Final Project based Lesson Plan: Journalism basics

Course Title: Journalism Basics: A comprehensive course on the applications of journalism

Prerequisites: None

Required Text: Associated Press Stylebook, 2014

Course Description: This course is designed to teach the basics of journalism and their real-world applications. The class size would be about 20 students. This would be a lower division class in the Bachelor of Arts program and students coming in would have little to no prior understanding of the basics of journalism.

This class would be a 10 week long, 2 credit course. Primarily the class would meet face-to-face for 2 hour lectures each week. The total in class hours spent on this class would be 20 hours. Outside of lectures, the homework that will be assigned will be individual papers, group assignments, and a final project. All assignments will be turned in3 days before the face-to-face class so that the instructor and peers have the time to go over the assignments to provide feedback before the class.

Topics will cover the basic principles or journalism. The course will focus on the comprehension and application of these principles in real-world scenarios. For their final project, students will have to find a news-worthy story, and develop and articulate a news story while demonstrating a good understanding of the principles that have been covered in the class.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Learn and understand the different basic principles of Journalism (5 course hours)
  • Lecture: Students will learn about the 5 topics, (5Ws and 1H, Copy Editing, Ethics, New Media, Photojournalism) the basics of journalism through PowerPoint presentations by the instructor and examples from the real media that illustrate each principle.
  • Classroom Activity: Students will be broken into groups of four and will reflect and discuss on one topic each during the face-to-face session and present 4 or 5 key points about their topic to the rest of the class.
  • Homework Activity: Based off of lectures and reflections with classmates, students will articulate their reflections in a 2 page essay to be posted on Blackboard as homework. Peer feedback will be posted on the reflections and this will be then discussed further in the next in-class lecture with the professor.
  1. Analyze real-world situations according to these principles and identify the correct use of the learnt principles (5 course hours)
  • Lecture: During the first face-to-face lecture session with the instructor, instructor will provide examples of different news stories that have been published in various media (print, television, internet, radio). These can be examples of big stories that have been broken in the past by news media outlets, or small stories from local media. Using the different learnt principles, the instructor will assist the class in analyzing a few of the examples and show students how to recognize what good journalism and bad journalism is.
  • Classroom Activity: The class will be broken up into groups of 4 and given 3 or 4 examples of real-world stories to analyze among themselves. The students should be able to identify the learnt principles within the real-world examples and analyze whether they are being used correctly or not.
  • Homework Activity: Students have to go out and look for published news pieces that demonstrate the proper use of each learnt principle in journalism. Then, in a document, they have to submit links to the stories, along with a paragraph of defense as to why they think the principles can be identified in that story and why it is a good example of journalism. This document must be submitted on blackboard and peer feedback must be given before the next class. This will be discussed further with the professor in the next face to face session.
  • Classroom Activity: When students come into class for the next session, they need to bring that day’s local newspaper with them. That class can be spent in a copy editing exercise where students can pick stories from the paper and copy edit and re-write them.
  • Classroom Activity: The instructor can bring forth some ethical dilemmas that journalists often face and the students should be able to use the knowledge that they have acquired about the ethics in journalism to identify and analyze what can be considered ethical and unethical journalism. This activity is great for student involvement and discussion.
  1. Apply the basic principles of journalism in real-world scenarios (5 course hours)
  • Classroom Activity: A mock scenario will be set up by the instructor in class or a breaking news situation. This will involve some role play and the couple students will get to enact a scene. The rest of the class must be acting journalists and report on the mock scenario that was played out. This is a fun exercise and students have to work to break the news first, while maintaining ethics, AP style writing and the other journalism principles they have learnt and know how to identify.
  • Classroom Activity: The instructor will pick a lecture session that is online (for example: Bill Nye). The scenario is created that this lecturer is in town and is giving a much anticipated lecture. Tickets to this lecture sold out on day 2 itself and so there are a lot of people who will not get to attend the lecture. The hour or so long lecture will be played in the class and the task for the classroom is to come up with real-time social media tweets and facebook status updates, as if they are journalists covering the real lecture and are live-tweeting to their audience. At the end of the lecture, the students will compile their tweets, photos, and status updates and submit them to the professor for feedback.
  • Homework Activity: The students can get to choose an event over the course of the week that are happening on campus (a party, a lecture, a parade, a free lunch, a press conference, etc.) The students then have to cover the event as photo journalists with a minimum of 7 photos and captions that tell the whole story of the event. This needs to then be uploaded as a gallery photo feature. Peer feedback must be given before the next class.
  1. Construct effective narratives following the learnt principles of journalism (5 course hours)
  • Homework Activity: For their final project, the students are required to find news worthy story and create a complete package for the story for print as well as web. The students must demonstrate a good knowledge and application of the principles of journalism. They must prepare a 5 minute presentation to give to the class as their final presentation.
  • Classroom Activity: The students have to present their final projects in front of the class and participate in peer assessment and analysis of each other’s work.




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