The Responsible Journalist An Introduction to News Reporting and Writing

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2014-10-15
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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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.

Author Biography

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

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?
-- Stakeholders
-- Fairness in stories
-- Fairness and diversity across coverage
-- Transparency
Freedom and Autonomy
-- Freedom from manipulation
-- Conflict of interest
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
-- 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
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
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
-- 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

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
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

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