you.
• During or after the meeting, interview at least two people from the audience to ask them for their opinion about what happened at the meeting. Quote at least two people giving “reaction quotes” in your story.
• Do not quote any Web sites, books, newspapers or brochures. All of your quotations must come from officials who spoke at the meeting and from the audience members you interviewed in person or by telephone during or after the meeting.
• Choose colorful, direct quotes, not boring or routine quotes. Properly punctuate and attribute all quotations. You’ll find the rules for attribution in the lectures.
• Avoid lists. Do not stack quotes or list actions or rules. Remember: You’re telling a story, not giving a report.
• Do not include yourself or your questions in the story. You are a fly on the wall, not part of the story. Do not use the words “I” or “me” or other pronouns that include yourself (ours). Never write, “When asked…”
• Make sure all concepts and terms are adequately explained. Don’t make the reader guess.
• Don’t raise questions you don’t answer.
• Include at least one hyperlink (one would be the minimum). Better still, use at least 5 links and divide them between the main story and the sidebar. Make sure they’re relevant. You’re trying to make this package an experience in the ways described in the Packaging News Online lecture. You will receive no credit if you type URLs in your story or at the end of your document.
• Don’t turn in a story package without a sidebar. It’s worth 10 percent of the assignment’s grade.
• Write the main story in no fewer than 500 words and no more than 700. Word count counts.
• Keep the sidebar’s length at 150-200 words.
• Write a one-word slug and your byline and date at the top of the first page to each story.
• Use a dateline on each story.
• Write -30- or ### at the end of each story.
• Attach your stories as a single Word document to its assignment folder. Please do not type or paste it into the assignment’s message box.
• Follow AP style to the letter. You will lose points for every error. Look every word up in the Course AP Stylebook! Pay particular attention to:
* capital letters
• Attribute, punctuate and capitalize quotes correctly.
• Use proper grammar. Watch out for:
* sentence fragments
* run-on sentences
* subject-verb and subject-pronoun agreement
• Consider this a test of the information you have accumulated during the semester. You will be graded on how well you follow each rule we’ve covered this semester.
• Write in active voice and in past tense. You will lose a full letter grade if either story’s lead contains passive voice.
• Make sure all facts are accurate and names are spelled correctly. You will lose a full letter grade for every factual error or misspelled proper noun.
• Proofread your story before handing it in. Missing words confuse readers and lower your grade.
And of course, triple-check the spellings of all names of people, places and organizations. I will be checking those names, too, and you will lose a full letter grade for every one you spell wrong–even if it’s just a typo.