Writing Review and Intro to Photography

Today we will:

  1. Discuss projects
  2. Apply Menchner reading to projects
  3. Learn the basic elements of photography – types of photos and basic elements photographers look for in photos
  4. Judge an online photo contest
  5. Talk about your slide shows – the kinds of photos you should be shooting


Kinds of Photos

Informational photos—Tell you who the subject is and/or offer a record of the event.

Passive photos – Show a person posing for a photo. This can be when the event has already happened. The photo may say something about the person or the environment and can add to the story.

Active photos – Show people involved in an event. These photos tell stories. They show people interacting with their environment. They capture the essence of what the story is about. Most of your photos should fall in this category.

The Elements of Photography

These are the nouns and verbs of your image.

  1. Content/timeliness/storytelling capacity
  2. emotion
  3. light
  4. rule of thirds
  5. layering
  6. perspective
  7. personality of subject
  8. sense of place
  9. impact
  10. mood
  11. graphic
  12. surprise
  13. juxtaposition

Rule of Thirds

Place key elements near or at the intersection of these lines

You Be the Judge — photocontest

West Side Pieces

What photos will you need for your stories?

1. Scene setters — establishing shots

2. Middle-shots — here is where you tell the story

3. Close-up — reveals character

Five week blogs due today. Assignments I will be grading:

  1.  Dan Gillmor’s “We The Media” Introduction & Chapter 1 (posted on UB Learns)
  2.  Comment on the following websites. What can we learn from each? http://missionlocal.org, http://nycitynewsservice.
  3.  Steve Buttry Blog entry on “Finding and developing story ideas.”
  4.  Picking the Right Media for a Story http://multimedia.journalism.berkeley.edu/tutorials/picking-right-media-reporting-story.
  5. Melvin Mencher’s News Reporting and Writing, Chapter 7 (The Writer’s Art) (posted on UB Learns)
  6.  Writer’s Tool Box
  • Read: Kenneth Kobre’s “Photojournalism: The Professional’s Approach” Chapter 1
  • –Write: Assignment 1 draft due Oct. 13
  • –Think: What will your slideshow look like? What sort of story do you want to tell?




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Feature writing focus

Today we will:

Discuss stories — what’s your plan? Next week you will need a lead and nut graph for your main piece. How will you get it?

Focus on features:


Discuss class readings:

Dan Gillmor on cititzen journalism

We the Media,” Intro and Chapter One

  1. Journalism has changed, but need for news is still the same
  2. Blogging has a long history
  3. 9/11 was one of the first events covered by community media.
  4. Shift from journalism as lecture to journalism as conversation
  5. The need to defend grassroots journalism to make sure it thrives(“copyright cartel”)
  6. Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, federalists as the “original” bloggers. Muckrakers at the end of the 19th century as the original “personal journalists.”
  7. Journalists have changed history – history of journalism
  8. The rise of the internet & inexpensive tools for production
  9. The web can be used for one-to-one, one-to-many, OR many-to-many communication. Anyone can own a press. The rise of convergent journalism.
  10. Importance to business: “markets are conversations.

Steve Butry

How do his ideas and lists pertain to your search for story and focus?

Picking the right media for a story

Mission Local and NY City News Service

Multimedia Roundup

LA Times —River People

Media Storm — Common Ground — Lost Farms of America 

UB Reporter — Organ Man

Lexington Herald Leader — Turtle Man


Read: (1) Melvin Mencher’s News Reporting and Writing, Chapter 7 (The Writer’s Art) (posted on UB Learns)

Read: (2)  50 Writer’s Tools You Can Use

Write: Write a possible lead and nut graph for your main piece and an idea for your slideshow and third piece.  Also include what questions you hope each piece will answer and a list of possible sources. Email this to me by 3 p.m. Sept. 29.







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Homework due Thurs Sept 22

The trip to the West Side generated lots of story ideas. What’s yours? Be ready to discuss it at length in class.

What is the main idea of the story? How will you go about reporting and writing about your topic? You will need a topic for the main written piece, the slide show and the third component (sidebar, video or audio slide show). Be sure to consider a story arc. Try to find a character that animates or explains or embodies the story. Collect anecdotes that will push your story forward. What’s your story’s beginning, middle and end?

Read: Steve Buttry Blog entry on “Finding and developing story ideas” http://stevebuttry.wordpress.com/2010/02/16/finding-and-developing-story-ideas/

Read/watch: Picking the Right Media for a Story http://multimedia.journalism.berkeley.edu/tutorials/picking-right-media-reporting-story/

Write: Post short response to today’s reading assignments on your blog


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Class Meets Today on The West Side

We will meet at 3:30 p.m. at 414 Richmond Ave.

Bring notebooks and a camera if you can.

Please make sure you send me your blog information by the start of class.

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Story matters, but Where do I Start?

Multimedia Roundup

LA Times Gang Violence

  • What role does the text play in this piece?
  • Does the story change if you read the text first?
  • How do you read/view the story? In what order? Why?
  • How do the images add a new layer to the story?
  • What does the video add?

What is a breaking news story?

NYT: Republican primary

NYT: Galliano

NYT: Police

 What is a feature story?

What are the characteristics of a good story?

  • beginning, middle, end
  • strong character
  • impact
  • timeliness
  • proximity
  • human interest
  • entertainment
  • unique

LA Times: Cuban Scrabbler

Collegiate Times: Felon Moves Forward

Univ of Oregon: Braving the Bar

Michigan Daily: Shoelace 

St. Pete Times: Lawnmower Man

What stories do you want to tell? Why? What do you want your story to say?

Discuss community leaders and groups on The West Side


Buffalo News

New York Times

Do these stories accurately reflect the community?

Jan Schaffer speech

  1. Do you think the line between reporting and commentary is blurred?
  2. Is coverage motivated by community interests?
  3. Do you think journalists can help make citizens more engaged?
  4. Do you think people prefer to watch rather than engage in change? What is the role of journalism in this? Are journalists like civic “seeing-eye dogs?”
  1. How does the news media rate in their coverage of the Republican primaries? Are they following Schaeffer’s advice listed below?
  • Avoid reporting on horse-race polls – who’s ahead, who’s behind? Unfortunately, this coverage is out of control in the current U.S. presidential campaign, and I would suggest that it often leaves voters thinking: If we know who’s going to win, why bother to vote?
  • Increase issues-based election coverage – focusing on voter issues, not the issues that candidates tout to move niche constituencies –such as abortion control, or gun control, or gay marriage in the United States.
  • Frame election stories as hiring decisions: Who do we want to hire to run our government? And what kinds of information do voters need to make that decision?
  1. What news do you want to read? Crime? Celebrity? Politics? Government? UB? What issues matter to you?


1. Set up your WordPress blog  and give it a name — please use your real name so I can recognize the blog on our blogroll. So name your blog John’s blog or John’s West Side Local etc.

2. Send me an email with your username, the blog name and the email you used to sign on (this will enable me to add your blog to our class blog list)

3. Make sure your blog settings are public so I can read and comment on your blog

4. Write your first post — responses to the week’s reading assignments

Need Help?

You have four assignments this week.

  1. 1. Set up your WordPress blog at wordpress.com
  2. Read Dan Gillmor’s “We the Media” Intro and Chapter 1 posted on UB Learns and post a short response post (~200 words) to this reading (and every other assigned reading) to your blog prior to next Thursday’s class. Responses should be well thought out, show that you have read and reflected on the material, and that you are thinking about your developing project.
  3.  Look at the following websites, Mission Local and NY City News Service and comment on one aspect/story on each.  Say if it’s a feature or a breaking news story and explain why you like or dislike it.
  4. Find out everything you can about Harvey Garrett, who will be leading us on a West Side tour.

Next class meets at 3:30 p.m. at 414 Richmond Avenue, Buffalo, 14213.  It’s near Rhode Island Street. You can park in the Left Bank restaurant parking lot at 511 Rhode Island. Bring cameras if you want and a notebook and pens.

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What is this class about?

Welcome to the West Side Local.

This class is an experiment in hyper-local journalism, grass roots activism and civic engagement. It’s also about journalism, technology and the place where the two meet.

This class is going to take you on to the streets of Buffalo and introduce you to an underrepresented part of the community. It requires reading, writing, shooting photos, and, for some, shooting and editing video and recording audio. It will teach you to listen deeply and tell compelling stories.

Websites discussed on 1/20

Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Der Spiegel

Buffalo News coverage of the West Side

Map of the West Side

West Side video — Aaron Bartley of PUSH

Milton Rogovin West Side photos

Milton Rogovin “The Forgotten Ones

What is hyperlocal?

The Mission Local

NY City News Service

LA Times Pop u LA tion

The Bride Price

The Milk Man — Vanishing Americana


You have three reading assignments for the week. We will be discussing all next Thursday during class so be ready with well-thought critiques and responses.

How does the article portray the neighborhood? Does it leave you with questions? What else do you want to know? What could the writer have done differently? How would you do the article differently?

Reading Assignment (1): Read Jan Schaffer’s 2003 speech on citizen journalism

Reading Assignment (2): Read NYT story on the West Side

Reading Assignment (3): Buffalo News story on the West Side

–Assignment: Find something written about the West Side in a newspaper, on a neighborhood blog, on an organization’s website etc. and bring it in. Be ready to talk about it in class.

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This is the website for West Side Local a project in hyperlocal media, civic journalism and online reporting produced by students at University at Buffalo.

Students enrolled in this course students will learn journalism techniques, critique multimedia projects and study current trends in journalism while reporting on the people and issues of the West Side neighborhood of Buffalo.

More to come soon!

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