Miller Charmaine

Charmaine's adventures in news writing and editing

Archive for March 2013

Diary Week 11

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I didn’t save any “befores” of my edits to show the results of my work, but next week I am hoping to remember, per your latest request, Dr. Rodgers. I do have notes on my changes, though.

I checked the Gmail account for Reporting student submissions. I replied to one of the submissions in the most polite way I could think of, but I basically did not accept the story for publishing. It seemed very PR-y and had no real news element, which I explained to the student to help her learn. I remember writing pieces like that.

Then Christina and I chatted with some online reporting students, brainstorming story ideas. We wanted to do a cool little story or at the very least, a listing, of the religious holidays occurring this week. One of the online reporting students set off to call pastors and rabbis to comment on Passover and Holy Week.

After the story idea meeting, I read over Web producer Dana’s In the News. I really could not find anything to change. She did a great job.

Dana also gave me an update to a storm story that was written over the weekend. While looking over the update, I found some other changes to make. First, I downstyled the hed. I edited a typo in a photo caption, and in another I added a photo courtesy source. I replaced a normal dash with an em dash, used to separate ideas. I eliminated a serial comma. I made the excerpt. I also changed the much-used wording “causing damage” to “damaging.” I then changed “home-made barn” to AP’s “homemade,” and then decided on a better word: handbuilt barn. My thinking was that it’s a barn, not a pie.

Dana also wrote the bullet points for the Morning News in 90. I just changed “…expected to drop another three-to-five cents” to “…expected to drop another three to five cents.” I grappled over it, but eventually made that decision because the hyphens were connecting something that wasn’t really connected as one word. Those were my thoughts on that. If it’s wrong, punish me and not Dana.

For my last project of the day, I received a story submission written by a MMC2100 student. I can’t blame the writer for this, but I thought the story was a bit too UF-centric. The sources used were a representative from the UF Student Health Care Clinic and two UF students. Also, there was no sense of a time element or anything especially newsworthy. I knew the story was about the impacts of (tree) allergy season, but I wanted to know why we should publish this now, and why our audience would care now. So I took these suggestions to the writer, emailing her to get another source that was outside UF and more of a time frame or number of allergy sufferers compared to seasons and years past in Gainesville. The writer was very dutiful, taking all of my pointers with grace. For that, I am very appreciative. She emailed me today, three days from my original shift, with the new information. I added the quotes in the best I could and changed the story’s status to Second Edit. I was so happy we waited to get a better stor, rather than nuking it entirely.

Other, more technical changes I made: I switched around an anecdotal lede to further down in the story. It just wasn’t getting to the heart of the news until the last few grafs. I didn’t want it to give the impression that we were basing a trend off of an anecdote. I changed a few “says” to said. I deleted phrases that sniffed of editorializing, things like “even” such and such, “always” and “something really simple.” I also deleted a graf that seemed like a PR piece for Zyrtec. It was a good day.

 

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Written by charmainemiller

March 28, 2013 at 10:58 pm

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Story Pitch 10

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The status of last week’s tax story is that it didn’t get completed. I assigned it to an online reporter, but she couldn’t get in touch with very many sources and kept getting routed to corporate numbers. Not what we wanted, but she tried very hard. UPDATE 4/19: I forgot to add this, but the story did get completed and published! The reporter simply waited to get in touch with solid sources before jumping the gun. Also, one of the sources shares my name, so that is pretty cool. Well done, Ashira, and just in time for tax day.

For this week, I thought it was newsworthy that the Coalition of Immokalee Workers wrapped up its 200-mile march on Sunday. My shift was Monday, making the story timely. Protesters walked from Immokalee to Publix headquarters in Lakeland, where they urged Publix to join the coalition is treating farmworkers fairly, according to an article by the Naples Daily News.  The only thing that was off was the proximity issue, which is the reason we decided to lay the story to rest. But we did include it in Monday’s In the News.

The march took protesters two weeks long. It included over a hundred farmworkers and their families, along with hundreds of members of the public. The walk was an effort of the Fair Food Program, which has been a four-year initiative to get major grocery chains on board with farmworker rights and fair wages.

Sources:

Richard MacMaster, rmacmast (at) ufl.edu, 352.371.6772

MacMaster is the Gainesville contact for the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. He is also part of Gainesville’s Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice, which has been a group involved with various protests for farmworker rights at Publix and Wendy’s.

Sheila  Payne 831.334.0117, Gainesville Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice

Questions: What does this protest mean for Gainesville? What kind of progress was made for the Fair Food Program? Are there any programs/events for the coalition that are happening in Gainesville soon? What are some of the requests of farmworkers in the coalition? Are there any farmworkers in Gainesville? How do private-owned groceries like Ward’s stand up to the coalition’s standards of fair treatment?

Written by charmainemiller

March 24, 2013 at 12:00 am

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Diary Week 10

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I can’t believe it is the 10th INF week already. It was a more eventful shift for me than last week.

When I came in, I started brainstorming story ideas. This is a part I enjoy about my job. I love consuming news.

Before the story idea meeting, I helped Samantha find a source, which subsequently lead to another source, that she could use for her story. I also came up with my story idea for the week, just in time to discuss it with Christina before heading up to the meeting. The day before marked the end of a 200-mile march the Coalition of Immokalee Workers made from Immokalee to Publix headquarters in Lakeland. Upon discussion with Christina, we decided the idea was a little too far out of WUFT coverage reach, but we clued Web producer Dana in on including it on In the News.

After the story pitch meeting, I exported a few audio files from KLZ for Dana to work on. I was told to provide an excerpt for the Morning News in 90. I had never done this for Morning News in 90, and I wasn’t sure of the format. So I just listed quick heds for each of the stories. Also, when I was in the post, I noticed the word “report” used to mean “resort,” and I changed it. I also changed the byline provided from a generic newsin90 to the name of the anchor, Faithful Okoye.

I then started on a longer story about Florida census results. I added a word, added a link to a ranking report, added a hyphen to “fastest growing” and changed metro on first reference to metropolitan. I was at loss for any style recommendations on whether to describe cities as x number of minutes or miles away from each other. I ended up keeping what the writer put. I also added a comma, removed Florida from Florida Gov. Rick Scott (on a story completely about Florida), capitalized the c’s in Starke City Clerk, changed census to U.S. Census Bureau, and capitalized the title County Administrator immediately before a name. Plus, I lowercased the B’s in baby boomer and changed a wording.

For In the News, I didn’t know whether to capitalize the “L” in secretary of labor. There was no Stylebook entry. The New York Times had “secretary of labor,” and the Los Angeles Times had “secretary of Labor.” I also made some typical edits like adding a comma, rewording a phrase, adding a fact that helped with the story and deleting a sentence that didn’t really contribute to the information.

That’s all for now, folks!

Written by charmainemiller

March 21, 2013 at 10:58 pm

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Story Idea 9

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Because we are well into tax season, (and with less than a month away from the final due date) I was thinking of doing a story that would be a round-up of free tax service providers in the area. I found a few that will help people of lower incomes:

VITA

VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) appeals to UF students trying to build resumes for a base of volunteers who will help prepare tax returns for people of low to moderate incomes, according to its website. An accounting major friend of mine told me that many accounting students participate, but the program also accepts non-accounting students and volunteers.

Source: Ricki McWilliams, rickim@ufl.edu, 352-331-2800

United Way and UF

UF is partnering with United Way in a website that provides free tax preparations for community members making $57,000 (or less) a year, according to Gator Times. The website appears to be user-friendly, but I’d like to gather some opinions on this as opposed to other free online tax services like TurboTax. In-person appointments can also be made.

Source: Jennifer Stojkovic, UWTaxes@unitedwayncfl.org

AARP Tax-Aide Assistance

AARP Tax-Aide helps low- to moderate-income people, and especially those over age 60, with their taxes. The Gainesville Sun has a list of AARP Tax-Aide Assistance site locations in the Gainesville area and a list of documents to bring. They have a pretty comprehensive article, but it was published in early January. I wonder if we could get any opinions of people who have already made use of these services this year. The AARP Tax-Aide program has also been calling for volunteers. This is the volunteer contact:

Judie, 352- 339-1801, gator222@bellsouth.net

I just thought it would be neat to do a little tax round-up. We would need to distinguish it from the Gainesville Sun story, though. I think it would be to our advantage to find sources who may have already used these services. Or maybe we could get a representative that has a broader view of people in the area that have these incomes, namely of $57,000 or less.

Questions: Do they make use of these services? Are they aware of them? How many Gainesville-area residents are in need of the free tax help offered? How do UF student volunteers in these programs benefit or not benefit? What are the general demographics of the people who use the free tax help?

Written by charmainemiller

March 16, 2013 at 9:49 pm

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Diary Week 9

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It was a slow news day today. Dana, the Web producer, finished her In the News early, so I assigned her a fun little factoid piece about daylight saving time. I also assigned her a short piece on early voting in Alachua County for the mayoral election. She completed both stories faithfully.

Before any stories came in, I was scouring the WUFT website for things to correct.  I made a couple of minor changes to a story already published about sequester cuts affecting North Florida airports. I changed a “cancelled” to “canceled.” I also capitalized the first letter of it’s when part of a complete sentence following a colon: “The Ocala International Airport will also be feeling the impact of the sequester: It’s one of the airports with a control tower staffed by contractual employees.”

When I got to Dana’s In the News, I made a few changes. I added a comma to a sentence that was structured as an independent clause+conjunction+independent clause. I made some changes with word choice. I changed Catholic Church on first reference to Roman Catholic Church, against my gut but in line with AP Style.

Professor Sheehan then assigned me to a quick write-up warning drivers on State Road 121 and U.S. 441 about possibilities of incoming smoke. It was really fun to write. I liked the urgency in getting it up fast, to best warn drivers in a timely way.

I then edited Dana’s “Five little-known facts about daylight saving time.” I changed “states who chose” to states that chose. I changed Northern Marianas to the Northern Mariana Islands, upon looking it up. I abbreviated Senator Darren Soto to Sen. Darren Soto. I deleted an extra space. I placed attribution at the end of a sentence, added a comma to another sentence, reworded a few phrases and changed affect to effect for a noun. I also deleted the hyphen from draw-backs. Instead of “U.S. law states…” I changed it to “Under the current U.S. law…” based on the prevalence of sentences with “states” used as a verb.

The last piece I worked on was online reporter Samantha Shavell’s story on brain research awareness activities going on.  I reworded a phrase, added a comma, deleted a comma at one point and lowercased the b in brain. I also shifted attribution to the end of a sentence. I changed a phrase from “brainwaves were working strong” to strongly for the last word.

Written by charmainemiller

March 14, 2013 at 10:54 pm

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