Prompt 8: News Writing

Prompt 8: News Writing

Prompts:

  • All these stories are from college or high schools. How are these news stories different from stories you may see in professional publications (like The New York Times)? How are they similar?
  • Which of these stories required the most reporting? Which required the least? Does more reporting necessarily equal a better story?
  • Which story was your favorite? Why?
  • Although these stories focus on their specific institution, similar stories can be written about Piedmont. Take one of these stories and explain how you could write it for and about Piedmont. Include the people you would potentially interview.
Advertisements

Prompt #8

Each of these stories touch on topics that are hard to talk about, especially for high school students. These stories are similar to stories that would be seen in big publications such as the New York Times because they deal with such sensitive topics. Bigger publications would be more likely to write about these topics but on a bigger scale that can relate to the whole country.

I think that “In the Dark” required the most reporting. They had multiple sources within the story and there were numerous statistics pointed out within the story as well. I think that all of the stories took a lot of reporting and research because without it these stories would not be as strong.

I think the story about the feminine products was my favorite. I related with this story more than I did with any other story. I also enjoyed this story because it was written by a high school student and her descriptions are on target with the way that I felt when trying to conceal feminine products in high school.

Any of these stories could be written about Piedmont. Not so much the stories about sexual harassment only because that is not something that I have ever heard about being a problem at the school. There is such a diverse group of people on campus that you could potentially interview anyone on campus. Even if they did not relate with the topic at hand, they most likely know someone who would.

Sports Story

Imagine going to a college where you don’t feel welcome. Going to class becomes a routine, each day you dread going to practice because you feel as though you don’t fit in. This is how one volleyball player felt before she found the prefect fit.

Kassidy Wollett started playing volleyball when she was in middle school. She fell in love with the game after the first time she played and since then she has not played any other sport. Wollett played on multiple travel volleyball teams over the summer each year she played. By doing so, she got recruited by colleges around the state of Georgia, one of those being Emmanuel College.

“I had three colleges to choose from, but I wanted to go to Emmanuel because it was a good distance from home and at the time I thought it was the perfect fit for me,” Wollett said.

She went to Emmanuel in hopes of getting her athletic training degree. “The classes were easy,” Wollett said. “So easy that the stuff I was learning was not helping me.” Wollett spoke about how she felt as though she was not getting the proper education that she needed to be confident in her knowledge when she graduates.

On the court, things weren’t much better. “The team was very negative about certain things,” Wollett said.

She recalls having a winning season while at Emmanuel, but she still knew that the school was not the right fit for her, clarifying that Emmanuel is not a bad school, it just was not the “right fit” for her. This semester, she transferred to Piedmont.

“Since coming to Piedmont, I feel more at home,” Wollett said. “The academics challenge me and everyone on campus is very inviting and easy to talk to.”

When she met the team at Piedmont, she felt welcomed and like she was right at home. Currently, the team is preparing for their fall season and her coach has even talked about changing her position on the court. Follett is normally a defensive specialist, in this position, she is lined up in the back and will pass to the front row. Her coach has told her that she might be moved to the front row to become a spiker, which is a very difficult position.

“The coaches at Piedmont are all willing to do what is best for you as a player, they trust each player and they will give you a chance to play a position that you may not be used to,” said Brittany Gowen, a freshman lacrosse player at Piedmont College.

Wollett is glad that she decided to switch schools and come to Piedmont. “I am excited to spend the next three years here,” she said.

She looks forwards for what is to come, and she is so glad that she made the decision to switch schools. “If I had the chance to make a different decision, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

RR News

These stories are different because they focus on issues as they relate to specific schools and to students, but they are similar in that they require the same sorts of investigative reporting, sources and citations. “In the Dark” required the most reporting, as shown in the timeline. I think the story on the stigma attached to menstruation and feminine hygiene products probably required the least, although even they did cite some studies as well. More reporting does lend more validity, but doesn’t necessarily make a better story, if the topic isn’t relevant or clearly explained. I actually like the stig story the best, because it took guts and it even included a boy’s perspective. If I could write it for Piedmont, I would try and find out who planted the “protect the panties” supplies in women’s bathrooms at the beginning of the semester, get a quote as well as thank them.

Sports

Fungalaxy skating rink, on Athens, Georgia’s East Side, is the home of the Classic City Roller Girls, Athens’ own flat track roller derby league. Last Saturday, at their usual practice time, 9 a.m., the latest group of new skaters took their first round of assessments, to test the skills they had learned over the past six weeks of “boot camp.” Their coach Gail Skateann was there to make them laugh and cheer them on, but it would be her last practice, at least for now.

“It’s been a year and a half of me hollering orders and torturing people every Saturday,” Gail said. “This rookie group was a good group for me to go out on. Almost every single person who started the boot camp is still doing it. Being the rookie coach, you know that people are going to come and go.”

Gail Skateann, aka Christa O’Neill, has been playing roller derby since May of 2015, when she entered her own boot camp. She knows exactly what she’s putting the newbies through. So to see so many of them stick around and see it through, she says, is enough to make a rookie coach proud.

“Derby’s a difficult sport to get into,” she said. “It’s hard, it’s hard on your body. It hurts at first. Learning how to fall is never easy. Derby stance is rough. It’s lower back pain for days. I’m just so proud of everyone who’s kept with it, who come and bust their asses. It requires a lot of time to get to get good, and the more you put into it the more you’ll get out of it.”  

Gail competed for only one season, in 2016. That summer she began feeling sick, but she pushed through and played hard, until she played her last bout on a Saturday in August.

“I competed in a bout with appendicitis,” Gail said. “It was ready to pop. I just thought that I was sick, and I knew it was the last bout of the season, so I pushed through. I went to the doctor and they were like, you need to go to the hospital.”

Complications with the surgery took a toll on Gail’s body, and she knew that competing would be difficult for her. The old rookie coach, Hogan’s Zero, was about to retire, and Gail saw an opportunity for her to take on a new role in the league

“I decided to carry on in her footsteps,” she said. “I knew I could carry on her legacy of positivity in coaching and stay involved in derby.”

One of her first rookies, Ender’s Game, says Gail was both intimidating and encouraging.

“One Saturday shortly after I joined CCRG, I was the only rookie skater who came to practice,” Ender said. “One brand new skater, staring at Satan on skates, waiting to see if I was worth a whole practice by myself. Gail just grinned and started a series of drills targeting my weakest skills.”

At first she was embarrassed, Ender said, but that quickly faded.

“Gail was right next to me through every stumble, always with a suggestion or a compliment,” Ender said. “Gail is all about building people up—strength, skills, and confidence. If you’re there to work, she’s there to work with you.”

Now Gail’s stepping down because her work schedule is too demanding, but she says she is proud of the work she and her rookies have put in together.

“To see people coming back continuously and trying so hard is a really big deal,” she said. “I am so proud of the dedication and the effort that everyone puts in. That’s not anything that I did. But I am glad I get to be the person to see that, to inspire people to push through.”

Classic City’s B team, the Bad News B’s, will head to Taylors, South Carolina on Saturday April 21 to take on the Greenville Derby Dames at 7 p.m., while the Classic City All Stars head to Baton Rouge for back to back bouts against Assassination City (Dallas) on April 21 at noon and Baton Rouge’s own Red Stick All Stars on Sunday April 22 at 10 a.m. The Classic City Roller Girls’ next home bout is June 30 at Athens Arena.

 

 

Event

Dianne Roberts loves college football. She can tell you all the reasons why you shouldn’t, but she cannot get away from it. It’s in her blood. She says she can’t resolve the paradoxes between Southern tradition and social justice, so instead she writes about them.

“I was born in Tallahassee, where you are in football no matter what you do,” Roberts said. “You went because you went. It was like church. Football was Saturday, church was Sunday.”

In her book Tribal: College Football and the Secret Life of America Roberts addresses the social problems that go largely unspoken in discussions of the sport, as well as the issues that any thinking fan should wrestle with. In a small upstairs classroom on a Friday afternoon, Roberts addressed the student staff of the Trillium, Piedmont’s fine arts and literature journal.

“One of the jobs of the nonfiction writer is to take the familiar and make it strange,” Roberts said. “What I was trying to do writing about football was to look at it as if I’d never seen it before, while simultaneously being in the middle of it.”

What she saw was the fierce tribalism of the teams, reinforcement of outdated gender stereotypes, denial of massive health risks, and the exploitation of young unpaid players, mostly young men of color, to build fortunes for old rich white men.

“’My boy can beat your boy,’ we still almost say that!” Roberts said. “The number of college players making it to the pros is less than two percent. We are exploiting them.”

And yet Roberts, who taught at the University of Alabama and now teaches at Florida State University, said it was important to her that she teach in a place that had high-quality college football.

“I am implicated,” Roberts said. “I have to think about that. How destructive is my love of this thing that is problematic, to me, to society, and to the people who participate?”

Roberts said as a writer, she struggles with the problems, but she doesn’t try to solve them.

“Paradox is your friend,” she said. “You are going to get something out of the contradictions you see. Don’t run off from them, don’t even try to resolve them. Just write about it.”

Trillium adviser Timothy O’Keefe voiced his unease with Roberts’ philosophy of living with such unresolved paradox. If she doesn’t reconcile the tension between her beliefs and her actions, how can her readers be expected to do so?

“It’s a troubling response,” O’Keefe said. “That could be a very dangerous position to take, especially when we are not talking about football.”

And yet, as a Southern football lover, a member of the tribe, Roberts may be in an ideal position to raise these issues. Her personal struggles of conscience may effectively inspire her readers to wrestle with the darker aspects of their own entrenched traditions.

“A trick of writing is actually telling people a whole bunch of stuff that they kind of knew but they didn’t put together,” Roberts said. “And then it makes perfect sense. They’re like, ‘Why didn’t I see that?’ It’s your job to tell the story. Make them see it.”

Piedmont’s own social justice heroine, Lillian Smith, wrote about the ugly truths of the American South in a way that the white people of her day couldn’t ignore. She lived the change that she wanted to see and inspired others around her to rethink the “the way things were,” empowering them to enact change for themselves.

“You can point out paradoxes that people didn’t even realize they were operating under,” O’Keefe said. “I think it is dangerous to give yourself an out, and say, ‘The world is full of contradictions.’ Not all contradictions are equally dangerous. I’m very wary of falling back on heritage and culture as a reason not to fight too hard against a thing. Huge swaths of people accept it as just part of their culture, something that is in their blood. The idea is personal ethics and where you draw lines… depending on how much it hurts others.”

The students on the Trillium staff took away the idea that the struggle should be spoken, even if it is not yet resolved, and even if our culture takes it for granted.

“I really liked that we were talking about things that most people choose to ignore,” said senior athletic training major Katelyn Woodward. “Football is such a strange activity. It’s something that a lot of people like yet can’t explain the exact reasons, it’s almost natural and many people do it just because the rest of their ‘tribe’ does it.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prompt #8 – News

I was surprised by the high quality of the articles from this week, considering that they all came from high school and college publications. In most ways, they blend in well with stories that one would see in professional publications. I suppose the biggest difference would be the scale of the stories: professional publications would focus on much broader subjects that apply to a larger audience.

‘In the Dark” from the College Heights Herald seems to have required the most reporting to produce. It’s filled with an impressive array of well-researched information that works well to build a compelling story. On the flip side, I think “Feminine Products Kept Hidden” required the least amount of research. That being said, the feminine products story was one of my favorite from this week’s set. The intensiveness of reporting doesn’t always directly correlate with the quality of a story.

“In the Dark” was ultimately my favorite story from this week. What first caught my eye was the impressive design of the article. The high-quality design was followed up with an equally impressive story, full of well-research statistics, quotes, screenshots, and infographics.

Any of these stories could be written with a focus on Piedmont College (although hopefully less information would be found on sexual assault.) In pretty much any case, it would be important to interview people on both ends of the hierarchy: President Mellichamp and members of the general student body.

Diane Roberts Discusses Paradoxes in Football

Nicole Thomas

Diane Roberts Discusses Paradoxes in Football

According to Piedmont College’s website, “Lilian Eugenia Smith was born in Jasper, Florida in 1897.”  She wrote nonfiction, essays and articles in which she advocated for “social justice and racial equality.”  Like Lilian Smith, Diane Roberts is from Florida and is a writer.  She teaches at FSU and writes for different magazines and newspapers.  However, Diane Roberts doesn’t enjoy writing for newspapers and magazines as much as writing books, because she’s limited in her writing.  Roberts spoke to creative writing students on March 29, talking about college football and paradoxes.

Diane Roberts discussed how there were a lot of problems in football, yet she was “obsessed” with it.  Problems with football existed from the very beginning, including injuries such as concussions and neck problems. There’s a lot of contradiction and tribalism in football, and people should write about it.

“Georgia fans would throw rocks at Georgia Tech players,” she said, adding that years ago Georgia fans in Athens followed the Georgia Tech players to the bus while throwing stuff at them.  “We have our tribes we belong to, like religion, demographic.”

Diane Roberts later wrote a book about Florida and refers to Florida as being “weird.”  “I took this thing that was very familiar and tried to get people to see how odd it was, and that’s what you do when you’re writing nonfiction.  With nonfiction, you have to see the strangeness that’s already there and it is there.”

Roberts said tribalism could be “from village to village.”  People in one village might think that the other one is weird.  “Hawkins writes a lot about that.  Even though Village A is exactly like Village B, they just don’t want to see it that way.  It might be religious, political, or ethnic.”

She also says how the south has a lot of people in one area, so there’s more diversity there.  People ask others where they are from and they judge them if they’re not born in that area.  “Places that are weird like this are rich and a gift.  I can’t think of a better place for a writer to live then the south.  I’m sure any place that a writer lives a writer will find it interesting.”

Diane Roberts’ speech elicited different emotions from the students who attended.  Nathan Blackburn said, “I really enjoyed her speech, she was really honest with her answers to any questions that were asked, and I could tell that she genuinely wanted to be there with us.  I also really liked how she talked about both creative writing and journalism in the same speech, and when she talked about how more funding and money should be put into college students’ education.”

Page Dukes said, “I thought the speech was very insightful.  I had never thought too much about football and how it reinforces cultural norms.  But I was a little concerned that we didn’t talk more about how to resolve the cultural problems and paradoxes she mentioned.  She seemed to leave it up to us as the younger generation to find solutions.”