Monday, September 21, 2009

Towson Football Kicks Off to an Explosive Start

It's that time of year again. You guessed season. And in spite of the H1N1 panic, those painfully dull classes to which one might prefer death, and the expiration of the summer season, we can find solace in football. This past Saturday, the Towson Tigers delivered for a stadium packed with over 7,000 fans. And while I am by no means a football fan, I thought that this first game of the season was the best I'd ever been to.

My roommate and I had the pleasure of sitting within the first ten rows, close to the field and right behind the most outrageous die-hard Tigers fans at Towson University. You know, the ones who paint their bodies in that brazen black and gold and who shout so fervently that they are sure to be hoarse in the morning. Standing shoulder to shoulder with people who like to scream, mostly about anything (at one point they were chanting "Catch that bat!" in response to the sporadic flight of a random bat above the bleachers) was actually a lot of fun. Their fiery energy almost made me forget the dropping temperature (almost). And though I didn't get the memo about bringing along a spoon, I still had a blast screaming for every brutal tackle, for every unexpected interception, and for every victorious touchdown. By the end of the game, my throat was aching and the palms of my hands were aching (from banging on the bleachers). But in exchange for my loyalty, I got to see myself yelling on that giant screen behind the end zone, caught a catapulted t-shirt and danced with our ferocious mascot, Doc.

Towards the end of the game, just when I thought things would end badly, the Tigers maintained their unwavering resistance and defeated Coastal Carolina with a score of 21-17. Not too bad for new coach Rob Ambrose's first home game.

And to cap off a dynamic game, there was an explosive ten-minute fireworks show after the game. Everybody loves fireworks and it seemed to be a real treat for visiting family and friends. And for the students, we got to enjoy free wings at the Glen Dining Hall where URG organized a wing eating contest and offered free prizes with raffle tickets.

At the end of the evening, I felt a new-found pride for my school. I gave Towson my loyalty (and my voice) and Towson gave me a t-shirt, a fireworks show, and a glorious evening I'll never forget.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

My Slideshow Idea

I spent the last week brainstorming about my profile story and what sort of person would be interesting to interview. After racking my brain and musing aloud for some days, I thought of Jon Graf.

With the election that took place in the past week, "Tigertown P.R.I.D.E" has been constantly in my head. Those yellow t-shirts and chalk markings on the paths of Towson's campus were enough to catch my attention. Three members in the group triumphed in the election, and at the head of the group was Jon Graf, a budding politician and darn cool guy. I think that hearing from Graf post-election and about his journey to the presidency would be something that students who voted for him would be interested in.

To learn more about the election, check out The Towerlight's website and read the recent article "'Tigertown' meets 'Change.'"

Tuition Freeze

In the article "In-State Students See Tuition Freeze," Brian Stelter gives Towerlight readers the lowdown on tuition relief. After reallocation of state funds by the University System of Maryland, Gov. Ehrlich was able to announce a freeze on tuition.

This is a great story. It's informative and relevant. But I think this story would be a lot more relateable if the reader could see the viewpoint of students affected by the decision. Perhaps a student at Towson could have been interviewed and asked their opinions on the tuition cap.

For students attending Towson University or any other university in the state of Maryland, this is definitely good news. It's especially good news for those students who are working their way through college and fighting for financial aid to earn their degree. That's why I think it's important to hear from the students who might benefit from the tuition freeze.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Jobless? Listen Up!

I recently completed an audio story about the advantages of on-campus jobs in which I interviewed TU students working on-campus jobs. Towson University offers many different jobs for its students, but students have to be aggressive about them. There are only a limited amount of job opportunities on campus, and at a school with a population of over 18,000, these jobs go fast. Listen to my audio story, "How Towson Can Make You Money" to get the spill about the benefits of on-campus jobs.

Also, for those interested in work, Towson University is holding a Part-Time/Summer Job Fair on April 6 in University Union.

And, in case you missed it, check out my feature story, "How to Live Within Your Means Off-Campus," a story that discusses tips to living affordably off-campus.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Mastering the Broadcast Lead

Recently, we've been discussing broadcast news writing. To get started, you'll want to start with the broadcast lead. The broadcast lead should include:

1) The essence of the story
2) One or two of the "W's"
3) Relation to the audience
4) Up-to-date information

Here are some examples of summary leads transformed to broadcast leads from

From the story "Gunman Kills Pastor at Illinois Church" by J. David Goodman:

Shortly after services begun at 8:15 Sunday morning, a man walked straight down the aisle of an Illinois church and shot the pastor to death, according to the state police.

In broadcast lead format:

State police say that at an early Sunday morning church service, a man shot and killed a pastor at an Illinois church.

From the story "Discharge From the Army Relieves Mother" by The Associated Press:

A North Caroline mother who reported for Army duty with her two young children said she was happy and relieved that the military granted her an honorable discharge.

In broadcast lead format:

Like any military mom, a North Carolina woman was relieved to be granted honorable discharge from the military.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Farewell RAs, Hello Landlords

In the quest to find an apartment while also saving money, some Towson students may be scratching their heads, wondering where to begin. In the Towerlight article, "TU Eases Off-Campus Move," author Mike Fila gives the low down on some of the ways Towson is helping students find off-campus living to fit their individual needs. Yet whether students are focused on location or amenities, the price is always the most important aspect of searching for a place to live.

"The new policy implemented on a per credit basis. Students with 90 credits or more are required to move off campus, while those with 60 to 89 credits are being entered into a housing lottery for available space." The key word here is "lottery," meaning there's no real guarantee for space, even for those qualified to live on campus.

Towson University is now offering an Off-Campus Housing Locator, a database for those searching for available apartments and those looking to fill vacancies. Also, Housing and Residence life hosted an off-campus living fair, where vendors were able to hand out information about their complexes and invite students to visit to make sure their facilities are a fit.

In this article, I would have liked a link to the housing database. I think that it would be a quick way to allow curious readers to check it out for themselves. I also would have liked to see a quote from one of the students who might be planning on attending the off-campus living fair. I'd also like to know how effective the housing database is. Has it helped anyone find a place to live? I would have liked to see a quote from a student who has used it before.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The First Feature Story

Right now, everyone is worried about where they are going to live next semester. More importantly, Towson students want to know what it's going to cost them. With the university pushing anyone whose not a freshman or transfer student out of on-campus housing, many students are wondering whether or not living off-campus will put a strain on their finances.

For my feature story, I plan to write a "How To" story on living affordably off campus. I'll interview some students living off campus and get some insight into how they've learned to make every penny count. Hopefully, whoever takes a peek at my story will be able to learn some effective ways to save money.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Wall Street Journal Formula

When writing a feature story, journalist often use the Wall Street Journal Formula. The layout for a feature story utilizing this technique will include:

1) An opening of the story with an anecdotal, narrative, or descriptive lead.
2) A nut graph to follow, explaining the lead
3)The body of the story with supportive details
4)The conclusion including another anecdotal or description of those featured in the story

In the New York Times article "Young Singers Await Their Big Moment at the Met," writer Vincent M. Mallozzi uses the Wall Street Journal Formula to tell the story of budding opera singers auditioning for the chance to perform at the Met.

Mallozzi's lead: "Nadine Sierra and Anthony Ross Costanzo spent Wednesday afternoon in separate rehearsal rooms at the Metropolitan Opera. They are not part of the opera, but they hope to be one day."

The nut graph in first couple of paragraphs explains the lead and gives insight into the personal experience of the two singers.

The body paragraphs explain the audition and selection process of twenty-something singers for their chance of a lifetime. This is the where the story is developed with facts and quotes.

Mallozzi concludes with a quote from Anthony Ross Constanzo, explaining his perspective on the opportunity.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Convenient Truth

The world is frantically searching for the most efficient ways to save the environment while some of us are just looking for best ways to save money; it turns out there are some common sense ways to do both.

Everyone's talking about "going green." But it's turning into more of a fad than a reality for college students. Sure, many of us don our "Think Green" t-shirts and recycle every now and then, but most of our dorm rooms are sucking up enough energy to power a factory. Some of our simple every day choices are costing us energy as well as money. So the solution is easy: make better choices.

Saving energy will save you money. When choosing ways to light your apartment or dorm room, purchase compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). According to Energy Star, CFLs last longer and can "save about $30 or more in electricity costs over each bulb's lifetime." CFLs produce less heat, making them safer to use. And when you're not inside your room, turn off the lights and lengthen its usage.

Instead of driving your car to school and hunting for a parking spot, save on gas money and think of different ways to get to school. Get a little exercise by walking or riding a bike. Or, take Towson's newly expanded shuttle service with new routes to most of the apartments in the area. Don't buy bottled water. It's pricey and bottles take centuries to decompose. Instead, buy a reusable water bottle and purchase a water filter for your apartment.

By the way, it doesn't hurt to recycle. Help Towson University win RecycleMania 2009 by taking advantage of the 3,300 recycling containers all around campus.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Take the Lead

When learning about different kinds of leads, it's important to know how to distinguish one from the other. In Chapter 6, we've found the differences between summary leads and feature leads.

Summary leads is written in active voice, using the "5 W's and H" (who, what, where, when, why, and how). These kinds of leads are direct and concise, getting right to the main point. For a summary lead, avoid backing into the story. That is, starting with introductory clause.

Feature leads are a bit more fun. These kinds of leads have a more loose structure and utilize creative elements to maintain the reader's attention. There are four different types of feature leads. Anecdotal leads are much like short stories that have an unexpected or interesting ending. Narrative leads present dialogues and quotes, creating a scene as the story is told. Descriptive leads zone in on the details of a specific person, place or group. Question leads present a question to be answered in the story.

Here are some examples of interesting feature leads:

Doc, Make Me New Again
(; Michael Winerip)

Uptown, By Way of Downtown (; Jonathan Miles)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Leave Your Wallet at Home, Go to the Library

In the article "Save With Your Library Card," writer Jay Hancock explains how a simple library card can help save money. The Maryland Library system is now working to make libraries more "consumer-focused." These means that best-sellers and new releases will now be more available, while some classics will be scarce. Hancock reasons that we pay for libraries, so why not take advantage of all they have to offer?

For the spending-conscious college student, the motto remains the same. Free is always the best deal. I thought this article proves that there really are opportunities to save just waiting for us, that includes college students. Though Hancock points out the obvious, it's still worth pointing out.

Many students would still rather go to Barnes & Nobles to buy a novel for an English class that they'll only use once than borrow it from the library for free. Many students don't realize that they can rent new movie releases for just $2.50, a cheaper price than Blockbuster. Instead of spending twenty dollars for the latest pop culture novel, pick it up at Towson Library for free. You can pick up the latest music albums, movies, magazines and, of course, books at any library in the Maryland library systems and save your dollars.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Beat It!

Do you constantly find yourself short on cash? Do you ever wonder if your money is being well spent? Have you considered that you might be missing out on great opportunities to save money?

Don't worry. This isn't the script for an infomercial. It's just my way of introducing everyone to my beat.

This semester, I will divulge the secrets to smart spending for Towson students on a budget. For all those working long hours for just a few nickels more than minimum wage (like me), this blog is for you. For my beat, I will share tips for keeping the money you've earned (or have been handed by Mom and Dad) in your pockets. I hope to provide valuable information on how to spend wisely and save easily.

The Towson University Towerlight provides a wide variety of information to its readers, including great deals especially for college students. Check the Towerlight often for articles and ads that might appeal to you. For instance, the Towerlight published an ad for the SGA offering free tickets to an advance screening for the movie Confessions of a Shopaholic, requiring only that all interested bring the recent edition of the Towerlight to the 2nd floor of the University Union. Anyone--including shopaholics--knows that when it comes to saving your dough, the motto is: FREE is always the best deal.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Starting Line

As this fresh semester comes to its start, I'm bracing myself for all it has to bring. My name is Geneane Johnson and I am a sophomore at Towson U. I am majoring in Mass Communications and minoring in English with hopes of someday becoming a writer. In this class, I hope to improve my computer skills by exploring new programs and becoming more independent when using some of the old ones. I also would like to discover more about compiling photos, audio, and video for projects that inform and compell my readers. As always, I'm looking to improve my writing and composition skills to better myself as a writer and prepare myself for the fastpaced world of journalism. As I come to the starting line of this new semester, I am optimistic about all that I will learn and accomplish over the next few months.