21st Century Journalistic Writing Syllabus
This one-semester course is designed for students in grades 10-12. Its challenge level is between that of Advanced Comp. and Honors Comp. It is for English credit and is a college-prep writing class that will promote critical thinking, precise writing, real-world skills, and creativity. We will be using the textbook INSIDE REPORTING:
A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO THE CRAFT OF JOURNALISM, THIRD EDITION By Tim Harrower (2012).
Below, I have tried to outline our studies. Some of the assessments are listed with approximate point values. Of course, these may change, and there will be many smaller assignments along the way for credit. Every Tuesday, we will have 2-3 students responsible for bringing in a current news article from the past week and relate it to what we are currently studying in class. Every Monday and Friday, we will read and discuss Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood and have frequent short writings inspired by the text. Second quarter, we will most likely get into smaller literature circles to do an independent study of another book written by an investigative journalist, such as Nickled and Dimed, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Methland, or Postville.
How Newsrooms Work (1 week)
What is news?
What readers read
What are the parts of a story?
What are the parts of a newspaper page?
Activities: formative assessment quizzes, discussion. Summative Assessment: Unit test labeling parts of newspaper page and parts of a news story and defining news. (25 points)
News Writing Basics (1-2 weeks)
Fact v opinion
Five W’s & H
Writing new leads
Different story structures
News writing style
Activities: Read Ch. 3, do the formative assessments on pp. 64-65 in groups, quiz on fact vs. opinion, bring in a news article from a local newspaper to discuss the format and the actual news. Summative Assessment: open book test over AP style (10 points)
Reporting Basics (2 weeks)
Using the Internet
Activities: Read Ch. 4, discuss as a class the formative assessment on p. 92, Read one of three articles from the morgue (mail species, flip flops or glove story) Summative Assessments: Write a poll for the class to take online. (10 points) Interview a partner in class about his or her summer vacation and write a news story about it using a variety of types of quotations (direct, indirect, interrupted, and summarized.) (25 points)
Covering the news (1 week)
Accidents and disasters
Courts and crime
Activities: Read Ch. 5, Read examples of articles in the morgue, Summative assessment: write a story about an athletic event in our school or community. (possibly invite coach in for a press conference in the classroom.)
Beyond breaking news (5-6 weeks)—I may break this into two units of feature writing and opinion writing
How to create an online poll
Editorials and columns
Activities: Read Ch. 6. Possibly invite a reporter to speak to the class. Summative assessments: write a review of a video game, book, restaurant, CD, etc. (20 points) Also write an in-depth profile of a person in the community OR write a feature story. Plan a package with this story that includes a photo or infographic. (100 points)
Law and ethics (1 week)
Invasion of privacy
Taste and decency
The Seven Deadly Sins
Activities: Read Ch. 7, act out a law case (Tinker or Hazelwood) to explain it for the class in groups, ethics survey, discuss ethically gray situations as a class. Summative Assessment: quiz over libel (10 points)
Online Reporting (2 weeks)
Differences in print and web
Writing for online media
Incorporating links and multimedia
How to create a slideshow
How to use Youtube
Encouraging user participation
Planning for online packages
Activities: Read Ch. 8, Summative assessment: design a story package for themustangmoon.com that includes a slideshow or a video embedded on the page.
Broadcast Journalism (1 week)
Writing for broadcast
Tips of writing for radio and TV
Activities: Read Ch. 9. Videotape a podcast you write with a partner that reports or comments on a current event. (25 points)
Design (1-2 weeks)
Elements of print design
How to use InDesign software
Activities: Design a double-page yearbook spread or a newspaper page
The History of Journalism (1 week)
The beginnings of print news
Famous figures in newswriting
Periods of journalism
Activities: Read Ch. 1. Summative Assessment: research an early/ influential figure in newswriting and present him/her to the class.