News Worksheet 5A: Defining the Modern News Story

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The following newspaper article appeared in the Sacramento Daily Union on Nov. 13, 1857.

 

A man named Benjamin Hamilton was convicted before the Recorder some time since, and sentenced to pay a fine of $50 and costs, for malicious mischief, in wounding a cow, the property of Mrs. Jones, who resides at the corner of P and Front streets.  A motion for new trial was subsequently granted, and the case re-tried before a jury yesterday, resulting in a verdict of guilty, and a recommendation that the defendant be fined $5 and costs, or be imprisoned 5 days.  The verdict was confirmed by the judgment of the Court, and the fine promptly paid.  The cow had been browsing on hay on the levee in the above vicinity, and was seen suddenly to run across the street, “lowing frantically,” with a hay hook sticking in her right shoulder, the defendant being in hot pursuit.  No one saw defendant commit the offense, but as he had been seen about that time at work at the hay, and turned from the pursuit when Mrs. Jones appeared at her door, the presumption of his guilt was probably deemed sufficiently strong to warrant his conviction.  The trial occupied considerable time — was warmly contested by counsel on either side, and the merits and demerits of circumstantial evidence were very fully discussed.

 

A.  How does this story differ from a contemporary report of a similar incident?

 

 

1857 News Story

Contemporary News Story

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B.  EXTENSION: Write a modern news lead based on the facts included in the article above.

 

C.  EVALUATE your lead by answering the following questions:

  • Are the 5 W’s and H stacked most important to least?
  • Is the lede free of unattributed opinion?
  • 30 words or less?
  • Active voice?
  • Free of unfamiliar proper nouns?

 

 

 

 

 

 


  

 



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