Grading reported news

The ideal news article is a clear description of a significant public event or issue explained in terms that are understandable to the average reader, and ethically reported with empathy for people involved.

These guidelines apply to reporting classes in general — COMS 104 through COMS 404.

Ethical behavior is the starting point.  In interviewing,  journalists need to be wary of ethical problems that may arise with private people and private issues.  For instance, children should never be interviewed without parental consent.

Private people who have been victims of an accident or crime should be treated ethically and with full respect for their privacy.  Some of the big issues:   People you interview should be in a position to give  informed consent to being interviewed. Rape victims and witnesses to crimes are never identified.

Similarly, in most circumstances it is unethical to copy any information from any other report or article without attributing it.

Concept – 20%

    • Public interest – Is this something the affects everyone?
    • Reader interest – Is it important to, or interesting to, your readers?
    • Balance — Are all parties and interests given a chance to speak? Does the reporter avoid bias?
    • Significance — Does the story involve important questions, not things that are trivial or transitory or superfluous? (EG Impact of budget cuts on students as opposed to coverage of beauty pageants).

Reporting – 30 %

    • Effective translation of concept into reporting plan
    • Accuracy in all names, dates, events; avoids major factual errors
    • Thorough reporting, all relevant questions asked
    • All significant and accessible points of view respectfully reported.
    • Effective and ethical interviews
    • Also — Inclusiveness in reporting – make an effort to include people who are sometimes overlooked.

Writing — 40%

    • All work must be entirely original. No copying from, or use of quotes from, other news articles.
    • Follows standard submission guidelines for email (EG – name, date, slug: 1 – inside file, 2- on file name and 3- on subject line of email) or posting on portfolio site.
    • AP style, proper grammar (spelling, verb tenses, punctuation, etc) The ideal story has no grammar or spelling mistakes and should be publishable without editing.
    • The lead should be short, compelling and very much to the point.
    • Personal examples help make a story relevant to the reader.
    • Quotes should highlight color and opinion. Appropriate attribution forms.
    • Well organized structure, Good writing style – smooth transitions, keyword repetitions, S-V-O construction, uses active voice verbs

Media — 10% These days, it’s not enough to just write a story about a topic. Stories should have multiple points of entry: sidebars, illustrations, photos, video or info-graphics. You might have:

    • Sidebars for breaking out factual data
    • Photos taken, subjects identified
    • Video or audio included in story
    • Maps, charts and infographics
    • Posting on appropriate blog or web site Other effective use of media

Extra credit for publication in professional or student media — 10+