The Craft of Journalism
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July 2015 Newsletter

The Craft of Journalism
Dear Readers,

When you think of journalism, you might immediately think about news stories and reporters. However, there are many types of journalism and a huge need for ethical journalists who report the truth. Journalism is broad, and the following are merely a sampling of categories.
  • News stories cover current events and include facts. All “fluff” is eliminated, and the writer keeps a neutral position. The Five Ws (who, what, when, where, why) are answered quickly, giving readers everything they need to know at the top of the story.
  • Feature stories are descriptive and may be current or timeless. These stories may not present the breaking news, but they grab the reader’s interest by playing off a news event in more detail. Feature stories are more in-depth, detailed, and provide a vivid description. Within the feature category, we have how-to stories, which give step-by-step instructions on any given topic. These stories are typically shorter and contain some kind of list. Holiday/anniversary features cover reoccurring dates, finding a different and unique approach each year. A column runs regularly, focusing on a specific topic, such as advice, food, movie reviews, and so on. Although most articles all consist of interviews, we list interviews as a category because this type of article can be written in a question and answer format. For example, if you interview a political figure on his or her policies, you might consider presenting the interview in a Q & A format, so the reader sees exactly what was said. Profiles are another common type of feature story. They highlight a particular person such as an accomplished athlete or an influential or simply interesting person.
  • Opinion pieces also commonly spin off of current news stories; however, they offer an opinion. Basically, they cover any topic imaginable including politics, international affairs, business, economics, finance, education, health, sports, advice, ethics, and so on. An editorial piece usually represents the view of a newspaper, whereas a column or “op-ed” contains one person’s take on the issue. The columnist has the freedom to write in a personal, relaxed style. Weblogs have also become more popular in the recent years as they are paperless and widely accessible online. A blog can easily be updated with a simple “click” offering quick information. Blogs are typically short and simple, covering any topic, but narrowing it down to a specific area.

This newsletter will give you a sampling of journalistic pieces from a variety of genres. If you are interested in journalism, try our semester-long journalism course, Journalism Basics (grades 9–12). 

"While creating their own newspaper, they will learn the principles of journalism such as conducting interviews, applying Associated Press style, and understanding worldviews. Students will write news, feature, and opinion pieces. With self-directed instruction and hands-on assignments, Journalism Basics will equip students to reach the world through journalism." Can be purchased at

Congratulations to our student writers who are published in
this newsletter:

Meagan Shelley
Julianna Vandenberg
J. Luke Vickers
Stariana Wilson
Thank you to all who submitted work. Keep writing and submit again! 

2015–2016 Magnum Opus Magazine submission deadlines:
  • Units 1 and 2 - August 10, 2015
  • Unit 3 - September 21, 2015
  • Unit 4 - October 19, 2015
  • Yearly Print Magazine - November 9, 2015  
  • Unit 5 - November 23, 2015
  • Poetry - December 22, 2015
  • Unit 6 - January 18, 2016
  • Unit 7 - February 18, 2016
  • Unit 8 - March 21, 2016
  • Unit 9 - April 18, 2016
  • Fiction - May 23, 2016
  • Journalism - June 27, 2016 

Megan L. House
Magnum Opus Magazine Managing Editor
800.856.5815 x5101
NOTE: The following stories are written in Associated Press Style. 
Profile Feature Story ...
The Life of Xiang Chun

A life of hard work paid off.
by J. Luke Vickers, age 13
From the beginning, Xiang Chun had his work cut out for him. In 1941 he was born in North China right in the middle of the Communist versus Nationalist Civil War, and the war between China and Japan. His family of six was very poor, and all transportation was shut down because of the wars. Consequently, his father had to walk an hour and a half to get to work.

“As an elementary-age child, I chopped wood, did the grocery shopping and sold bean sprouts on the street,” Xiang Chun said, recalling with a mixture of pride and earnestness.

At school he was also a hardworking student.

“For the first four years of my childhood, Japan ran the schools,” Chun said. “They made us learn and speak Japanese and taught Japanese customs.” After China took over, he learned Russian and wrote back and forth with a Russian girl.

“At the time I was used to their system of school, but I am now jealous that Americans have better and more diverse schooling options,” he said. His childhood was not all work though. He has fond memories of doing homework with friends and wrestling with the other boys while walking to school every day.

When Chung grew up, he went to college at a military school and did radar research out at sea with the Navy for two years.

“While at times it was very hard being out in the open sea, and I got very seasick, it was usually fun,” Chung said. He typically spent about three days out in the open sea and never developed a good pair of sailor’s legs. An experience he particularly enjoyed was when a terrible storm hit them early one night. It was so bad it threw him right out of his sleeping place on the top bunk. Finally they decided to weigh anchor so that the storm would not be quite as rough and delay going back to port until it was safer.

“We sang, danced and entertained each other all night long,” Chung said. “Then in the morning there was a beautiful sunrise across the sky, hundreds of jellyfish four feet in diameter surrounding our boat and fish jumping all around us.”

Another Navy experience that he remembered quite well was the time he was late for dinner. Chung eventually came to get his food and found that there was a large pot of what he thought was mushrooms, so he scooped himself a giant bowl of it. Chung tried to eat them but found they were very chewy, so he asked his friend, “What’s this? I can hardly chew it.” His friend replied that it was a type of oyster or clam, the most expensive food on the ship, and each person was only supposed to get one of them.

“When I heard this, I knew I couldn’t throw away the most expensive food on the ship, so I had to eat the entire bowl of it,” Chung said laughing.

After he completed his Navy research, Chung worked doing mechanics. Chung’s roommate was dating Chung’s soon-to-be wife’s friend. Chung and his wife were introduced.

“We fell in love at first sight and were married three months later,” Chung said. This was the normal way to meet your wife at this time in China. For the first two years of their marriage, his wife had a job 30 miles from his house, so she had to live 30 miles away. Every Sunday afternoon he would make the four-hour bike ride to her house, barely get to see her and then make the four-hour bike ride back. There was a way to get there by riding a bus, then a train, but that still took four hours and cost money.

“During this time, life was almost all work and very hard,” Chung said.

After two years of bike rides, Chung’s wife found a job at his company, and they finally were able to live together. They had two kids, a boy and a girl. Both children were very smart and liked to study. As it often happens, the boy, Hao, became Chung’s pride and joy. When Hao was 3 years old, he was called “little old man” by their friends because he acted and walked like a little old man. He could already add large numbers in his head. Because his family did not have a TV, Chung made them one all by himself. Sometimes all his neighbors would come over to watch TV, but he did not let the kids watch it because he wanted them to play and study.

“The best thing about my kids was that they loved to study,” Chung said. As Hao grew older, Xiang only grew more proud of him. Hao particularly loved math. He would talk about problems with his friends and loved to work problems. When Hao went to high school, he won the physics prize for his whole province. After high school, Hao went to Tsinghua University, the top school in China.

“It was like glory for our family,” Chung said. Once Hao had graduated from college, he came to America and went to graduate school at MIT.

“I am glad Hao came to America because it is a very advanced country,” Chung said. Chung and his wife are now living with Hao in California and enjoy spending time with their two grandchildren.
Holiday/Anniversary Feature Story ...
Bursting in the Sky

Although fireworks are mainly known to Americans as an Independence Day celebration, worldwide, fireworks are
used for many occasions.

by Julianna Vandenberg, age 17
Fireworks and the Fourth of July go together like Americans and apple pie. It is hard for someone to imagine this festive holiday without a nighttime of fiery explosions.

“The first thing I think about when I hear someone talk about fireworks is the Fourth of July," said Simeon Purvis, a 17-year-old who never misses a fireworks show.

In China during the seventh century, a mixture of gunpowder and other chemicals were mixed to make some of the first fireworks. The Chinese began to use these new, colorful fireworks to celebrate during their festivals like their New Year's celebrations and the births of new emperors. News of these explosive fireworks spread, and the Chinese were praised for their newfound knowledge, although it was not until the mid-17th century that Europeans began to really admire these fireworks and their creators. In 1758 a man by the name of Pierre Nicolas d'Incarville while working as a missionary in Beijing wrote about the composition of the Chinese fireworks, and in 1765 his writings were published, and fireworks became quite popularized.

Today, many fireworks are still made in China, and they consist of four main parts: noise, light, smoke and confetti-like materials. With these four main components, they give us the look we are used to seeing today with colors ranging in blues and purples to yellows and oranges.

“When someone mentions fireworks, I imagine them bursting in the sky with amazing colors," said Anna Godsey, a homeschool graduate and local ballet teacher.

These colorful fireworks are used throughout the world to celebrate everything from cultural to religious holidays. The Dutch use them mainly for celebrating the New Year, while the United Kingdom uses fireworks to celebrate the foiled plot to kill King James on Guy Fawkes Day. And in America, fireworks are used for holidays such as the Fourth of July, commemorating the Declaration of Independence, which was adopted in 1776.

“I think about that day and how every year we watch a colorful reenactment of the wars our soldiers have died in to protect this country and its ideals,” Purvis said. Fireworks hold a special meaning to Americans.  

“I love fireworks because they are so beautiful in the night sky,” Godsey said.

Fireworks are an amazing part of history all throughout the world. They are colorful and are a fun tool for celebrating holidays.

“I love the explosions of fireworks,” Purvis said. “They are always so cool in the sky.”
Opinion Piece ...
No Smoking, Please!

Why people should stop smoking.
by Stariana Wilson, age 15
“[Smoking] is an unhealthy, bad habit which will shorten the quality and length of life,” said Dr. Steven Geders, a local health care professional. However, not just the smoker is affected when people smoke in public places or at home. It also affects the people around them. People should not smoke because of the effects on them and those around them.

Smoking is not healthy for the consumer or those around them.

“[Smoking] causes less blood supply in the tissues, and healing takes longer and is less complete,” Geders said. Secondhand smoke has killed 2.5 million nonsmokers since 1964 according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For children, it can cause serious side effects including ear infections and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). In the United States alone, 7,500-15,000 hospitalizations of children 18 months or younger occur annually due to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke does nothing to help adults either. Approximately 34,000 heart disease deaths during 2005-2009 occurred by secondhand smoke in nonsmokers, the CDC proved. As stated on its website: “Cigarette smoking in the United States causes more than 480,000 deaths a year.”

Some people are allergic to cigar and cigarette smoke. People with these allergies cough, wheeze, have trouble breathing and get light-headed. The mere smell of the smoke can cause these symptoms. They are especially strong when someone is smoking. However, if someone is severely allergic, anyone who has been smoking or the slightest whiff of smoke can cause these reactions.

Smoking is also a bad testimony to others. When people smoke, they set a bad example for their children. And will it just stop with smoking? Is smoking the gateway to other drugs?

“The first time, smoking is not a pleasant feeling, but those who get accustomed to smoking would be more likely to try marijuana,” Geders said. People should not smoke at home or in public. It is not healthy for anyone involved, it smells bad and does not set a good example.
How-To Feature Story ...
How to Conquer Boredom

Five ways to beat boredom without being a couch potato.
by Meagan Shelley, age 17
Boredom is described in “Webster’s Dictionary” as “the state of being weary and restless through lack of interest.” Personally, I would just describe it as “a time where there seems like there is nothing to do!” When bored, most people (including myself) will grab a box of Cheez-Its® and head for the TV. However, if you are stuck surfing channels and are not sure what to do, never fear! This list if for you!

“I don’t want anyone to become a couch potato,” said Leila Davis, a homeschool mom who has often battled with the boredom blues. “You need to keep your mind busy.” Homeschool dad, Nathan Shelley, wholeheartedly agrees.

“Becoming a couch potato can lead people into certain addictions that they think can help them become less bored,” Shelley said.

So here you have it: five ways to eradicate boredom and keep your keister off of the couch. 
  • Yes, you guessed it – read: I know this is the cost cliché thing to list; however, the fact remains. Find something you want to read – it doesn’t have to be “The Scarlet Letter.” If you are not a big fan of chapter books, pick up a comic book, newspaper or magazine. It still counts as reading.
  • Do a craft or crossword puzzle: Believe me, crossword puzzles take a good chunk of time to solve. If you are more of a “hands-on” person, completing a craft may be just the thing for you. Not only does it burn up all the extra time, but it’s productive, and in the end the results are great presents for family or friends.
  • Walk the dog: Any exercise that you do will keep you busy. Walking your dog is a great way to make you (and the dog) a little less cooped up and cramped.
  • Pull out MONOPOLY: Round up some family members and pull out a good old-fashioned board game. Nothing brings out the competitive spirit like a set of cards and an objective. If you want to do something faster and easier on the mind, try something like UNO or LIAR-LIAR.
  • Do some news-nosing: It is actually very helpful to know what is currently going on. Besides, a good citizen is an informed citizen, right? Your “news-found” knowledge will “wow” your friends and parents.
  • “Webster’s Dictionary” describes the word interest as “something that engages the attention.” I would just describe it as the opposite of boredom. Hopefully, armed with this list, you can turn your seemingly endless hours into fun-filled, productive days.
Republished from the Fall 2013 “Magnum Opus Magazine.”
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