(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 "analysis" statement that could address one, or any combination of the following:
    • How does this article translate to usable knowledge for you?
    • What does this trend or event mean to your field?
    • How does this topics addressed in this article relate to class material? (i.e., Does the article address the audience well? Does the article use interesting language?
    • How does this article meet, or not meet, the tenants of good professional writing? (In other words, use the article as an example of a professional text?)

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.

Submission Instructions

At the beginning of most class periods, I will ask if anyone has any reports, and if so, they will deliver their report to the class.

If you give a report, you must turn in your printed documents at the end of class. Please staple together a printout or photocopy of the article (please identify the source if it isn't obvious), your summary, and your statement (can be on the same page). Please remember to turn these in at the end of class--I may not remember to ask for them.

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 #1



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 damaged his credibility.



Short News Report Example #2



"Leaving Academia?: Show Businesses How you Can Improve Their Bottom Line" is a response to a reader's* question about how her academic career might translate into a job outside of academia. She writers that she might want to go into training, but is also considering taking an interview in sales. In response, Deb Koen asks several questions about what the reader hopes to gain in a new position. Koen suggests that before taking interviews, she should create a profile of her "ideal work." Then she might use various online resources to help her find ways to translate academic experience into corporate value for those employers she wishes to target.



The first few sentences of Koen's response highlight the most important part of the asker's questions, but also, the only thing she left out: Why is she looking to change jobs? A job search, like any other communication situation, must have a well-defined purpose. The asker seems unclear about the types of positions she might be interested in, and Koen suggests that before making a change, the asker should determine, specifically, what she wants to do.

*For the sake of conciseness, I will refer to the asker as a female.