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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Elizabeth L. Scherman
TCOM 349
Tacoma Campus

News Writing

Covers principles of news writing and reporting, including lead writing, Associated Press style conventions, news judgment, and ethical and legal issues.

Class description

This class is intended to introduce you to the basic principles of news writing and reporting. You will practice Associated Press style conventions, standard English grammar, news and feature story leads, techniques for organizing news stories, and basic reporting skills. You will also explore that elusive concept called news judgment, as well as ethical and legal problems faced by reporters.

Student learning goals

Upon completing this course, you should be able to:

• understand the principles of news judgment, news writing style and Associated Press style conventions.

• recognize the importance of accuracy and credibility in news writing.

• conduct research and personal interviews with skill and confidence

• produce news stories that are timely, accurate and useful to readers.

• write news copy that is clear, concise and free of errors.

• recognize and deal with the legal and ethical issues that reporters face.

General method of instruction

Course consists of lectures, class discussions, and deadline work inside the computer lab as well as out-of-class assignments. Peer review may be utilized. There is a textbook and lectures will include and reflect material from textbook chapters. In addition, we will be using the AP style book. Students should bring both texts to class each day.

Recommended preparation

This class is designed for TCOMM majors, although there are occasionally slots available for non-majors.

Class assignments and grading

Assignments— We’ll have a variety of assignments from finding facts to writing stories. Here’s a summary of what we will be doing. 1. Stories: We’ll have several in-class and out-of-class reporting and writing assignments. Some of these stories will be assigned; others will come from your own ideas and research. 2. Deadline writing: We’ll practice writing under deadline. These assignments will include leads, short news accounts of spot news, narratives, description, and other forms of news writing. 3. Quizzes: We’ll have weekly news quizzes and we’ll have weekly open book quizzes on style from the Associated Press Stylebook.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS LIST IS TENTATIVE.

Grading — Your final grade will be determined in the following way: First Three Out-of-Class Assignments — 20% In-Class Assignments (portfolio) — 20% Quizzes (New York Times, Tacoma News Tribune and AP Style) — 20% Article One, Two and Three -- 40% Please note that these figures are approximate.

We’ll use the following general criteria to evaluate your stories. 1. Does your story have a clear focus or theme that holds it together? 2. Does your lead reflect the story’s theme and importance in a clear, creative way? 3. Have you developed the story logically? Is it organized well with smooth transitions? 4. Does each paragraph contain a single idea? 5. Have you included all appropriate sources for balance and fairness? 6. Have you supplemented human sources with documents for completeness? 7. Is your information accurate? Have you double-checked all of your facts? 8. Have you tailored the story to its intended audience? 9. Have you corrected spelling, grammar and punctuation errors, and tripled-checked the spelling of all proper names? 10. Have you edited for clarity and conciseness?

Please make sure that you carefully proofread your assignments. Mistakes in spelling, grammar, style, and punctuation will be treated as technical errors and will be penalized. Double-check your facts. Factual errors in your assignments, including the misspelling of proper names, will lower your grade.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Elizabeth L. Scherman
Date: 09/28/2010