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J O U 2 2 0

Newswriting 1
Fall 2010
Mary Carmen Cupito
2 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. AST 372
MWR Northern Kentucky University
Highland Heights, KY 41099
3:30 p.m. – 4:45 p.m. 859-572-5975
MWR cupito@nku.edu

Writing and Reporting the News, 3rd Ed.,


by Jerry Lanson and Mitchell Stephens
The Associated Press Stylebook, any edition
Internet access
A working NKU email account

Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the
right order, you can nudge the world a little. – Tom Stoppard

In this course, you will learn to write about the news. The emphasis is on writing—
clear, concise, grammatically correct writing. To help you express yourself clearly,
we’ll also spend time reviewing grammar, spelling, punctuation and word usage. You
will do some writing on the computers in class, and some outside of class.
Newswriting I builds a foundation. It is designed to give you an idea of how a
newsroom works. It will give you some experience in the pressures and pleasures of
writing news stories on deadline. This is what I hope you learn in the course:

• Apply journalistic practices and standards in producing news stories.


• Become familiar with the basics of Associated Press writing style and proper
spelling, grammar and punctuation.
• Demonstrate effective reporting and interviewing skills.
• Recognize common news formats and develop skills to organize information in a
structure suitable for dissemination.
• Understand how to write news stories that communicate with an audience.
• Demonstrate different forms of communicating news using different media.
• Write clearly, accurately and concisely on deadline.
• Develop news story ideas for a particular audience.

Please, if you are unsure about anything in this class, ask me. If it’s urgent and
before 10 p.m., use the telephone, because I may
I apologize already:
not get back to you via email until 24 hours later if
I will not merely grade
you rely on email.
your papers, I'll edit them.
That means I'll take time
How to Ace This Course to try to improve the
Ask questions if you don’t understand something. A writing, to show you how
questioning mind is a necessity in journalism. There you might have
IS such a thing as a dumb question. However, I’ve approached the story to
asked many of them myself, and therefore I will make it better. In other
never berate or embarrass you for asking them.Be words, it means I might
curious. write all over your papers.
• Bring your text and the AP Stylebook to class. So try not to be offended.
You’ll need them. Every writer, even those
• Read your text. It will help your grade. And it’s who have paying jobs
interesting! (even me), is edited. And
every writer, if she or he is
honest, learns from being
edited. That's why you and
• If you have difficulty spelling, bring a dictionary to class and use the spell
checker on the computer. If you are grammatically impaired, visit the Writing
Center (University Center 170 or makde an appointment through TutorTrac.
• Reporters have to know what's going on to do their jobs properly. To check
whether you do, I might give unannounced current affairs quizzes. Read the
Northerner every week. Pick up a paper copy or go to
(http://www.thenortherner.com/).
• One easy way of keeping up with the news is to listen to National Public Radio on
WNKU, 89.7 FM, or WVXU, 91.7 FM, while driving. It’s interesting!
• Meet your deadlines. In the working world, if a reporter misses a deadline, the paper
will be published without his or her story, and the reporter may not remain a reporter for
long. In this class, if you miss a deadline you get a zero for that assignment.
• Type and double space stories. I do not accept handwritten stories, or emailed
stories.
• Turn in assignments when they are due—at the START of class. After that I will not
allow work to be handed in late, because to do so is unfair to your classmates who worked
hard to get it done on time.

Grading A 93-100
Please complete all assignments. If you miss a class, you’ll get a zero for
A- 90-92.99
whatever homework was due that day as well as for any in-class exercises.
B+ 87-89.99
Zeroes possess an amazing power to destroy an average.
I don’t believe you deserve credit for merely showing up. But, B 83-86.99
because this is the first writing course in the major, I will be kind to you in B- 80-82.99
two ways: C+ 77-79.99
C 73-76.99
(1) A get-out-of-jail free card will allow you to turn in one C- 70-72.99
assignment late. These assignments are due at the START of the D+ 67-69.99
next class. D 60-66.99
(2) Your lowest writing grade will be dropped. F Below 60

Deadlines
Because deadlines are crucial in journalism, you must find some way of turning in your homework
at the START of class on the day it is due—even if you can’t be in class. Send it in with another
student, email me or fax it to me at 859-572-6187.
Also, remember that you can be administratively dropped during the first three weeks of
class for non-attendance.

Honesty
The work you do in this course is subject to NKU’s Student Honor Code:
http://deanofstudents.nku.edu/codes_and_policies/codeofstudent_rights/index.php.
That code says students will not lie, cheat or plagiarize (copying someone else’s work and
pass it off as their own) to gain an academic advantage over fellow students or to avoid course
requirements. Such infractions can get a real reporter fired. In class, they can make you flunk—the
entire course.
Following departmental policy, I also will report instances of plagiarism and academic
dishonesty to the department chair.
Finally, I expect you all to read and understand the information at NKU’s library’s site about
plagiarism: http://library.nku.edu/research_help/copyright_and_plagiarism/plagiarism.php .
If you have questions, please bring them up in class so we can all learn.

Attendance & You & Me


If you miss a class during which I gave an assignment, YOU must find out what that assignment is
and hand it in on time. Make friends now. Exchange contact information with someone in class—
maybe two someones. Don’t expect me to give a lecture more than once.
I expect you to show up for class. If you miss class, you miss the work for that day and will
get zeroes for it. As I said before, that is very bad for your grade. More importantly, it also means
you won’t learn as much.
NOTE: I will make exceptions only in dire circumstances. Computer problems and car
problems are TYPICAL, not dire.
This is probably no surprise, but studies have found that your chance of earning good grades
is correlated with how often you go to class. One study of 277 students in teacher-education
classes found that students “earned higher final grades when absences were kept to a minimum”
(Silvestri, Lynette. “The Effect of Attendance on Undergraduate Methods Course Grades.”
Education, Spring 2003, Vol. 123, Issue 3.)
Another researcher surveyed 374 psychology students over four years and found that “the
more absences a student had, the poorer their performance was likely to be on regularly scheduled
objective exams and outside assignments.”
This did surprise me: Seventy percent of students believed they should earn credit for class
attendance, and 84 percent thought that attendance policies increased their chances of actually
going to class (Launius, Margaret H. College Student Journal, March 1997, Vol. 31, Issue 1.)

Disability Services
Students with disabilities who require accommodations (academic adjustments, auxiliary aids or
services) for this course must register with the Office of Disability Services. Contact the Office of
Disability Services immediately in University Center, Suite 101, or call X-6373 for more information.
Verification of your disability is required in the Office of Disability Services for you to receive
reasonable academic accommodations. See www.nku.edu/~disability/.
Monday Wednesday
WEE Introduction What is news?
K1 Read Chap. 1-News
Augu Judgment
st In-class—Pre-story
23 exercise
WEE Think like a journalist Write like a journalist
K2 Read Chapter 2-Fairness Read: Chapter 3:
Augu Language of news
st
30
WEE Labor Day How to start a news
K3 No class story
Sept. Read Chapter 4:
6 Traditional leads
Spelling and Grammar
Read Appendix C
WEE More leads Soft Leads
K4 Read: Chapter 5 – Other
Sept. leads
13
WEE Quotes and attribution Information selection &
K5 Read Chapter 6 story structure
Sept. ( Attribution) & Chapter 7 Read Chapter 8
20 (Quotations) (Information selection)
and Chapter 9
(Organization.)
WEE Background and Fact Obits
K6 Checking Read: Chapter 17—Obits
Sept. Read Chapter 10
27 (Background) & Chapter
12 (Facts)
WEE Research Interviewing
K7 Read Chapter 14 techniques
Oct. (Research) Read Chapter 16
4 (Interviewing)

WEE Interviewing and In-class interview


K8 research You must attend this
Oct. class. No exceptions.
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