Starts: January 16th 2017
Time: 7pm – 9pm
Venue: St Luke’s Centre, 90 Central Street, Clerkenwell, London, EC1V 8AJ
This 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.
Equipment needed: Laptop computer with wireless connection
Class size: 16 maximum
Jamie Elliott is an experienced local and national newspaper journalist and teacher who writes for the Observer and Guardian. Jamie started his career as a reporter on a local newspaper before moving into investigative journalism in 2009. Since 2010, Jamie has also taught journalism and media law at the University of Brighton, the London School of Journalism and other London colleges, and taught a six month course preparing graduates for the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) exams.
Dr Gavin Evans (SAAN Dip Journ, LLB, PhD) is a news and features writer, editor and sub-editor who has written for the New York Times, Sunday Telegraph, , Guardian, Observer, Daily Mail, Daily Express, Esquire, Arena, Men’s Health and many other newspapers and magazines. Also an experienced broadcast journalist, Gavin was BBC World Service sports correspondent from 2005 until 2012 and broadcasts on BBC Radio 4 and BBC 5 Live. He is lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at Birkbeck College, London University.
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.
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. Assignment: research and write a news story about something happening in your locality.
Week three: 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.
Week four: 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. Assignment: research and write a feature about a subject of your choice.
Week five: 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. Assignment: write an arts review.
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.
Week seven: Investigative journalism Investigative journalist Jamie Elliott discusses investigations he has carried out on behalf of the Guardian and Observer 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.
Week eight: 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.