Communication and Media Studies 104

COMS 104: Basic News Writing

Credit Hours: (3) Four hours lecture and laboratory

Instruction and practice in basics writing for print and electronic media. Includes introduction to writing fundamentals, writing for all types of media, and use of expository, narrative, descriptive and persuasive approaches.  This is a core course required of all Media Studies majors in the journalism concentration.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

This course introduces students to the fundamental skills involved in writing for the various types of mass media. These include basic grammar and style rules, separating fact and opinion and structuring information presentations. Students also learn basic information gathering techniques, such as library research and interviewing techniques. Students are also instructed in public interest/news writing and persuasive writing. In news writing, the focus is on news and feature formats using exposition, narration and description. Student will learn the "5 Ws," inverted pyramid and other news writing basics. In persuasive writing, students learn a variety of writing styles, including expository and enthymematic approaches both for editorial writing and advertising copy writing.

The course also emphasizes the values of accuracy, objectivity, brevity, and a concern with the public interest in addition to exploring the changing nature of the professions of media writing and the technologies of communication. The course also briefly examines the legal and ethical aspects of media writing.


Detailed Description of the Conduct of Course

The class format involves two hours of laboratory and two hours of lecture each week. The laboratory is held in the COMS computer lab and often involves on-deadline, in-class writing exercises or critiques of writing that have been completed prior to the class meeting.

Students write about 30 to 50 news articles during the semester from information provided and are graded on criteria such as accuracy, clarity, brevity, news judgment, spelling, punctuation and grammar. In addition, students are given out of class assignments to interview people and write about events on campus.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

Students will understand media writing styles and be able to write in basic styles. Students will be able to write accurately and clearly, with appropriate attribution of sources. Students will show proficiency in news writing and persuasive writing styles. Students will learn details of Associated Press and other style guidelines as appropriate. Students will demonstrate basic understanding of the law of defamation and standards of ethics inherent in professional media writing.


Assessment Measures

Students' comprehension of media writing principles and style requirements will be tested in written exams and in the many laboratory writing exercises they must complete during the semester.


Other Course Information

To the extent possible, international and multi-cultural models of information exchange are used to provide examples of professional behavior in the course.


Review and Approval

October 2005 Approved Clay Waite, Chair