MUJW: Day Two–‘Doug Died’

For those that don’t know, I am currently in Columbia, Missouri at the University of Missouri for a nine days taking part in the Missouri Urban Journalism Workshop, which is run through the Dow Jones News Fund. I am one of 18 high school journalists in attendance at the workshop with students from Tennessee to Nebraska to Florida and even Korea taking part. Throughout the nine days, I’ll write nightly blogs documenting the trials and tribulations of the workshop. 

Doug died.

Before you concern yourself over the fact that one of the 18 workshop participants didn’t make it through the whole nine days, Doug never took part in the MUJW.

Doug, however, is dead.

Doug is a deceased person who wrote his obituary before he passed away and MUJW faculty member Ray Murray read it in the newspaper. And ultimately, Doug’s life came down to two words: Doug died.

Murray, a professor at the University of Oklahoma State and a former sports journalist, gave a short lecture on ledes, which ‘Doug died’ was one of his first examples. He used the two word obituary to show us how to get to the point so that we keep the reader interested.

Murray also provided another example.

“If I would’ve written Jaws the movie, they would’ve caught the shark in the first 10 minutes,” he said.

The former Florida Sun-Sentinel sports writers’ session took up a short portion of our long day of what MUJW Director Anna Romero termed Boot Camp on Day Two of the Missouri Urban Journalism Workshop. Speakers included Murray, a People’s magazine writer, a long-time photographer, a staff member at St. Louis Public Radio, an editor at the Oklahoman and other journalists with a wealth of knowledge in the field.

The day also included a law session from Dr. Sandy Davidson who is both a professor of journalism and law at the University of Missouri. She presented various stories of struggles with both ethics and law of journalism.

She posed, in my opinion, a very valuable question for us to ask ourselves throughout our career: You might be okay legally, but should you share it?

The 18 of us will ask ourselves this question several times in the next five days as we cover greater Columbia, Missouri for the Urban Pioneer, working as real journalists.

We found out who our editors/mentors are for the week in the afternoon and we began to work with them, brainstorming for our two stories later on at night after dinner. The research process began tonight and the true journalism kicks off tomorrow.

We’ll call all sorts of human beings and walk up to random strangers for our stories. It may seem as if it is a daunting task, but all 18 of us will become better journalists because of the next few days.

And of course, with real journalism comes a deadline.

So hopefully we can meet those so that we don’t end up as Doug did.


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