Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Column writers to take up social issues

SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - The 26 columnists in the column-writing class at CSU, Sacramento have opted to write about a social issue - something that really lights their rocket - instead of their various specialities for their next columns.

The specialities include sports, music, computers, travel and, and, and...

The group could not decide on a single issue to write on - though health care, the war in Afghanistan, a movement to ban divorce, and the legalization of marijuana all came up for discussion.

Instead, each writer will latch onto their own issue and write their columns by Tuesday morning.

One briefly discussed was the impact of fringe groups on discussions in mainstream media, including the people who believe that President Obama is the anti-christ.

Here's a link to a short video from MSNBC on that topic...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Magazine writers launching those 'How-to' stories

SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - The how-two stories being tackled by the writers in the Magazine Writing class at CSU, Sacramento are not pedestrian - though one does deal with shoes.

The shoe story is actually about ballet shoes - point shoes they are called - the shoes that make all that standing on tippy-toes possible for ballet dancers, it turns out. And when the shoes are purchased, they have to be broken in just so, or else they will be a super pain for the dancer.

Who woulda thunk it?

So is there a market for such a piece? Probably, the class agreed tonight. We'll see. But even if not, now we will know how to break in point shoes. You never know when such things come in handy.

Other stories in process include a piece on how to be prepared to take care of horses during a natural disaster (like a fire or flood). Another is on airline security and all the ways to avoid being the person everyone hates because you forgot your pocket knife, in, well, your pocket.

There were too many good stories to recount them all here.

But in addition to writing the stories (due Oct. 5 by class time via email and in hard copy), the writers will be writing query letters to magazines to try to sell their articles.

Buena suerte, amigos.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Column writers get to take a look at 'real life' issues

SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - The columnists in my column-writing class have been assigned to write a slice-of-life column, something based on an experience they have had since school started, or possibly something that happened to someone close to them.

For me, (if I were to do this assignment myself) I could write about:
How I wriggled out of jury duty
The visit of my son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter from Mexico
Living in the bad air of Sacramento, again
Besting the DMV at its own game
or possibly the university furlough dilemma

Given the wide range of life experiences the class is likely to have had in the past few weeks, these columns should be a real hoot to read.

At least I hope so.

The column deadline is the same, Tuesday at 8 a.m. to post and send an email to the class, letting classmates know a new column is up and ready to be read (and critiqued).

Life experience t shirt
Life is a learning experience T-shirt

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Latest columns are up - some winners among the pack

SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - All of the columns that made deadline (and a few that seem to have trickled in a little late) have had a cursory review and will be the subject of the Column Writing class tomorrow at CSU, Sacramento.

It appears that the column writers are much happier writing about their pet topics than the rally that was assigned the week prior.

No surprise there.

Columns that I would recommend especially out of this batch include:
  • Another Point of View

  • The Glover Posting

  • The Facts of Life

  • But check them all out...

    Very different topics and perspectives, but each good first shots at writing a specialized column.

    Resting up for next Tuesday's deadline

    Magazine writers start writing 'how-to' articles

    SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - The cadre of magazine writers in Journalism 132 have been launched to start writing their first drafts of their first stories - 600-word opuses on various topics of 'how-to' do things.

    The topics range from building computers (explain that in 600 words!) to how to be a dynamic waitress to running a background criminal check - on yourself.

    They should make for some very interesting reading.

    As in the case of the columns written by the Column Writing class, the blogs created by J132 will be posted on this page. In the case of these magazine writers, the blogs might not be quite as polished as they are drafts and in fact, the writers would like outside comments.

    In the meantime, I was excused from jury duty Monday after a long day at the courthouse. I'll detail out that adventure in a different blog, perhaps later today.

    Right now I need to begin reading the latest specialty columns (with links to which are on the side of this page), turned in by the Column Writing class.

    Sunday, September 13, 2009

    Snagged by jury duty, several classes are off the hook

    SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - The recorded message at the Sacramento County Courthouse was quite clear: If you are in juror group 210, report to the jury commissioner's office at 8 a.m. Monday Sept. 14. Do not pass Go, Do no collect $200.

    Ok, I added the Do not pass Go part, but the rest is true.

    So, three of my four Monday classes, Two sections of basic newswriting and my Column Writing class, are off the hook for class attendance.

    The column writers, however, do have an assignment due Tuesday at 8 a.m. They are going to be posting a column about their particular areas of specialty.

    Unless I am actually empaneled on a jury, I should be able to read them in the courthouse via my ITouch and make comments from there.

    Justice will be served.

    Jury Duty poster
    Pauly Shore in Jury Duty

    Saturday, September 12, 2009

    Magazine writing class to ponder 'How-To' stories

    SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - The magazine writing class at CSU, Sacramento will be discussing its first writing assignment Monday night - writing a 'how-to' story.

    How to stories can encompass anything: How to write a 'how-to' story, How to walk a dog, How to bake a cake, How to get an A in a writing class, How to lose 20 pounds in 20 minutes, How to find a 1964 GTO, and so on... The how-to ideas are only limited by the imaginations of the writers.

    The markets for such stories are vast and one of several types of magazine stories in great demand.

    My idea for a how-to story for myself is: How to teach a magazine writing class while being required to take 8 furlough days.

    An alternative is: How to convince a judge you are unfit for jury duty.

    I might have to report Monday morning at the Sacramento County Courthouse.


    Jury box
    Jury box

    Tuesday, September 08, 2009

    First columns published by Column Writing Class

    SACRAMENTO, California, USA - The first set of columns from the 2009 CSU, Sacramento column writing class have been published and as expected some are excellent, some need, well, a little work.

    Slightly more than half the class made the first deadline, a combination of the deadline being on a holiday weekend, problems figuring out how to post to the web, and a probably a lot of writer's bloc. They will get over that quickly.


    The columns are posted to the lower right hand side of this page and all are open for comments.

    Wednesday, September 02, 2009

    Good turnout for CSU, Sacramento rally - despite the heat

    SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - A crowd of about 200 faculty, students at staff took part in a noontime rally at CSU, Sacramento today, the first of many such activities as the three groups get together to fight the fee increases visited on students and the furloughs (pay cuts) forced on employees.

    Some of the student speakers were choked up as they tried to explain how much the fee increases (32 percent total for this year alone) were hurting their ability to even go to college. Several faculty gave fairly rousing speeches, despite a sound system that was below inadequate - a bullhorn with a microphone attached.

    Student speaker at rally
    Student speaker at today's rally

    The sound system - such as it was - was still considered illegal by campus police. The police had banned the use of any amplification and told the leaders of the CFA to simply raise their voices when they spoke. The bullhorns were used anyway, a protest themselves of the campus administration's attempt at keeping the rally from growing very large.

    Had the flames been fanned sufficiently (and loud enough for people to hear), it's possible the group might have marched on the offices of CSU, Sacramento President Alexander Gonzalez.

    That would have made for some good theatre, and perhaps grabbed more media attention.

    Regardless, the 25 students enrolled in my Column Writing class attended and this week will be writing columns - their first attempts.

    Loud speaker
    A 'loud' speaker

    Let us teach sign
    Sign in the crowd

    Column writing students to cover noon rally at CSU

    SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - Students from the column writing class at CSU Sacramento are going to get to work with live ammunition right away.

    Today, they will attend a rally on the CSU, Sacramento campus to protest the student fee hikes and the faculty furloughs (which are resulting in about a 10 percent pay cut for faculty).

    They will also have a little extra to write about: The university, very quietly, is telling all faculty to fill up the rooms in which they teach, even if the classes have an agreed-upon limit. So students will be packed in tighter than sardines (and perhaps without chairs to sit upon) and their professors (getting paid less) will have more people to teach, papers to grade, and tests to review.

    Oh boy!

    Once the students write their columns, the columns will be linked to this page.