“Staff” bio assignment, due Feb. 5

First, welcome to Writing for the Media Spring 2020 Nice meeting all of you.

When we resume, I will start to delve into “What is news?” How to identify a compelling story, and the basic attributes and elements of news.

Due next week will be your first story, the staff bio. I want you to write the bio in 3rd person. So refer to yourself by full name on first reference, and then use your last name or “he” or “she” after that. Use AP Style throughout. For example…

Jenn Abelson is an investigative reporter for the Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team. She joined the Globe in 2001 and recently covered the retail and restaurant sectors. Abelson spent about two years investigating fraud in the seafood industry for the series “Fishy Business.” A graduate of Cornell University, Abelson was a 2012 finalist for the Livingston Award for journalists under 35.

Jasmine Smyth is a junior at Towson University, majoring in mass communication on the advertising track. She minors in health science. At Towson, Smyth is a member of the Allure student dance team and has performed at dozens of campus events and area festivals. Her hobbies include tennis, Netflix and online gaming.

I mentioned the bits of information you can and should cover in your bio during class. But keep these brief and tight. Most will fall under 200 words. One or two paragraphs. Three at most. Don’t forget to put your name on it and double-space.

John Smith

Writing for the Media, Spring 2020

Staff Bio


Here are some sample staff bios. Boston Globe. Sun Magazine. WIRED.

Notice their content, tone and length. Several of these show a little personality or sense of humor in the final sentence. That’s OK. But otherwise keep these straight. Use details. Be specific. Let me know if you have any questions. Submit via the course’s Blackboard site.

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Due next week is the 3rd person staff bio of yourself. These will be short, one or two paragraphs. Some details you should and could include are your full name, year (freshman, etc.), major (minor), work experience, writing experience (like any editorial position or if you’ve written for publications), extracurricular activities (maybe you’re a member of the Dance team, or vice president of the Art History Club, etc.), hobbies (maybe you’re an artist or a photographer), hometown and what high school you graduated from, awards (or anything unique you’ve done. Last summer, Daniels climbed the Matterhorn in Switzerland.), and your plans after graduation. [Note. If you really have no clue what your plan is after college, no need to include this one.]

A good writer’s bio is brief, but offers a tidy summary of the person’s experience, with just a touch of personality. Use 3rd person, so NO “I” or “My.” Full name on first reference and then your LAST NAME or he or she on second reference and beyond. Here is one on Boston Magazine’s lifestyle editor. Take a look at the bios for the Politico. Here is the Wine & Spirits staff, but I’m not advocating drinking! These are all good models to use for pacing, tone and structure. Please AVOID adjectives and superlatives. Meaning, “Handsome John Jones is a great guy and exceptionally good writer.” Don’t do that. Avoid opinion. Rather, be specific and use details. Like this… In high school, Williams was a member of the varsity swim team, and holds the school’s record in the 200m freestyle.

Important: Use AP Style! Check rules for capitalization, dates, numbers, composition titles, etc.. For example:

Prior to joining Politico, Baute worked at Ogilvy Washington and Starcom Co., where she managed partnerships in the corporate, government and nonprofit sectors.

  1. Politico is the name of a publication, and so it gets italicized.
  2. No need to write out company after Starcom if it’s part of the business’ proper name.
  3.  AP style allows for nonprofit to be one word, not hyphenated.

Upload file to Blackboard. There should be an assignment labelled “Bio.”