module specification

SJ4036 - Reporting Skills (2023/24)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2023/24
Module title Reporting Skills
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Computing and Digital Media
Total study hours 300
90 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
210 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 (individual
Coursework 30%   Portfolio 2: six feature articles of 250 words each, with headlines and two multimedia elements plus hyperlinks (ind.)
Coursework 25%   Engagement with class/blog creation assessed by weekly journal entries (individual)
Running in 2023/24

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
No instances running in the year

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. This maps the acquisition of skills within a professional setting.

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 students’ 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.


 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. LO4

They will explore different ways to approach, plan and write a news story, for different media on a national and local scale.  LO2, LO3, LO5

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 (LO6).

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 where appropriate, and social media. LO5, LO6, LO7
Through screenings, outside work, visits and guest speakers, they will gain personal experience to deepen understandings of the journalistic field and its agents. LO1, LO2, LO3
Finally, through writing both in-class and independently, they will sharpen transferable writing skills and presentation skills through feedback from staff and other students (LO 5).
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.

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Learning and teaching strategy will be based on an interactive model.

For most of the 27 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 and news weeks, field trips, guest speakers, newsdays and screenings will complement one-to-one tutorial and coaching sessions.

Writing on the course website/blogging 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;
6) Use multimedia effectively and have their own blog;
7) Use social media to publicise their work.

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. These mimic the process of learning within a news environment.
Formative and summative assessment on an in-class written news exercise will be given in class and electronically, with one-to-one tutorials as 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, within two weeks
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, within two weeks. Mobile must be used in some parts.
Tutors will moderate self-assessed contribution via the online journal, weekly.
All work will be marked individually


 The most important reading will be regular reading of printed media and informed watching of/listening to broadcast/internet. No core texts

Banks, D. & Hanna, M. 2017. Macnae’s Essential Law For Journalists. Oxford, Oxford University Press
Bradshaw, P., 2017 The Online Journalism Handbook. London: Longman. [CORE]
Evans, H., 2000. Essential English for Journalists, Editors and Writers. London: Pimlico Press.
Fletcher, K. 2005. The Journalists Handbook. London: Macmillan.
Hicks, W. 2016. Writing for Journalists. London: Routledge
Kelly, S. 2015. The Entrepreneurial Journalist's Toolkit. London: Focal.
Knight, M  and Cook, C (2013). Social Media for Journalists. London: Routledge.
McKane, A., 2013. News Writing. Second Edition. London: Sage.
Nielsen, R K (ed) (2015) Local Journalism: The Decline of Newspapers and the Rise of Digital Media. London : I B Tauris.
Potter, E , 2017. Interviewing for Journalists. London: Routledge [CORE]
Randall, D., 2016. The Universal Journalist. Fifth Edition. London: Pluto Press. [CORE]
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

Local newspapers (e.g.;;;;

Twitter, Instagram