Suggest material for teaching 'Basic News Writing'

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Suggest material for teaching 'Basic News Writing'

Postby Baas Babelaas » 13 Apr 2012, 16:42

I hope to be moving into a new teaching position in the School of Journalism and Communication at my uni.

I would be teaching a Basic News Writing course over 16 weeks/semester to freshman students, of varying English capabilities (probably lowest 3.5, highest 6.5 on the IELTS scale).

I myself have done editing, proofing and some writing for a couple of mags (features and reviews). I have a BA Communications.

Anyway, I need to put in a proposal to the School, and would like to work with good quality material. Couple books that have caught my eye are:
1. http://www.oup.com/us/companion.websites/9780195337433/aboutbook/?view=usa
2. http://www.amazon.com/Associated-Press-Guide-News-Writing/dp/0130536792
3. http://www.amazon.com/Getting-Whole-Story-Reporting-Writing/dp/1572307951

Any other suggestions or ideas, fellow F-sans?

Ta :bow:
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Re: Suggest material for teaching 'Basic News Writing'

Postby StuartCa » 13 Apr 2012, 16:49

There's a book called the elements of story by Francis Flaherty which is pretty good.
http://www.amazon.com/The-Elements-Stor ... 922&sr=8-1
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Re: Suggest material for teaching 'Basic News Writing'

Postby Formosa Fitness » 13 Apr 2012, 17:39

The AP Guide in your second link is the best you'll ever find. When I worked at the papers many moons ago, I swore by it and had to guard it with my life. What makes it great is it's written by a veteran editor and he used actual examples of AP writing that got it right and many that got it wrong but went through anyway. Those examples made it gold.
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Re: Suggest material for teaching 'Basic News Writing'

Postby Baas Babelaas » 13 Apr 2012, 18:01

Formosa Fitness wrote:The AP Guide in your second link is the best you'll ever find. When I worked at the papers many moons ago, I swore by it and had to guard it with my life. What makes it great is it's written by a veteran editor and he used actual examples of AP writing that got it right and many that got it wrong but went through anyway. Those examples made it gold.


FF, would it be suitable for a teacher like myself who's a novice to teaching News Writing? And would it provide suitable material in a step-by-step manner that would help in creating a course from scratch, with students fresh outta high school?
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Re: Suggest material for teaching 'Basic News Writing'

Postby ironlady » 13 Apr 2012, 20:35

I doubt your students will be in a position to write solid English prose without errors in the first place. I'd concentrate more on that than on journalistic style, at least in the beginning.

I would advise having them read a lot of good English journalistic writing. They can't write in that style if they've never seen GOOD English journalistic writing (which puts out many of the articles they would see in English in the local English papers). Get them reading stuff from worthy publications (grammatically and stylistically worthy, I mean -- content or slant I leave up to you) and writing scaffolded items -- change the details, then use this format and style to write about a very similar local event, etc.

I would look at this much more as an EFL writing course than as a journalistic writing course. I'm coming at this from my experience teaching medical research writing to med students, plus what I saw in interpreting school. The students admitted to the translation track, who supposedly had outstanding English, couldn't write worth beans for the most part. The only one who could had spent years in Canada.
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Re: Suggest material for teaching 'Basic News Writing'

Postby Icon » 13 Apr 2012, 23:16

Please devote a week or two to photo captions. :pray:
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Re: Suggest material for teaching 'Basic News Writing'

Postby Baas Babelaas » 13 Apr 2012, 23:17

That's kinda what I'm thinking - they're going to struggle to write a semi-decent piece in English, let alone going down the path of a good journalist sleuth.

I've never taught writing, so I'm wading into waters I've not been yet.

Nonetheless I'm excited about a new challenge and want to do the best I can to get them writing the best they can.

This is Xiamen University, which is a top tier uni, so the students are fairly bright and motivated.

Further suggestions welcome. Stuart suggested Elements of Story, and I saw on Amazon there is also Elements of Style.. :ponder:
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Re: Suggest material for teaching 'Basic News Writing'

Postby cfimages » 13 Apr 2012, 23:26

Icon wrote:Please devote a week or two to photo captions. :pray:


In a nutshell, a photo caption should consist of

Who – who are the people in the picture.
Where – where is the event occurring.
When – when is the event (time/date)
What – what is happening
Why – why is it happening
How – how did it happen
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Re: Suggest material for teaching 'Basic News Writing'

Postby Icon » 13 Apr 2012, 23:30

cfimages wrote:
Icon wrote:Please devote a week or two to photo captions. :pray:


In a nutshell, a photo caption should consist of

Who – who are the people in the picture.
Where – where is the event occurring.
When – when is the event (time/date)
What – what is happening
Why – why is it happening
How – how did it happen


Exactly. Then enforce it, make it a second nature. The things I've seen... well, and done, too, to be sincere. All that fits in a page...

I think that the most important thing to learn in news writing is to have a point and stick to it, brief and simple. I think it is the AP book or one of those that tells you to write the gist of the stuff in the first two lines. If you can't do that, you're roasted. So much stuff here in Chinese goes round and round and round, and if it is carried into English... the horror...
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Re: Suggest material for teaching 'Basic News Writing'

Postby Baas Babelaas » 13 Apr 2012, 23:50

So much stuff here in Chinese goes round and round and round, and if it is carried into English... the horror...


My mate made that point to day to me - in Chinese the story goes round and round. Us foreigners tell a straight line story..

I like the advice - start with pics. I have to build them up, and gauge their abilities (and build those abilities too).
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