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Inmates writing their own obits reveal regrets, failed dreams March 4, Reporting from San Quentin By Chris Megerian In the wrong writer's hands, an obituary can be a dull collection of biographical facts, the type of article that journalism professor William Drummond calls the "lowest common denominator" of newspaper writing.
But on this day, he hoped for something more profound from his students, even if his classroom wasn't filled with the high-achievers he was accustomed to teaching at UC Berkeley. Drummond was across the bay in San Quentin State Prison, where he was introducing inmates to the basics of covering the news.
The obituary assignment came with a twist. Instead of writing about a pop star's overdose or a political leader's assassination, Drummond told his incarcerated students they would be writing about a different death: They would choose how they would die, and they would sum up their own lives however they wanted.
These were people who were best known for their worst decisions — stabbing a man to death, gunning down a bystander, robbing banks.
Now Drummond wanted to know: Above all, they showed how people who have wronged society would like to be remembered. Phoeun You is one of several inmates at San Quentin who wrote his own obituary for a class project.
Three years later, the family moved to Long Beach, yet another culture shock. I'd never seen a Mexican before," he said.
Lonely and disconnected, he linked up with an Asian gang. He fathered a son and a daughter. One day, You said, he was picking up a friend in a high school parking lot when they got into a fight with Latino gang members. Afterward, "I went to go find a weapon. You was convicted of murder and attempted murder in and has no chance of parole until He could spend the rest of his life behind bars.
In his obituary, You doesn't mention his crime. Instead, he describes a heroic death — being stabbed while trying to break up a racially charged fight in a prison classroom.
You observed what was about to take place and stepped in front of Mr. Bryant in hopes of diffusing the situation," he writes. He is stabbed and dies immediately.
Sitting in the prison yard, You explained his choice of death: When I leave this world, I would love to leave saving a life. Despite its medieval appearance, there's a steady supply of volunteers from liberal Bay Area enclaves who organize creative and educational programs behind the walls.
Inmate Julian Glenn Padgett agonizes over the words he wrote for his own obituary. Asked about committing murder, he cited a Walt Whitman poem.
Padgett stabbed and killed a man he believed was a romantic rival. Therefore, his victim cannot "contribute a verse" in "the powerful play" of life.
Like You, he doesn't mention his crime in his fictional obituary. Padgett, a year-old Ethiopian Jew who wears a knit kippa over his dreadlocks, was convicted in in Sacramento and isn't eligible for parole until His obituary is brimming with passion for outdoor activities that are out of reach.
It was the first thing that came to mind, he said. They're forces of nature," he said. He's written about transgender inmates and hunger strikes, and when it came time to write his own obituary, he didn't think twice about including his crimes.Sep 03, · Best Answer: Nothing beats a good interview.
Make sure you have some specific questions that you want answered, but also be prepared to let the conversation go where it will. While the 'who, what, why and when' are all very important, it's the little stories that can bring out the true spirit of a Status: Resolved.
Features No watermark The watermark is removed on the full version of the generator. Fully personalizable text & photos The newspaper name, date, author, photos and article .
The headline is the text indicating the nature of the article below it.. The large type front page headline did not come into use until the late 19th century when increased competition between newspapers led to the use of attention-getting headlines..
It is sometimes termed a news hed, a deliberate misspelling that dates from production flow during hot type days, to notify the composing room. Edit Article How to Write an Article for Your School Newspaper.
In this Article: Article Summary Understanding the Structure and Rules of Newspaper Articles Coming Up With Story Ideas Researching and Pitching the Article Writing the Article Community Q&A Writing an article for your school newspaper or magazine can be exciting and rewarding, especially once you see your name in print.
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Read All About It: Ten Terrific Newspaper Lessons Ten lessons to help you integrate the newspaper into your classroom curriculum. Included: Activities that involve students in interviewing a local newspaper reporter, creating editorial cartoons, comparing newspapers, and much more!
It’s time once again to review those nasty errors that damage our credibility when we write.
Not normally a fun task, but absolutely necessary. I promise to keep you amused to diminish the pain (or at least I’ll give it a shot).
As with the last time we explored grammatical errors, I feel.