In this course, students will propose a new model for the “student newspaper” that responds to the challenges that journalism is facing in the 21st century. The first four weeks of the course will be dedicated to an intensive “journalism bootcamp,” during which students will learn professional techniques in reporting, writing and editing. Students will be evaluated on their mastery of these skills by a 48-hour reporting assignment.

The second half of the course will ask students to design a new model for the “student newspaper.” This model, which may involve video clips, blogging, photo essays, social media or other mediums, will become the iSchool’s iNews Network – the home of student media at the iSchool. Students will work as a class to design this vision, assign beats and brainstorm story ideas, develop a production calendar, and produce a collection of stories that will be published online. Students who successfully complete the course will earn 1 English credit.

Syllabus – Q1, 2010-11

Zero week | Getting started

What is news? We’ll take a look at student newspapers (high school and college) and attempt to answer this question for the iSchool community. Take the student journalism survey at and we’ll compare answers with student journalists across the country.

Week 1

Monday: What determines news worthiness? We’ll look at Terry Jones as a case study for how the media creates its own stories, and will study the characteristics of news worthiness – click here. We’ll begin to work on the story brainstorm document – – and will take the survey above to compare our media habits with student journalists around the country.

Tuesday: Next, we’ll evaluate stories against their who-what-when-where-why-how value. Click here for an overview of what it means to write an article from a WWWWWH angle. We’ll discuss the concept of ‘angle’ in the context of WWWWH, will identify a number of these stories in the NYT and Daily News, and will contribute additional ideas to the brainstorm document. See also the news outlet spreadsheet here; students are expected to follow their news outlet and report back daily. We’ll finish up with a ‘What it’s called’ activity (pg. 26, Harrower) and mark up the anatomy of the papers we have.

We’ll move from there to lede-writing. Based on the information available here, write three ledes for Twitter, for the online edition and for the print edition. File those ledes in this form.

Wednesday:We’ll read examples of articles that use the inverted pyramid, hourglass and nutgraf models. Half of the class will read about one model, half will read the other. We’ll discuss. I’ll give you a reporters’ notebook, and you’ll write two of these models yourself. Story structure. Alternatives to the inverted pyramid, or AP style:

Now: Write two stories using each of these structures and the reporting notes found here. Choose the structure that is most appropriate for each story. Check out this and this to see how those stories were actually reported. Pay close attention to the lede and length of the NYT story.

Friday: Finally, we’ll discuss editing strategies by taking a look at Ledes that succeed (pg 44), rewriting (pg 50-51), and newswriting tips (pg 58). Write another story based on the notes found here, and make sure you have taken the student news survey and contributed to the brainstorming document (10 ideas each) before Monday.

Week 2

Interviewing! Take the class at Poynter (, registration required) to practice asking questions, and listening. Check out these profiles for examples of how you will write your profile this evening (Charlotte Hsu on the first NFL player of Chinese descent). Research the Carolyn Maloney race here, and prepare questions for your profile.

On Friday, we’ll be talking with Andrew Edwards, a reporter at the San Bernardino Sun and a friend from UCLA. You can leave questions for him here – – both before and during the conversation.

Week 3

We’ll begin Week 3 by taking a quick quiz at the Student Press Law Center to review the First Amendment. Check out the SLPC videos on Vimeo or read this article about high school journalists and the First Amendment before a class discussion about the rights of student journalists. Take a look at Tinker vs. Des Moines, Hazelwood vs. Kuhlmeier or Dean vs. Utica. Pay attention to the context for these cases: What implications do they have for student media? Next, choose to take the online Poynter class on the First Amendment for high school journalists or explore any of the sites linked above to expand your understanding of the First Amendment as it relates to student journalism.

For a closer understanding of Tinker and Hazelwood and what those cases mean for student media at the iSchool, check out this PDF. We’re going to clarify the distinction between the two by discussing the presentation found here, so feel free to follow along. (PDF of accompanying teacher’s notes here). By the end of the class, students should be able to distinguish between the two cases and identify what rights they have under what circumstances. We’ll apply these cases to two case studies found here and here.

Paste URLs here:

We’ll take a look at the Freedom of Information Act. Generate a letter here. Find contact info for the DOE department that deals with FOIA requests here. Check out the FBI here and get a list of possible FOIA requests here.

We’ll close the week with a discussion about what constitutes an invasion of privacy. Reporters can invade someone’s privacy in four ways: Intrusion, public disclosure of private facts, false light, and misappropriation. After going over some examples of what this involves, we’ll have a discussion about this situation about reporting on sex in a high school newspaper. After that, we’ll discuss some additional libel/privacy scenarios.

Reporters are entitled to privacy as well – the Privacy Protection Act protects reporters from searches and seizures with some exceptions. Check out the Gizmodo case study for an example of where that right was tested.

Week 4

No school Monday! We’re meeting outside of Ruthy’s Bakery at Chelsea Market for a visit to the NY1 studios at 7:45am Tuesday, and will be back in time for second period. Zero period is canceled Wednesday for the PSAT.

Your 96-hour reporting assignment is due on Tuesday. The topic of this article must be “Field Experience” in some way, but it’s up to you to choose a compelling angle and to interview at least three sources. Ms. Rolle-Key will be doing a ‘press conference’ during class on Monday.

In class on Friday, you’re going to exercise our broadcast skills by doing a video thank you note to Melissa in the form of a news broadcast that we’ll send to her over the weekend.

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