(10%) Short News Reports


Assignment Description

Twice a month (twice in September, October, and November), you will turn in a short report about an item of interest in the news. Articles may address trends or happenings in your major or career field, articles about professional communication or design, articles about material we cover or discuss in class, or examples of particularly good or poor use of the elements of good professional communication. Articles must be no more than two weeks old. Provide a photocopy or printout of the article and attach the following:

  1. a 50-100 word typed summary of the article
  2. a 50-100 word typed statement about how your article relates to this assignment and/or the class material.

You do not need to provide a works cited page and your summary and statement may be on the same page. In addition, you will give a 1-2 minute oral report to the class about the article and the points of interest you found. These short oral reports should be informal, but planned – you may want to jot down a few points that you want to cover in your talk. You may not give two reports on the same day. Any days that are not available for reports will be marked on the course schedule.

Objectives & Evaluation Criteria

  • Engage with current topics in your field and in the field of professional communications.
  • Identify points of interest within our professional writing classroom context.
  • Identify and critique elements of professional communication as they are used (or not used) in real professional communications.
  • Concisely summarize and analyze your findings and present those findings to the class in a short oral report.


Short News Report Example



The article Scathing: Cavs Owner Dan Gilbert Blasts LeBron - in Comic Sans by Nate Jones of Time magazine's online "News Feed," identifies a number of professional writing blunders committed by Cleveland Cavaliers coach Dan Gilbert in his open letter to LeBron James, recently signed with the Miami Heat. The problems include Gilbert's incorrect use of capitalization (presumably to emphasize words in the sentence), use of scare quotes, failure to provide sources for quoted material, use of all caps (yelling), and the most lambasted error of all, use of Comic Sans font. Jones compares Gilbert's letter to something that might be written by a lovesick teenager.

A portion of the letter in Comic Sans is here, and the fulltext is here.



All of these errors, particularly taken together, make Gilbert's letter seem childish and melodramatic. The scare quotes give unnecessary emphasis to references to LeBron James, such as "the king," and "the chosen one," already overly sarcastic. Using Comic Sans and all caps, among other errors, makes the letter seem amateur. Overall, the style supports the content of the letter--both the style and content are unprofessional, especially written by a person in such an esteemed position. Gilbert would have been better off following the conventions of a press release to comment on the situation rather than a hasty open letter that dama