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Module

MCH1030 : Introduction to Journalism Practice

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Ms Esther Beadle
  • Other Staff: Mr Jim Knight
  • 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 ethics in journalism practice, the aims and objectives of journalism practice 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 provides an introduction to basic journalism skills and allows you to develop them through practice.

In addition, it encourages students to think about the ethics in journalism, about audiences, and about 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 visual and multimedia elements are combined 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 practising journalism, and encourages students to report for a audiences across different platforms.

Students will be asked to critically consider, discuss and analyse newsgathering and journalistic copy 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

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 ActivitiesWorkshops102:0020:00Weekly present-in-person workshop, can be delivered synchronously online if required
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery14:004:00Present-in-person copy clinic session. Can go online if required
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study150:0050:00Independent study and development using additional learning and journalistic resources
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 journalists 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, 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 processes in an iterative fashion.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise2M35A 500-word original news report, suitable for an online news platform of the student’s choice, including multimedia suggestions
Written exercise2A35A 1,000-word original news feature, suitable for an online news platform of the student’s choice, including multimedia suggestions
Written exercise1A30A 1,000-word critical analysis of practice based on a portfolio of journalism produced during the module
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise2MSix written exercises. Homework tasks and in-class activities
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

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. 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. The critical analysis allows for consolidation of skills and knowledge.

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 (not included in word count) and should 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 and the role of multimedia.

Additional task-specific criteria are as follows:
1. Originality and newsworthiness of report; suitability for the selected online news platform
2. Demonstration of established journalistic and news conventions
3. Effectiveness and accuracy of independent newsgathering and reporting; appropriate use of relevant sources
4. Understanding and awareness of audience, including understanding of the role of multimedia

News feature: Students will identify, develop and produce an original 1,000-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 (not included in word count) and should 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, including understanding of the role of multimedia


Critical analysis of practice: Students will submit a 1,000-word critical analysis of their own journalistic practice, based on a portfolio of work produced throughout the module. A portfolio of work must accompany the analysis and should include a minimum of five pieces of work, drawn from the formative and summative assessments. Any analysis submitted without an accompanying portfolio will fail.

Additional task-specific criteria are as follows:
1. Critical analysis of own practice and work produced
2. Awareness and understanding of journalistic best practice and conventions
3. Engagement with relevant sources, accuracy, and use of Harvard referencing

Formative assessment rationale and relationship
The formative assessment for this module are exercises set throughout the semester that immerse students in the core elements of journalism practice 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 in workshop as the basis for editorial and/or peer review.
Although these exercises are not assessed they are key elements of learning on this module.

Reading Lists

Timetable