Newswriting Linda Fry
7600:300:005 330-972-7600 or 972-5141 (office)
Tuesday-Thursday 12:15 - 2 p.m. 330-628-0554 (home)
PC Computer Lab (2nd floor Kolbe) Email: LDFRY@UAKRON.EDU
Fall 2004 Office hours by appointment
Newswriting - Course Description and Policies
Fedler, Fred (et al.) Reporting for the Media, 8th ed.
Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual
Akron Beacon Journal
Basic typing skills and good grammar competency
This is not intended as a beginning writing class. I assume you all know basic grammar, the parts of
speech, subject/verb and pronoun/antecedent agreement, standard punctuation, spelling, etc.
Newswriting is a journalistic writing course that is a prerequisite for many other Communication
courses. You will learn how to define, gather and write news utilizing all aspects of good writing and
reporting incorporating grammar, spelling, punctuation, organization, accuracy, completeness, taste
Taught from a print perspective, this course introduces journalism techniques and develops
foundational skills. I believe in hands-on learning, so plan on doing some field work and to write
stories based on your own news gathering. We will also deal with journalistic ethics and current libel
and privacy issues to keep you out of trouble and your hearts pure. Your goal will be to write with
clarity and accuracy under deadline pressure.
To learn how to decide what constitutes news
To hone news gathering skills
To find the focus and write leads that emphasize the news
To build complete stories and edit them
To write--on deadline--short news stories suitable to general publication
To critically analyze your own writing
To use critical thinking to question, analyze and verify
To effectively use AP style
Many class periods will begin with a quiz over AP Style, current events, and/or readings.
Lecture/discussion is usually followed with an in-class writing exercises due that period. Because a
portion of your grade will be based on in-class work, you cannot afford to miss class. To
compensate for the occasional illness/emergency, however, I will give you two “passes” for the
semester. Don’t waste your two “passes” for frivolous reasons. You may need them later in the
semester. If any long-term personal or health problems occur during the semester, contact me
You will be required to read from the Fedler text throughout the semester. By the time a text
reading is due, you should be able to meaningfully discuss and apply what you have read. We don't
“cover” the material during class; we work with it.
You will be expected to read the Akron Beacon Journal daily for weekly current events quizzes. If you
want to write news well, you need to read the news consistently. You may read online, if you wish,
although you lose the benefit of placement and photography.
This is a big election year. Expect some political discussion and current events quizzes that will
insure that you are keeping up on political candidates, local, state and national.
AP style is used by journalists for the sake of consistency. Learn it and use it. There will be periodic
AP style quizzes. See your course calendar for dates.
Deadlines are very important in media work. Get used to it. In-class assignments must be turned in
during the class period. Out-of-class assignments must be turned in at the beginning of the class
period if you want credit for them. Your two news gathering/writing assignments are due the class
period immediately following the event you are covering.
All class exercises and outside writing assignments must be written on a computer and turned in on
time. Whether you are writing for print or broadcast news, a deadline is a deadline. Copy must be
ready when the presses or the cameras roll, even if your story just broke 30 minutes ago.
Copy should be double spaced with a 1-1/2 inch margin so that I have room to write comments.
Your name, the date, and slug should be in the upper left hand corner. Space down a third of the
page to begin writing copy. Assignments will be graded (criteria will escalate as the semester
progresses) on their accuracy, completeness, appropriateness of lead, organization, clarity, grammar,
spelling, transitions, lack of wordiness and AP style.
Because we do some online research in this class, I would like to be able to maintain internet access
in the lab. If, however, I find some of you abusing the privilege--checking your email in class or
reading or researching online for another class--I will ask Dean Long to disable the internet during
Recurring Tuesday Assignment:
Every Tuesday you will bring a news (NEWS not FEATURE) article from the Akron Beacon Journal
or your local newspaper (not the Buchtelite). The article should be mounted on a piece of paper that
will be turned in. Be prepared to discuss your article in class. Some of these articles will deal with
what we are covering during that class period. For example, if we are going to be going over writing
a crime story, you will need to bring in a news article that deals with a crime. As we learn various
aspects of news writing, you will be required to evaluate your articles, highlighting transitions and
attributions in your story, analyzing the type and effectiveness of its lead and other qualities.
2 Out-of-Class Assignments (minimum 300 words each):
1. Attend and write a news story on a campus speaker. While not due until near the end of the
semester, speakers can be hard to come by at that time. Your story should be written for the next
day after the speech and turned in to me the class period immediately following the speech. Do not
attend a meeting or speech until after we have covered the chapters on Speakers and Public Affairs.
2) Attend and write a news story on a city council or school board meeting. You might find a
smaller community a better choice than Akron or Cleveland. Your story should be written for the
next day and turned in to me the class period immediately following the meeting. Plan ahead for
Grades will be based on:
2 Out-of-class assignments 25 points each
Tuesday newspaper articles 5 points each
Quizzes (AP style quizzes) 25 points each; AP final 100 points
Quizzes (readings/current events quizzes) 5-10 points each
In-class lab work 5-10 points each
Midterm and final exam 100 points each
Grading criteria for publication writing assignments (after covering fundamentals):
A Story is publishable. It is clear, interesting, well-written, has good organization, effective quotes,
smooth transitions and no spelling, grammar, or accuracy errors.
B Publishable with some editing. It has some minor spelling or grammatical errors. The lead is
effective and the body is well-organized.
C Requires extensive editing to publish. The lead may be buried or fail to focus on the most
important aspects of the story. The body of the story is disorganized and contains many minor
errors or lacks sufficient data.
D Needs a complete rewrite to be published. The facts are presented ineffectively. The story
contains an unacceptable number of spelling, grammar, or accuracy errors.
F Contains major factual error(s). Names are misspelled. The facts are so distorted that they
could not be rewritten and publishable.
If you must bring a cell phone to class I better not hear it ring.
Do not be late for class.
Follow the news. Reporters must know what is going on in their city, state and country.
Current event quizzes will also test your basic knowledge of local, state and national leaders.
Never use the excuse that you left your disk at home with your assignment on it. Learn
about Goliath and use it.
Don’t check your e-mail during class time.
When you come into the PC lab the second week of class, the seat you choose will be your
permanent seat. Don’t switch. I have enough trouble with names.