News & Feature Writing

This page is for the UCSD News and Feature Writing course.

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4. Progressive Feature Writing Assignment #1

5. Critique of a classmate’s Progressive Feature Writing Assignment #1

6. Feature Writing Final Assignment

7. Social Media Promo of your feature story

8. Query Letter


Critique of a classmate’s news story (2/9-2/15/2020)

Hi Chris, Well done! I really enjoyed reading your article. I have personally been trying to become more involved with local politics, so it was nice to hear about the discussions on the upcoming fiscal year budget. I was shocked to learn that 46 people were killed in traffic incidents in 2019- as a reader I was curious is this was for car/car or car/bike accidents. I thought the quote you included from Hunt brought forth the human side to the story. As an avid SD biker, most of my friends have been hit by cars at some point in the last 10 years. It’s really terrifying to be on the road with poor bike lanes and torn up roads. Hopefully, bike safety will become a priority for 2020.

A few things to think about:

-Your title was really long and, at first, I thought your story was going to be about all of the fiscal year projects; however, after reading your piece I believe your main point was about allocating more money for traffic safety. This became very clear after reading your final sentence, “Only time will tell if the City Council can do enough to prevent further deaths on our city streets.” So many start out with a title and lede that relates to that?

-Try to not start a sentence with a number. For example, instead of saying, “46 people were killed…” write “forty-six people were killed…”

-The word “city” is capitalized throughout the piece, which I found confusing as a reader. I would probably use lowercase for instances such as these: “Only time will tell if the City Council can do enough to prevent further deaths on our City streets.”

Overall, I thought you did a great job on the article and selecting quotes that supported your main point. Cheers, ~Brittany


News Story (2/3-2/7/2020)

Wearing It Wise

by Brittany Fair

Fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the w­orld. Approximately 9 million tons of clothing were sent to the landfill in 2017; that’s almost one garbage truck going to the landfill every second.

Camila Gomez Wills, a public policy graduate student researcher at UCSD, is trying to decrease clothing waste by encouraging the public to reduce and reuse, instead of consume. She does this by hosting quarterly clothing swaps at Trilogy Sanctuary, an eco-friendly yoga studio and café located in La Jolla, California.

“The clothing swaps are free and open to all- we typically have around 80 people attend each swap, so you can find a lot of unique items,” says Gomez Wills. “But what really motivates me to organize these events is the human connection: we are all trying to reduce our waste and footprints.”

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Inside Trilogy’s Earth Room, women of all ages gather around a wall painted with silvery Buddhas to lay their clothing out for others to inspect. Colorful sweaters and yoga pants quickly become coveted items as the search begins.

So, what is the environmental impact of buying new clothes? Water is used to grow the cotton as well as to produce and dye each cloth. State agencies estimate that more than 700 gallons of water are used to produce a single article of clothing such as a t-shirt or a pair of jeans. That’s about 5,270 bottles of water or 7,467 Starbucks lattes.

Additionally, the carbon dioxide produced from each item is roughly equal to driving a car 10 miles, and this does not include the carbon dioxide produced from the shipment of goods. When 98 percent of clothing in the United States is imported from abroad, this becomes significant.

Gomez Wills explains that one of the best ways to decrease the environmental impact of the fashion industry is to reduce the quantity of new clothing that is purchased and disposed.

One option to buy used clothing. Goodwill diverted 4 billion pounds of clothing and textiles from landfills in 2018. Companies such as Columbia and The North Face accept their used clothing back, and other brands like Patagonia sell refurnished items.

It has also become trendy to simply own less. For example, author Marie Kondo, an organizing specialist, suggests only keeping cherished items that spark joy. And minimalist capsule wardrobes, sometimes consisting of just 30 items of clothing, promise simplicity and style without any of the clutter or stress.

And these trends may be making an impact. India is the largest producer of cotton in the world, but a recent report by the United States Department of Agriculture indicates that market prices are showing a decline. This suggests an overall slowdown in clothing demand.

Gomez Wills holds up a tumeric-colored shirt, considering if it will fit into her wardrobe.

“What’s most important is finding what works for you. Maybe that means attending a clothing swap or maybe it means mending a broken hem instead of throwing it away,” she says. “Just remember, you vote with your wallet.”


Interview a Classmate (1/27-2/2/2020) 

Helping rabbits go mainstream

Online media is an ever-changing landscape filled with possibilities if you know how to navigate it.

For Angela Brockus, the News and Feature Writing course is providing a roadmap to that online world. She seeks to merge her background in web design with her interest in branded content in order to reach a larger audience. To do this, she needs to understand industry standards and limitations in current technologies, as well as to learn more about journalism in general.

Although she is in the process of finishing law school at Northwestern California University, Brockus is passionate about continuously exploring opportunities to learn outside of the justice system. She is currently finishing UCSD Extension certificates in Intellectual Property Law, Copyediting and Creative Writing.

“I’m learning that my brain can be very malleable and can re-learn things I thought I once forgot,” shares Brockus.

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English Spot rabbit. Image from PetGuide.com.

In her free time, Brockus breeds show rabbits including the English Spot variety. The fur of these spotted white rabbits once adorned the robes of English kings. This weekend nine of her rabbits will be competing at the California Rabbit & Cavy Show in Santee (a cavy is just a fancy name for a guinea pig).

 

And soon she hopes to integrate her knowledge about rabbits into her writing.

“The people that attend rabbit shows provide an excellent captive audience as we are all there for the same thing,” says Brockus. “There is this whole niche of people my writing could reach.”


My name is Brittany and I’m excited to be taking this News and Feature Writing course. I am currently in the process of completing the UCSD Extension Creative Writing Certificate Program with a focus on science writing.

I work across the street at the Salk Institute (0.5 miles from UCSD Extension) as the science writer, so I am hoping this course will help ignite more ideas/angles for feature stories. As for hobbies, I am a triathlete training for the 2020 World Championships, so I spend a lot of time swimming, running and biking around San Diego! I don’t have a personal mantra, but this year I am focusing on staying healthy and injury free! I also love to cook delicious and extravagant plant-based food, and I have a tank of tiny cherry red shrimp that make me smile.

I look forward to reading everyone’s pieces and exchanging ideas.