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
(nytimes.com; Michael Winerip)

Uptown, By Way of Downtown (nytimes.com; 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.