Beaver Beat

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 10.24.42 PMHere’s a sneak peak at Beaver Beat, a special all sports, all the time edition of The Campus. It was conceived, edited and designed by Jeff Weisinger, The Campus sports editor. He handles sports content in the print issues, keeps our website up to date and has also launched an online site devoted to what else — CCNY sports. Jeff lead a team of sports enthusiasts — Curtis Ashley, Demi Rodriguez, Christian Hernandez, Don Gutierrez and Diana Perea to take a deep dive into athletics. Keep an eye out for it on CCNY newsstands as the Spring semester kicks off!

To learn more about Jeff’s path to sports reporting, watch this video by Demi Rodriguez.

Write the Perfect Cover Letter

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 1.17.42 PMWhether for a job or internship, a cover letter introduces you to a potential employer and offer a first impression. Your letter MUST make a connection and be concise, grammatically perfect, well written and professional in tone. This letter tells your prospective employer what YOU can do for THEM, not what they can do for you. So don’t bother writing about how much you’d like to work for the company because it will help you in the future. What do they care?

Show YOUR value. Explain why they should bring you on. Here’s a sample:

Dear, ______________________________________________

I am writing to apply for an internship in AREA OF INTEREST with NAME OF COMPANY. I’m a senior at The City College of New York, where I am majoring in XX.

As my resume indicates, I have completed major coursework including INTRODUCTION TO JOURNALISM, SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGIES, AND PROSE WRITING WORKSHOP, among others. These hands-on classes provide me with a strong understanding of the demands of the profession, and the knowledge and skills to make a valuable contribution as an intern.

I have prior work experience having been a JOB TITLE for COMPANY. In this capacity, I brought my strong work ethic and professionalism to my employer. OR SAY SOMETHING THAT DEMONSTRATES YOUR PROFESSIONALISM.

In addition to my abilities and passion for this profession, I am hard working, ADD MORE PERSONAL QUALITIES HERE THAT DEFINE YOU.

I am especially interested in this internship because of NAME OF COMPANY’S excellent reputation for SAY SOMETHING ABOUT THE COMPANY THAT BRANDS THEM, BASED ON THEIR WEBSITE COPY OR WHAT YOU LIKE ABOUT THEM

I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you. Please contact me via e-mail or by phone at YOUR NUMBER.

Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.


Your Name

Our Journalism Instructor Breaks News — and Wins Awards! [update 4/20]

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 1.16.05 PMLast week, our journalism adjunct Andrea Bernstein nailed New Jersey governor Chris Christie (again) with her stinging report on the continuing “bridgegate” scandal. A series of emails she dug up in relation to the 2013 GW bridge lane closure cast serious doubt on Christie’s version of the truth. Andrea appeared on MSNBC on Sunday to talk about the story. (Click here to watch)

Andrea, a senior political reporter for WNYC, has been on the story from day one, except on Tuesday evenings when she teaches our Reporting and Writing course.

[Update: Professor Bernstein won a Peabody — broadcast journalism’s high honor —  for her reporting on Christie’s abuse of power.]

Listen to her WNYC investigation here.


You Better Work! — Check Out Our Summer Course


Interested in some of New York City’s hottest industries? Want to have fun, improve your writing and earn three journalism elective credits? Experience our summer class, MCA 31109: Food & Fashion, Arts & Culture: Covering New York’s Hottest Industries. It’s offered Summer Session 1: June 1 – June 25, 2015 (11:30 AM – 2 PM)

This course will use New York as a lab for reporting and writing about some of the industries that fascinate everyone. Through “beat” journalism, it provides a fun and practical way to improve writing, build digital literacy, strengthen photography skills, learn new research strategies and explore New York. Students will write feature stories, profiles, reviews, Q&As, how-to articles and blog posts. Guest speakers will share first-hand experience and insider information and offer down-to-earth career advice.

Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 10.37.28 AMOur instructor knows her stuff. Julia Chance is a former editor at Essence and the Source magazines, with extensive experience covering fashion, beauty, food and lifestyle topics. She is the author or co-author of four books, and contributes frequently to both consumer and industry publications.

6 Tips to Improve Writing–A New Year’s Plan

writeI don’t sweat small stuff. But I do have a few nit-picky things that really bother me when I see them in writing. And I don’t mean run-on sentences, misspellings, fragments and grammatical errors we scolds love to point out. You should know better.

I’m talking about the kind of under-the-radar tics that make writing slow, boring and torture to slog through. Obviously, I teach journalism, not technical or college essay writing–but still. The best writing is clean, crisp and active, no matter the setting or the audience. So I encourage students to write like journalists and avoid subtle errors that few notice but add up.

Now that the semester has ended and as the year comes to a close, pledge–or resolve, if you’re a New Year’s resolution kind of person–to clean up your writing. Try these six tricks that–I assure you–will make your writing better:

1. Shorten long sentences. Most people pile too much onto and into each sentence, as though another one isn’t right behind it. Keep your sentences short and declarative. Write like a radio or TV journalist: Even if a sentence is grammatically correct, if you can’t read it without taking a breath, break it up. (I even felt a little breathless reading that one!)

Not this: I saw the movie “12 Years a Slave,” starring the amazing actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, who is of Nigerian descent and also appeared in “Dirty Pretty Things,” a film that offered a searing look at organ harvesting in London.

Instead: I saw the movie “12 Years a Slave,” starring the amazing actor Chiwetel Ejiofor. Of Nigerian descent, he also appeared in “Dirty Pretty Things.” That film offered a searing look at organ harvesting in London.

2. Get rid of passive voice. Of course, you know this, but sometimes it manages to slip in, often when you aren’t sure who did something. Instead, figure out who did what, which will make your sentence active and more precise.

Not this: Computers were stolen from the chemistry lab.

Instead: Thieves stole computers from the chemistry lab. Or: Someone stole computers from the chemistry lab.

3. Use fewer words. Some people add more words to sound smarter–or to make a paper, essay or article longer. Better to expand the thinking rather than just the word count. So look to trim the fat.

Not this: I am an individual who often has a hard time figuring out what it is I want to eventually do with my life.

Instead: I have a hard time figuring out what to do with my life.

4. Don’t repeat. First, avoid, “like I said before,” “to repeat,” or “once again.”  And try not to use the same words over and over…and over.

Not this: My plan is to first go to the library. Then I plan to study all night long. Planning my day helps me feel in control.

Instead: I plan to go to the library and study all night long. Organizing my day helps me feel in control.

5. Whenever you can, change all forms of the “to be” verb. I know, I know…everyone finds this difficult, even me. But push yourself. Use active verbs to keep your writing interesting.

Not this: Introduction to Journalism is my favorite course.

Instead: I love Introduction to Journalism. I adore Introduction to Journalism. Introduction to Journalism rocks.

Not this: The instructions were not applicable to me.

Instead: The instructions did not apply to me.

6. Finally, think like a sportswriter, and many of the subtle errors will fall away.

Not this: The Giants were the winners over the Colts by a substantial margin.

Instead: The Giants crushed the Colts.

Not this:  The Nets are coached by former Knick Jason Kidd.

Instead: Former Knick Jason Kidd coaches the nets.

Not this: Serena Williams is the year’s number-one player.

Instead: Serena Williams finished the year at number one.

Anything to add? 

Take a Good Photograph!

Yes, yes–a picture is worth 1,000 words. And journalists, even those who stick mainly to print, must know how to take one.  What’s a good photo? Try these tips:photographer1

1. Take good pictures. Here’s a website with 5 good tips to help improve your camera work.

2. Understand the rule of thirds.


2. Make sure you photos tell a story. The best photographs tell a story, and a photo essay has to be about SOMETHING, not just a random series of pictures. Click below on some slide shows/photo essays that some of my students have done to help guide you. Each tells a story.

  • This student’s photo essay looked at the aftermath of Sandy in Harlem. Click here to see it.
  • This one shows a block party on Marion Avenue in the Bronx.
  • I did this photo essay about a church in Harlem that grows vegetables–and distributes them on Monday in a soup kitchen. And this one about bicycle theft shows all the ways that people lock up their bikes on a block in Manhattan to keep them safe.

3. Vary the composition of your photos. Let’s say you’re doing a photo essay about a family. Don’t have all full body shots. One could be a close up, another just hands, another a shot of a person in a room etc. Make it interesting.

4. In the best photo essays, something is happening. So it’s better to shoot action than posing.

5. Make sure the photos are large, so that they will look good on the site.

Good luck; see you Thursday.