Starts: May 4th
This highly practical eight week evening course, taught by national journalists, covers news, features, reviews and profiles, interview techniques, research methods, media law, investigative journalism, and pitching stories. Classes are fast paced, interactive and fun, with group and individual exercises which encourage you to start writing from week one.
Time: 7pm – 9pm
Venue: MadLab, 36-40 Edge Street, Manchester, M4 1HN
Equipment needed: Laptop computer with wireless connection
Class size: 16 maximum
Andrew Fletcher is one of the UK’s most experienced BBC news reporters and presenters. Specialising in breaking major stories from the field and investigative journalism, Andrew presents BBC Radio 5 live news programmes and provides live news reports and packages across the BBC network including Radio 4′s Today, World at One and PM. He also reports for BBC One’s TV Breakfast news and the BBC News Channel. Original investigations undertaken by Andrew include probing the lack of regulation of adventure travel abroad, and uncovering an attempt by two London councils to manipulate the figures for rough sleepers.
Tina Walsh is a hugely experienced news and features writer who has written for The Guardian, The Independent, Daily Express, Time Magazine, Daily Mail, The Times, Sunday Mirror, Evening Standard and many more. She has worked as sub-editor for Daily Express, Daily Mail, Metro, TV Times, Woman’s Own and other trade and consumer magazine. She has also taught reporting on an NCTJ Diploma course.
Week one: What is news:
We consider what editors are looking for in news stories, news values, how to structure a news article, the inverted news pyramid, and how to write strong intros and headlines. Students practice writing intros and headlines and structuring a simple news story. Homework: come up with an idea for a news story about something happening in your locality. Tutor: Andrew Fletcher
Week two: Writing news for the web
We analyse together news stories students have written in the intervening week and discuss how they could be improved. Students then undertake a ‘live reporting’ exercise in which they are asked to write a breaking news story from quotes and information received at different points in the news day. Homework: research and write a news story about something happening in your locality. Tutor: Andrew Fletcher
Week three: Feature writing
How to research, structure and write a feature, including what to include and leave out, keeping the reader engaged, writing styles, use of quotes, and beginning and ending your article. We analyse different types of features (travel, consumer, issue based etc.) and students practice writing a simple ‘how to’ article. Homework: research and write a feature about a subject of your choice. Tutor: Tina Walsh
Week four: Reviews
Students work with the tutor to analyse a number of music, theatre and film reviews to reveal the basic structure that underpins most reviews and the language and stylistic devices that make them work – or not. Students are encouraged to consider the language and stylistic devices critics use to bridge the gap between the reader and whatever they are reviewing. We also look especially at how humour and wit help reviewers share their emotional reactions with the reader. Homework: write an arts review. Tutor: Tina Walsh
Week five: Interview techniques and profiles
We examine how to prepare for an interview, how to research your subject, what questions to ask and how to ask them, how to record what is said (notebook or recorder?) and what to include when writing up a profile. Students interview each other and practice writing a brief profile piece. Tutor: Andrew Fletcher
Week six: Media law
We look at the implications of libel law for journalists and at how defences such as ‘fair comment’ and the ‘public interest’ can protect them from litigation. We examine a recent case to see how fear of costly legal action among editors action exerts a ‘chilling’ effect on the media. We also look at the steps journalists must take to ensure their stories are legally robust and how proposed changes to libel law could be good news for press freedom. Tutor: Tina Walsh
Week seven: Marketing your work and getting a job
We look at how to sell your news or feature ideas – identifying the right publication, making contact with editors, putting together a compelling pitch and what to do once you get a commission. We also look at routes into paid employment in journalism, including formal training, internships and working abroad. Tutor: Tina Walsh
Week eight: Investigative journalism
BBC Radio 5 live reporter Andrew Fletcher discusses investigations he has carried out and explains the difference between investigative work and other types of reporting. Students consider how investigative journalists test out hypotheses and the use of subterfuge and other investigative techniques. Students are given investigation scenarios and asked to work in small groups to develop an investigation plan. Tutor: Andrew Fletcher