Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE In-Depth Reporting

LEVEL 03 - Years 2, 3, 4 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Media and Communications

DESCRIPTION How aware should we be about kite-flying by the government and other instituted bodies? How can one sniff out spin doctors? What are the tell-tale signs of damage limitation?

News is based on a number of variables. What are these variables? Can we base a news story on a rumour, even if that rumour spreads so far that it takes the semblance of credibility? Should we then publish the item if one source confirms it?

Will be looking at the sharp decline of print media and asking: is there life after the demise of newspapers? Is there still life in newspapers? What’s the point of having journalism classes if newspaper circulation is in a free-fall?

What are the hardship and threats reporters come across in carrying out their work to inform the public? Will democracy survive if the demise of newspapers leads to a stark reduction in the population of reporters? What happens when owners and editors collude with commercial firms to smother stories that could harm business interests? Delving deep into stories that require tact, patience and hard work to uncover will add to the newsroom that is successful in such undertakings.

Will be looking also at the rise of citizen journalism and what it means in keeping the public informed of what’s going on in society. Is citizen journalism blinding us to what’s really going on in the world around us? Are people more interested in gossip rather than news?

Study-Unit Aims:

Weekly discussions about current news – both local and international – will engage students to look at the bigger picture. Writing about news items that make it to the front pages will help students keep abreast of what’s going on around them and in the world at large. The fact that students will be asked to give their views of the news items discussed in class will make them more savvy about what makes and what lies behind the news we are ‘fed’ by media houses and other organisations.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Search for accuracy and fairness, suppress bias;
- Discern which of the examples and reporting samples presented during the unit are the best obtainable version of the truth;
- Distinguish between journalistic traditions and social media-induced citizen journalism;
- Be aware of the power and effects of censorship.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Utilise a gained knowledge knowledge of politics, business and their influence on media in society to write in-depth analyses of cases pertaining to both;
- Investigate cases and report on them analytically;
- Gather information from multiple sources in the field;
- Work within the restrictive word-count regimes of present day media outlets.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main text

- Keeble, R. (2006). The Newspapers Handbook. 4th edition. London and New York: Routledge.
- Pilger, J. (Ed) (2005). Tell me no lies: Investigative Journalism and its Triumphs. UK: Vintage.

Additional reading

- Bishop, J. (1999). The Day Christ Died. London: Houder & Stoughton.
- Capote, T. (1996) In Cold Blood. London: Penguin Books.
- Eco, U. Travels in Hyper-Reality. London: Picador.
- Gladwell, M. (2006). Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. London: Penguin Books.
- Marr, A. (2004). My Trade: A short history of British journalism. London: Pan Books.
- Online go to: Columbia Journalism Review and the Poynter Institute. Also: and Circa.

ADDITIONAL NOTES Pre-requisite Study-unit: MCS3060


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Classwork SEM2 No 15%
Project SEM2 No 15%
Case Study (Take Home) SEM2 No 25%
Examination (1 Hour and 30 Minutes) SEM2 Yes 45%


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It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2021/2. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.