My 14-year-old daughter is very interested in pursuing a career in journalism, specifically investigative journalism. (UPDATE: Actually, she's pursuing a very different career path now.) When I first looked online for a journalism curriculum for high schoolers—one that dove into more than just the how-to's of crafting an article—I didn't find anything very comprehensive.
Since I wasn't satisfied with the ready-made curriculum, I decided to compile my own journalism course from various resources I found.
The list below is what I've come up and what Jerah is currently working her way through. So far, she's enjoying the study and is even more excited about a journalism career than she was before.
If you'd like to use these resources for your own child's curriculum, feel free to pick and choose from the resources below.
The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law. This is a very thick book, and it's generally used as a reference, but it's also not very difficult to read through which is what Jerah is doing. She's learned quite a bit so far as is actually enjoying the read-through.
- When should the names of government bodies be spelled out and when should they be abbreviated?
- What are the general definitions of the major religious movements?
- Which companies do the big media conglomerates own?
- Who are all the members of the British Commonwealth?
- How should box scores for baseball games be filed?
- What constitutes “fair use”?
- What exactly does the Freedom of Information Act cover?"
Writing for Story: Craft Secrets of Dramatic Nonfiction, by Jon Franklin. "Franklin shows how to make factual pieces come alive by applying the literary techniques of complication/resolution, flashback, foreshadowing, and pace. He illustrates his points with a close analysis and annotation of two of his most acclaimed stories, so that the reader can see, step-by-step, just how they were created. This lively, easy-to-follow guide combines readability and excitement with the best of expository prose and illuminates the techniques that beginning journalists—and more experienced ones, too—will find immensely helpful:
- Stalking the true short story
- Drafting an effective outline
- Structuring the rough copy
- Polishing like a pro
- and the tips, tools, and techniques that will put your stories on the cutting edge"
Video and Online Self-Study Courses
News Writing video course from Annenberg. This series, which Jerah really enjoyed, was produced in 1995, so it seems a little dated at first. But it's a really good series and contains some valuable content.
"This series teaches the writing, reporting, editing, and communicating of information in the public interest. More than 100 journalists working in print, radio, and television reveal the secrets of their trade. Among those offering insights are Bob Woodward, Helen Thomas, Dave Barry, and Linda Ellerbee. Coverage of policy issues sheds light on journalism history, law, and ethics. A natural choice for students pursuing journalism or communications, News Writing is also an excellent resource for improving general writing skills, producing a school or university paper, continuing education for working journalists, or teacher professional development."
NewsU.org from Poynter's News University. "Poynter's News University is one of the world's most innovative online journalism and media training programs. We are open to journalists, bloggers, freelance writers, journalism students. Anyone who wants to improve their journalism-based skills. We serve more than 280,000 users through self-directed courses, group seminars, and Webinars, covering subjects from multimedia techniques,to writing, to reporting, and beyond."
I created a free account for Jerah and signed her up for quite a few self-directed courses. Here are the courses she is signed up to take:
- Journalism Fundamentals: Craft & Values
- Introduction to Ethical Decision-Making
- The Lead Lab
- The Interview
- Dealing With Difficult Conversations
- Introduction to Reporting: Beat Basics
- Understanding Media: Process and Principles
- First Amendment for the High School Journalist
- Online Media Law: The Basics for Bloggers and Other Publishers
- Five Steps to Multimedia Storytelling
- Cleaning Your Copy: Grammar, Style and More
- Get Me Rewrite: The Craft of Revision
- Beyond the Inverted Pyramid: Creating Alternative Story Forms
- Best of Photojournalism: What Makes a Winner
- Anatomy of a Multimedia News Organization
- Handling Race and Ethnicity
- Understanding and Interpreting Polls
- Video Storytelling for the Web
- Build and Engage Local Audiences Online
- The Be a Reporter Game
- Journalism Glossary. I compiled our own journalism glossary from a variety of online sources. I created a Quizlet set of the journalism terms that you're welcome to use. (You'll need to create a free Quizlet account to use the cards.)
- Journalism Basic by IEW "Learn how to conduct interviews, apply AP style, and understand worldviews, while communicating current events to a wide audience."
Investigative Journalism Resources
- The Investigative Reporter's Handbook. This book is used as the textbook for some college investigative journalism courses. It's expensive, but from my research, it's apparently the go-to resource for investigative journalists.
- Investigative journalism manuals. Many of these are free and some of them are very in-depth.
Janet Thaeler says
I don't have a journalism degree but am self taught and have written for 3 newspapers (but mostly I blog). This is a great list – I'm adding some of your recommendations to my Amazon wishlist. Thanks!
As a former journalist, I am sad to see this profession dying – at least the quality of it. Good investigative journalism is needed for so many reasons and it is vitally important that we raise some journalists with skills and integrity. Thank you for compiling this list!
Great ideas! I taught a middle/high school journalism class at my homeschool co-op the past two years using Institute for Excellence in Writing's journalism textbook. Since we only met once a week for 50 minutes, it was perfect for the scope and time of the class, and was quite comprehensive. My students' other required text was the AP Stylebook as well.
The first year I taught the class, I took the students and their families on a field trip to our local newspaper. The year after, the newspaper was no longer offering tours, sadly. We also self-published 10 issues of our newspaper between the two school seasons. I'm teaching a PE class now, but hope to teach journalism again in the future. My students loved the class, and especially seeing their work in print.
K. Permenter says
Thank you! I am preparing to teach my first class in Journalism, and your compilation of resources is exactly what I need.