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COURSE NAME: "Introduction to News Reporting and Writing"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Spring 2019

INSTRUCTOR: Imma Vitelli
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 10:00-11:15 AM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: EN 110 with a grade of C or above

This course introduces writing and reporting techniques for the mass media. It focuses on the essential elements of writing for the print, online and broadcast media. The course also covers media criticism, ethics in media, and the formats and styles of public relations.
This course will require that you write some stories from provided facts, but it will emphasize “real world” reporting and writing. You will be assigned a reaction story, which will require you to interview a number of people about a current news issue. Later, you will write a profile, which will require you to conduct an in depth interview of a person, department or club.
This course will give you the basic skills needed to report and write news and feature stories in a clear and effective way that takes into account your responsibility as a reporter.


-Identify News

-How to Interview

-How to Structure a News Story

-Associated Press Style

-What is Media Law/Ethics

-Basics of Public Relations
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Writing and reporting news a coaching methodCarol RichWadsworth Publishing1305077334  

Attendance/Class Participation 20 percent
Reaction Story 15 percent
Profile Story 25 percent
Assignments/Quizzes 20 percent
Final Exam 20 percent

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the cour
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.


Attendance: More than three absences makes “B” your maximum grade. This policy should cover most emergencies during the semester – please contact me via e-mail if you will be out. If you find you will be missing more classes, you must contact me during the emergency and outline your plans for keeping up. It is not acceptable to miss additional classes and hand in work at the end of the semester, even if you had “good reasons” for being out. Please be on time, I will take attendance each class and if you are late it’s your responsibility to tell me that you’re present.

Class Participation: You should take active part in the class discussions and have exercises, reading and stories done on time. You, as a reporter, should be curious and you should ask questions - there are no stupid questions.

News writing: You will write two stories from actual sources and several in-class from provided facts. A number of these stories, including the reaction and profile stories, will go through two drafts. It’s important to remember that you must check facts and spelling of names in your stories, mistakes happen, but they should be avoided at all costs. These assignments that must be typed must be turned in on time or your grade will suffer. I will ONLY accept late assignments the class after they are due. Source lists: All stories you hand in must have a list of sources and their contact information.

Reaction Story

A reaction story reports the views of a large number of people on an important news issue. You will select the news issue, but I will approve it. You will start with five sources, but eventually expand your reporting to include more people. Your story will not necessarily include 20 sources, but a professional journalist often “over-reports” to assure that they have strong useful material. For this class, the experience in interviewing is also valuable. Interview a wide variety of ages and types of people. [Tip: To get solid statements from your sources, ask them to respond to the arguments of people on the other side.] The reaction story is a basic story type, but provides challenges in interviewing, organizing transitions, quotation and paraphrase, identifying sources and keeping the reader interested. We will study a number of professional models, some of which you will find yourself.

I encourage you to consider subjects of interest to the John Cabot community and to do your interviewing among John Cabot students, staff and faculty.

Profile Story

Pick an interesting student as the subject of your profile, or a John Cabot academic department or club. You should not be intimately related to your subject. If it is a club, you should not be a member. You may write about a department in which you are a major or minor. Again, I will approve your subject.

A profile is not a biography or history. It focuses on news or some point of interest. For a person profile, you must interview the subject plus at least three people who know him or her. For a club or department interview a variety of officials, club president or department head, plus members or majors. Gather background information as appropriate – biographical dates, personal statistics, club budget, number of majors and faculty in a department.

The profile should state the interesting quality of the person in the lead, perhaps through a scene or anecdote. Background information and description should be worked gracefully into the story where appropriate. Don’t just dump the information or description in one section.


You will have news/AP style quizzes. The quizzes will test whether you have been following the news. They will also test whether you understand AP style.

Final Exam: You will take a final exam that covers information from the textbook, AP Stylebook and lectures.

As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


SCHEDULE (may be subject to variations)

Week 1

Who am I, who are you, course introduction. 

Reading: Rich, Chap. 1/3  Changing Concept of News/Basic News Story


Week 2

Quiz. Sources and interviewing techniques. Reading: Rich, Chap. 6 and 7.

Leads and nut graphs.  Reading: Rich, Chap. 8.


Week 3

Quiz. Story organization/Story Form Reading: Rich, Chap. 9 and 10

Reaction story assignment. Outside assignment.


Week 4

Quiz. Lab – story ideas. Accuracy and media law Reading: Rich Chap. 15


Week 5

Quiz. Ethics Reading: Rich, Chap. 16 


Week 6

Quiz. Multicultural sensitivity Reading: Rich, Chap. 17


Week 7

Quiz. Profiles and Obits Profile assignment. Reading: Rich, Chap. 18


Week 8

Quiz. Beat reporting Reading: Rich, Chap. 19


Week 9

Quiz. Speeches, news conferences and meetings.

Reading: Rich, Chap. 20


Week 10

Quiz. Online and data-driven journalism Reading: Rich, Chap. 13

Social Media.


Week 11

Outside Reporting Assignment. Lab profile assignment.


Week 12

Quiz. Business News.


Week 13

Quiz. Broadcast – web, radio, tv. Reading: Rich, Chap. 12


Week 14

Media jobs, internships and resumes. Reading: Rich, Chap. 24

Review for final.