Advanced News Writing

Professor: Dr. Ecarma, Office MC108
Prerequisites: Lower Level completion
Class: MC116, TR 4:30

Office Phone: 977-7139
Web site:;

Each student is responsible for knowing and following the written guidelines given in this syllabus.

Course Description

An advanced study of the theory and practice of gathering information and writing for various types of specialized and complex news and feature stories, including public affairs and investigative reporting.

Required Textbook
• Olasky, M. (1996). Telling the Truth. Wheaton: IL: Crossway.
• Wilkinson, J.S., Grant, A.E. & Fisher, D.J. (2005). Principles of convergent journalism. NY: Oxford.
• Christian, D., Jacobsen, S. & Minthorn, D. (eds). Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law. Basics Books: NY.
• Harrower, T. (2010). Inside Reporting. McGraw-Hill

Learning Outcomes

Students will:
• Research and write six investigative news stories.
• Organize and participate in in-depth interviews with story sources.
• Research and write feature stories.
• Understand different types of news and feature leads.
• Self-correct copy to conform to AP style.

Computer Literacy

The work in this class presupposes a basic understanding of computer operation, including operating a mouse, saving and opening files and printing documents.

Course Requirements

1. Six in-depth feature stories
-Students will compose a budget of news and feature stories to pursue. Upon the approval of the instructor, you will choose one of these stories to complete at different points in the semester. Each story will require multiple sources, extensive interviews and thorough information. Story length will vary depending on the topic, but should be no less than 2000 words.
2. Multi-part investigative story – Each student may select a topic to research in-depth for a multi-part investigative story. These subjects must be approved by the instructor. Upon approval, you will research the topic and write the stories. These stories will require multiple sources, use of statistics, expert sources and thorough research.
3. Class exercises – During class periods, students will be asked to participate in exercises that will assist in learning the techniques of interviewing, computer research, etc.

Final grades will be based on this formula:
Class assignments . . . 100 pts
Six stories . . . . . . . . . .600 pts
Total…………………700 pts

A = 630-700 C = 470-569
B = 570-629 D = 400-469
F = 399 or less

Written Assignment Requirements
All written assignments will be submitted via e-mail in MSWord (.doc) format. Correct spelling, grammar and punctuation are expected.
Due Dates
All assignments are due at the beginning of the class period on the due date. Computer crashes, unsaved files, files not saved on the flash drives, etc. are not excuses for turning in assignments late. Any assignments turned in after the due date will automatically lose 50 percent of the grade value for the assignment.


Students are allowed FOUR (4) absences in this class. This includes excused and unexcused absences may make up the assignments covered in class while they are absent. Students with an unexcused absence may not make up assignments, quizzes, etc. missed in class.

Test Policy

Any student who has a legitimate excuse to miss the final exam must inform the instructor prior to the exam time to schedule a make-up exam. This exam must occur before the end of the final exam period on Tuesday.

Academic Honesty

Violations of the Student Conduct Code such as cheating or plagiarism will result in sanctions deemed appropriate for the offense. Possible sanctions include:
1. Assignment failure: a grade of “zero” for the assignment.
2. Course failure: a grade of “F” for the course in which the offense occurred.
3. Forced withdrawal: withdrawal without credit from the college for a period of one semester.
4. Expulsion: termination

Learning Disabilities

Any student having an identified learning disability or other handicap that might affect academic performance should complete the form available in the Learning Disabilities Liaison Office. Instructors who suspect that a student has a disability should advise the liaison’s office in the Foster Student Center.

What is the ultimate purpose of each student?  To glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.

How? Based on the Bible and through Christ, “do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” President Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt

Values Statement: The things that will destroy us are:              

Politics without Principle
Pleasure without Conscience
Wealth without Work
Knowledge without Character
Business without Morality
Science without Humanity
And Worship without Sacrifice (Author Unknown)



 Tentative Class Schedule (professor reserves the right to change the schedule)

Date Class Information Reading/Assignment
Wk 1 Telling the Truth, ch. 1-2

Discuss the AP manual and Wilkinson bk

Syllabus; Go to


Wk 2 Telling the Truth, ch. 3

Appendix A: Line-by-Line Editing

Wk 3 Telling the Truth 4-5; Discuss Wilkinson Work on story #1
Wk 4


Wk 5

Discuss Wilkinson

Story #1: Field Reporting paper due


Telling the Truth, ch. 6-7




Work on story #2

Wk 6 Story #2: Interviewing paper due  
Wk 7 Telling the Truth 8-9 Working on story #3
Wk 8 Story #3 Investigating paper due  
Wk 9 Telling the Truth 10,12 Work on story #4
Wk 10 Story #4 Biblically directed reviewing due  
Wk 11 Telling the Truth ch. 11, 13 Work on story #5
Wk 12 Story #5 First Person Account due


Telling the Truth, chapter 7
Wk 13


Wk 14


Wk 15


Telling the Truth ch. 14, appendix C and D


Story #6 Sport Stories


Wilkinson assignment due


Work on story #6


Read Wilkinson


Read Wilkinson


Wk 16 Wilkinson assignment due  

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