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MCH1030 : Introduction to Journalism Practice

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Ms Esther Beadle
  • Other Staff: Mr Jim Knight
  • Owning School: Arts & Cultures
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
  • Capacity limit: 60 student places

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


This module introduces you to basic journalism skills as required by industry and allows you to develop them through practice. These skills include finding original news stories in the community, interviewing skills, writing news reports and features for different audiences, applying basic media law and ethics, editing and fact-checking.

In addition, the module 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 forms, industry conventions and standards in news practice and be 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 practice strategies for gathering information efficiently, including the development of skills in interviewing, note-taking, fact-checking and observation.

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.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module is aimed at students who are new to practicing journalism, and sees students develop different journalism skills through iterative practice.

Students will be asked to critically consider, discuss and analyse newsgathering and journalistic copy in relation to form, convention, audience, platform, grammar, style 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
- Introduction to interviewing (‘vox pops’)
- Introduction to newswriting for different audiences
- Introductory journalism ethics and media law

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
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 exercise2M30A 500-word original news report, suitable for an online news platform of the student’s choice, including multimedia suggestions
Written exercise2A35A 800-word original news feature, suitable for an online news platform of the student’s choice, including multimedia suggestions
Written exercise2A35A 1,000-word critical analysis of practice based on a portfolio of journalism produced during the module.
Zero Weighted Pass/Fail Assessments
Description When Set Comment
Written exerciseMEthics forms must be submitted and approved for SA1 and SA2. These are not graded and therefore do not contribute to the module mark but must be passed in order to pass the module.
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise2MHomework tasks and in-class activities to be set by the Module Leader in workshops and/or via Canvas.
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.

Please note, all work must adhere to the ethical, health and safety requirements outlined on the module.

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.

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.

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.

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 will provide whole class feedback, perhaps using anonymised examples.

Reading Lists