Journalism 11 teaches students how to write news in a professional manner. It does this by putting an emphasis on forming proper journalistic writing habits through reading and writing good journalism.
To find out more about Journalism 11, choose one of the topics to the right.
POINTS ABOUT THE CLASS
- Deadlines are absolute. In real newsrooms, late copy
doesn't make the paper; in ours, late copy doesn't get read or graded.
Also, journalists tend to be fussier about word choice, punctuation,
style, syntax and other elements of our craft than other people. You
don't have to be a brilliant, natural-born speller, but you do need to
know the words you don't know and to look them up. You should own a
dictionary and use it regularly. Software spell- checkers are not adequate.
- Here are two more points concerning all copy that comes in, both of
them bearing on the journalist's most fundamental and important
characteristics, credibility and integrity. Major errors of fact, such
as misspelling the name of a major figure in a story, will bring a grade
of "F" for that assignment. A major error is something that would cause
a responsible newspaper, such as the New York Times, to run a
correction. More serious still is honesty. Good journalists occasionally
commit all sort of mistakes. They get scammed by hucksters, press agents
and political spinmeisters. They make arithmetic errors and errors of
judgment. Because of deadline pressure or sloth, they sometimes fail to
double-check an address or a job title, but they do not make things up.
A reporter's integrity is the single most crucial element of journalism.
Dishonesty in this course, as in all good newsrooms, simply will not be
tolerated. Outright fabricationmaking up a quote, a source or an
eventis intellectual dishonesty and will be treated severely. The
university's policy on academic dishonesty is clear: The student who cheats is at risk of forfeiting the right to a university education. The
student who cheats in this course will fail it. A dishonest reporter
earns, and deserves, about as much respect as a crooked cop.
- One very effective way to learn how to write good journalism is to read
it. The most respected paper on the planet is available on a daily
basis, and we will take advantage of that. You need to read the major
news sections of New York Times daily (Monday through Friday) and on
Sunday. For the daily paper, that means the A section and, at the very
least, the front of the Metro section. For Sunday, add the Week in
Review section as well. (Other sections, such as sports, business and
the arts, are optional.) You needn't memorize the paper, but you need to
read it. Figure to spend at least half an hour a day with the daily
paper, more with the Sunday edition. A generation or so ago, virtually
every literate person read at least one paper as a matter of course.
That is no longer true for the citizenry at large, but it is still true
for all good journalists, print or broadcast.
- A word for those who do not plan careers in newspaper journalism, that
is, those headed into broadcast news, into public relations or into
other related fields. This course is unapologetically based in print
journalism and focuses on hard news because hard news is the foundation
of all journalism. Broadcasters need a solid grounding in reporting and
writing before they can effectively add the powerful dimensions of sound
and moving pictures. Public relations professionals must know how
reporters work and think. All good P.R. people can find the holes in a
story, write a good lede and make deadline.
- Melvin Mencher, News Reporting and Writing, 7th ed., 1996, This is a
big book, and therefore an expensive one, but it is the best in the
field. It seems silly to spend as much as you do for a university
education, then deliberately use an inferior textbook in order to save five bucks. Besides, you will use the book in the next course, Jrnl 13,
so hang onto it.
- Strunk and White. Elements of Style. This is the most famous style book
in the English language. We have a set of videotapes that accompany the
book, if you prefer to learn how to write by watching television.
- The Associated Press Stylebook. This you'll use until you wear it out
and then buy a new one. The UPI stylebook is acceptable as well. A
wire-bound copy will lie flat. The editions don't change much from one
to the next, so a used one of recent vintage will do unless it's badly
- A dictionary, preferably Webster's New World, which is the one the AP
stylebook is based on. Paperback is fine. You should already own one,
but if you don't, buy one. You can't function without one, even in this
era of spell-checkers.
- New York Times, daily and Sunday. Discount student subscriptions are
available or you can buy one from a box, at the bookstore or any number
of other places.