This course is an introduction to the basics of news gathering and news writing, as well as the principles underlying high-quality journalism. Students will come away from it with a clear sense of how news is covered: how to collect facts, find sources, conduct interviews, cover beats, make choices about daily coverage and conceive and execute longer projects. We will also look at the role of the professional journalist in an age when almost anyone can produce and disseminate “news.”
Students will learn how to write a conventional news story and get the chance to experiment with different forms – narratives, profiles, non-deadline features, explanatory writing, trend stories and point-of-view writing. We’ll read some of the best examples of these and hear from prominent practitioners and stellar writers. Throughout, we’ll discuss ethical issues, such as weighing the right to privacy against the public’s right to know, and discuss – and debate – journalistic values and practices including fairness, accuracy, balance, and objectivity. Students will edit and critique each other.
Grist for the reporting mill will include the college itself, Chester and Philadelphia. We will also discuss the future of news in a changing media environment and the news gatherer’s role in the world of online, blogs, social media, and 24-hour news cycles. But the ultimate goal is to produce better writers. Good storytelling and concise writing are important in every communications medium and most careers.