MCM 240 Writing for the Media

Fall 1999, TR 2:00-3:15; Old Main 238

Dr. John Beatty

Old Main 247


Home phone (910) 695-3348


Course Description: This course introduces you to news, news media, reporting, beats, writing and style. You will learn the basics of "the news business" from a traditional perspective.


To help you reason, research and report in organized, complete and entertaining fashion;

To familiarize you with media writing methods methods including interviewing, research, backgrounding, attaining balance, and upholding ethical standards;

To familiarize you with journalistic techniques such as style, ledes, story structure, transitions and attribution;

To develop critical skills relating to critiquing all media messages including traditional news;

To learn as much about the world as possible;


Brooks, B.S., Kennedy, G., Moen, D.R. and Ranly, D. 1999. News Reporting and Writing (Sixth edition). Boston, MA: Bedford/St Martin's.

Workbook for News Reporting and Writing (Fifth edition), The Missouri Group.

A pocket dictionary is recommended, preferably Webster's.

Also recommended is:: Goldstein, N. 1998. The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual. Reading, MA: Perseus Books.


There will be two tests and one final exam covering material in the texts and in lectures.

Periodic quizzes will be given on current events, primarily as covered by local newspapers and in The Pine Needle.

Writing will include assignments from the workbook and some involving original research such as covering campus events or speeches.


In addition to the assignments listed, you are required to read a daily newspaper each day. The Robesonian and the Fayetteville Observer-Times are suggested. I expect you to participate in class. Attendance, alertness, contribution to discussion, and catches or questions about something in the papers contribute to participation. Journalism is a public profession and you should get used to interacting in public settings. Keep backups of computer assignments on floppy disks (3.5" DD or HD).


Any course in journalism includes elements of professional behavior. Just as if you were "on the job," I expect you to attend class. Roll will be taken at each class meeting. For any absence to be excused you must contact me beforehand and provide documentation of your excuse or have a friend do so if you are unable. Given normal extenuating circumstances, you will be allowed a total of three unexcused class absences. Further unexcused absences, or excessive excused absences will lower your final grade.

Assignments, tests or quizzes missed due to excused absences can be made up, but those missed due to unexcused absences cannot.

Adjustments to the schedule and requirements listed in this document are to be allowed for, if not expected.

You have the responsibility to know and observe the UNCP Academic Honor Code (see course catalog). This code forbids cheating, plagiarism, fabrication and abuse of academic materials. The normal penalty for a first offense is an F in the course.

Grading: Writing assignments 45%

Tests on text and lectures 20%

Final exam 15%

Current events quizzes 10%

Participation 10%

Grade assignment: A = 94 and above; A- = 90-93; B+ = 87-89; B = 84-86; B- = 80-83; C+ = 77-79; C = 74-76; C- = 70-73; D+ = 67-69; D = 64-66; D- = 60-63; F = below 60.

In other words: A = All major and minor goals achieved; B = All major goals achieved, some minor ones not; C = All major goals achieved, many minor ones not; D = A few major goals achieved but not prepared for further advanced work; F = None of the major goals achieved.

Class schedule

Aug. 19 Introduction

Aug. 24 News, Chapter 1

26 Newsrooms, Chapter 2, Current events quiz

Aug. 31 Style, editing, Appendix 1-2

Sept. 2 Style continued (Computer Lab Science 142)

Sept. 7 Grammar, writing, Chapter 7

9 In-class writing, Current events quiz (Lab TBA)

Sept. 14 Story structure, ledes, Chapter 6

16 Story structure, alternatives, Chapter 8

Sept. 21 More on story structure, review

22 Test. No. 1 on lectures, text, assignments, current events

Sept. 28 Quotes, attribution, Chapter 9

Sep. 30 Working with numbers Chapter 5

Oct. 6 Searches, Internet (Lab TBA)

8 Obits, News releases, Chapters 10-11, Current events quiz

Oct. 13 News releases


Oct. 20 Speeches, conferences, story assignment, Chapter 12

22 Speeches, Current events quiz

Oct. 27 Accidents, fires, disasters, Chapter 13

Oct. 29 Accidents

Nov. 3

5 Courts, Chapter 14

Nov. 10 Test No. 2 on lectures, text, assignments, current events

12 Courts continued, current events quiz

Nov. 17 Beats, Chapter 15

19 Covering a beat

Nov. 24 Social science reporting, Chapter 18


Dec. 1 Broadcast writing , Chapter 20 Current events quiz

3 Broadcast writing

Dec. 8 Review

FINAL EXAM Tuesday Dec. 14, 1 p.m..