ASSIGNMENT: Pitch, Readings

A couple of things to work through …


Email those to me by the end of today and, tomorrow morning, I’ll piece them together into a final version. I think we are very close.


You need to have a first draft of a pitch submitted to eLC by 5 p.m. on Monday, January 22. This should be well thought out with at least one source listed – you’ll need more, obviously, as this goes forward.

Remember that a pitch should do the following:

  • It should explain the issue being covered clearly. This means you need to have a strong understanding of what the issue is, how the story will be researched and presented. It needs to have definite and possible sources.
  • It explains how you will handle the story. Run through the resources you’ll need to develop and how you expect to present the story.
  • It should lure editors in. You need to sell the story – why should our audience (as defined by our forthcoming mission statement) care about this? How will it impact them? You are trying to get an editor to commit time and money to this story.

Mike Davis, who is in charge of the Alexia Foundation, wrote this piece about successful grant submissions for their competition. Some of it translates to this assignment.

(Disclosure: The Alexia Foundation is at my old school, Syracuse University, and I worked for the foundation when I was in grad school.)

Think about all the ways we have discussed talking about climate and water issues. There are political and policy issues that run hand-in-hand with the science. But there are moral, ethical, passion, faith, business and art approaches, as well.


In addition to making sure you have read Part I of the Kolbert book, plan on having read Part II for next Tuesday, January 23.

Take a look at the New York Times story by Grady alum Justin Gillis that looks at the Keeling Curve’s history.

Mr. Gillis wrote a companion blog piece on whether the Keeling Curve needs a Keeling, as well.

And, so you know, we passed the 400 ppm mark a few years ago.

ASSIGNMENT: Mission Statement Revisions

You should be reading Part I of the Kolbert book for class on Tuesday and reworking the mission statement, as well. I’ve posted the three statements below for those who did not have time to make an image of them at the end of class.

It’s also time for you to start sketching story ideas. Think about what climate and water issues can be covered locally – what research is being done here at the university, what businesses are cropping up, how are individuals affecting change in these areas?

As you ponder those, think about what voices need to be included in them – both for the written and multimedia components.

ASSIGNMENT: Mission Statement

In class we talked about possible audiences – know who you are producing for will shape the way you report these pieces. Where we ended up was delivering to 18-25 year olds without a geographic limitation.

So … now you need to write a mission statement for your news organization. Things you need to get into two to three sentences:

  • What does the organization stand for?
  • What are its goals?
  • How does it balance its financial needs with its journalistic responsibilities?
  • How does it assess and interact with its audience?

So where do you start? I’d look at the mission (sometimes called vision) statements for the major news organizations. What common themes to you see? Any of them have something unique to them?

One you have yours, put each sentence on a separate line, print it out and bring it to class. We may cut these apart and build new ones.

ASSIGNMENT: Reading and Listening

To get you thinking about Sonic IDs, here are two pieces written by Jay Allison:

Mine The Gap: A Practical Manual for Sonic IDs and Interstitial Broadcast Time

Sonic IDs

Take a run through those and listen to the examples.

As we start brainstorming topics for stories, keep a list of what voices would help tell those stories. Climate, water and science stories can get very data-heavy – but people don’t always connect with data. They understand it, it can help raise the credibility of a story, but they may not connect with it.

Think about this Maya Angelou quote:

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

A different take on water and science in this New York Times piece by Stanley Reed and Carsten Snejbjerg – how many ways can we think about water usage and conservation?

Here We Go

Well, this will be entertaining. And maybe terrifying, who knows … the syllabus is linked above, make sure you read it carefully. There may be a quiz.