module specification

SJ4036 - Reporting Skills (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Reporting Skills
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Computing and Digital Media
Total study hours 300
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
219 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 15%   Timed in-class assessment
Coursework 30%   Portfolio 1: six news articles of 150 words each, with headlines and two multimedia elements plus hyperlinks
Coursework 30%   Portfolio 2: six feature articles of 250 words each, with headlines and two multimedia elements plus hyperlinks
Coursework 25%   Engagement with class/blog creation assessed by weekly journal entries
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Friday Morning

Module summary

This module introduces students to the basics of journalistic reporting. Dovetailing with the practical journalism module, it focuses more sharply on the process of reporting, particularly within a local context. Students will examine community and local news from an editorial standpoint and be encouraged to dig deeper into their immediate environment, creating stories and integrating them with background.

They will look at where stories come from and further the knowledge needed for professional practice. They will locate themselves within local beat journalism, aided by on and off-diary reporting exercises, visits to local community projects and official local authority meetings.

By using case studies and deepening their understanding of using recordings and face-to-face interviews, including the ethical problems that such exercises pose, they will explore techniques of research for journalism.

Working together, individually and in small groups, they will explore local events and stories, past and present. They will develop skills of presentation and analysis. Discussion, research, screenings and visits will all play a part in the development of critical, transferable thinking skills.

The module will be assessed by two portfolios of short news articles and of slightly longer features, created on the student’s own blogs with multimedia content, a timed in-class news writing exercise and contributions to class via an online journal which is moderated by tutors at the end of the year.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To develop professional and transferable skills of reporting;
  • To broaden students’ understanding of the local community, within journalistic contexts;
  • To deepen knowledge of how to research and plan a news story;
  • To understand the role of a reporter within a media enterprise;
  • To develop confidence in researching and reporting off-diary stories


Students will begin by examining the context of local news reporting and what it means to be a modern reporter in the post-Leveson world.

They will explore different ways to approach, plan and write a news story, for different media on a national and local scale. Becoming familiar with what it means to work as a journalist within a specific community, they will reflect and report on that community professionally and effectively. They will develop awareness of social media as a journalistic rather than social tool.

Using different styles of recording and interview technique, as well as case studies, they will discover how best to report a specific story – be it through tweets, hard news or human interest pieces. They will use mobile technology throughout.
Through screenings, outside work, visits and guest speakers, they will gain personal experience to deepen understandings of the journalistic field and its agents.
Finally, through writing both in-class and independently, they will sharpen transferable writing and presentation skills through feedback from staff and other students.
Two portfolios of work and a student blog will enable students to begin to construct their own professional profile, to be used in developing employability.

Learning and teaching

Learning and teaching strategy will be based on an interactive model.
For most of the 30 teaching weeks, a three-hourly session will require students to write and to speak, to listen and respond, to work with each other and individually. They will also need to take notes, present independent research and ideas, and contest information presented by staff.
In enhancement/news weeks, field trips, guest speakers, newsdays and screenings will complement one-to-one tutorial and coaching sessions.
Writing on the course website each week will give each student a chance to publish their skills and to critique those of others.
Feedback will be given one-to-one in class and electronically. Electronic resources, including the university’s virtual learning environment, will be used by students and staff.
The module will be supported by a VLE site containing notes, readings and extended bibliographies, and weblinks.
Opportunities for pdp will be supported.

Learning outcomes

If students participate in all the class activities and complete the required assessments and assignments, they should be able to:

  1. Report accurately on a local news story;
  2. Find news stories within their local area, to appeal to a local audience;
  3. Display an editorial sense of the immediate community, through developing story lines and slots;
  4. Comment on the role of a reporter in today’s media climate;
  5. Write concise, effective news stories and NIBs. Use social media to publicise their work;
  6. Develop their own blog.

Assessment strategy

• Formative assessment will comprise short weekly written exercises both creative and critical, as posted on course website, as well as contributions to seminars and workshops, presentations and blogging.
• Formative and summative assessment on an in-class written news exercise will be given in class and electronically, with one-to-one tutorials if needed.
• Formative and summative assessment on portfolio 1, comprising six short articles of local news items, will be given electronically and one-to-one in tutorials.
• Formative and summative assessment of portfolio 2, comprising six features of local interest, which must include a comment piece, a review and an interview, will be given on in-class presentation and electronically. Mobile must be used in some parts.
• Tutors will moderate self-assessed contribution via the online journal.

All work will be marked individually
All assessments form a graduated assessment of all learning outcomes.


The most important reading will be regular reading of printed media and informed watching of/listening to broadcast/internet.
Banks, D. & Hanna, M. 2016. Macnae’s Essential Law For Journalists. Oxford, Oxford University Press
Bradshaw. P.  (2017)
The Online Journalism Handbook: Skills to survive and thrive in the digital age. Routledge: London.
Bull, A., 2016 (2nd ed). Multimedia Journalism: A Practical Guide. Abingdon: Routledge. [CORE]
Evans, H., 2000. Essential English for Journalists, Editors and Writers. London: Pimlico. [CORE]
Hernandez, R and Rue, J. (2015). The Principles of Multimedia Journalism: Packaging Digital News. Routledg: London
Keeble, R., 2007. The Newspaper Handbook. London: Routledge.
Knight and Cook, 2013. Social Media for Journalists: Principles and Practice
Marsden, P. (2017). Entrepreneurial Journalism: How to go it alone and launch your dream digital project. Routledge: London.
McKane, A., 2006. News Writing. London: Sage.
Neilsen, R K  ed (2015). Local Journalism: The Decline of Newspapers and the Rise of Digital Media. I B Tauris: England
Randall, D., 2007. The Universal Journalist. London: Pluto Press.
Rudin, R., and Ibbotson, T., 2002. An Introduction to Journalism. Oxford: Focal.
Sissons, H., 2008. Practical Journalism, How to Write News. London: Sage.
Smith, J., 2007. Essential Reporting, the NCTJ Guide for Trainee Journalists. London: Sage.
Media. London, Routledge
Social Media for Journalists: Principles and Practice (Knight and Cook, 2013)
Multimedia Journalism: A Practical Guide (2nd ed) (Bull, 2016)
The Online Journalism Handbook (Bradshaw and Rohumaa, 2011)
The Entrepreneurial Journalist's Toolkit (Kelly, 2015)
The Principles of Multimedia Journalism: Packaging Digital News (Hernandez and Rue, 2016)
Local Journalism: The Decline of Newspapers and the Rise of Digital Media (Nielsen, 2015)

Local newspapers (e.g.;;