University of Regina

School of Journalism

JRN 300 – Introduction to Print Journalism (Fall 2015)

Calendar description: Study and practice of news gathering fundamentals and principles in reporting for newspapers and their websites. A focus on information gathering, clear, complete, accurate and fair story writing to deadlines, the essentials of headline writing, page layout and editing according to Canadian Press style guidelines followed in newspapers across the country. *** Prerequisite: Admission to the School of Journalism. ***

Class time: Mondays 8:30 – 11:30

(Lunch 11:30 – 1:30)

Lab time: 1:30 – 4:15


Place: AH 105.6 (SJ large lab)


Instructor: Shannon Avison

Office AH xxx.xx

Email: savison@fnuniv.ca

Cell: 306-536-8069

Office hours for consultation Mondays 11:30 – 1:30 and by appointment


Lab instructor: Mark Taylor

Office: AH 105.19

Email: mark.taylor@uregina.ca

Phone: 306-585-4091

Office hours for consultation: by appointment



Course Description: Requirements, Objectives, Methods

If you are in this course…

  • You are curious about everything and everybody
  • You are an avid consumer and critic of news
  • You read a local and national newspaper every day
  • You subscribe to online news sites like Huffington Post
  • You wake up to radio news and local programming on public and private stations
  • Your car radio is set to news talk stations.
  • You watch morning, noon and/or supper hour news shows
  • You watch a national newscast every night
  • You follow news organizations and journalists on Twitter
  • You subscribe to sites that distribute news releases, like Govt. of Saskatchewan.
  • You are a self-directed learner who wants to learn everything you can about writing news and features for newspapers.

In this course you will learn to write publishable news articles, including:

  • Finding “news”
  • Judging the newsworthiness of stories according to news values
  • Pitching story ideas
  • Finding people for your stories who represent both/all sides of the story
  • Doing background research
  • Conducting interviews and selecting quotations
  • Attributing information and quotations
  • Writing attention-grabbing leads
  • Organizing and writing news stories using the inverted pyramid format
  • Editing perfect copy using CP style
  • Making judgements that reflect personal and professional ethics
  • Understanding the relationship between news, advertising and public relations
  • Writing feature stories
  • Hitting every single deadline without exception

In order to learn, you will

  • Read/watch/ listen to all assigned materials
  • Be ready to contribute to in-class discussions
  • Listen carefully to other peoples’ ideas and provide thoughtful feedback
  • Appreciate and consider suggestions others make about your work
  • Assist other students by critiquing and editing their work
  • Participate in a class field trip
  • Complete all assignments on time

And finally, as your instructors, we will

  • Provide a stimulating learning environment
  • Provide you with real world examples that prepare you for work in a variety of newsroom
  • Provide a professional teaching/learning environment
  • Listen and carefully consider your suggestions
  • Support you in your learning journey


Silverman, Craig. 2015. Verification Handbook: A Definitive guide to Verifying Digital Content for Emergency Coverage. European Journalism Centre. (PDF available in Resources)

Silverman, Craig. 2015. Verification Handbook for Investigative Reporting: A Guide to online Search and Research Techniques for Using UGC and Open Source Information in Investigations. European Journalism Centre. (PDF available in Resources)

McCarten, James, Ed. 2013. The Canadian Press Stylebook: A Guide for Writers and Editors, 17th Edition. Toronto: The Canadian Press.

Additional recommended readings:

Thornburg, Ryan. 2010. Producing Online News: Digital Skills, Stronger Stories. CQ Press. Available (partial) at http://www.amazon.com/Producing-Online-News-Digital-Stronger/dp/1604269960


News/Style Quizzes – 5 marks – CP Style, Current events – Sept. 21; Sept. 28; Oct. 19; Nov. 9; Nov. 23

Newsroom #1 – 10 marks – Newsroom exercise (300-400 words) – Due 4 pm October 19

Newsroom #2 – 10 marks – Newsroom exercise (300-400 words) – Due 3:30 pm November 2

Newsroom #3 – 10 marks – Individual layout (300-400 words, laid out) – Due November 23

Montmartre feature story (first draft 500 – 700 words) – 10 marks – Due November 2

Montmartre feature story (final draft 500-700 words) – 15 marks – Due November 16

Montmartre web magazines (one online magazine per team) – 10 marks – Due November 23 (Mark)

Montmartre print magazines (one magazine per team) – 20 marks – Due December 7 (Mark)

Class attendance and participation – 10 marks



Weekly Schedule

WEEK 1: Monday, September 14


Objectivity versus Opinion; The Five W’s; The Inverted Pyramid; Writing Basic News Leads; Other Kinds of Leads; Story Structure

Finding stories

Reading assignments for next class:

  • “Newswriting Basics” (Chapter3a)
  • “Generating Story Ideas” Chapter 2 in Investigative Journalism Manual, 2010

Lab: Introductions and overview. Fundamentals of newsgathering.

WEEK 2: Monday, September 21

Quiz #1

Reading assignments for next class:

Lab: Introduction to photojournalism and Adobe Photoshop.

WEEK 3: Monday, September 28

Quiz #2

EDITING and INTERVIEWING – CP Style; Deadlines; Accuracy Fairness and Balance; Newswriting Tips; and

The Rules of Interviewing; News versus Profile Interviews, Strategies; Preparation; Research; Rapport; Advance Work; Questions: Open- and Closed-Ended; Asking Tough Questions; Quotes

Preparing for Montmartre trip

Lab: Generating and pitching story ideas.

WEEK 4: Monday, October 5

FIELD TRIP TO MONTMARTRE – We spend the day in Montmartre finding out what’s on the minds of its residents and putting that in context. Bring your observation skills, notebook, recorder and camera.

WEEK 5: Monday, October 12


Readings for next week:

  • Review “Feature Writing” by Jeanne Acton, University of Texas (Austin) or click Feature Writing
  • Go to the Pulitzer Prize (Feature Writing) website at http://www.pulitzer.org/bycat/Feature-Writing and select three feature articles to read. Be ready to discuss them in class. Ask yourself these questions:  Why did you chose the stories you did? What kind of lead did it use and how did it grab your attention? How did the  “Graph Nut” summarize the story? How are these stories different from news stories?


WEEK 6: Monday, October 19 – ELECTION DAY!

Quiz #3

NEWSROOM # 1 (Class/Lab) – Simulated newsroom exercise (10 points) 300-400 words

Deadline: Stories completed and submitted by 4 pm Monday, September 21


WEEK 7: Monday, October 26


Lab: Putting it all together. Refresher on leads, quotations, attribution and story structure. Work period to start your Montmartre stories.

Week 8: Monday, November 2

Due: Montmartre story – First draft (10 points)

NEWSROOM #2 (Class/Lab) – Simulated newsroom exercise (10 points). Story submitted for copy editing by 3:30 pm.

Reading for next week:

WEEK 9: Monday, November 9

Quiz #4


Setting up Montmartre teams. Accuracy in reporting. Your responsibility to get the story right. Video: The Newspaper.

Reading assignment:

  • Review all of the materials on the “Reporting in Indigenous Communities” website at www.riic.ca
  • Read Truth and Reconciliation Commission report 

Lab: Introduction to layout and InDesign.

WEEK 10: Monday, November 16

Due: Montmartre story – Final (15 points)

REPORTING IN INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES – Lecture and discussion on the TRC and RIIC site

Lab: Break into teams, create blogs then upload Montmartre stories and photos. Web Layout due November 30.

WEEK 11: Monday, November 23

Quiz #5

NEWSROOM #3 (Class/Lab) – Simulated newsroom exercise (10 points) – Story submitted for copy editing by 2:30 pm. Layout your story using InDesign

WEEK 12: Monday, November 30

All Day Lab – Begin to lay out Montmartre magazine

WEEK 13: Monday, December 7

REVIEW/WRAP – Discussion

Lab: Complete Montmartre magazine layout. Proofread, Print, Party.