The Basics of Reporting the News

The news is a report of events that have happened and are important. It is a way of conveying information quickly and accurately to the public. News is also an important tool for informing the public about government decisions, business issues and social developments.

Students in this course will learn the basic skills of identifying and reporting the news, often on deadline. They will acquire the ability to identify a story’s dominant theme, gather and organize information efficiently and write concise and compelling accounts, often at breathtaking speed. The readings, discussions, exercises and assignments will prepare them for the challenges of tomorrow’s journalists.

What makes a story newsworthy? How do journalists decide what to report and which facts should be highlighted in the article? What is the purpose of news? How do different people consume news and how does this affect the way they perceive it? Students will gain competence in establishing the dominant theme of a news story in its lead paragraph. They will practice writing a news article from start to finish, with specific attention to locating, backgrounding and contacting sources and creating a strong lede. They will learn how to source and evaluate data and will be introduced to the concepts of news value, commercial value, reader impact and tabloid sensationalism. Students will explore the many ways that news is transmitted to its audience, ranging from word of mouth and printing to telephones, fax machines, television and radio.