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News Writing and Reporting

The Complete Guide for Today's Journalist

Second Edition

Chip Scanlan and Richard Craig

Publication Date - July 2013

ISBN: 9780195188325

544 pages
8 x 10 inches

Process. Coaching. Storytelling. In this thoroughly revised second edition, the Poynter Institute's Chip Scanlan empowers students to think, act and produce newsworthy stories in the exciting and challenging field of contemporary journalism.


News Writing and Reporting: The Complete Guide for Today's Journalist, Second Edition, uses a multitude of reporting and writing examples from print, broadcast and online sources in order to deconstruct and reveal journalistic practices, techniques and philosophy to today's students. Building on a solid foundation of the three pillars of excellent journalism--process, coaching and storytelling--Chip Scanlan and Richard Craig shape students into successful journalists by providing them with the theoretical background and practical knowledge needed to transition into a new age of reporting.

What's New to the Second Edition?
* "Journalists at Work" boxes provide illuminating profiles of professional journalists
* "Quick Tips" boxes offer practical advice and checklists on how to accomplish the myriad tasks that journalists face daily
* "Chip's Corner" boxes provide varied and insightful accounts from author Chip Scanlan's nearly two decades of journalistic experience
* "Ethical Dilemmas" case studies recount real-world situations that challenge students to think critically about the limits of journalistic fairness and accuracy
* "The Coaching Way" boxes feature advice and questions that guide students toward excellent and ethical journalism
* "Professionals Roundtable"boxes are comprised of interview transcripts with industry insiders, journalism professors and leading authors
* "Close-Ups" highlight the strengths and potential problems found in real journalistic practice with annotated walkthroughs of actual print, broadcast and online journalistic pieces. More of these walkthroughs will be available to students on the Companion Website (www.oup.com/us/scanlan).

Need more practice? Call customer service at 800-280-0280 to order News Writing and Reporting: The Complete Guide for Today's Journalist's student workbook (ISBN: 978-0-19-998085-7).

A Word to Aspiring Journalists from Chip Scanlan

Cultivate curiosity. Do what you fear. Collaboration, especially in online journalism, is key. Master technology, but never forget that tools enhance your capabilities and the basics of good journalism never change. You may have to start out small, but jobs are out there for journalists who are committed to public service. That is the heart of excellent journalism. Never stop learning. Never give up. Have fun.

About the Author(s)

About the Authors

Chip Scanlan is a Reporting, Writing and Editing Faculty Affiliate at The Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, FL. He worked as an award-winning journalist for two decades at newspapers around the country, including The Providence Journal, The St. Petersburg Times and Knight Ridder Newspapers' Washington Bureau. He is coeditor of America's Best Newspaper Writing and editor of seven editions of Best Newspaper Writing.

Richard Craig is Associate Professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at San José State University. He is author of Online Journalism: Reporting, Writing and Editing for New Media. His journalistic work has appeared in the New York Times, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Miami Herald, San Jose Mercury News and many other publications.

Previous Publication Date(s)

January 2000


"The best reporting textbook on the market."--Christopher Frear, Sussex County Community College

Table of Contents

    Chapter 1: News Judgment
    What Is News?
    Three Basic Elements of News
    Developing News Judgment and Critical Thinking Skills
    Audio, Video And Citizen Journalism
    Where News Comes From, Where to Find It
    Positive versus Negative News: Striking a Balance
    Ethical Dilemmas: Who Deserves News Coverage?
    New News: The Impact Of Audience, Culture and Technology
    Professional's Roundtable: What's the News?
    --Summary Guide
    --Key Terms
    Close-Up 1.1 Basic News Story
    Close-Up 1.2 Striking the Balance between Good and Bad News
    Chapter 2: The Six-step Process Approach to reporting and Writing
    Step 1: Idea: Creativity Skills for Today's Journalists
    Journalist at Work: Brainstorming
    Step 2: Focus: Finding the Heart of Your Stories
    Chip's Corner: Listening for Focus
    Journalist at Work: Roy Wenzl
    Coaching Way: Finding a Focus
    Step 3: Collect: Reporting the Story
    Ethical dilemmas: The Assignment vs. The Evidence
    Journalist at Work: Matching Sources with Questions
    Step 4: Order: Mapping Your Story
    Step 5: Draft: Writing Your Story
    Step 6: Revise: Rewriting the Story
    Professional's Roundtable: The Process Approach
    --Summary Guide
    --Key Terms
    Close-Up 2.1 Reporting and Writing: The Process Approach at Work
    Chapter 3: The Coaching Way: Taking Charge of Your Stories
    Coaching Basics
    Coaching or Coddling
    The Coaching Way
    Journalists at Work: A Fixer's Confession
    Coaching vs. Fixing
    Coaching Techniques
    Journalists at Work: Coaching Online Journalists
    Reporter's Roundtable: The Coaching Way
    --Summary Guide
    --Key terms
    Close-Up 3.1 "Movie Reading:" How a Coach Responds to a Writer's Work
    Chapter 4: Storytelling vs. Speed: Deadlines in the 21st Century
    One Side of the Equation: Storytelling
    Chip's Corner: The Right Details in the Right Place
    The Other Side: Get It Done, Now!
    Journalist at Work: The Web and the Ticking Clock
    Ethical Dilemmas: Blogging with Anonymous Sources
    The Coaching Way: Storytelling on Deadline
    Focusing and Planning on the Fly
    Drafting on Deadline
    Deadlines and Technology: A TV Reporter's Story
    Reporter's Roundtable: The Evolution of Deadlines
    --Summary Guide
    --Key terms
    Close-Up 4.1 Breaking News Narrative
    Chapter 5: The Reporter's Toolbox
    Pens, Pencils and Reporter's Notebook
    The Computer
    Note-Taking on the Screen
    Chip's Corner: Text Messaging
    Cell Phones
    Audio Recorders
    Chip's Corner: Working with Photos and Photojournalists
    Ethical Dilemmas: Is That How it Really Happened?
    Software Tools
    The Reporter's Mindset
    The Coaching Way: Tool Sharpening
    --Summary Guide
    --Key terms
    Chapter 6: Interviewing
    The Role of the Interview
    Preparing for the Interview
    Conducting the Interview
    Writing from Interviews
    Learning to Listen
    Chip's Corner: Being Human as an Interviewer
    Keeping Confidences
    Establish Interview Ground Rules
    Ethical Dilemmas: Protecting a Source
    The Coaching Way: Final Pointers on Interviewing
    Professional's Roundtable: Effective Interviewing
    --Summary Guide
    --Key terms
    Chapter 7: Research
    "Reporting On Steroids"
    A "Documents State of Mind"
    Chip's Corner: The Importance of Public Records
    Cracking the Government Seal: Using the Freedom of Information Act
    Search Engines
    The Coaching Way: Research Skills
    Multimedia Sources: Add New Dimensions with Audio and Video
    Wikipedia: Power and Pitfalls of the Internet's Encyclopedia
    Why Librarians Still Matter
    Deflating Urban Legends and Online Hoaxes
    Private Records: Intimate Research
    Computer-Assisted Reporting: Precision Journalism
    Ethical Dilemmas: Transparency vs. Privacy
    Reaping the Rewards: Turning Research into Compelling Stories
    Journalist at Work: Nailing Down Every Fact
    Reporter's Roundtable: The Power of Research
    --Summary Guide
    --Key terms
    Close-Up 7.1 Using Research to Document a Story
    Chapter 8: Grammar, Language, Style: Using Accurate Words
    Why Spelling, Grammar and Style Matter
    The Hallmarks of Effective News Writing
    Ethical Dilemmas: Cleaning Up Butchered Grammar
    X-Ray Reading: Writing News - The Basics
    Grammar: The Rules of the Road
    Stylebooks: Print and Online
    Grammar's Dirty Dozen: Common Errors Reporters Make
    The Pitfalls of Jargon and Clichés
    The Coaching Way: Grammar: Yours and Interviewees'
    Reporter's Roundtable: The Importance of Clean Copy
    --Summary Guide
    --Key terms
    Chapter 9: Numbers: Using Accurate Figures
    Why Math Matters
    Making News With Numbers
    Basic Math Skills
    Percentages, Rates, Percents, Per Capita
    Advanced Math Skills
    Ethical Dilemmas: Reporting a Dubious Statistic
    The Coaching Way: Doing the Math
    Polls and Surveys
    Reporting on Budgets
    Writing with Numbers
    Professional's Roundtable: Adding it All Up
    --Summary Guide
    --Key terms
    Close-Up 9.1 Budget Story
    Chapter 10: Lead Writing
    The Lead and Its Role in Newswriting
    How "5Ws", an "H," and "SW" Create Compelling Leads
    Deconstructing Leads
    Develop Your Lead from a Focus
    Finding the Tension
    Journalist at Work: Mark Fritz
    Chip's Corner: Clichéd Leads and How to Avoid Them
    The Two Types of Leads
    X-Ray Reading: Broadcast Lead Story
    Choosing the Right Lead
    Revising Your Leads
    The Coaching Way: Thinking About Leads
    Professional's Roundtable: Lead Writing
    --Summary Guide
    --Key terms
    Chapter 11: Story Forms
    Shaping the News
    Inverted Pyramid: News from the Top Down
    Historical Perspectives: Birth of the Inverted Pyramid
    The Hourglass: Serving News and Readers
    The Nut Graf: Giving Readers a Reason to Care
    Five Boxes: How Readers Process Stories
    The Narrative: The Way We Tell Stories
    Serial Narrative: "To Be Continued"
    Short-Short Stories: Writing For a Time-Pressed Audience
    Using Story Forms Online
    Alternative Story Forms
    Journalist at Work: The Long and Short of It
    Choosing the Best Story Form
    The Coaching Way: Shaping the News
    Professional's Roundtable: Shaping Stories
    --Summary Guide
    --Key terms
    Close-Up 11.1 Inverted Pyramid Story
    Close-Up 11.2 Hourglass Story
    Chapter 12: Writing for Print
    Writing for Newspapers
    Behind the Page: Who Does What
    Chip's Corner: Newspapers Past and Present
    Journalist at Work: A Newspaper Reporter's Life
    On the Page
    X-Ray Reading: Localizing a Trend
    New Roles for Reporters and Editors
    Surviving in a Changing World
    The Coaching Way: Working for a Newspaper
    Professional's Roundtable: Writing for Newspapers
    --Summary Guide
    --Key terms
    Chapter 13: Online Writing and Content Production
    The Necessity of Adaptation
    Online News Organizations: A Hierarchy of Change
    Journalist at Work: A Mojo's Work is Never Done
    The Coaching Way: Online Writing
    Professional's Roundtable: Three Views of Online Writing
    The ABCs of Online Journalism
    New Roles for Journalists and the Skills Needed To Fill Them
    Story Forms and Elements
    --Summary Guide
    --Key terms
    Close-Up 13.1 Blog Post
    Chapter 14: Broadcast Writing
    Broadcast News: What It Takes
    The Broadcast Newsroom: Who Does What?
    Working Fast
    Interviewing for Broadcast
    Writing for Broadcast: Style, Format and Examples
    Teases and Tags: Starting and Ending Strong
    Script Basics: TV and Radio
    TV Writing: The Package
    Writing for Video
    Ethical Dilemmas: The Real Thing?
    Writing for Audio
    Journalist at Work: Shifting from Print to Radio
    On-Camera Preparation/Performance Tips
    The Coaching Way: Broadcast Quality
    Professional's Roundtable: Sound Advice
    --Summary Guide
    --Key terms
    Close-Up 14.1 TV News Script
    Chapter 15: Diversity
    Making the Case for Cultural Competence
    Chip's Corner: Why Diversity Matters to Journalists
    How Can Reporters See People As People?
    Ethical Dilemmas: Challenge Discrimination or Remain Silent
    Talking Across Differences
    Journalist at Work: The Five W's of Diversity Coverage
    Using Precision to Avoid Euphemisms, Stereotypes, and Clichés of Vision
    Avoiding Bias in Racial/Ethnic Identification
    Guidelines for Racial Identifiers in News Stories
    Connecting With Diverse Communities
    Telling Untold Stories: Reporting and Writing Across Cultures
    The Coaching Way: Diversity
    Professional's Roundtable: Finding Diversity
    --Summary Guide
    --Key terms
    Close-Up 15.1 Writing About Diversity
    Chapter 16: Libel, Privacy, Ethics
    The Two Sides of Defamation: Libel and Slander
    Understanding the Elements of Libel
    Journalist at Work: Dodging the Libel Bullet
    The New York Times vs. Sullivan: A Journalistic Shield
    Targeting Journalistic Conduct
    Online Libel: The New Frontier
    Ethical Dilemmas: Reporting vs. Blogging
    Risks Of Whistleblowing: The Ethics Of WikiLeaks
    Privacy: Guidelines for Reporters
    Chip's Corner: About Recording Telephone Interviews
    Ethical Decision-Making: Sidestepping Minefields and Pitfalls
    Fabrication: "The Legend on the License"
    Where Credit Is Due: Avoiding Plagiarism
    The Coaching Way: Doing the Right Thing
    Professional's Roundtable: Doing the Right Thing
    --Summary Guide
    --Key terms
    Chapter 17: First Assignments
    Prepping For Your First Assignments
    News Release Stories
    Accident Stories
    Fire Stories
    Community Event Stories
    Ethical Dilemmas: What Should You Report?
    Speeches and News Conferences
    Meetings and Hearings Stories
    Journalist at Work: Journalistic Rights Under Open Meeting Laws
    The Coaching Way: First Assignments
    Professional's Roundtable: Doing It Right the First Time
    --Summary Guide
    --Key terms
    Close-Up 17.1 Accident Story
    Close-Up 17.2 Community Event Story
    Close-Up 17.3 Speech Story
    Close-Up 17.4 Public Hearing Story
    Close-Up 17.5 Profile
    Chapter 18: Beats: Police, Courts, Specialty Sports, Business, Education and more
    Ingredients of Successful Beat Reporting
    Chip's Corner: Getting Them to Call Back
    Basic Beats
    Specialty Beats
    Ethical Dilemmas: To Scoop or Not to Scoop
    What a Specialty Beat Requires
    Journalist at work: How a Veteran Beat Reporter Became a Multimedia Journalist
    Getting-and Staying-Organized
    The Coaching Way: Beats
    Professional's Roundtable: Beat Reporting
    --Summary Guide
    --Key terms
    Close-Up 18.1 Court Story
    Close-Up 18.2 Business Story
    Close-Up 18.3 Sports Story
    Chapter 19: Obituaries
    The Obituary: Stories of Death and Life
    Four Types of Obituaries
    Reporting and Writing the Obituary: A Process Approach
    Chip's Corner: Writing an Appreciation
    Online Obituaries
    Journalist at Work: An Obituary Hoax
    Making Tough Choices: Ethics and Obituaries
    Ethical Dilemmas: Digging up the Past
    Portraits of Grief: A New Stencil?
    The Coaching Way: Verification and Respect
    Professional's Roundtable: Summing Up a Life
    --Summary Guide
    --Key terms
    Close-Up 19.1 News Obit
    Close-Up 19.2 Feature Obituary
    Chapter 20: Emergencies, Disasters, and Conflicts: From Weather to War
    The Media's Role
    What's Changed: Technology and Timeliness
    What It Takes: Reporting
    Think Digital
    Verify and Attribute
    Story Structures and Writing Strategies
    Reporting Painful Truths
    Ethical Dilemmas: Should Journalists Help, as Well as Write About, Disaster Victims?
    Breaking News Blogs
    In a War Zone: Getting the Story, Staying Safe
    Humanize the Story
    Responding To Disaster: Easing Journalists' Trauma
    The Coaching Way: Disasters
    Professional's Roundtable: When Disaster Strikes
    --Summary Guide
    --Key terms
    Close-Up 20.1 Telling a Story of Loss
    Chapter 21: Getting and Keeping a Job
    Getting Started
    Best Practice: Get an Internship
    Job Hunting Step By Step
    The World Wide Résumé
    Job Prospects, Salaries and Benefits
    The Case for Starting Out Small
    Journalist at Work: Lessons from a First job in Journalism
    Advice for New Reporters
    The Coaching Way: Getting and Keeping a Job
    Ethical Dilemmas: Doing the Right Thing
    Journalist at Work: The Right Attitude
    Professional's Roundtable: Getting a Job and Keeping It
    --Summary Guide
    --Key terms
    Close-Up 21.1: Resume

Teaching Resources

·         Companion Website: (oup.com/us/scanlan) features online version of the Instructor’s Manual, PowerPoint lecture slides, and student resources including key term flashcards, practice quizzes, “Close-Up” examinations of exemplary journalism, exercises, suggested further readings and web-links for writing and career tips.

·         Instructor’s Manual: (9780195336757) with detailed chapter-by-chapter summaries, discussion topics, in-class exercises, quiz questions, and web-links to articles illustrating key points.

·         Standalone Student Workbook: (9780199980857) $29.95 includes Chapter Summaries, Checklists for story construction, writing exercises and scenarios, and web-links.  

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