Profile examples

Here is one from the Washington Post. Read it and be prepared to discuss it in class. Note the organization, sources, use of quotes. What is/are the “to be sure” thought(s)?

Here is one from the NYT about someone that many of you might know already.

Here is one I wrote many years ago.  Here is another.

Not a profile, but let’s assess this story from top to bottom.

Memoir re-write notes. Profile assignment

Memoirs were not bad, but there were some common areas that need improvement. See below. And remember, rewrites can always benefit from: new lede; reorganization; follow-up or new interviews.

1. FOLLOW DIRECTIONS!! That goes for formatting, word count, contact sheets, deadlines, etc.
2. Fully ID people! First and last name, age, occupation, major, year in school, hometown, etc. 3 identifiers.
3. More specific details!! Avoid cheap adjectives and adverbs in favor of detailed observations.
4. AP style
5. Short, simple sentences and paragraphs. Most paragraphs should be no more than 3 sentences. Better if they’re one or two.
6. AP style
7. Proofread and edit ruthlessly!


1. Must interview main subject in person or on phone for at least 15 minutes. Must also interview at least 2 other people about main subject via phone or in-person.

2. 600-700 words. All sources must appear in story. All must be quoted or paraphrased at least once. All normal rules about formatting, headers, contact sheet apply.

3. AP style counts.

4. No opinion. No interviewing your friends, family members, co-workers, etc. No email interviews.

5. Interview prep will be key. Have fun with it.

6. Profile, not a biography.

Writing (news) basics…Comm 2321

Here are some characteristics of news outlined in Bender’s Reporting for the Media. Keep these in mind as you identify, and then prioritize the 5 W’s and H.

**Unusual or quirky — singularity
**Conflict or controversy


Hard — happening now or about to happen. Think “breaking news.” Accuracy is always first priority but speed does count with these stories, especially in the 24/7 global news cycle/competition.

Soft — features or human interest stories. They should have a news hook, but often it is not immediate. These stories tend to take longer, but have a longer shelf life, or potential interest for readers over extended period of time. Look for universal themes in life…try to evoke emotion.


In addition to=besides

Took a first place finish= ‘finished first’ or ‘won’

In support of=supports.

Dan Cat, president of the club= Club President Dan Cat, or Dan Cat, club president,…


in acknowledgment of= acknowledged

in support of=supports

says or said, NOT claims, exclaims, explains, etc.


Use who for people. Many times don’t need the ‘that’ at all


‘when asked about;’ when questioned…

Just write what the person said and provide needed context so it makes sense.


Bad: The ball was hit by the batter.    Good: The batter hit the ball.

Use the “find” function on your word processing program and search for ‘by’ and ‘of.’ Many times you can rework sentences and get rid of passive voice/unneeded words based on those two alone.

Memoir assignment for Comm 2321

1. 500 words max. Must be at least 450.
2. Must interview at least 2 people and directly quote at least 1 in the story.
3. AP style counts.
4. Focus on one day from your life, NOT the aftermath. Be in that moment.
5. Have fun. It’s your only chance this semester to interview people you already know. Take advantage of that.

* Don’t forget to email me in advance so I know what day you are writing about.

Time to start writing tight. 6 words to tell a story

The Hemingway legend is that his friends bet him, or he bet his friends, about the ability to tell a complete a story in 6 words. Here is what he came up with:

For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.

A bit of a downer, right?

Here are two I came up with. I tried to summarize some or your thoughts and feelings after the first class.
1. News and AP style quizzes? Despair.
2. Writing, editing, tweeting. So much excitement!

Another example: “Fresh fish here for sale” is the sign outside your little shack on the water. Eliminate all unnecessary words.

Writing in the first person

Just read this column and it stuck with me.

This piece ran in The Lantern last year. Short and powerful.

One of my favorite Lantern commentaries. A bit longer, also powerful.

One of my favorite stories. Only time I wrote in first person for the AP as a full-time reporter.

This is one of the better personal experience/memoir pieces I’ve read in a while. The author ran the AP’s political team in DC when I was on the business staff.

Welcome to Comm 2321 Summer 2014

When submitting content this semester, printed or online, here is the proper header unless I specify otherwise:

Need 1 printed copy, double-spaced, due at beginning of class following instructions on syllabus. Header should be:

Your name

My name

Word Count (don’t include the header, just the body)

2-4 word slug —describes story

Short headline of 50 characters or less, including spaces

Long headline of 94 characters or less, including spaces

Tweet of 140 characters or less, including spaces