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The Responsible Journalist: An Introduction to News Reporting and Writing teaches reporting and writing skills from a liberal arts perspective with the understanding that at its heart, journalism is about public service. The text presents journalism as an approach--one that involves careful thought, ethical decision-making, skepticism, an attention to accuracy and an emphasis on truthfulness.
Jennie Dear is a former English professor who is now a freelance writer.
Faron Scott is Professor of English and Communications at Fort Lewis College.
Table of Contents
Unit 1: What Distinguishes a Good Journalist? Habits of mind Initiative Persistence Curiosity Conclusion
Chapter 1: The Public's Champion Defining news media in an era of new media If people govern themselves, they need a free press -- A bit of historical review -- The press as watchdog Box 1-1: Bezos buys Wapo Box 1-2: The First Amendment Exercises for Chapter 1
Chapter 2: How Do Ethics and Critical Thinking Apply to Everyday Reporting? Justice -- Stakeholders -- Fairness in stories -- Fairness and diversity across coverage Stewardship -- Transparency Freedom and Autonomy -- Freedom from manipulation -- Conflict of interest Humaneness Truth telling -- Factual accuracy -- Contextual truths ---- A caveat An ethics case study: The facts of the case -- Who are the stakeholders? Truth telling: What do we know is true? -- Factual accuracy ---- Is the autopsy report factually accurate? ---- Do you include the blood test results? ---- Do you include the murderer's accusation? -- Contextual truth Humaneness-to whom? Freedom: keeping the decision independent Justice: What's fairest to all the stakeholders? Stewardship: stepping back to think about journalism's credibility Making the decision How the Durango Herald explained its decision Box 2-1: Facebook co-founder says magazine's profits linked to quality Box 2-2: Prize-winning journalism Box 2-3: The autopsy story Exercises for Chapter 2
Unit 2: Get It in Writing Habits of mind Framing -- What's this mean for a working journalist? News values Deeper cultural concerns
Chapter 3: How is News Language Different? Newswriting emphasizes reports -- Information you can verify -- Inferences may be based on insufficient information -- Judgments sometimes shut down thought Newswriting usually avoids first-person references Newswriting is concise and direct -- Fewer modifiers -- Simple sentence structures -- Active voice Newswriting uses short paragraphs Newswriting tries to use language fairly Newswriting is consistent: an introduction to AP Style Conclusion Exercises for Chapter 3
Chapter 4: How Do You Tell a Basic News Story? The inverted pyramid: an introduction -- Begin with what's most important and save the rest for later -- A news story example -- Avoid suspense when you're delivering news -- Your audience helps determine a story's form Inverted pyramid leads -- Who, what, when, where-and sometimes how and why -- Brevity -- Leads include the most important details -- Delay precise identification -- The language of inverted pyramid leads -- Good leads are like poetry Beyond the lead -- The second paragraph -- The third paragraph -- Later paragraphs Box 4-1: literary journalism is the un inverted pyramid Box 4-2: Here's what literary journalism looks like Box 4-3: writing a broadcast lead Exercises for Chapter 4
Chapter 5: The Story Changes with the Medium News stories in print Radio news stories: an overview -- Writing a radio news story -- Introduce sound bites clearly -- A story with voice-over -- A story with sound bites Adding the visual element -- Writing a television or video news story Online news stories: an overview -- Writing an online news story ---- Online news stories use brief summaries or decks ---- Online news stories link to other information ---- Online news stories are more likely to use subheadings Conclusion Box 5-1: a comparison of storytelling across media Box 5-2: tips for print writing Box 5-3: tips for radio/audio writing Box 5-4: tips for television/video writing Box 5-5: tips for online writing Exercises for Chapter 5
Unit 3: Background for Your Stories Habits of mind -- A bit of internet history
Chapter 6: A Journalist's Skeptical Research Filtering for accuracy: Two examples Time to start searching Searching the Internet -- Search engine insights -- Websites for journalists -- What does a journalist use from the Web? Website credibility -- Identity and motivation -- Authority -- Accuracy -- Timeliness -- Blogs and aggregator sites Social media for journalists -- Evaluating social media videos Going offline Box 6-1: using social media to report breaking news Exercises for Chapter 6
Chapter 7: Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement: Stealing Other People's Stuff Plagiarism -- Avoiding plagiarism is a skill Copyright and Fair Use -- What can be copyrighted-and for how long? -- Some copyrighted information is fair game: The Fair Use Doctrine Box 7-1: Five ways to avoid plagiarizing by mistake Box 7-2: What's public? Box 7-3: How do you know whether your use is "fair"? Box 7-4: when would a journalist be in danger of violating copyrights? Exercises for Chapter 7
Unit 4: Working with Sources Habits of mind Your position, your judgment and your practice Lenses: A metaphor for worldview Objective reporting -- Biased journalism -- A brief history -- Critiques ---- Incomplete reporting ---- Passive reporting Box H4-01: Avoiding false balance Conclusion
Chapter 8: Who Gets the Spotlight? Beyond convention and convenience in source selection -- What's news depends on whom you interview -- Don't let sources turn you into propagandists Good practices -- Confirm facts with more than one source -- Allow people to defend themselves -- Report diversity ---- Covering race and ethnicity -- Be aware of bias-or its appearance-when you select sources -- Distance yourself from sources -- Interview primary sources -- Interview expert sources... -- ...But also interview the people affected by an issue -- Avoid using anonymous sources -- Shield laws help--but don't depend on them too much -- Don't fabricate sources or quotes Finding Sources -- Ask each source for other sources -- Get out on the street -- Don't forget your own contacts -- Use social media -- When you're stumped for sources, think creatively Exercises for Chapter 8
Chapter 9: How Do You Conduct an Interview? Research ahead of time Plan your questions Contact your sources The interview -- In person -- By phone -- By email or text Privacy-Some information can't go into your story -- Private facts -- Intrusion ---- The Electronic Communications Privacy Act Exercises for Chapter 9
Chapter 10: How Do You Report What Sources Say? Guidelines for quoting -- Paraphrase. -- In general, don't mark dialect in quotes. -- Quotation marks mean that what appears between them is what someone actually said. -- Provide context and explanations before a quote, rather than after. -- A reporter should not take quotes out of context. -- Just because a source says something does not mean you have to report it. -- News stories emphasize the speaker rather than the reporter. -- News stories use "said" or "says." -- Follow basic punctuation rules for quotes. Quoting multiple sources Defamation: When people say you've lied -- Standard practice -- Defenses against libel suits ---- Truth ---- Fair comment and criticism and rhetorical hyperbole ---- Privilege Box 10-01: For broadcast stories, attribution comes first. Box 10-02: How do you make sure you're not defaming someone? Exercises for Chapter 10
Chapter 11: Working a Beat Some basic assumptions about beats Professional relationships with sources -- Research before you talk to people. -- Treat your sources with dignity. -- Keep a professional distance. A scenario: The education beat Watchdog beats -- Tips for reporting the crime and police beats ---- Getting to know the beat ---- Getting beyond snapshots of violence ---- Campus crime: A special case ---- A checklist for stories about accidents or crimes Enterprise Beats -- Covering business ---- Workers ---- Businesses as neighbors ---- Business for consumers ---- What do other businesses need to know about each other? Exercises for Chapter 11
Unit 5: Storytelling in Other Forms Habits of mind What does it mean to be skeptical? -- Logical fallacies ---- False generalizations ---- Anecdotal evidence ---- False dilemmas ---- The straw man ---- Ad hominem attacks Box 05-01: A list of fallacies in arguments
Chapter 12: Leading with Something Different When to use other kinds of leads -- Making an abstract story concrete ---- Some tips for creating leads that focus on individuals -- Nut graphs -- Clarifying a complicated story ---- Some tips for bringing background to the beginning of a story -- Covering an event with several newsworthy issues -- Providing a sense of place ---- Some tips for starting with description -- Following up on breaking news ---- Some tips for leading with a list -- Establishing tone ---- Some tips for communicating a lighter tone in your lead Exercises for Chapter 12
Chapter 13: What About Other Kinds of News Stories? Organizing news stories into pods Transitions Stories that explain how-to or why A problem that needs a solution A story with a complicated history Structure and fairness -- Placement of sources -- A question of balance Exercises for Chapter 13
Chapter 14: IMHO: Expressing Your Opinions as a Journalist What does commentary add? -- Providing context and analysis -- Making connections for readers When are opinions not helpful? -- When arguments aren't grounded in evidence -- When too much is based on secondhand information -- When opinions are based on sloppy journalism Writing in the first person -- Persona -- Features of a news blog ---- A news blog sticks to basic journalistic principles. ---- A news blog presents informed opinions. ---- A news blog can provide in-depth information about niche subjects. -- Writing a news blog Box 14-01: "The invisible primary"-commentary with context Exercises for Chapter 14
How Storytelling Connects to Larger Forces Habits of mind Thinking about the audience -- A bit of history Forces behind the scenes -- Culture and society -- What does this mean for a working journalist? Final thoughts Box H6-01: Audience reactions: A case study