Be Curious. Be Concise. Consider Context. Listen.

Summaries are descriptions of something that you want to show or tell a reader about: the plot of a novel, the contents of an album, the events in a performance, etc.

To do them well, you have to decide:

—what context is important for your specific reader—who is the audience for the publication?
—how to find the most relevant information given that context
—how to ask questions you need answered
—how to listen to the answers
—how to write up the information you have in a lively, concise, informative way

what context do you need to best describe an Oberlin student for a New York Times feature about liberal arts majors seeking to become arts journalists?  

what questions should you ask?

what other information should you provide in addition to the  answers to your questions? 

their major
undergrad year
Oberlin student body–how big/who gets in
why they chose Oberlin
what tools at Oberlin are helping them realize their dream
if they chose Oberlin knowing they wanted to be an arts journalist
where they are from
are they writing for any publications
why do they want to be an arts journalist
classes available
internships they might have
how oberlin has helped them find internships
if anyone has helped them along




8 thoughts on “Be Curious. Be Concise. Consider Context. Listen.

  1. Nora appears deliberately if slightly understated to me — with a comfortably large, wooly cardigan and round spectacles worn just past the bridge of her nose she seems cozily enveloped in a warm cocoon of clothing. Her brown woolen socks just above her snow boots and just below the line of a dark pair of blue jeans. Nora’s hazel eyes, however, pierce keenly through the above-mentioned spectacles, and as she questions me I see a dogged persistence peering out through the shy body language. Her ears and wrists sport golden jewelry, the earrings occasionally peeking out from behind a shoulder length curtain of dark brown hair.


  2. Despite ample opportunities to write for the array of publications on the Oberlin College campus, Monica Beatrice Hart, a 21-year-old senior from Northampton, Massachusetts, flexes her journalistic muscles writing CD reviews for Cleveland Classical’s website. Hart recently discovered her desire to be an arts journalist by taking a course in classical music critic which opened the gate for her job with Cleveland Classical. While Hart primarily writes about music, she is also interested in tackling film and theater. During an average week, Hart says she will write a review every couple of days. Hart’s prospective career choice stems from wanting her audience to understand why art is important and to excite her audience. As she strives for her dream job at the New Yorker like her idol Alex Ross, Hart takes a class in arts journalism to refine her skills.


  3. Michael Davis, who goes by Mike, is a young man with sweeping blonde hair and a stocky build. He has pale but rosy skin. He sports a pair of glasses with thick black frames and a moustache and goatee combination that has gone slightly unkempt. He is dressed casually in a striped short-sleeved shirt (even though it is winter) and jeans with brown loafers. He has a friendly, casual smile. As he talks, his hair falls down over the left side of his face.


  4. Next time you’re anxiously preparing to go meet someone important, I recommend bringing along someone like Julia Rudolph as your “+1.” Elegant from head-to-toe, Rudolph exudes the kind of confident poise that makes the people in her vicinity look better. When you’re walking up to the big-shot corporate professional at the networking gathering and sweating like you’ve just run a marathon, she’ll be by your side, calmly striding forward in her tall, black boots, forehead completely dry. She’ll have her dark, curly hair in a perfect bun, which might distract from the fact that yours is completely disheveled. Her dark-colored, chic outfit might act as a diversion from the fact that you forgot to dress up for this event. My, it’s great to have well-groomed friends.

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  5. Sporting a light gray long -sleeved cotton-y t-shirt, Oberlin College third-year Eliana Steinberg, appears pensive. Propped forward in her chair during an Arts Writing seminar, Steinberg, whose dark brown hair is tied in loose braid, swivels her chair toward me. Her coat, draped over the back of her chair is grey and felt-like and subtly matches her black skinny jeans. Despite her monochromatic attire, her red notebook and lettering on her name card suggests an affinity for the color.


  6. Nora

    Jeremy Reynolds, or Remy is a 4th year clarinet and English double degree student at Oberlin College. Remy decided to pursue a career in arts journalism after sustaining an injury to his hand, that would make it must more difficult for him to pursue clarinet professionally. Since taking a music criticism class last year, he feels he has found another passion. “It’s fun, I enjoy doing it, it’s been a blast,” says Remy. He has written reviews of classical concerts for the Oberlin Review as well as for the Cleveland Classical. Remy is very much looking forward to going to graduate school next year for arts journalism.


  7. Vida Weisblum, a 19 year-old sophomore at Oberlin college, is navigating her school’s art scene with eager. Starting off as a figure skater, Weisblum first considered the dance department when entering Oberlin. However, she was pulled into more general arts writing through her art history classes. In a year she has managed to secure positions in both the Plum Creek Review and The Oberlin Review, an arts publication and newspaper, respectively. Although loyal to the publications, Weisblum admits she is tempted to work for Wilder Voice, a long-form journalism publication. “Wilder Voice is the enemy. They get more funding than the Plum Creek Review,” Weisblum said.


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