Thursday, June 26, 2008
Learn about alternative story forms — for free
My course on alternative story forms for NewsU, the e-learning program of The Poynter Institute, officially launches this week. "Beyond the Inverted Pyramid: Creating Alternative Story Forms" will help you learn how to tell stories in different and interesting ways.

The course, intended for reporters and editors, will take you no more than two hours to complete. And it's free.

Here's an outline of what you'll get to do there:
  • Get an introduction into what alternative story forms are.
  • Understand how ASFs make readers smarter, as shown in EyeTrack research.
  • Learn how to root out textboxes and other content that's hiding in conventional text.
  • Match the news to the right form.
  • Remix an inverted pyramid story into a different form.
  • Share your work with others.
Thanks to the NewsU crew — especially Howard Finberg, Casey Frechette and Vicki Krueger — for supporting the idea for this course and making it a reality.
posted by Andy Bechtel at 10:38 AM | Permalink |


  • At 4:05 PM, Blogger Ross

    As a beta-tester of this course, I can say it rocks! It offers lots of cool, interactive ways to learn and apply the material. I highly recommend it.

  • At 5:59 PM, Blogger jadz

    I took this course last week in one sitting. It is helpful and I recommend it to anyone who doesn't have a solid/formal education in writing/journalism. The course gave a good overview on ASFs. I got lost in the interface which was a bit confusing at times.

    On another note, I want to know how receptive are traditional papers to this type of writing.

    Thanks and more power!

  • At 8:13 PM, Blogger Andy Bechtel

    Thanks for the feedback.

    Jadz, more newspapers are using ASFs, to varying frequency and success. As a commenter here said awhile ago, magazines in some ways have been ahead of newspapers in this area.

  • At 4:36 PM, Blogger Doug Fisher


    Cool. Good to see it. I probably will have my students check in since ASFs are part of my advanced public affairs reporting across media class.

  • At 10:55 PM, Blogger Rachel

    I recently took the ASF course. I really enjoyed it and learned so much!

    Do you happen to have a JPG of the table of ASF elements? I'd love to print it out and put it on the office wall, and possibly put it on my blog post about the ASF course.

    You can see my blog post at

  • At 10:43 AM, Blogger Andy Bechtel


    Yes, I can get that .jpg to you. Send me an e-mail address.

    You can find mine here: