Explain a person and his or her significance at a moment in time in photographic detail, not portraiture.

Key dates

  • Monday, Sept. 21: Launch + be familiar with reading list
  • Wednesday, Sept. 23: Individual story conferences. (Sign up)
  • Monday, Oct. 5: Peer-review day; draft shared via Google Drive
  • Wednesday, Oct. 7: Individual story conferences (Sign up)
  • Wednesday, Oct. 14: Final version turned in

Reading list

For each style of feature I will ask you to complete I will provide some examples that we can discuss in class to help jog your creative muscles and that you can refer to for inspiration while you work on yours. Please read, listen or watch at least three of them — some by the pros, some by the students — before we launch each segment.

The assignment

A well-done profile explains a person at a moment in time. Ours will be fully developed photographic profiles, rather than more portrait-like exercises focused solely on a subject’s flattering qualities. Although profiles regularly focus on newsmakers, society’s overlooked members often can make more compelling subjects. Universal themes and transformational moments may re-appear in profiles, but are not required for success. Some students may choose to pre-write a deeply sourced obituary on a notable figure in the university’s history such as President David Boren, professor George Henderson or former football coach Barry Switzer that could run in the event of their deaths.

You will

  • Write a minimum 1,000-word (digital) or 4-minute package (broadcast) piece that…
  • Explains a person who is either in the news or has a compelling and newsworthy story…
  • Is fully-developed in examining the subject in depth via research and at least three sources (more may be necessary to be successful)…
  • And is relatable to a clearly defined audience.

You will not

  • Write a biography

Rubric (250 points total)

  • Topic | 50 percent
    • Clearly explains a newsworthy subject at a moment in time
    • Is explored in significant depth via research and at least three sources (more may be necessary to be successful)
    • Is relatable to a broad audience
  • Writing | 50 percent
    • Meets the word-count or script-length minimum
    • Uses clear, conversational language
    • Fully examines the subject
    • Does not resort to biographical tendencies
  • Deductions
    • Fact errors: -50 percent
    • Spelling: -10 points
    • Grammar, punctuation, AP style: -1 point each

Profile writing tips

  • 40–40–20 rule
    • 40 percent research
    • 40 percent reporting
    • 20 percent writing
  • Types of profiles
    • Portrait profiles are positive.
    • Photographic profiles are fully developed.
    • In this class we will write photographic profiles.
  • What makes a profile candidate newsworthy?
    • Prominence
    • Perseverance
    • Oddity
    • Achievement
    • Experience
    • Vocation/avocation
    • Anniversary

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