Great Feature Stories from Prof. Tang’s Feature Writing Class

First-Person Story:

Sunday Football in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania

By Ross Gunther (Chinese name: 孔若师)

It was finally the day I’d been waiting years for. The day that I had thought about since I started watching football. The day when one of my biggest wishes was about to come true. A day I thought would never come. Today was the day I was going to finally see the Pittsburgh Steelers play at their home stadium.

The car was packed with my family members on a warm and sunny day. You couldn’t have asked for a more perfect Saturday morning. It was time for me to hit the road and make my journey to Pennsylvania.

I left my house at noon in hopes that I could make it to my hotel in Pittsburgh by 10 p.m. that night. Continue reading

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John Benedeck and His Feature Stories

John Benedeck (Chinese name:白朝辉) is a great feature writer. Nothing proves this more than his academic accomplishment in my BC&J330 (Magazine and Newspaper Feature Writing) class in this past fall semester.

Benedict’s reporting is thorough. His writing is colorful and creative. All papers convey a strong sense of being there. His work shows promise of outstanding professional achievement. As more and more robots are replacing humans in newsrooms, the journalism industry needs more people Continue reading

Fake News Controversy and Flaws of American Journalism: Foreign Journalists and Public Relations Professionals Talk Live with My Students via Skype and Facebook Video

In this past semester, 10 current and former journalists and public relations professionals from foreign countries came to my BC&J353 (International Communication and Foreign Press) class as guest speakers.

They talked live from their homes in Spain, Germany, Romania, Denmark, UK, Ireland, Canada and Russia via Skype or Facebook Video. Two were unable to talk live with my students due to logistical reasons but they provided very detailed answers via email to questions raised by my students.

The International Communication course aims to enhance broadcasting and journalism students’ understanding of the mass media environment around the world. The course exposes students to mass media operations under various theories of the press. This class is vital to future success of my students, given that we are at a time when America is so involved in global affairs but American citizens including many of its journalists know so little about the rest of the world.

Most of my students have never been abroad. The professional experience, anecdotes and insight these foreign guest speakers shared in class were truly eye opening. For example, students said that Continue reading

After Shadowing A Job for A Day, You Realize that Life Is Not What You Thought It Would Be

Participatory stories have a long history in American journalism. Nellie Bly faked insanity and became a patient in a mental institution in order to study the horrible conditions there. Corey Levitan put this investigative journalism to a new level in his journalistic career. He has shadowed hundreds of people for jobs he is “entirely unprepared to handle and then wrote about his experiences.”

In my JOUR330 (Newspaper and Magazine Feature Writing) class for spring 2017, I asked students to shadow any of the following jobs:

  1. Bartender
  2. Sewer worker
  3. Road cleanup crew
  4. Plumber
  5. Auctioneer
  6. A restaurant waiter/waitress
  7. A retail cashier
  8. Mailman
  9. Gravedigger
  10. Truck driver
  11. Basketball player
  12. Mayor
  13. Professor
  14. WIU president
  15. Police officer
  16. Prison guard
  17. Firefighter
  18. Farmer
  19. Doctor
  20. Homemaker
  21. Beggar
  22. Homeless person
  23. Janitor
  24. Secretary
  25. Auto mechanic
  26. Waste Management employee for curbside trash pickup
  27. Real estate agent
  28. Employee for tree trimming and removal service
  29. Football/basketball coach

Continue reading

A Superstar on the Rise: William Turkington (3)

William Turkington was a student of my JOUR330 (Newspaper and Magazine Feature Writing) class for spring 2017 semester. In this class, every student must report and write one query letter and more than 10 feature stories in different genres. Each story must not exceed 500 words. Then the student must expand whatever story of their choice into a polished, ready-for-publication long-form magazine article of 1,200 to 1,500 words.

image1_jour330

Students from my feature writing class pose in front of the department Wall of Fame. William Turkington stands in the back row, second from left. Photo credit: Provided by Yong Tang

Turkington came to my attention because  Continue reading

A Superstar on the Rise: William Turkington (2)

William Turkington was a student of my JOUR330 (Newspaper and Magazine Feature Writing) class for spring 2017 semester. In this class, every student must report and write one query letter and more than 10 feature stories in different genres. Each story must not exceed 500 words. Then the student must expand whatever story of their choice into a polished, ready-for-publication long-form magazine article of 1,200 to 1,500 words.

image1_jour330

Students from my feature writing class pose in front of the department Wall of Fame. William Turkington stands in the back row, second from left. Photo credit: Provided by Yong Tang

Turkington came to my attention because  Continue reading

A Superstar on the Rise: William Turkington (1)

William Turkington was a student of my JOUR330 (Newspaper and Magazine Feature Writing) class for spring 2017 semester. In this class, every student must report and write one query letter and more than 10 feature stories in different genres. Each story must not exceed 500 words. Then the student must expand whatever story of their choice into a polished, ready-for-publication long-form magazine article of 1,200 to 1,500 words.

image1_jour330

Students from my feature writing class pose in front of the department Wall of Fame. William Turkington stands in the back row, second from left. Photo credit: Provided by Yong Tang

Turkington came to my attention because  Continue reading

Each Student Gets a Chinese Name: A Spring 2017 Souvenir

Like before, each student in my Spring 2017 classes gets a Chinese name as a souvenir. Students must be able to write and read their Chinese names to earn some extra credit. I encourage students to use their Chinese names whenever they can. Students enjoy this activity. Some posted their Chinese names on Facebook. Some even turned their lovely Chinese names into beautiful tattoos. Continue reading