WK4 News Reporting & News Writing


  • M: 10.00 – 12.00 News Reporting: What is News? & Where to Find it?

  • M: 13.00 – 14.15 Critique of Photo Assignment (5 Students rotating weekly)

  • M: 14.30 – 17.00 News Reporting: Gathering News & Interviews

  • T: 10.00 – 12.00 News Writing: Types of News: Hard News & Feature Stories

  • T: 13.00 – 13.30 Setting Assignment (800-word feature story)

  • T: 13.30 – 14.30 News Literacy

  • T: 14.45 – 15.30 Photo Manipulation

  • T: 16.30 – 18.30 Theory Lecture

Wed – Fri. Assignment, Edit, and Upload Assignment, Reading & Self Study. Meet Media teams for coffee on Weds or Thurs 15 mins per team

Assignment 1 – Deadline: Sunday Midnight

1 x 800-word news feature covering online dating in China. Your target publication is Sixth Tone. You are writing a feature story for their ‘Deep Tones’ section “Deep Tones are features that cut to the core of contemporary China. In-depth, informed, and carefully crafted, every piece is carried by the voices of the story’s participants”). 

Assignment 2 – Deadline: Sunday Midnight

Read the full writing section of the MMT, including the writing online section which we won’t cover in class.

Assignment 3 – Deadline: Sunday Midnight

News Literacy Week 2 Readings & Viewings.

Session Preparation – Pre-reading / watching

Bring your Laptop, a notebook, and a pen.

You may preview the writing section at http://www.multimediatrain.com – but it’s not compulsory. You will need to watch this after the session.

Assignment Guidelines

1 x 800 (700 min –1000 max) word news feature covering online dating in China. It’s relatively easy to access both human and document sources for this feature story, so it’s a good starter assignment. There are also many potential angles to choose from. Remember online dating is the topic, you will need to choose and report on a specific story angle.

Feature stories convey facts and information but do so with more depth and detail than hard news, they also employ a richer writing style to entertain as well as inform. Feature stories often incorporate human interest, which means they tell stories about real people to reveal “the story behind the story”. Your target publication is Sixth Tone and you will write a feature story for their ‘Deep Tones’ section Take a good look at some of the stories in that section and take note of their description of the section: “Deep Tones are features that cut to the core of contemporary China. In-depth, informed, and carefully crafted, every piece is carried by the voices of the story’s participants”. It’s critical that you get to know the publication a little, each week you’ll be assigned to produce a story for a different publication to help build an understanding of different publications and styles.

For example, a feature story incorporating the voice and experience of an individual or a small number of refugees who survived an arduous journey to safety may also shed light on or inform us about the wider experience of refugees including, for example, details about the situation of current conflict or trafficking routes etc. Of course, the human stories would need to be blended with other sources. Such as data, other news reports, government announcements, and research.

For your story about online dating, you too will need a variety of sources both human sources and documents. There’s lots of material you can look at for research, be sure to find one or more people to interview to produce an original and current story. Your interviewee(s) cannot be a direct friend. It may be a friend of a friend. In the future, you’ll largely need to find, interview and tell stories about strangers. So you’ll need to get used to approaching people you do not directly know. You will need to conduct at least one face to face interview. You might try to find a source through friends, online, or take a walk on campus.

You’ll need to start with some background information, then choose an angle. You’ll need to report and gather information from human sources and documents – you’ll need to answer the WWWWW&H questions of your story.  All of this will need to be delivered in a written feature story with a beginning, middle, and end. We expect a balanced story on an important/interesting issue. Include a single header photo. 

You’ll need to include some key components:

  • A single, relevant header image
  • A headline
  • A subheading
  • A good lede
  • A nut graph
  • quotes, sourced from interviews you conduct
  • anecdotes – mini-stories – which summarize the stories or parts of the stories of your interview subjects to illustrate broader key issues
  • facts & information, such as data and statistics, research reports, press releases and so on.
  • context, background information necessary to put the story into context
  • descriptive writing that brings the people, places, and issues in your story to life. Write details that will engage and transport a reader to your story by building mental images.
  • proofread. Do not turn in your story with spelling or grammatical mistakes, get used to doubling up with a partner and helping each other to proofread. Assignments with spelling and grammar that inhibit reading will not be accepted and will need to be resubmitted with a loss of grades. For proofreading consult the BBC News Style Guide – http://www.bbc.co.uk/academy/journalism/news-style-guide
  • All of this will need to be delivered in a story with a beginning, middle, and end. 


  • Your feature must be suitable for your target publication – Sixth Tone
  • It must incorporate the key elements outlined above (headline, nut graph, lead, quotes, facts, and information)
  • It should have a clear focus
  • The story should answer the essential WWWWW+H questions relevant to the focus
  • Writing should capture information & emotion
  • At least one face to face interview should be conducted
  • Human sources must be used
  • Document sources must be used
  • Facts must be accurate – how do you know your sources are reliable and accurate?
  • Sources should be properly attributed, either with text or hyperlinks
  • The feature should have a beginning, a middle and end.
  • The feature should have one ‘header image’
  • The story must have a satisfying conclusion that summarizes the main idea and provides closure for the reader
  • The feature must be uploaded to your digi platform
  • The feature must have a decent standard of English spelling and grammar. We suggest you use the free version of Grammarly and you MUST proofread with your partner.

Class Notes

You can find this week’s PPT here – 01 IMJ NewsReportingWriting 1718

The best thing you can do this week is read and enjoy a few good news feature stories. It’s always better to go slowly and really think about what you are reading rather than skim lots of things quickly without thinking. Try reading one or two every evening when you are relaxed and don’t have other distractions. You might start with Sixth Tone but do try other publications too.
From Sixth Tone we recommend these features:
The Guardian produces great text features: Long good reads: the best features from 20 years of G2. We will be using this news feature: In Grim Camps, Rohingya Suffer on ‘Scale That We Couldn’t Imagine’, as an example in class. We’ll analyze how it incorporates all of the essential elements that your article will need to. (Lead, nut graph, quotes etc). Take another look at home.

News Reporting –  In class, we also covered News Reporting. You might like to review the PPT. You should also find the required textbook Handbook of Independent Journalism by Deborah Potter useful. There are many great books about journalism reporting and writing – we’ve selected this book because it’s quite short and covers some of the most important elements in clear and simple language. Once you’ve grasped the basics you can read further! The news-literacy sessions will also support your learning of News Reporting.

Hard news & Features – The IMMJ-MA programme largely focuses on features rather than breaking news. News stories are split into two major categories, hard news (or spot news), and features.

Spot news — aka hard or breaking news — stories deliver short, fact-based accounts of important, impacting current events. Features tell stories in more depth and don’t necessarily centre around current events. Features often provide some interpretation of events and are written in a more creative, entertaining style than hard news. Feature writing doesn’t have a clear structure like the inverted pyramid structure of ‘hard’ news writing, and any number of writing structures can be employed. Features include the whole range of journalism, from sports to profiles, to explainers, investigations and news features.

Hard news stories generally are written so that the audience gets the most important information as quickly as possible. Feature writers often begin with an anecdote or example designed primarily to draw the audience’s interest so the story may take longer to get to the central point.

Accuracy, balance, fairness, and conciseness are the cornerstones of good journalistic writing. Your news feature will need to adhere to these good standards, highlight important topics and engage your audience.

News Writing – The news reporting and writing week introduces the very basics of journalistic writing, so If you’ve had text reporting training previously, you might skip this week’s accompanying writing chapters at http://www.multimediatrain.com. For those without prior text experience, however, you should review. News writing is a key multimedia skill; you’ll use it as a singular medium, as well as to structure video and audio scripts – you’ll also use it in your multimedia packages later in the year.

Screen Shot 2016-10-01 at 18.14.22.png

Writing Online – You don’t need to read or think too much about writing online this week — We will cover it during the intensive. Again you’ll need to go through the accompanying Multimedia train section: Writing Online. In the age of multimedia journalism, text is delivered on a variety of platforms: print, web, tablet, and mobile. Check out the links we’ve provided at multimediatrain.com for further material that will help you consider writing for web and mobile.

Extra Assignment resources:  

You don’t need to go through all the resources this week, there is plenty of reading for you to do this week. These extra resources are for the really keen and for you to come back to later as and when needed.

The most important thing you should be doing is reading features, it’s impossible to write well if you are not critically reading the work of others. Chinese news writing does differ from English language news writing so it’s important you read both! Also, read a little more about reporting and writing. There’s plenty of places to start in this section.

Tips on feature writing

And of course, READ Plenty of FEATURES! The single two best things you can do to improve your writing is more reading and more writing. When you read, consider the article carefully, where are the elements lead, nut graph, quotes and how are they written and used.

Principles of good writing!

Editing each other’s work will also be an enormous learning curve. Not only will you be helping your classmates, but you’ll also help yourself. Learn to spot mistakes you’d make and avoid them, and become better at improving awkward wording. Wonderful advice from the BBC: BBC Academy — Journalism — Principles of good writing: Allan Little

Headlines (They are tough!)


We’ll focus more on interviews in the future (let’s take one step at a time) — but this is really great advice if you’d like to do some early reading: