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Module

MCH1030 : Introduction to Journalism Practice

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Ms Esther Beadle
  • Lecturer: Mr Chris Stokel-Walker
  • Owning School: Arts & Cultures
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semesters
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0

Aims

This module allows students:
- to develop an understanding of the conventions and practices of newsgathering and writing for the news media;
- to develop a practical knowledge of the key elements of clear, concise writing, reporting and editing;
- to consider and assess the ethics of writing, the aims and objectives of writing for the news media, and the role of the audience;
- to practise, evaluate and edit their own writing;
- to critically evaluate the writing of others;
- to begin to put together a portfolio of evidence which can be used in relation to employment, career or postgraduate education aims.

This module introduces you to key newsgathering, writing, reading and editing skills. It helps you identify and develop the key elements of clear, concise writing, reporting and editing. In addition, it encourages students to think about the ethics of writing, about audiences and newsgathering in a wider industry and social context. Students will develop an awareness of and sensitivity to diverse audiences.

You will be introduced to genres, conventions and standards in news practice and encouraged to evaluate these practices critically. You will practise reporting and writing in styles common to the industry and discuss ways to combine visual and graphic elements with the written word to present information effectively. You will practise strategies for gathering information efficiently including the development of skills in interviewing, note-taking, fact-checking and observation.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module is aimed at students who are new to the field of writing for the media and communications industries, and encourages students to write and report for a range of audiences across different platforms, both in print and online media.

Students will be asked to critically consider, discuss and analyse writing in relation to genre, convention, audience, platform, grammar and form, and ethics.

The topics covered in this module may include:
• What is journalism and how does it differ from other forms of writing?
• What is news? What are ‘news values’ and how do they affect newsgathering?
• Confidence-building exercises
• Pitching and commissioning
• Introduction to interviewing (‘vox pops’)
• Introduction to newswriting for different audiences
• Introductory journalism ethics
Not all of these topics will necessarily be taught every year; and indeed the syllabus may shift in emphasis according to media climate and culture at the time of teaching.

Teaching Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00Present-in-person lecture, which can be delivered via online non-synchronous materials if needed
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion175:0075:00N/A
Guided Independent StudySkills practice140:0040:00Completion of six news assignment homeworks
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops101:0010:00Weekly present-in-person workshop, can be delivered synchronously online if required
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery14:004:00Present-in-person assessment/copy clinic drop-in session, can go online if required
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study150:0050:00Independent study and development using additional resources and news media
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesScheduled on-line contact time101:0010:00Weekly peer feedback, discussion and practice sessions
Total200:00
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The range of material covered in the module will provide students with the opportunity to establish a base from which to develop as professional writers in a range of media settings. Students have the opportunity to be taught by professionals in the field. Students will be able to develop their skills and enhance them in the context of either advanced professional study, employability, or career. Classes will mix formal instruction with informal advice. Newsgathering and writing practice and reflection will be to the fore both inside and outside the taught sessions. Regular news assignment homeworks will see students develop their skills as the module progresses, building on experiential learning process in an iterative fashion.

Assessment Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise2M50One 500-word original news report, suitable for an online news platform of the student’s choice
Written exercise2A50One 1000-word original news feature, suitable for an online news platform of the student’s choice
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise2MSix written exercises. Homework tasks and in-class activities
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessment methods relate to key elements in the module’s outline of work (above). The assessments are designed to allow students to appreciate the importance of deadlines, accuracy, detail, and drafting and to reflect industry practice. Knowledge relates to practice and product as well as audience and genre. It is useful for students to have the opportunity to comment on drafts, existing pieces of work or work by established writers/publications. The news report assignment allows students to demonstrate skills in newsgathering and reporting objectively and accurately. The feature assignment allows students to demonstrate skill in developing news lines, independent investigation and research, and creative approaches to writing.

News report: Students will identify, develop and produce an original 500-word news report suitable for an online news platform of their own choice and its audience. Students will be expected to write a suitable headline (included in word count) and may suggest or include relevant images or multimedia (not included in word count). Candidates must ensure their report: is written appropriately for their chosen platform; demonstrates established journalistic conventions; demonstrates independence of newsgathering; and shows understanding and awareness of their audience.

Additional task-specific criteria are as follows:

1. Originality and newsworthiness of report; suitability for the selected online news platform
2. Demonstration of established news-writing conventions
3. Effectiveness and independence of newsgathering and reporting; appropriateness of choice of, and accuracy of use of, relevant sources
4. Understanding and awareness of audience

News feature: Students will identify, develop and produce an original 1000-word news feature suitable for an online news platform of their own choice and its audience. Students will be expected to write a suitable headline (included in word count) and may suggest or include relevant images or multimedia (not included in word count). Candidates must ensure their feature is written appropriately for their chosen platform; builds on a newsworthy subject of interest to the public; demonstrates further independent newsgathering, investigation or research; and shows understanding and awareness of their audience.

Additional task-specific criteria are as follows

1. Originality and newsworthiness of feature; suitability for the selected online news platform
2. Accuracy and degree of engagement of writing; suitability of writing to the news topic or theme at hand
3. Effectiveness, accuracy and independence of newsgathering, reporting, investigation or research from relevant sources
4. Understanding and awareness of audience

Formative assessment rationale and relationship
The formative assessment for this module will include homework exercises set throughout the semester that immerse students in the core elements of newswriting from the earliest opportunity, allowing them to develop self-confidence in a new and challenging discipline. Each week following the formative assessment, the tutor may select a number of assignments, and present them anonymously in workshop as the basis for editorial review.

Although these exercises are not assessed they are key elements of learning on this module.

Reading Lists

Timetable