Media Writing

Course Outline

News Writing

Instructor: Mr. Refaat Alareer

This news writing course will introduce writing news and feature stories. Students will write some stories during class, plus three longer stories outside of class. We will discuss news values, ethics, and law, especially as they pertain to current events. Although reading news regularly and leading a discussion are also part of the requirements, writing is the major concern.

The classes will cover lectures and assigned readings. We will work on improving writing, with emphasis on leads, news angles, grammar, completeness, quotations, accuracy, research, interviewing sources, and writing format.

We will discuss current events frequently while we deal with issues such as press ethics, legal concerns, fairness and balance, objectivity, impact on communities, and the differences among print, online and broadcast media. Please feel free to bring up topics from your news reading and viewing at any time. In addition, students will work individually or in pairs to lead discussions analyzing news coverage from a specific section of a daily newspaper. Each team will lead discussion once, and all students are expected to take part in discussions led by other teams.

Major issues to be discussed:

1-      Writing news headlines

2-      Writing news stories

3-      Writing features

Grading practices: Writing assignments will be graded on their accuracy, completeness, leads, organization and clarity, grammar, spelling and BBC/Haaretz/AP style. Stories are also graded on some feature-writing elements. In-class assignments are due at the end of the session, and outside assignments are due at the beginning of class on the day specified.

The first several exercises will not be graded, though they will be evaluated.  Two exercises may be rewritten for a higher grade; the rewrites are due on the dates specified.

The exercises will be graded on a 10-point scale:
10-9 = The story is solidly reported, is free of fact or name errors, has a strong lead, flows logically and uses good grammar and AP style.
8-7 = The story has no fact errors, but needs editing to make it read clearly or to improve the lead.
6-5 = The story lacks some basic facts or includes errors that interfere with clarity, completeness, fairness or balance.
4-3 = The story is missing substantial amounts of pertinent information and requires additional research and rewriting to make it publishable.
0-3 = The work contains factual errors and lacks coherence.

Grades are based on 100 possible points:
10 marks  in-class exercises and participation
20 marks4 assignments
5 marks 1 presentation: leading news discussion:
10 marks attendance and participation

10 marks dictionary

45 marks final exam

Week ONE: Headlines mechanics and grammar

We will write exercises in class and discuss them.

And Assignment 1

Week TWO & Three: Basics of the news story: angles, lead, body, quotes, attribution.
We will write exercises in class and discuss them

And Assignment 1

Week Four & Five Basics of the feature story: theme, description and structure.

We will write exercises in class and discuss them

And Assignment 1

Week Six The concept of framing the news; using interviewing techniques. News discussions.

Week Seven: General exercises and revision

"I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."