1. What Is News?
Examines how journalists determine what the public needs and wants to know. Reporters and editors from diverse news organizations — including The Washington Post, The National Enquirer, and CNN — discuss editorial decision making and define news as it relates to journalism ethics and the news writing process.
2. Hard News Leads
Shows the power and process of the summary lead in newspaper, broadcast, and PR
writing. A broad spectrum of writers for example, White House correspondent
Helen Thomas and Chicago Defender editor Michael Brown discuss and
demonstrate this basic journalism tool.
3. News Writing Language and Style
Explores the specifics of print journalism style — from the AP to Rolling Stone
magazine — focusing on accuracy and detail, enlivened by humor as Dave Barry and
other writers confess their language sins and steer tomorrow's journalists toward
production of professional and pristine prose.
4. Development and Organization of a Story
Deals with use of the inverted pyramid as well as hourglass and circle story shapes.
Top journalists — such as Bob Woodward — along with Roy Peter Clark (The Poynter
Institute) discuss and demonstrate focus sentences, transitions, and nut graphs as
story development techniques.
5. Dealing With Sources
Illustrates how to interview sources and work quotes into a news story. Larry King
(CNN), Deborah Wilgoren (The Washington Post), and others demonstrate the
interviewing process, touching on the use of paraphrase vs. direct quotes, the
mechanics of attribution, the ground rules for using "off the record" comments, and
6. Good Writing vs. Good Reporting
Considers the possibilities of conflict or compatibility between these two elements.
Top reporters discuss essential issues such as accuracy, objectivity, fairness, and
credibility along with the elements of writing that make a news story exciting, fun,
and compelling to read.
7. Beat Reporting
Covers the wide variety of journalism career opportunities, with glimpses into the
working conditions and daily experiences on crime, sports, business, government,
and environmental beats as well as for general assignment and wire service reporters.
8. Broadcast News Writing
Compares the similarities and differences of broadcast and print journalism, with
insightful comments from a host of radio and TV journalists — among them Sam
Donaldson (ABC), Charles Kuralt (CBS), and Kurt Loder (MTV) — and follows a
young reporter as he assembles a daily news package.
9. Public Relations Writing
Demonstrates the interaction of journalists and PR people. Professionals from Capitol
Records and the Golden State Warriors discuss the similarities of writing press
releases and hard news stories, while sympathetic and unsympathetic journalists —
including Andy Rooney (CBS) and Susan Antilla (The New York Times) — comment
on the role of PR in the news.
10. Beyond the Summary Lead
Encourages novice writers to explore other creative introductory styles including
anecdotal, quote, question, narrative, and direct address leads. Journalists — Gene
Policinski (USA Today) and David Waldholz (The Wall Street Journal) among
others — give tips on ways to avoid boring leads and grab readers in the first
11. Feature Writing Styles
Explores the difference between feature news, soft features, and advocacy
journalism, as Pulitzer Prize winner Tom Kundsen (Sacramento Bee), Joel
Achenbach (The Washington Post), and others discuss their craft. Concepts such as
trend stories, personality profiles, background stories, and human interest stories are
also introduced and illustrated by working reporters.
12. Column Writing and Editorial Writing
Reveals the relationships among hard news writing, opinion writing, journalistic
critique, and column writing, illustrating how "objective" front-page news can coexist
with coverage in other sections. Dave Barry and Andy Rooney examine humor in
column writing, Siskel and Ebert discuss criticism, and Pulitzer Prize-winning
editorial writers dissect the elements of good opinion writing.
13. Covering Disasters
Demonstrates use of journalism's basic principles in crisis situations and under
deadline pressure. Journalists who have covered earthquakes, chemical spills, severe
weather, and plane crashes discuss the difference between theory and practice during
14. The Ethics of Journalism
Introduces a reporter's on-the-job ethical challenges. Journalists from a variety of
beats discuss issues such as conflict of interest, honesty, thoroughness, objectivity,
privacy, and balance, and one reporter demonstrates real-life ethical decision making
as she covers a controversial local story.
15. Media Law
Focuses on reporters' rights and defenses for potential libel or invasion of privacy
lawsuits as well as concepts like open meeting, shield, and freedom of information
laws. In addition, Mark Goodman, attorney for the Student Press Law Center, and
author John Zelezny discuss legal issues that may confront students working for a
school newspaper or other publication.