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Module

MCH1030 : Introduction to Journalism Practice

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • 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, self-assess and edit their own writing.

To comment critically on the writing of others.

To assess the role and significance of writing in contemporary news media.

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 commonly practised in many newsrooms. The module helps you identify, outline, and develop the key elements of clear, concise writing, reporting and editing. In addition, the module encourages students to think about the ethics of writing, about audiences who read their material, as well as the ethics of newswriting and gathering in a wider industry and social context. An awareness and sensitivity to various audiences’ needs and interests is important, but where these conflict with the industry’s there should also be an awareness of the ethical issues.s.

You are introduced to genres, conventions and standards in news practices and encouraged to evaluate these practices critically. You also practice reporting and writing in the styles used in a range of media and discuss ways to combine visual and graphic elements with the written word to present information effectively. Finally, you learn 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 in the print and online media.

Students will be asked to critically consider, discuss and analyse writing in relation to
genre, convention, audience, platofmr, 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 exercise
• Pitching and commissioning
• Introduction to interviewing (‘vox pops’)
• Introduction to news-writing 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."

The module will be structured around six story assignments (formative assessments), which may change each year. Here are some examples of typical assessments. They are designed to give students hands-on, iterative experience of writing accurately and objectively for news media. These formative assessments enable to students to practice and develop a range of journalistic skills throughout the module in preparation for their summative assessments.

Student summative assessment proposals will be agreed by teaching staff and guidance on ethical considerations will be shared. Student work that sits outside of the subject group’s policies on ethics and risk will not be assessed.

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
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials104:0040:00Interactive learning materials, critical readings, quizzes, short videos, etc.
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion152:0052:00Journalistic activity relating to assessment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching91:009:00Present-in-person peer feedback, discussion and practice
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study140:0040:00Engaging with documentaries, journalism and readings related to module learning
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study150:0050:00Weekly homework or formative assessment - online
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesScheduled on-line contact time91:009:00Peer feedback, discussion and practice
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.

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 exercise2M50One 800-word original news feature, suitable for an online news platform of the student’s choice
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise2MWritten exercises, homework tasks and in-class activities
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessment methods relate closely to key elements in the module’s outline of work (above). The assessments are designed in order to allow students to sense the importance of deadlines, accuracy, detail, and drafting and to reflect industry practice. Knowledge for this module relates closely 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 will allow students to demonstrate their skills in independent newsgathering, and reporting news objectively and accurately for online media. The news feature will allow students to demonstrate their skills in developing news lines, wider independent investigation and research, and creative approaches to news 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 and may suggest or include relevant images or multimedia. Candidates must ensure their report is written appropriately for their chosen platform; demonstrates established journalistic conventions; demonstrates independent newsgathering; and shows understanding and awareness of their audience.

The assessment criteria are as follows:
1.       Appropriate development and presentation of an original newsworthy report, suitable for the selected online news platform
2.       Suitable demonstration of established news-writing conventions
3.       Effective and independent newsgathering, including appropriate and accurate use of relevant sources
4.       Understanding and awareness of audience

News feature: Students will identify, develop and produce an original 800-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 and may suggest or include relevant images or multimedia. 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.

The assessment criteria are as follows:
1.       Appropriate development and presentation of an original newsworthy feature, suitable for the selected online news platform
2.       Accurate and engaging journalistic writing suited to the news topic or theme at hand
3.       Effective, accurate and independent newsgathering, 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 and in-class work undertaken throughout the semester. There are six formative assessments that immerse students in the core elements of news-writing from the earliest opportunity, allowing students to develop self-confidence in what may be 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 interactive editorial review.

Though not assessed, these outputs will nevertheless form the basis of key elements of learning on this module: allowing students to build skills and grow as journalists; writing and editing work to a high journalistic standard; and forming the basis of various synchronous sessions.

Reading Lists

Timetable