Writing in Stereo

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WiS Lesson 7E Notes

April 25th, 2010

The original Writing in Stereo was published online back in the late 1980's.  Its purpose was to apply creative radio dramatics and broadcast journalism to all aspects of the teaching of high school English.  Each lesson included a lesson plan and notes.  I'm sharing these with you here.

Notes (VII.E)

This is an advanced journalistic concept and a controversial one. Journalists and laymen debate the merits of decisions editors routinely make each day as part of their jobs. By narrowing this decision-making process to the three criteria listed, we give students some guidelines they can use to discover and measure the relevance of the limitless quantities of information they must decipher.

E.1. Impact: Does this story affect our listeners? How does it or how might it affect them?

E.2. Immediacy: How quickly might that impact be felt? Is this something we need to be concerned about now?

E.3 Imagination: This is tricky. It's a problem of judgement. To what extent might we speculate this issue will affect us? Here the reporter must be able to foresee what his listener cannot. Does the listener realize what might happen if a certain action is to be taken? It is our responsibility to ask and report contingencies our listeners may be too busy to notice.

Inquiring after information becomes an important skill. The imaginative reporter recognizes possible consequences and conceives the questions to be asked with respect to those possibilities.

The reporter must develop instincts of inquiry. He or she accepts nothing on face value and recognizes news when it happens. My favorite story is the one of the rookie reporter carefully prepared by his editor to interview the campaigning presidential candidate. Given his list of questions to ask, he dashes off to the airport. An hour later he returns to the newsroom. The editor runs up and inquires after the candidate's remarks. "What's the story?" he asks. The reporter nonchalantly replies, "There isn't any story. The plane crashed." Students quickly see by this example that only an idiot would miss the fact that the plane crash was the story. Yet how many novice high school reporters, prepared with questions for an interview, ignore much of what they learn from their source, preferring to move on to the next question. Listening is an important skill.