Contact details for the London School of Journalism

Syllabus: Journalism & Newswriting

Lesson 1: Starting Out in Journalism

The myths and realities, responsibilities and ethics of the profession. How the British Press has evolved and the legacy it has given to the world's Press. The battle to maintain and increase circulation figures. The five main categories of newspaper, from the national dailies to the provincial weeklies. An introduction to magazines and trade and technical journals. The hierarchy of a daily paper.

Assessment tasks include:
Writing a factual report of a recent event
Provision of information about you and your interests

Lesson 2: What is News?

How to develop a strong news sense and recognise the different factors which dictate the strength and prominence of published stories. Identifying the professional skills and personal qualities required of the news reporter. How to make contacts and identify and follow up story leads.

Assessment tasks include:
Rewriting poorly written copy
Filing a 250-word news story

Lesson 3: The Junior Reporter

Assigned the job of junior reporter on a provincial weekly paper, you will learn essential basic newsgathering and copy-writing skills. The importance of the news diary in allocating workloads, what is involved in making the 'calls' and how reporters set about crafting accurate and attention-grabbing 'intros'.

Assessment tasks include:
Writing a brief news item
Editing a press release

Lesson 4: The Senior Reporter

What can be learnt from experience? Insight and instinct, the accurate interpretation of complex facts and their repercussions. Your first visit to a magistrates' court - how cases are reported. The basic rules of interviewing, both face-to-face and by telephone. The skills required and pitfalls to avoid.

Assessment tasks include:
Writing up a court report
Conducting an interview and writing it up

Lesson 5: Filing Copy

Getting to grips with the most fundamental journalistic skills - filing clean, accurate copy, understanding the purpose of house style and learning how newspaper English differs from other forms of writing. How and where to find important information in a hurry and how to produce news items based on information culled from handouts and press releases.

Assessment tasks include:
Writing up a lively news story for an evening paper

Lesson 6: The Evening Papers

Life on a busy evening paper. Its structure and staff hierarchy, the importance of deadlines and the use of separate editions. Covering a typical case in the Crown Court; how to present a 'running story' and a news special; the treatment required for gossip and diary column stories.

Assessment tasks include:
Covering a running story
Selecting a news item for treatment as a 'special'
Writing two items for a gossip column

Lesson 7: The Nationals

How national newspapers differ from the provincial press. The importance of politics and exclusives; what is meant by a 'national outlook', issues surrounding chequebook journalism and other ethical concerns. How nationals identify their target readership, and how that shapes their content.

Assessment tasks include:
Comparing news styles in the morning dailies
Writing a feature article based on a major news story

Lesson 8: Journalists and the Law

Legal restrictions and how journalists can avoid costly legal action. The dangers of libel and other pitfalls; qualified privilege and unintentional defamation; criminal libel; and the need for fairness and accuracy. Restrictions on court reporting, and the dangers of contempt of court when matters are sub judice. The Official Secrets Act, the rights of the Press and a brief look at copyright.

Assessment tasks include:
Tackling a specialist column or feature
Producing a safe, fair and accurate crime report
Defining legal terminology

Lesson 9: Writing Features

The different structure and style required for a features article. How to gauge the right approach, focus on the importance of interviews in features writing and how to adapt the tone and style to the subject. Dealing with topical news features.

Assessment tasks include:
Comparing the merits of published news features and personal profiles

Lesson 10: More About Features

Progressing to in-depth features profiles; how to conduct successful face-to-face interviews. What is meant by 'standfirsts'; using different features introductions to play up a strong news angle or maximise the story's human interest. Exploring eyewitness and offbeat approaches.

Assessment tasks include:
Tackling a 600-800 word in-depth features profile

Lesson 11: Specialist Writing

The special skills required by a range of specialist newspaper writers - from motoring journalists to gossip writers, from foreign correspondents and political columnists to critics, sports writers and photo-journalists.

Assessment tasks include:
Filing a despatch as a foreign correspondent
Writing a book, film or TV review
Tackling a specialist column or feature

Lesson 12: Specialist Writing 2

The role and duties of the sports reporter and the sporting commentator. How magazines differ from newspapers in style and approach. The opportunities to specialise in different fields, from the 'glossies' to the trade and technical press.

Assessment tasks include:
Compiling a sports round-up
Reporting a live sporting event
Developing and writing stories as magazine features

Lesson 13: The Qualified Journalist

As part of a comprehensive review of your training to date, here you will undertake a self-assessment exercise and learn how trainee journalists can move up the ladder. Using subediting skills to sharpen your writing style; how to use proof marks.

Assessment tasks include:
An intensive revision exercise posing testing questions relating to practical journalism issues, including legal and ethical dilemmas.
Marked papers will help students assess their progress to date and identify strengths and weaknes

Lesson 14: Subediting and Design

How to write headlines and use the power of type to convey a variety of messages. The factors which decide an editor's approach to design and layout, and the process by which basic design principles are developed to shape appearance and impact.

Assessment tasks include:
Subediting copy for a national paper
Writing headlines for news and features

Lesson 15: Television and Radio

The differences in approach between broadcast and print journalism. Learning the requirements of broadcast news presentation and the relevant technical terms. How not to succumb to stress and how scripted narration and pre-recorded items are integrated to form a broadcast news item. The techniques of 'voice-over' and 'piece to camera'; the skills of the radio and TV commentator.

Assessment tasks include:
Covering  a news story for radio and TV transmission
Putting together pictures, sound and interviews

Lesson 16: The Editor's Chair

The high-pressure world of the senior editorial executive - the role and responsibilities, the skills and personal qualities required and the significance of circulation figures and advertising revenue in deciding the fate of different titles.

Assessment tasks include:
Dealing with a series of dilemmas facing the editor of a busy evening paper

Additional Links:

Subediting syllabus
Freelance Journalism syllabus
Improve Your English syllabus

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