Lost Stories schedule


For your Lost Stories assignment, you will work individually to research a photo from the Birmingham News photo archive. From this research, you will develop and pitch three story ideas. We will discuss these pitches in small groups and you will settle on one story to pursue. You’ll then report and write a story about or inspired by the photo. You’ll also develop an engagement/distribution plan for your story. The goal is for your story to be published (with your byline) on AL.com.

Deliverables and deadlines

All of the following should be delivered in two ways: 1) two hard copies brought to class on the due date, and 2) a Google Doc shared with me at chip.brantley@gmail.com.

August 30  – Come to class with your top three photo choices. There will be some overlap with your classmates. That’s OK. We’ll concoct some fun way to determine who gets what.

September 6 – Backgrounder on the photo due. This summary of the photo should be a minimum of 300 words and it should answer the basic who, what, when, why, where of the photo. You will figure all this out by finding archival stories and doing other research.

September 13 – Three story pitches due. Each pitch should be minimum of 150 words and should articulate a clear story idea (as opposed to a topic or issue — we’ll discuss the difference). The three pitches should be composed in one Google Doc.

September 15 – By the end of class on this day, everyone will have an assigned story to work on.

September 22 – Audience engagement/distribution plan for the story due. If/when AL.com publishes your story, who will the target audience be?

September 29 – Final story due. The final story should be at least 800 words (unless you have a convincing reason it should be shorter than that).

Questions? Leave them in the comments.

Assignment for Tuesday 8/30

1) Read these Lost Stories stories:

2) Choose 2-3 of these stories, and in the comments, leave some thoughts on what you think works and what questions you have about the stories — the focus, approach, the voice, etc. Think about our conversation about the fire-behind-football-game story.

3) Look over the Birmingham News photos in Dropbox. (Captions are in a Word doc at the bottom of the page.) Come to class Tuesday with your top three. In the meantime, if you feel strongly about one (or more) of these, email me and let me know why.

4) Look over the schedule for the Lost Stories project and let me know if you have any questions about the deadlines. We will talk to Elizabeth at AMG next week about the engagement/distribution plan.

Assignment for Thursday 8/25

Read Fire Raged, They Played On, and the Photo Still Beguiles (in the NYT) and keep a list in a Google Doc of everything the reporter, Sarah Lyall, had to report in order to tell the story behind the photo. Before the start of class, share your Google Doc with me.

In the comments, leave some thoughts on what you think works and what questions you have about the stories — the focus, approach, the voice, etc.

Assignment for 3/29

1) Read Clara Guibourg’s 4 Mistakes in Data Journalism and How to Avoid Them and review Become Data Literate in 3 Simple Steps from the Data Journalism Handbook.

2) For your quiz, Make a copy of the spreadsheet of responses from the spring break survey we made and distributed. Using formulas in the spreadsheet itself or Fusion Tables, answer these questions for your third quiz. The quiz must be completed by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, March 28, 2016.

Good weekend!

Spring break beach reading

Over the break, please read Kathryn Schulz’ The Really Big One (sorry, people headed to the West Coast). It’s a great piece of journalism, full stop, but it’s also a great example of how data can fuel great storytelling. (That’s three uses of “great” in one sentence if you’re keeping count.) Also, read Oliver Roeder’s A Plagiarism Scandal is Unfolding in the Crossword World. It’s a great example of data-analysis-as-reporting.

We’ll talk about these when we get back to class on 3/22. We’ll also begin our important “Data of Candy” analysis then.

Have a great break.