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Essentials of Journalism




Admission Requirements



This is an introductory course seeking to give students a basic understanding of the essential elements of journalism. There will be lectures on what is news, news judgement and how to get a story. There will be further lectures on the specifics of reporting, news writing, interviewing, sourcing, feature writing and investigative reporting. Students will be given articles by a variety of journalists to study. The emphasis is on print journalism and students will be required to write their own news stories or features every week.

Course Objectives

  • To give a clear insight and understanding of what print journalism entails

  • To give basic skills in reporting and writing news stories and features

  • To give an understanding of the different techniques of reporting, interviewing and writing that journalists have used and developed over the past 150 years

Mode of Instruction

Most of the classes will be in the form of lectures, with time for discussion.
There will also be several in-class assignments – writing to time limitations.
Every week students will be given writing assignments – first based on articles handed out by the lecturer, later on the basis of reporting each of the students have personally done – either in the form of news stories or of a news feature. One of the reporting assignments will follow a visit to a court session of the ICTY – the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The news stories will be relatively short (300 to 400 words); the news feature longer (600 – 800 words). Students will be graded both on the quality of their stories and on their participation in class discussions. I will be available every week for individual meetings with students and will arrange to show two films outside class during two evenings.


Assessment: In-class participation in discussions
Percentage: 10%
Deadline: Ongoing

Assessment: For the four news stories written on the basis of articles given to the students by the lecturer
Percentage: 30%
Deadline: TBA

Assessment: For the two news stories reported by the students themselves
Percentage: 20%
Deadline: TBA

Assessment: For the book review of In Cold Blood
Percentage: 10%
Deadline: TBA

Assessment: For the news-feature and re-write reported by the students themselves
Percentage: 30%
Deadline: TBA


The Elements of Journalism – Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel (Three Rivers Press 2001 – ISBN 0-609-80691-2)
Blur: How to know what’s true in the age of information overload – Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel (Bloomsbury – ISBN 978-1-60819-301-1)
In Cold Blood – Truman Capote

Contact Information

Aernout van Lynden:

Weekly Overview

Week 1: Introductory lecture “what is news” + lecture on news judgement
Week 2: Reaction to 1st assignment/lectures on how to get a story & reporting
Week 3: Reaction to 2nd & 3rd assignments + lectures on interviewing
Week 4: Reaction to 4th & 5th assignments + lectures on sourcing and research
Week 5: Reaction to 6th assignment + lectures on the new journalism and news-features
Week 6: Reaction to 7th assignment + lectures on investigative journalism & journalism on the web
Week 7: Reaction to 8th assignment + lecture on ethics and final lecture
Week 8: Reporting and rewriting news feature

Preparation for first session

All students should have read The Elements of Journalism