AdPrac 1 IMJ7001 Required Reading

Updated Sept 2018 / Sharron Lovell

OVERVIEW – Before your first reading list please read this introduction to Required Readings for the course. We aim to keep our required readings well-selected and prioritised and we do expect you to read them in full. There are optional recommended readings for faster readers but we do not advise optional reading unless you can keep pace with the required texts.

Each and every module has it’s own required reading list – the list is composed of a few required (must read) selected books or websites. You must complete the readings by the end of each module. We keep the lists short – because in addition to the general module required readings, you are also often expected to complete some workshop or seminar-specific readings to accompany weekly in-class sessions. You will be directed to these readings by your tutor. For those of you that are really keen, we add in some optional recommended reads. However, it’s much better to read a few key items slowly and deeply than lots of material quickly without consideration.

Reading in a second language – Most students will be reading in their second language this means you will need pace your readings. Last minute cramming of new concepts or complex theoretical readings just doesn’t work – especially when you are not reading in your mother tongue.

Independent study hours – You need to balance your practical module readings with your theory module readings – and on top of that as a journalism student – you will also need to maintain a regular news consumption habit. For your theory module, you have 25 scheduled in-class hours, the remainder are independent study hours, comprised largely of readings and also writing your papers. This averages around 10 hours per week. For your practical module you have many more scheduled in-class hours, however, on a typical assignment week, you’ll have around 18 hours a week of independent study. Practical module independent study is made up of doing your assignments (around 14 hours per week) and completing readings (around 4 hours per week). So, that’s a lot of reading, especially on top of a busy class and assignment schedule! You will need to be very well organised and draw up a realistic time management plan.

Time management -We recommend you set aside two or three timeslots each week for your Practical and Theory module readings. If you try to do them in a single day you are likely to become overwhelmed. We strongly recommend that you make yourself a schedule, for example, you might aim to break your days down like this example below. However, anyway you manage your time is up to you – but you do need to create a schedule for yourself.

Example Time Managment plan IMMJ.png

Tips for effective reading –  The texts you are expected to read are often complex and contain challenging concept and ideas, the reading will take much longer than reading for pleasure. Your reading speed will increase with practice, and as you become more familiar with the subject matter, however. Try these tips:

  • Think about what you need to achieve from the reading and read with that in mind – are you seeking to: develop your understanding of a topic? Find contextual or background information? find up-to-date research on a specific area? find theories or methods to underpin your own work? find evidence to support your ideas for a paper? Prepare for a lecture?
  • Skim read through quickly without taking notes to get a basic understanding, then read through again to deepen understanding.
  • Don’t keep re-reading a passage if you don’t understand it – move on and keep reading, then come back to it if necessary. If you’re still struggling, read something more basic first.
  • Read the first and last lines of each paragraph to get a basic framework of the text (these often signpost the main points).
  • Take notes relevant to your reading goal
  • Read a chunk of text (a paragraph, or a page) before taking notes.
  • Take regular breaks
  • If you feel you never have enough time to write your assignment because you have to do so much reading, aim to write a draft before you think you have finished reading. Then you can identify if there are any gaps that you need to fill with more research, and focus any further reading to fill these gaps.

Critical and reflective reading Thinking critically about what you read is something everyone can and should do; it simply means asking yourself whether you are convinced by what you are reading – then asking yourself WHY you are convinced, or not. Try these tips:

  • What is the main question /idea?
  • What evidence is being used?
  • What are the conclusions?
  • Are there any limitations in the evidence or research methods?
  • Does it fit in with other academic research/thought?
  • Does it alter/strengthen your own view – and why?
  • Is there an agenda?

IMJ7001 Required Reading

The required reading includes  7 texts/websites:

1: (7 complete chapters)

You should read each and every section of this site, week by week as it corresponds directly to your core skills: In term one, you must complete:

  • Photography
  • Writing
  • Audio
  • Video
  • Infographics (Beware this section is dated. The class notes will be more useful here, but still worth having a look through)
  • Going Mobile (Beware this section is dated. The class notes will be more useful here, but still worth having a look through)

The newer, ‘Short news video‘ section is longer, and a great primer for Term 2. You should complete this section in the December reading weeks or over the Christmas holiday. If you are really keen and ahead with readings you can also read it earlier in Term 1

2: Stories by IMMJ Multimedia Stories: Contently (one hour each week)

Your core multimedia reading list to work through is: Stories by IMMJ Multimedia Stories: Contently. Spend at least one hour a week, every week here and aim to read one or two pieces deeply each time. There are videos, text features, audio features, graphic led pieces, data journalism, interactive documentaries and of course multimedia features. There’s news, sports, tech, science, human interest, lifestyle and travel pieces from an array of publishers.

Some stories are short and some long, some may take over an hour to read. Some are spot news, others are longer features or documentary in nature. Take your time, it’s better to go slowly and really understand the articles or projects than to rush through them. You don’t need to read all of them and you don’t need to go through them in any particular order, consume the ones that are most interesting and appealing to you.

Pace yourself weekly, and beware, this is not the type of reading you can ‘cram’ at the end of the term. You need to be consuming feature journalism as you go along. If you are not consuming and analysing quality journalism you haven’t a hope of producing any.

3: The Handbook of Independent Journalism by Deborah Potter (The complete book)

Read the required textbook by Deborah Potter in full. This is not the most up-to-date or thorough book on reporting, however, it provides a good simple primer to accompany the class sessions. It offers the fundamentals without being overwhleming. Download the book PDF here: The Handbook of Independent Journalism by Deborah Potter

  • Complete chapter 1 What Is News? in the pre-reading week (Week 1)
  • Complete chapter 2 Getting the Story in week 2
  • Complete chapter 3 Telling the Story in week 3
  • Complete chapter 4 Editing the Story in week 4 (This chapter is less important)
  • Complete chapter 5 Broadcast and Online in week 5
  • Take a break in weeks 6 & 7 for the intensive and video weeks
  • Complete chapters 6&7 Ethics and Law in week 8

4: Making Sense of the News: News Literacy Lessons for Digital Citizens (The entire course, around one hour each week)

This course helps learners develop their critical thinking skills to enable them to better identify reliable information in news reports and to become better informed about the world in which we live. It will help you to be better news consumers and in turn better news producers. Sign up for the course here: The language of instruction is English, but Chinese subtitles are available. The following topics will be covered:

  • Why news matters? Power of information
  • Why news literacy matters? Social sharing and the dynamics of the news cycles
  • What makes journalism different? Verification, independence, accountability
  • What drives news? Universal news values. Editorial judgment.
  • What is trustworthy information? Truth. Evidence. Media bias, audience bias.
  • Why does verification fail? The limits of journalism.
  • Who provides information? Source evaluation.
  • How do we know what we know? Becoming an active news audience.

We conduct the course as a blended learning program, that means you do viewings and readings at home before the in-class session and tutors follow up with brief seminars to consolidate your learning. You will be asked to contribute to discussions so you will need to do readings prior to class. The coursera online timeline is quite fast-paced, we take things a little slower and spread the course over the whole of term 1.

  • Complete Week 1: Why is information so powerful? & With great power comes great responsibility in Week 1 (Pre-reading Week)
  • Complete Week 2: What makes journalism different from other types of information? in Week 2
  • Complete Week 2: What makes some information newsworthy? in Week 3
  • Complete Week 3: Where can we find trustworthy information? in Week 4
  • Complete Week 3: Are you calling me biased? in Week 5
  • Take a break in weeks 6 & 7 for the intensive and video weeks
  • Complete Week 4: Is being balanced being fair? Not necessarily. in Week 8
  • Complete Week 4: Says who? in Week 9
  • Complete Week 5: News literacy deconstruction basics in Week 10
  • Complete Week 5: Applying basics to different information media in Week 11
  • Complete Week 6: Beyond the news literacy basics in Week 12

5: The IMMJ-MA code of ethics. This will be discussed in class, however, you must read the guidelines carefully. (Read in full and refer to as needed)

you should complete it before Term 2 and refer to it throughout Term 2.

6: The BBC Academy style guide is for all BBC News output (3 chapters and as needed)

All large news outlets will have a style guide, you’ve probably heard of the famous AP Styleguide which is the most standard global style guide. On the IMMJ we expect students to adhere to the BBC news style guide – it’s good and it’s free. You can download a fully searchable version or just use it online. Please familiarise yourself with the resource for an hour or so during the pre-reading week and use it as needed. Be sure to cover the following sections during your reading weeks:

Please note, IMMJ-MA calls for high standards of English and well-written stories that we can easily understand, poor English will dramatically impact your marks, and if serious problems persist will lead to assignment failure

6: The BBC Academy (At least 15 hours total)

A truly wonderful and free resource. The BBC Academy puts training and skills at the heart of the BBC and the industry to help meet the challenges of an ever-changing media world. The Academy focuses on providing a portfolio of high-quality training and development. You should spend at least an hour each week looking at the training videos relevant to you. Spend longer in the scheduled reading weeks. The only trouble with this resource is that it’s huge and it’s not designed for easy navigation, meaning it’s not that easy to find your way around or find the best stuff. Try tapping in something that interests you into the search box (e.g. interviewing or virtual reality or get really specific like depth-of-field). Oh – there are Chinese subtitles available too. See the video below for an overview:


Heres a few favourites:

7: MultimediaWeek Podcast (16 episodes) is the home of a podcast that IMMJ tutors produce. We interview influential people and organizations in the field of multimedia journalism, who talk about their experiences in the profession. Listen to at one each week, choose the ones that interest you. Right now we’ve stopped recording – but now Sharron’s maternity leave is over we’ll start up again in October so watch this space! Here are a few favourites: