Journalism Skills for Engaged Citizens (Coursera)

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Journalism Skills for Engaged Citizens (Coursera)
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No background is required other than an interest in journalism.
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Journalism Skills for Engaged Citizens (Coursera)
This is a course in basic journalism skills designed for citizens who are using new media to publish news, views and information. We cover writing skills, interviews, ethics, law and accessing public forums and documents. We also introduce basic investigative skills.

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This is a course in basic journalism skills, designed for the many people who are now taking advantage of new media to publish news, views and information. For five hundred years, the privilege of being able to publish was enjoyed by very few people – those who had access to a printing press or a radio microphone or a television camera. Now, almost anyone can publish to the world within minutes of being able to do so. But is it journalism?



How does a citizen journalist find things out, so they can report facts and news - moving beyond merely braying opinion? And what are the legal and ethical pitfalls to publishing facts that some people might prefer remain secret?

Over eight weeks, this course teaches the basics of news writing, how to interview people to gain crucial information, how to develop and manage your sources and how to use your legal rights to access public information - and stay on the right side of the law when you publish. We discuss the ethics behind journalism practice, and conduct a mock investigation into local government. This course aims to empower engaged citizens to better participate in the news ecology.


Syllabus


WEEK 1

What is a Journalist, and What is News?

This week we will discuss what journalism is, what journalists do, and how this has been affected over time by technology. We'll think about the exciting changes of our own time – the first in human history when the means of publication are in everyone's hands. We will then talk about the principles of news writing, and the nature of news. Finally, we will introduce Newstown, a fictitious place in Victoria, Australia. We also attend a news conference held in the Newstown Council Chambers. We will be using Newstown as the basis of our skills based exercises in this MOOC, so please take the time to become familiar with the town and its issues by following the link to Newstown in the course resources.


WEEK 2

Attribution, Verification and the Structure of News Writing

This week we discuss some more core skills of journalism, particularly the very important concepts of attribution of information, and verification. We explore the structure of news writing in some more detail. Finally, make sure you take a close look at the Newstown site, and keep looking at it from now on as the course develops. Some new information has been posted that you will need to use in this week's first assessable news writing exercise.


WEEK 3

Finding Things Out: Places, Paper and People

This week we discuss some more core skills of journalism, particularly the very important concepts of attribution of information, and verification. We explore the structure of news writing in some more detail. Finally, make sure you take a close look at the Newstown site, and keep looking at it from now on as the course develops. Some new information has been posted that you will need to use in this week's first assessable news writing exercise.


WEEK 4

More on Interviews

This week we delve further into the art of interviewing, and watch and discuss some good and bad examples involving the key characters in Newstown.


WEEK 5

Contacts and Confidential Sources; Applying the Skills and Organising Your Material

This week we explore the complications of dealing with off the record sources and long term contacts. We watch an encounter with a Newstown 'Deep Throat' and discuss how to handle the encounter and the information offered. Remember to check out the Newstown website for more information becoming available. We begin to pull all the threads of the Newstown story together, and apply the skills we have learned in the earlier modules of this course. We talk about how to read and analyse the public documents on the Newstown site, how to organise material, what questions to ask based on this material, and how to pull it all together into a story for The Alternative. We also provide you with an exemplar news report to give you some guidance for the final news writing assessment and how it might be done.


WEEK 6

Media Law and Impartiality; Wrapping Up the Course

This week we concentrate on two aspects of media law – defamation and contempt, and we consider the meaning of journalistic impartiality. We wrap up the course by revisiting the key principles of journalism and what we have learned. We also have a few things to say about the public nature of journalism, and how bruising that can be.



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MOOC List is learner-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Free Course
No background is required other than an interest in journalism.

MOOC List is learner-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.