Course outline (Syllabus)
This intensive course delves into English-language reporting and newswriting, including interviewing, news judgment and polishing your prose. The class functions as a kind of boot camp, with lots of writing on deadline, including from mock press conferences and outside assignments. An experimental online classroom has been set up to facilitate the distribution of tip sheets and other resources as well as for students to submit assignments and receive feedback.
Students will learn to size up a story, collect relevant information efficiently, boil it down, frame it in a meaningful context and write tight, accurate and compelling accounts, often at considerable speed. The course’s readings, discussions, exercises and assignments are designed to help develop news judgment and other critical thinking skills. Students are taught to weigh information like a journalist and to practice their craft ethically. The grading system penalizes errors of fact and missed deadlines. Be prepared to work hard, as if in a newsroom. The skills and concepts you master in this course should improve the way you listen, read and communicate.
n To craft clear, complete and unbiased accounts of breaking news in a deadline environment.
n To better understand objective news coverage, neutral language, professional values and news judgment.
n To write sharp, clear, hard-hitting stories in English, weaving in condensed background information.
n To understand and practice the ethics of professional journalism, as practiced in the West.
Learning objectives (life skills):
Examine basic journalistic principles such as accuracy, objectivity, fairness, independence.
Evaluate how practices such as advocacy and stereotyping can undermine them.
Sharpen the ability to sum up a story’s key news in a single sentence, or lead.
Practice Associated Press style, attribution, the inverted pyramid structure, punchy leads and the use of quotations and paraphrases.
Practice how to identify and find appropriate sources.
Discuss and apply the skills needed to ask questions and interview effectively.
News Reporting and Writing, Brian S. Brooks et al. The Missouri Group: New York: St. Martin’s Press.
The Elements of Journalism, What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect, Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, Three Rivers Press, 2007
The Associated Press Stylebook 2015 and Briefing on Media Law, The Associated Press
The Elements of Style (4th Edition), William Strunk and E. B. White, Roger Angell (Foreword), 1999
Talk Straight, Listen Carefully: The Art of Interviewing, M.L. Stein and Susan E. Paterno, Iowa State University Press, 2001
On Writing Well: 30th Anniversary Edition, William Zinsser, Collins, 2006
n Take part in class discussions, ask questions to make sure you understand the material.
n Bring a laptop to every class to complete in-class exercises.
n Display a name tag on the desk in front of you. Say your name when you ask a question, just as if you were a reporter at a news conference.
n Join a team to report on a specific subject such as North Korea, South China Sea, other.
n Read at least two English-language news sites daily to compare and contrast their handling of breaking news. Be prepared to discuss your findings.
Unless you are instructed otherwise, all assignments for this class must be typed in a 12-point font and double-spaced. Submit both paper copies AND electronic copies of all assignments while we are getting used to the online classroom procedures.
A deadline is a deadline. Meet them.
Any factual material or ideas you take from another source must be acknowledged in a reference, unless it is common knowledge (e.g. On October 1, 1949, Mao Zedong proclaimed the People's Republic of China). Failing to credit all of your sources, even when you’ve paraphrased or reworded the information, is plagiarism. Plagiarizing is a cardinal sin for journalists, scholars and others.