USSH (CIE) / Deakin University: News Reporting and Writing, Spring 2021

Working course outline News Reporting and Writing 1

As students strive to develop their media writing skills, they must be informed about local, state, national and international events. Students should keep up with major local, national and international news (via newspaper, television, radio or web sites).

This course is an introduction to news writing. Students will analyze, critique and write stories for multimedia platforms. Contemporary issues in journalism are discussed and debated. Students also learn techniques of news gathering within a socially responsible and ethical framework.

Students will be able to:

  • Organize and structure news stories and other journalistic pieces coherently and effectively
  • Acquire information competently and responsibly
  • Write information with clarity, objectivity, accuracy, and thoroughness
  • Present news articles with clarity and substantiation
  • Write News Briefs: Quote, paraphrase, and summarize accurately and appropriately
  • Learn AP Style: Present copy in accordance with current style criteria
  • Start writing everyday: start a blog, news site or informative site free of bias and opinion
  • Know basic story structures and how to organize information
  • Learn headline writing, captions and rules of pull quotes
  • Write compelling leads, narrative style, straight news and develop their own reporting style

ASSIGNMENTS: Students are responsible for completing three articles of between 300 and 800 words— a report from the field, a news, event, speech, meeting, feature story or profile. Students will treat every assignment as though it will be published  – real events, real people, real interviews. You will use facts from documents, proper grammar, appropriate news format, and correct spelling of first and last names of interviewees, ect.

Story Structure and Reporting Foundation

  • Week 1, March 3, Inverted Pyramid and Introductions Lesson

Week 1 online due to Covid:

  • We introduced ourselves, defined journalism and said why we wanted to be a journalist.
  • We selected the top stories of the day and presented our news briefs.
  • Our listening practice included the seven news values, journalistic beats and the 5’ws.
  • Students read aloud the purpose of the inverted pyramid and why it is used.
  • Students read two different types of leads aloud and noted the different styles of leads.
  • Students rewrote a narrative lead.  
  • We deconstructed a story and identified the type of news structure              
    • Week 2, March 13, Inverted Pyramid and Leads (cont.) Lesson
    • Week 3 , March 19, Newsworthy Lesson
    • Week 4 , March 26, Advocacy Journalism and Confirmation Bias Lesson
  • Types of Reporting

    • Week 5 April 2 Reporting Basics Lesson
    • WEEK 6 April 9 BEAT Reporting Lesson
    • Week 7, April 16 Features Lesson
    • WEEK 8, April 23, Writing The Story Lesson
  • Planning Stories and Covering Meetings, Events, Speeches

    • Week 9, April 30, Covering Events Lesson
    • Week 10 , May 7, The News Pitch Lesson
    • Week 11, May 14, Intro to Final Project , Story Options and Grading Rubric Lesson
  • Advocacy Journalism, Ethics, Copyright and Final News Reports

    • Week 12, May 21, Journalism issues Lesson
    • Week 13, May 28, Codes of Conduct, Copyright and Fair Use Lesson
    • Week 14, June 4 , Final Report Presentations Lesson
    • Week 15 June 11 Course review, Grades and TBA Lesson


English for Journalism 2020 USSH course

University of Social Sciences and Humanities journalism course went online briefly for a week due to Covid-19. A summary of the lessons completed:

Week 1- We summarized local news in a news brief mini-presentation. We talked about the pentagon papers as liberation for journalists in America. We created newsgroups, our mission statement, and our motto. We had a two-minute listening practice with Bob Woodward whose guiding principles are “Get Outside Your Comfort Zone • Leave Opinion in the Op-Ed Column • Don’t Take Political Sides”.

Week 2- We talked about the importance of documents, recordings, and sourcing of our information. We covered parts of a page and practiced writing headlines. We talked about how the internet will never replace human sources in investigative journalism. We reviewed some of the tools we use as journalists. We listened to a three-minute clip of Bob Woodward explaining to ask for the documents, develop relationships, and ask your sources for documents.

Week 3- We reviewed the roles in the newsroom and discussed the topics we consider news. We talked about humanizing a story and storytelling larger issues through people. We listened to a three-minute interview with a father and son and answered the comprehension questions about growing up Black in America. We practiced writing our questions and looked at The StoryCorps project and great questions. We brainstormed who we would interview for a personal feature and did a mini-presentation of who and why.

Week 4- We presented our interviews. We looked at the types of headlines and the 5ws. We talked about “On the record vs. off the record”, background vs deep background, should we use anonymous sources, and tips on how to land a big interview or “someone at the top.” We deconstructed a story, types of leads, 5ws, and subheads during a group writing task.

Week 5- We covered misinformation vs. disinformation and the problem with fake news. We talked about clickbait headlines. We talked about confirmation bias and listened to comprehension questions on how we seek information that reinforces our own beliefs. We did a mini-presentation and found a fake news story being spread on our social media profiles. We brainstormed story ideas and discussed commentary/opinion pieces versus hard news/ straight news.

Week 6- We talked about advocacy journalism and did group research on where Gold in Vietnam comes from. We discussed preparing for the interview and each group did a presentation on interview tips. We had listening practice with Katie Couric on ways to prepare for an interview and good interviewer practices. We reviewed the text on quotes and how to attribute them.

Week 7- We defined beat reporting and discussed the different types of beats. We had a listening practice with reporters from Detroit News and The Star Tribune. Each group did a mini-presentation on five tips in covering a beat. We reviewed the deadline checklist and each group selected a topic for their midterm report. Each group presented their story ideas and pretended to pitch a news story to their editor.

Week 8- We discussed how to structure a story. We reviewed the different types of story structures from the text. We deconstructed a story for City Paper and decided which styles were used in the reports on Bey Rutherford. We had listening practice on how to structure a story. Each group presented their story deconstructed with the styles used and comprehension questions answered.

Week 9- We discuss tips from the text on successful feature writing. We learned the different types of features and profiles. Each group found a feature from a news source and presented why they picked this feature, the type of feature it was, and what follow-up questions they would ask. We practiced summarizing a story and brainstormed on Vietnam’s most influential women. We finished with a Beat reporter listening practice on what challenges he has and what his daily tasks look like.

Week 10- We started with a listening practice on how to polish your story. We reviewed ten ethics rules and role-played 5 newsroom scenarios. Each group presented whether or not they would publish the story, what they would do, and which ethics rules applied to their decisions. Each group gave a midterm presentation status update on their stories and was provided an additional week to prepare for the presentation.

Week 11-  Marks will be based on each week’s mini-presentation, and attendance and participation. We proceeded in the last-minute online session by reviewing codes of conduct in journalism and listening practice with the core values in journalism. Students individually presented what they thought was the most important core value of journalism and their codes of conduct for their staff if they were the editor of a newspaper. We learned about retractions and what to do if we make a mistake. Our listening practice included what is copyright and Fair Use. Many students presented the four reasons one could claim Fair Use, what we need to do if we use someone else’s work, and an example of it being used in real life.


Langbiang Art Station Homestay

Blake Academy and their teaching assistants were lucky to join a corporate teambuilding tour to Langbiang Mountain. The other group was from a Spa in downtown Dalat.

We all stayed at Langbiang Art Station Homestay located on Dang Gia Street in Dalat. It came as part of the full-day tour, which included all meals and mountain meditation.

We were shown a local coffee processor, Zanya Coffee located in the valley of the mountains. Stunning views were accompanied by a stunning K’ho woman named Lim. Unfortunately, we also met her husband Marion. 🙂 They told us more about coffee than I ever knew.

It turns out I had been drinking swill all these years, and now I am hooked on pure specialty coffee. Specialty coffee lovers will also want to stop by K’ho Coffee run by an ethnic K’ho family who support local farmers by promoting Langbiang Coffee. Roland will happily show you her farm and offers a comprehensive coffee tour.

Our guide Alek from Langbiang Art Station Homestay brought us to our next stop, the hundred year hill. A beautiful stream runs around a large park, which seems absent of all tourists. We were being shown the local spots that we would never have found on our own.

We were then taken to a remote spot inside the mountains. It was so peaceful as Alek led us in teambuilding exercises and we actually hugged a tree.

The Spa Owner said the team felt closer as the day closed. They finished with a meditation and then it was family dinner time.

Our only device of the day was the Vietnamese soccer game while we enjoyed farm fresh veggies and a homemade dinner.

Langbiang Art Station Homestay was a highlight of my trip to Dalat and I’ll be back again when I need to connect with nature and my staff.