8cp; availability: postgraduate Journalism students are permitted to undertake this subject concurrently with the subject Research and Reporting for Journalism
Requisite(s): 57011c Research and Reporting for Journalism
The lower case ‘c’ after the subject code indicates that the subject is a corequisite. See definitions for details.
These requisites may not apply to students in certain courses. See access conditions.
Graduate subject – Journalism – 400 level 

This subject aims to develop skills in feature story writing through a comparative approach to the work of contemporary practitioners. The emphasis is on developing and improving research and writing skills. Students aim to produce publishable work. The subject offers students insights into the breadth of style and genre available to non-fiction writing, including social-realist writing, essays, columns, profiles, ‘new journalism’ and more complex in-depth features. A range of techniques of researching, interviewing and writing are practised and critiqued. Ethical considerations are explored in the context of particular examples of production.  

 Typical availability 

Autumn semester, City campus
Spring semester, City campus  
Detailed subject description. 

Subject objectives/outcomes

On completion of this subject, students should be able to:  

  1. demonstrate the ability to write feature articles whose standard is equal to those of professional writers
  2. have insights into the breadth of style and genre of feature writing, including news follow-up features, more complex in-depth features, profiles, essays, columns and reviews – and an awareness of the stylistic and ethical challenges that arise in their production
  3. understand the links between journalism and broader styles of writing such as non-fiction and fiction.

  

Contribution to course aims and graduate attributes

At the completion of this subject, students will:

  • have strong research and reporting skills and be able to effectively retrieve and analyse information from a range of sources
  • have a knowledge and critical understanding of the media
  • develop the ability to be self-reliant and pro-active, flexible and innovative
  • have an understanding and commitment to ethical journalism practice.

  

Teaching and learning strategies

Internet technology including UTS Online is used to provide and develop learning resources and to facilitate communication with other students and the lecturer between classes.  

Teaching will include lectures and discussions, exercises and debates, special location exercises and practical journalistic assignments. The readings will form the basis of class discussions and relate to the theme of each class.  

Content

This subject aims to develop skills in feature story writing through a comparative approach to the work of contemporary practitioners.  

This is the kind of journalism where your imagination and creativity play an important part. Be a writer 24-hours a day: in your daily life, look out for story ideas, angles, anecdotes from your friends, relatives, the local shopkeeper, whoever. Be curious. Watch the rest of the media with a writer’s eye. Look for follow-ups.  

Start thinking now about feature story ideas and subjects for feature profiles. And remember that if, for example, the person you have in mind to profile is a minor (or major) celebrity, you may need to make many telephone calls, negotiate with agents or deal with countless other roadblocks well ahead of the interview.  

Your lecturer will be your editor. He/she will discuss and approve (or not) your story ideas and suggest lines of inquiry. In story conferences in class, as in the workplace, you will be expected to bring forward stories sourced from newspapers, magazines and online publications, and your own observations and experiences. You can follow up topics that are in line with your own interests, but be aware of the dangers of relying on interviewing friends or exploring topics about which you already know a lot. Explore. Think beyond your certainties. Parachuting into a story based on curiosity and instinct often leads to better stories.  

Your final assignment should be up to professional standard and be potentially publishable. So you should always be thinking of the publication/audience to whom you might successfully pitch your story.  

Students are expected to read the daily newspapers (at a minimum for reference in class the Sydney Morning Herald every day) and identify potential follow-up features from news stories. As a baseline for the wide reading of features that is essential for this course (and because these features may be highlighted by lecturers or in students’ weekly presentations) students are also required to read and retain each week The Good Weekend and the Weekend Australian Magazine.  

Students will also need to consult the online readings which have been prepared for this subject. The readings will form the basis of class discussions and relate to the theme of each class. Students may be asked at random to give their opinion of any of the articles to the rest of the class. There is also a set text for this course: The Writer’s Reader, edited by Susie Eisenhuth and Willa McDonald, available from the Co-op Bookshop.  

Assessment

Assessment Item 1: A 1,000-word feature story

Objective(s): Prepare a follow-up feature story based on recent events.
Weighting: 25%
Assessment criteria: Includes:

  • quality of the idea
  • quality of the introduction and the degree to which it demands attention, demonstrates newsworthiness and narrative value
  • the breadth of source material
  • a demonstrated understanding of the subject matter and the issues involved
  • the imaginative shaping of the content
  • the quality of structure, clear writing and correct English expression.

Assessment Item 2: A profile of 1,000 words

Objective(s): Demonstrate an imaginative and discerning eye for the details, quotes, anecdotes that make for a strong profile. Demonstrate interviewing skills.
Weighting: 20%
Assessment criteria: Includes:

  • imaginative projection
  • narrative value
  • use of colour and quotes.

Assessment Item 3: A 1,500 word feature

Objective(s): Develop a potentially publishable feature story.
Weighting: 35%
Assessment criteria: Includes:

  • quality of the idea
  • quality of the introduction and the degree to which it demands attention, demonstrates newsworthiness and narrative value
  • the breadth of contacts
  • a demonstrated understanding of the subject matter and the issues involved
  • the imaginative shaping of the content
  • the quality of structure, clear writing and correct English expression.

Assessment Item 4: Class presentation

Objective(s): Demonstrate an imaginative and discerning eye for a potential story. Engage in critical discussion of the quality of feature articles in magazines and newspapers.
Weighting: 20%
Assessment criteria: Includes:

  • regular class attendance
  • lively participation in discussion and exercises
  • evidence of wide reading and thorough research
  • demonstrated awareness of feature content in local newspapers and magazines
  • quality of presentation.

Minimum requirements

Students are expected to read the subject outline to ensure they are familiar with the subject requirements. Since class discussion and participation in activities form an integral part of this subject, you are expected to attend, arrive punctually and actively participate in classes. If you experience difficulties meeting this requirement, please contact your lecturer. Students who have a reason for extended absence (e.g., illness) may be required to complete additional work to ensure they achieve the subject objectives.  

Indicative references

Learning from other writers is established methodology in this discipline. Extensive reading of a wide range of features in a wide range of publications is expected. As well as the online course readings, and class handouts, there is a set text for this course: The Writer’s Reader, Understanding Journalism and Non-Fiction, co-authored by Susie Eisenhuth and Willa McDonald (Cambridge University Press). It is available from the UTS Co-Op Bookshop.  

The following texts are recommended as useful references for this subject (some of the excerpts in the online readings are from these texts.)  

Eisenhuth, Susie & McDonald, Willa, 2007, The Writer’s Reader, Understanding Journalism and Non-Fiction, Cambridge University Press
Ricketson, Matthew, 2003, Writing Feature Stories, Allen & Unwin
Hutchison, E.R. 2008, The Art of Feature Writing, Oxford University Press
Perl, S. & Schwartz, M 2006, Writing True, The Art and Craft of Creative Non-fiction, Houghton Mifflin Co, USA
Hooper, Chloe, 2008, The Tall Man, Penguin
Garner, Helen, 1996, True stories: Selected Non fiction, Text
Miller, Adrienne (editor) 2003, Esquire’s Big Book of Great Writing, Hearst Books
Fogg, Christine, 2005, Release the Hounds, Allen & Unwin
Pilger, John (editor), 2004, Tell Me No Lies, Investigative Journalism and Its Triumphs, Jonathan Cape
Leser, David, 1999, The Whites of Their Eyes: A Collection of Feature Stories from the Good Weekend, Allen & Unwin
Zinsser, William, 1994, On Writing Well: An informal guide to writing non-fiction, Harper Collins
King, Stephen, 2000, On Writing: a Memoir of the Craft, Hodder & Stoughton
Carey, John (ed.), 1987, The Faber Book of Reportage, Faber
Wolfe, Tom, 1973, The New Journalism, Harper and Rowe
Didion, Joan, 1993, Slouching Towards Bethlehem, (features collection, originally pub. 1968)
Mitford, Jessica, 1980, The Making of a Muckraker, Quartet
Malcolm, Janet, 1990, The Journalist and the Murderer, Bloomsbury
Richards, Ian, 2005, Quagmires and Quandaries, Exploring Journalism Ethics, UNSW Press
Wilson, Ruth, 2000, A Big Ask: Interviews with Interviewees, New Holland
Silvester, Christopher, 1993, The Penguin Book of Interviews, Penguin
Strunk, W. & White, E.G. 1972, The Elements of Style, Macmillan, New York. (Complete copy also published on the internet.)  

Students must make sure they have access to a good quality dictionary and a thesaurus at all times. A book of English expression such as Fowler’s Dictionary of Modern English Usage, Oxford Uni Press may also be helpful.  

Fee information

2010 contribution for commencing Commonwealth-supported students: $885
Note: Students who commenced prior to 1 January 2010 should consult the student contribution charges for Commonwealth-supported students
Not all students are eligible for Commonwealth-supported places.  

2010 amount for undergraduate domestic fee-paying students: $3334
  

Note: Fees for postgraduate domestic fee-paying students and international students are charged according to the course they are enrolled in. Students should refer to the annual fees schedule.  

Subject EFTSL: 0.167 

Access conditions

Note: The requisite information presented in this subject description covers only academic requisites. Full details of all enforced rules, covering both academic and admission requisites, are available at access conditions and My Student Admin.

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