News story & follow-up ideas

Find an event that interests you, attend and write it up as a 800-word news story suitable for publication in a local newspaper or news website, paying attention to news-writing principles. (It should not be a faithful account of what was said, presented in chronological order, rather it should be written in news style, explaining who, what, when, where and structured in inverted pyramid style. If multiple people are speaking you don’t have to give them equal space unless it is necessary for balance. You are writing for the reader, not providing an account of the talk. Ask yourself what you would tell a friend about the talk/panel. That is probably a good lead.) Your story must include quotes from at least one interview conducted for this assignment.

You will also be expected to “pitch” your story to your Tutor for feedback during class by reading a 200-word pitch by Week 5.

Your pitch must include: your story idea and why you think the story is newsworthy (news values); the sources you plan to interview, including full names, why you have chosen this person to interview and contact details (Facebook/Twitter etc is not sufficient information – email addresses or phone numbers please). Also indicate how these interviews will be conducted e.g. Zoom/Skype/Messenger/WhatsApp, or via telephone. 

Students will be marked on their writing skills as well as the overall presentation of their stories, which must include: a strong headline, hyperlinks where appropriate and one or two well-captioned photographs, appropriately credited. Students will also nominate their intended publications for their stories, explaining in about 50 words why you have chosen that publication. If you are choosing the Hyperlocal Journalism option, indicate that here also. (While students photography skills will not form part of their mark, students are encouraged to always think in terms of multiple platforms, so the aim here is to demonstrate their awareness of different media platforms and audiences, as discussed in classes.) 

Please also include information regarding time, venue, title of the speech/presentation and full names of participants.

Students will submit suggestions for two follow up stories (200 words in total) with different angles and an explanation of where they would intend these to be published. This should include three or four people they would intend to interview, including contact details and why they might be relevant, and any further research relevant to the story, such as statistics, archival research or visiting a specific location. These stories may be suitable for publication in the local newspaper, but also beyond. They may tap into issues that are further-reaching, such as national and international events or be suitable for longer form journalism in the form of features. The point here is for students to demonstrate their understanding of how to find stories and newsworthy angles.

You will also be expected to submit a selection of your quotes (350 words in total) taken from a transcript of your main interview including your own questions. 

Students should not interview family, friends or classmates. If in doubt, speak to your Tutor. Each interview must be accompanied by a consent form signed by your interviewee. If signed consent forms are not possible due to COVID-19, an email confirmation of interview will be accepted.

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