A page for instructors

Journalism is an exciting field on which to offer instruction. It is also a difficult field to teach. Students often come to a course in journalism with some knowledge (and usually many opinions) about the field. This knowledge is usually based on personal experience and exposure to the new media and does not include any sophisticated analysis of the processes of journalism or broad thinking about the implications of the field.

A good journalism teacher will try to move students from their normally narrow and parochial view of the field to being able to understand its implications and importance to society.

And there are also the skills to teach -- reporting, writing, editing, headline writing, and layout and design, just to name a few. Many journalism teachers at the high school level have the nearly impossible task of teaching the how of journalism along with the who, what, when, where and why. They are charged with producing a publication for their school, making sure that it comes out on time and stays solvent.

Many of those high school teachers succeed admirably. They create opportunities for their students that no other teacher on campus can match. Their students catch the fever of journalism and collegiate journalism programs -- and ultimately the field of journalism itself -- are the beneficiaries.

Many of the ideas included here come from those teachers. This page contains material for those teaching courses in journalism, particularly those using Journalism: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How as a text.

Syllabi and lesson plans

This site contains several syllabi, lesson plans and classroom activities from colleagues who are teaching courses in journalism at the high school and college levels:

Local stylebook

Chapter 11 of the book is devoted to a discussion and explanation of journalistic style and why the rules of style -- and particularly the use of a stylebook -- are important. If you are the adviser to a publication or teaching a course in writing where students have to write about local topics, you will want to compile a local stylebook. This is a set of rules and guidelines that the AP stylebook would not address. It might also specify times when rules different from those in the AP stylebook might be established. In the Chapter 11 section of this web site, we have provided some guidelines for beginning the compilation of a local stylebook.

Cool ideas

This section contains a number of ideas for classroom activities and discussion starters that may help in making the points about journalism with your students. We are always looking to add to this section so if you've done something that works -- or thought of something you'd like to try -- share it with us. (The author's email is We'll post it on the site and give you full credit for it.

Exercises and quizzes

This web site contains a number of exercises and quizzes within each chapter. Here's a pretty complete list of what's on the site:

Chapter 11 (Style)
  AP style quiz 5W-01 (This is the AP style quiz that appears on pages 207-209 of the book.)
  AP style quiz 5W-02
  AP style quiz 5W-03
  AP style quiz 5W-04

Chapter 13 (Editing and headline writing)
Commas exercise 01
Commas exercise 02
Grammar problems exercise 01
Grammar problems exercise 02
Subject-verb agreement exercise 01
Subject-verb agreement exercise 02
Subject-verb agreement exercise 03
Subject-verb agreement exercise 04
Word choice exercise 01
Word choice exercise 02

In addition, a number of web sites have online quizzes and tutorials that teachers might find useful, including the following: (
Investigative Reporters and Editors (with a terrific math test:
University of North Carolina math competency test for journalists ( Why Math Matters by Chip Scanlan (with additional links) (

Web resources

Many excellent resources are available to teachers of journalism. Here are a few:

New York Times Learning Center. This site, which requires a free registration with the New York Times ( contains a vast array of lesson plans on many different topics, many of them keyed to the news of the day. The site is divided up by topics, and journalism is one of the main topics. There you will find a variety of plans and classroom activities designed to help students understand the process and meaning of journalism. This site has been set up by the American Society of Newspaper Editors and contains a number of resources for both teachers and students of journalism at the high school level. The site has a remarkable number of lesson plans and classroom ideas on many topics such as advertising, bias, diversity, design, ethics, history, interviewing, news values, etc. While you're there, check out the ideas in the teaching tips portion of the site.

Poynter Institute. While there is no specific section of the Poynter Institute web site devoted to high school journalism, the institute does have a high school program and a director (Wendy Wallace). This article by the director tells more about the program. The Poynter web site has a vast number of articles and ideas about many journalism-related topics. High school and college journalism teachers are likely to find much of value there.

Journalism Education Association. JEA is the major national organization for scholastic journalism teachers. Its web site contains a variety of resources to help in teaching, including a number of articles and discussions about topics such as grading, photos and copyediting in its curriculum section.

Public Broadcasting System. PBS has produced and aired a number of shows concerning journalism-related topics, particularly through its American Masters, Frontline and American Experience series. These shows usually contain fully packed web sites that include teacher's guides for building classroom lessons. Here are just a few you might want to check out:

Discovery Channel. The Discovery Channel maintains a large web site with a substantial section devoted to teaching aids. Teachers look for a way to post online quizzes and tutorials might want to take advantage of the tools provided (free) by this site. The site also contains a large number of lesson plans and classroom activities on a wide variety of topics. One of those is titled News Coverage and helps teach students about how news is produced.

Lecture notes

  • Introduction to media writing
    Topics: What's different about media writing; Four characterisitcs of media writing

  • Basic tools of writing
    Topics: Importance of grammar, spelling and punctuation; Most common errors of young writers; Style and the stylebook; Basic rules of AP style

  • Writing in the media environment
    Topics: Purpose of media writing; Conventions and practices: objectivity, deadlines, audience; Characteristics of a media writer; Writing coherently; Three steps to improving your writing

  • Writing news 1
    Topics: Importance of news; News values; Beyond news values: how to judge an event; The inverted pyramid; The second paragraph

  • Writing news 2
    Topics: The inverted pyramid, again; Sources of information; Attribution; Quoting and paraphrasing; General tenents of good writing

  • Writing for the web 1
    Topics: Characteristics of the web; Web as a word medium; What users do and expect; Content; Concision: labeling, headlining; summarizing

  • Writing for the web 2
    Topics: Writing style; Visual variety; Writing in context; The job of the writer

  • Editing and rewriting
    Topics: Why editing?; The discipline of editing; Technical errors; Usage; Wordiness; Passive and active voice verbs

  • Writing for broadcast 1
    Topics: Why broadcast writing is different; Criticisms of broadcast news; Differences in writing for broadcast and writing for print; Differences in writing style; Dramatic unity

  • Writing for broadcast 2
    Topics: Efficiency in writing; Broadcasting writing techniques; Dramatic unity; Using the present tense; Speaking properly

Section I | 1: News and Society  |  2: Culture of Journalism  |  3: Becoming a Journalist
Section II  |  4: Newspapers  |  5: Magazines  |  6: Television and Radio  |  7: News Web Sites
Section III  |  8: Reporters  |  9: Reporting  |  10: Writing news and features  |  11: Style  | 
12: Editors13: Editing and headline writing  |  14: Visual Journalists  |
  15: Graphics Journalism  |  16: Photojournalism  |  17: Publication Design  |
  18: Broadcasters  |  19: Writing for Broadcast
Section IV  |  20: Beginnings of Journalism  |  21: Journalism Comes of Age  | 
22: New Realities, New Journalism  |   23: 20th Century and Beyond
Section V  |  24: Law and the Journalist  |  25: Ethical Practices  |   26: Present and Future
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