Communications 201 Writing for the Media syllabus: Emory & Henry College

COM201 Writing for the Media

Instructor: Jim Stovall; 217 Miller Hall; 944-6889;

This course introduces students to writing in a professional environment and to the forms of writing for the mass media. These forms include news stories for print and broadcast, and other types of writing for public relations. Goals of this course include:

introducing students to the basic concepts of news gathering and news writing
learning and emphasis on style rules and application
understanding reporting methods and ethics
learning the basic forms of newswriting, particularly the inverted pyramid news story
introducing students to the basics of writing for the web and writing for broadcast


Two books are required for this course. They are Writing for the Mass Media (sixth edition) by James Glen Stovall; the Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual. You should also have access to a dictionary.


You are expected to attend all class meetings. You are also expected to be in class on time and ready when the class begins. Work missed in labs cannot be made up. Two or three of the lowest lab grades will be dropped at the end of the semester.

When a student misses four classes, the instructor will stop grading his or her work. A student is counted as absent for the lecture if he or she arrives after the news quiz is given.

Much of the MC101 attendance policy applies to this class, and you may want to review that policy.


Grades will be calculated on the following formula

Weekly news stories ___________50%
Chapter tests _________________30%
In-class writing, quizzes ________10%
Attendance ___________________10%


Week 1 Introduction to the course (Jan. 12)
Topics: Basic principles of good writing
Expectations of the course
Writing assignments: chapter 1 exercises
AP style, grammar quizzes
Reading assignment: Chapter 1
Simple words (short article)
Preview stories (handout) HTML, PDF

Week 2 Basic tools of writing (Jan. 17)
Topics: Grammar, punctuation, word precision
Importance of rules of writing
Associated Press stylebook
Writing assignments: chapter 2, 3 exercises
AP style, grammar quizzes
Reading assignment: Chapters 2, 3
A glossary of grammar terms (an extensive listing of terms, rules of grammar and punctuation and examples)
Rules for using commas (HTML) (PDF version)

Week 3 Writing in the media environment (Jan. 24)
Topics: Conventions and practices; writing for an audience; development; transitions
Writing assignments: chapter 4, leads, short news stories
Test 1: Chapters 1-3
Reading assignment: Chapter 4

Week 4 News and newswriting (Jan. 31)
Topics: Writing conventions; inverted pyramid
Purposes and techniques of editing
Editing problems: wordiness, repetition,
redundancy, clichés, technical errors
Writing assignments: chapter 5 exercises
AP style, grammar quizzes
Reading assignment: Chapter 5
Clichés (short article)
Inverted pyramid checklist

Week 5 News and newswriting (Feb. 7)
Topics: Writing conventions
Writing assignments: ch 5, writing leads
AP style, grammar quizzes
Verbs of attribution (short article)

Week 6 News and newswriting (Feb. 14)
Topics: Interviewing
Writing assignments: ch 5, writing leads
AP style, grammar quizzes

Week 7 News and newswriting (Feb. 21)
Topics: Speech stories
Winter Forum, Feb. 22
Speech stories (handout) HTML, PDF
Writing assignments: ch 5, writing leads
AP style, grammar quizzes

Week 8 News and newswriting (Feb. 28)
Topics: Obituaries and other types of news writing
Writing assignments: ch 5, writing leads
AP style, grammar quizzes
Read the entry on obits in the JPROF reporting section
Obituary stories (handout) HTML, PDF

Week 9 News and newswriting (March 7)
AP style, grammar quizzes
Test 2: Chapters 4-5

Spring break (March 10-20)

Week 10 Writing for the web (March 21)
Topics: General principles; demands of writing for the web
Writing assignments: beginning web writing
AP style, grammar quizzes
Reading assignment: Chapter 6

Week 11 Writing for the web (March 28)
Topics: Writing styles and techniques; content and format
Writing assignments: additional web writing
AP style, grammar quizzes

Week 12 Writing for broadcast (April 4)
Topics: Characteristics of broadcast news; dramatic unity
Writing assignments: chapter 7 exercises
AP style, word precision quizzes
Reading assignment: Chapter 7

Week 13 Writing for broadcast (April 11)
Topics: Dramatic unity; use of the present tense
Writing assignments: chapter 7 exercises, newscasts
AP style, word precision quizzes

Week 14 Writing for public relations (April 18)
Topics: Internal, external publics; news releases; speeches and statements
Reading assignment: Chapter 9
Test 3: Chapters 6-7

Week 15 First Amendment and legal considerations (April 25)
Final project
Topics: Legal issues; First Amendment
Review for the final
AP style, word precision quizzes
Reading assignment: Chapter 10

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