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Writing and Reporting for the Media


Twelfth edition

John Bender, Lucinda Davenport, Michael Drager, and Fred Fedler

Publication Date - 01 October 2018

ISBN: 9780190649494

160 pages
8-1/2 x 11 inches

In Stock

The best introduction to the fundamentals of writing in today's journalism environment


A fundamental introduction to newswriting and reporting, this classic text focuses on the basics of reporting, including critical thinking, thorough reporting, excellent writing and creative visual communication skills for stories across all media. With digital journalism covered throughout the text and additional exercises in a brand new workbook, Writing and Reporting for the Media is the most up-to-date, realistic, and applied text available.

New to this Edition

  • An accompanying workbook provides more exercises than ever. The textbook still contains exercises for students, but the addition of the workbook means greater instructor choice and more practice opportunities for students.
  • Digital journalism is not interspersed throughout the text rather than contained to only one chapter to reflect the work that journalists do today.
  • The summary of Associated Press style has been returned to the textbook as Appendix B. Students can now find and refer to the summary quickly and easily.
  • New visuals and expanded captions reflect more recent events and correspond to and supplement the text.
  • Many of the sidebars from the previous edition have been reorganized into two new boxes, "Hot Tip" and "From the News." These boxes provide students with important dos and don'ts and examples from specific news stories, respectively.
  • The text includes many new examples on events that current and future students will likely remember. These include the election of Donald J. Trump as president, the controversy over the use of lethal force by police against minority citizens, and protests by athletes against police killings.


  • Plentiful Examples: The text contains hundreds of examples from the work of students and professionals. Each new topic or discussion of errors includes examples, and students are also shown how to avoid or correct errors.
  • Realistic Exercises: Many of the exercises in this book are taken from or inspired by real events. To add to the realism, many exercises contain ethical problems: profanities, sexist comments, names of victims, or other materials many editors would be reluctant to publish requiring students to make decisions.
  • Flexibility: Writing and Reporting for the Media is flexible. Teachers can assign the chapters in almost any order. Moreover, the book and workbook provide enough exercises that instructors can assign their favorites and then assign extra exercises for students who need more help.
  • Appendices: This book provides four appendices: a city directory, a summary of Associated Press style, rules for forming possessives and answer key for some exercises.
  • Reporter's Guides: Each chapter ends with a reporter's guide (e.g., "Reporter's Guide to Accuracy" in Chapter 2) that summarizes the major points covered in the chapter and helps students organize their writing assignments and make sure they are including all important information.

About the Author(s)

John Bender is Associate Professor of Journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Lucinda Davenport is Professor of Journalism at Michigan State University.
Michael Drager is Assistant Professor of Journalism at Shippensburg University.

Previous Publication Date(s)

February 2015
November 2011
April 2009

Table of Contents


    Section I The Tools of Journalism
    Chapter 1 Journalism Today
    Technology and Journalism
    Types of News
    Evolution of the News Business
    Journalism as a Profession

    Journalism Competencies
    The Modern Journalist
    Journalism Style
    AP Stylebook
    Journalism Terms
    Copy Format
    The Writing Coach: The "N.E.R.D." Factor in Getting a Job
    Chapter 2 Selecting and Reporting the News
    News Characteristics and News Elements
    Impact or Magnitude
    Other Characteristics
    The Nature of the Medium and the Community
    Types of News
    The Concept of Objectivity
    What Is Not Newsworthy?
    Offensive Details
    Sexual Assault
    Names of Juveniles
    Trade Names
    The Importance of Accuracy
    Accuracy in Facts
    Accuracy in Names
    Accuracy Is a Priority
    Guest Columnist: Why I Stayed at a Small-Town Newspaper
    The Reporter's Guide to Accuracy
    Review Exercises

    Chapter 3 Newswriting Style
    Simplify Words, Sentences and Paragraphs
    Eliminate Unnecessary Words
    Remain Objective
    Respecting Diversity

    Avoid Stereotyping Other Groups
    Additional Newswriting Considerations for Digital Media
    The Reporter's Guide to Newswriting Style
    Review Exercises

    Chapter 4 The Language of News
    The Effectiveness of Words
    Mastering Grammar

    Independent and Dependent Clauses
    Active and Passive Voice
    Common Grammatical Errors
    Run-on Sentences
    Comma Splice
    Agreement Errors
    "That"-"Which" Confusion
    "Who"-"Whom" Confusion
    Misplaced Modifiers
    Dangling Modifiers
    Writing like a Pro

    Be Precise
    Use Strong Verbs
    Problems to Avoid

    Overuse of Adjectives and Adverbs
    Technical Language and Jargon
    Stating the Obvious
    First-Person References
    Negative Constructions
    Vague Time References
    Use of the Present Tense
    Avoid Excessive Punctuation
    The Writing Coach: Become a Power Lifter When Picking Verbs
    The Reporter's Guide to the Language of News
    Review Exercises

    Section II The Law and Ethics of Journalism
    Chapter 5 Libel, Privacy and Newsgathering Issues
    The Elements of a Libel Suit
    Who Is a Public Official? Who Is a Public Figure?
    Major Defenses to Libel Suits
    Steps for Avoiding Libel Suits
    Giving Publicity to Private Facts
    False Light
    Newsgathering Issues
    Access to Nonjudicial Events and Records
    Access to Judicial Proceedings
    Confidentiality for Sources and Information
    Review Exercises
    Chapter 6 Ethics
    Codes of Ethics
    Ethical Decision Making

    Who and How Many? (Two Questions)
    What Is the Purpose of the Story? (Two Follow-Up Questions)
    Can I Explain My Decision? (Six Questions)
    The Potter Box
    News Media Credibility Considerations
    Ethics Issues Regarding Conduct
    Plagiarizing and Fabricating Information: Never Acceptable
    Finding Sources
    Recording Interviews: Audio Recorders and Video Cameras
    Eliminating Conflicts of Interest
    Maintaining Objectivity
    Interviewing Victims
    Respecting Privacy of Sources
    Avoiding Deceit: Posing and Misrepresentation
    Witnessing Crimes and Disasters
    Ethics Issues Regarding Content
    Avoiding Speculation: Get the Facts and Provide Accurate Context
    Using Visuals: Newsworthy or Sensational?
    Altering Images
    Deciding When to Name Names
    Covering Killers
    Reporting on Public Figures and Celebrities
    Reporting Rumors and Speculation
    Reporting on Terrorism
    Publishing Ads
    The Writing Coach: Journalists Should Understand: Victims Face Wall of Grief
    Review Exercises

    Section III The Basic Skills of Journalism
    Chapter 7 Basic News Leads
    Identifying the Central Point
    Story Outlines
    Planning the Digital Story
    The Summary News Lead
    Sentence Structure in Leads
    Guidelines for Writing Effective Leads

    Be Concise
    Be Specific
    Use Strong, Active Verbs
    Emphasize the Magnitude of the Story
    Stress the Unusual
    Localize and Update
    Be Objective and Attribute Opinions
    Strive for Simplicity
    Some Common Errors
    Beginning with the Attribution
    Minimizing the News
    Using Agenda Leads
    Using Label Leads
    Listing Details
    Stating the Obvious
    Reporting the Negative
    Distorting the Story
    Following All the Rules
    Forgetting Your Audience
    Using the First Draft
    The Writing Coach: Oh Where, Oh Where Does the Time Element Go?
    The Reporter's Guide to Writing Leads
    Review Exercises

    Chapter 8 Alternative Leads
    Types of Alternative Leads

    "Buried" or "Delayed" Leads
    Multiparagraph Leads
    Quotation Leads
    Question Leads
    Suspenseful Leads
    Descriptive Leads
    Shockers: Leads with a Twist
    Ironic Leads
    Direct-Address Leads
    Words Used in Unusual Ways
    Other Unusual Leads
    The Reporter's Guide to Writing Alternative Leads
    Review Exercises
    Chapter 9 The Body of a News Story
    The Inverted-Pyramid Style
    Organizing the Information
    Writing the Second Paragraph
    Ending the Story
    Complex Stories
    The Hourglass Style
    The Focus Style
    The Narrative Style
    Using Transitions
    Explain the Unfamiliar
    The Importance of Examples
    The Use of Description
    The Need to Be Fair
    The Final Step: Edit Your Story
    The Writing Coach: How to Find the Right Endings to Stories
    The Reporter's Guide to Writing News Stories
    Review Exercises
    Chapter 10 Quotations and Attribution
    When to Use Direct Quotations
    When to Use Indirect Quotations
    When to Use Partial Quotations
    When Sources Seek Quote Approval
    Blending Quotations and Narrative
    Explaining Quotations
    To Change or Not to Change Quotations
    Deleting Profanities
    The Purpose of Attribution
    Statements That Require Attribution
    Guidelines for the Placement and Frequency of Attribution
    Direct Quotations
    Partial Quotations
    Indirect Quotations
    Word Choice in Attributing Statements
    Identifying Sources
    The Writing Coach: Do You Use Said Enough?
    The Reporter's Guide to Quotations and Attribution
    Review Exercises

    Chapter 11 Interviewing
    Preparing for the Interview
    Selecting Interview Sources
    How Many Sources Are Enough?
    Researching Sources and Topics
    Preparing Questions for the Interview
    Conducting the Interview
    Selecting a Location
    Organizing the Questions
    Dealing with Reluctant Sources and Asking Tough Questions
    Special Situations
    Taking Notes
    Recording Interviews
    Final Thoughts
    Writing the Interview Story
    Guest Columnist: Interviewing Three People about a Deadly Accident
    The Reporter's Guide to Interviewing
    Review Exercises
    Chapter 12 Feature Stories
    Finding Story Ideas and Gathering Information
    Parts of Feature Stories

    The Lead of a Feature Story
    The Body of a Feature Story
    The Ending of a Feature Story
    Types of Feature Stories
    Profiles or Personality Features
    Historical Features
    Adventure Features
    Seasonal Features
    Explanatory Features
    How-To-Do-It Features
    Occupation or Hobby Features
    Behind-the-Scenes Features
    Participatory Features
    Other Types of Feature Stories
    The Reporter's Guide to Features
    Review Exercises

    Chapter 13 Writing for Broadcast News
    The Broadcast News Story

    The Hard Lead
    The Soft Lead
    The Throwaway Lead
    The Umbrella Lead
    The Body of a Story
    Updating Broadcast News Stories
    Guidelines for Copy Preparation
    Formatting Copy
    Editing Copy
    Timing Copy
    Reviewing Copy
    Story Length
    Story Script
    Using Audio
    Using Video
    Sources for Broadcast News
    News Services
    Newspapers, Online News and Broadcast News Sources
    Public Relations News Releases
    Broadcast Interviews
    Writing the Broadcast Story
    Writing for the Audience
    Writing for Your Announcer
    Being a Broadcast Journalist
    The Reporter's Guide to Broadcast News Writing Style
    Review Exercises
    Chapter 14 Visual Journalism
    The Roots of Visual Journalism
    Visual Journalism Today
    Ethics of Visual Journalism
    The Digital News Package

    Capturing Photographs
    Capturing Video
    Creating Good Video
    Capturing Audio
    Required Technology
    Digital Video Recorder
    Digital Camera
    Digital Audio Recorder
    The Reporter's Guide to Visual Journalism
    Review Exercises

    Section IV Applying the Skills of Journalism
    Chapter 15 Speeches and Meetings
    Advance Stories
    Covering the Speech of Meeting

    Follow Stories

    Organizing Speech or Meeting Stories
    Writing Effective Leads
    Writing Transitions
    Remember Your Audience
    Check Facts
    Adding Color
    Report What You Hear
    Describe What You See
    The Writing Coach: The Expectations of Public Officials towardJournalists
    The Reporter's Guide to Reporting Speeches and Meetings
    Review Exercises
    Chapter 16 Brights, Follow-Ups, Roundups, Sidebars and Obituaries

    Writing the Biographical Obituary
    Writing the Feature Obituary
    The Reporter's Guide to Writing Brights, Follow-Ups, Roundups, Sidebars and Obituaries
    Review Exercises

    Chapter 17 Public Affairs Reporting
    Crime and Accidents
    Police Sources
    Key Police Documents
    Respecting Victims
    Writing the Crime or Accident Story
    Words and Phrases to Avoid
    Local Government
    City and County Governments
    School Districts
    General Information about the Court System
    Criminal Cases
    Civil Cases
    Guest Columnist: Developing Sources on the Police Beat
    Guest Columnist: Journalists Deliver the Information the Public Needs
    The Reporter's Guide to Public Affairs Reporting
    Review Exercises

    Chapter 18 Introduction to Investigative Reporting
    What Is Investigative Reporting?
    Whom and What to Investigate
    Developing an Investigative Story

    The Story Idea
    Planning the Story
    Gathering Documents
    Developing Sources
    The Investigative Interview
    Writing the Investigative Story
    Using Technology in Investigative Reporting
    Using Computers to Get Answers
    Using Social Media
    Using Statistics
    Ethical Issues in Investigative Reporting
    Guest Columnist: Developing Investigative Story Ideas
    The Reporter's Guide to Investigative Reporting
    Review Exercises

    Chapter 19 Journalism and Public Relations
    What Is PR?
    PR Agencies
    Corporate, Nonprofit and Government PR
    Working with News Media
    Advance Stories
    Event Stories
    Discoveries and Results
    Tips for Effective News Releases
    List a Contact Person and a Follow-Up
    Send the Release on Time
    Use Journalism's Five W's
    Write Well
    Localize Information
    Provide Visuals
    Provide Links
    From the Journalist's Perspective: Working with Press Releases
    The No. 1 Problem: Lack of Newsworthiness

    Limited Interest
    Contrived Events
    Rewriting for Newsworthiness
    Rewriting for Wordiness
    The No. 2 Problem: Lack of Objectivity
    Eliminating Laudatory Adjectives and Puffery
    Telling the Public What to Do
    Other Problems with News Releases
    Stating the Obvious
    Absence of Solid Facts
    One-Sided Stories
    The Reporter's Guide to Public Relations
    Review Exercises

    Appendix A City Directory
    Appendix B Summary of AP Style
    Appendix C Rules for Forming Possessives
    Appendix D Answer Key
    Credit Lines