Assignment 4 (reverse-engineer a news story)
The purpose of this assignment is to demonstrate what you have learned about where and how professional communicators obtain information.
Reverse-engineer a news story (a factual story, not an opinion piece). In other words, find a published story (in print, on the internet, on radio or on TV) that shows evidence that the writer employed at least two different techniques of information gathering — such as interviewing and obtaining information from documents.
Write a report of 400-500 words. Give the headline or topic of the story, what publication, program or website it appeared in, and the date it was published. Briefly tell what the story is about and what types of information it includes.
But use at least 300 of your words to explain how you think the reporter got the story and to evaluate his or her techniques.
In other words, put yourself in the place of the reporter. Tell what sources you think the reporter consulted to obtain the information used in the story, where the reporter might have found these sources, and how she might have obtained the information. (If it's a well-written story, the sources should be identified in it.) How do you know that the story is not fake news?
Tell where you think the reporter succeeded and/or failed. How would you have handled the story differently?
You might want to telephone the reporter and ask how he or she obtained the information. Doing this is not a requirement, but it can raise your grade. If you do talk with the reporter, say so in your report. Attribute the information that the reporter provides to him or her. Directly quote the reporter.
Write your report in a series of short paragraphs, usually one to five sentences. Do not put the entire report in one paragraph.
Edit your report carefully. File it through Canvas. (If you send it as an attached file, be sure the file is compatible with Microsoft Word [a format such as .doc, .docx, .rtf or .txt]. The first word of the file name should be your last name.)
You will be graded on thoroughness, accuracy, how well you show that you understand the information-gathering techniques that might have been used, and how well you follow instructions. The quality and clarity of your writing will also affect your grade, as will correctness of spelling, grammar, punctuation and sentence structure. Write complete sentences.