Syllabus for Journalism & Media Studies Courses: News Writing and Reporting (JMS 201)

 

With the unbundling of Mass Communication programme in Nigeria, the face of communication education in the country has changed. The programme has transited into a full college/faculty while individual courses have adapted to the change. While several new courses now exist in the seven new departments, some of the courses you used to know before have also taken a new shape. We have done a thorough research on what these courses offer in universities across the world; and we have provided prototype syllabus for students to study ahead. This is also to assist lecturers who might be facing new challenges with several new courses to have an idea of what the syllabus of each course offers.

COURSE COMPACT

Faculty: Communication and Media Studies                          Department: Journalism & Media Studies

Course Code: JMS 201                                           Unit(s): 2          Semester: First

Course Title: News Writing and Reporting

Lecturer:                                                       Programme: B.Sc.

(A). BRIEF OVERVIEW OF COURSE

This course is designed to teach students the rudiments of news gathering and writing with details of how to convey facts in straight forward and understandable fashion. It is a practical course designed to enable students to become proficient in preparing a publishable copy under dead line. This is a skills-based immersion into journalism which exposes students to the foundations of journalism and the craft’s two main components – reporting and writing of the news. It will bring students up to speed with modern trends in news reporting in the digital era by exploring how news is delivered through mobile devices, TV, radio, Web and printed publications.

Students will learn the basic journalistic principles, and build fundamental reporting and writing skills. Practical exercises will be used to expose students to real life situations professional journalists face in the field. Students will be assigned to beats, primarily on campus, to develop stories for publication and encouraged to submit outstanding articles to the metropolitan news media. By the end of the course, students are expected to have a good grasp of the fundamental issues and methods of gathering news & writing news stories.

(B). COURSE OBJECTIVES/GOALS

By the end of this course, students will have learned:

Definition of basic concepts – news, news writing, reporting, news beats, deadline, etc.

How to write a publishable copy

News reporting in the digital era through mobile devices, and various news media

Basic journalistic principles, including fundamental reporting and writing skills

How to basic source attribution skills to avoid editorializing

How to write stories from interviews and press release

Practical exercises on real life situations professional journalists face in the field

News beats, kinds of beats and beat reporting techniques

Basics of citizen journalism and convergence

Elements of good writing

How to evaluate newsworthiness of information

How to create a story idea

Basic structure and format of a news story (lead, body, and conclusion)

Multimedia journalism and alternative story forms

 (C). METHOD OF LECTURE DELIVERY

  1. Lectures
  2. Quizzes
  3. Assignments
  4. Practical Classroom Sessions

(D). COURSE OUTLINE

1. Introduction

Definition of basic concepts

What is the news?

News writing techniques – accuracy, fairness and objectivity

Meaning of news, news values and elements

Course overview

2. Elements of Good Writing

Purpose

Audience

Clarity

Unity

Coherence

3. Basic structure/format of a news story

Lead

Body

Conclusion

4. News sources

Stored source

Personal source

Observation source

5. Headline Writing

Defining headline

Principles of headline writing for straight news reports

Writing the headline (practical exercise)

6. Writing the lead

What is lead?

Kinds of lead

How to write the lead

7. Attributing Information to Sources

How to attribute

When to Attribute

Types of Attribution (On the record, off record, Background, On deep background)

8. Inverted Pyramid Style

What is inverted pyramid style of writing?

How to write a story using inverted pyramid style

9. Press Releases

What is press release?

Types of press releases

Writing news from a press release

10. Reporting Special Events

Coverage of speeches

Press conferences

Meetings

Political rallies

Others

11. Five Core Principles of Journalism

Accuracy

Independence

Fairness and Impartiality

Humanity

Accountability

12. Interviewing techniques in news reporting

What is interview?

Kinds of interview

Conducting an interview

Relevance of interview in news reporting

13. Beat Reporting

What is a news beat?

Kinds of news beats

Beat reporting skills

14. Multimedia journalism and alternative story forms

What is multi-media journalism?

Understanding the nature of online journalism

Elements of multimedia and online journalism

  • Video
  • Audio
  • Podcasts
  • Headlines
  • Texts
  • Animation
  • Maps
  • Still photos
  • Graphics
  • Slideshows
  • Online gaming
  • Interactivity
  • Hyperlinks

Citizen journalism and convergence

Online-only newspapers

Hybrid newspapers

Internet radio and television

Features of news websites: Multimedia, and interactive chats and blogs.

Blogging

Social networks and news reporting

Audio journalism

15. Class Activities

Practical exercises

 (E). RECOMMENDED TEXTS

Nwabueze, Chinenye (2015). Reporting: Principles, Approaches, Special Beats. Owerri:

Topshelve Publishers.

Nwodu, L. C. (2006). Journalism Practice: News Aesthetics, Ethics and Law. Enugu: Rhyce Kerex.

Bender, J. R., Davenport, L. D., Drager, M. W., & Fedler, F. (2018). Writing and Reporting for the Media, Twelfth Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Scanlan, C. & Craig, R. (2013). News Writing and Reporting: The Complete Guide for Today’s Journalist, Second Edition. London: Oxford University Press.

(F). IMPORTANT LINKS

Elements of Good Writing

Qualities of a Good News Story

The Elements of Journalism (by American Press Institute)

Media convergence

Citizen Media and Journalism

Why does convergence journalism make a story more powerful?

Constructing news stories with the inverted pyramid

Different types of source attribution

How to use attribution correctly

 

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The Author

Chinenye Nwabueze

Nwabueze is a communication researcher with several years of lecturing experience in Nigerian universities.

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