Getting the Whole Story : Reporting and Writing the News

Getting the Whole Story : Reporting and Writing the News

Getting the Whole Story : Reporting and Writing the News

Getting the Whole Story : Reporting and Writing the News


This comprehensive introductory text combines the "whys" of journalism with the "how-tos." Students are guided toward mastery of the finer points of reporting, beat coverage, and news writing, while also gaining awareness of the important role journalists serve in a democratic society. Rich with pointers, examples, hands-on exercises, and thoughtful discussion questions, and written in an engaging, down-to-earth style, the book reflects the authors' extensive experience in both the newsroom and the classroom. Chapters provide step-by-step coverage of every aspect of the reporter's craft: gathering information; conducting interviews; framing stories; writing clear, well-organized articles; and working with editors and photographers. Helping students understand what makes news relevant and useful to the broader community, the book gives particular attention to the values and practices of civic journalism.


Maybe you're taking this class because you already know you want to be a journalist, writing about important news of the day, about issues that affect people's lives or about interesting people — like the president, let's say, or your favorite recording artist (if you're lucky). Maybe you just like to write, and you're considering journalism as a way of putting that English or philosophy degree to use in “the real world.” Maybe you want to work in public relations for a corporation or nonprofit organization. Or maybe you just want to know more about how the media works.

Journalism is tremendously fascinating, rewarding work. For 12 years I worked full time as a reporter and editor in daily newspapers, and I dearly loved it. I learned so much about so many things that it made me feel truly at home in the world. I interviewed hundreds of people, from mayors to movie stars to murderers. I wrote about achievements, failures, triumphs, tragedies, hilarious situations, uncanny coincidences and utter depravity. I always, always felt my work could make a difference in people's lives — and often found out that it did. Teaching journalism for the past seven years has strengthened my conviction that this field has tremendous value, because I have learned from my students how greatly journalists have influenced their knowledge and views of the world.

From time to time, I still work part time at my local newspaper, because there's nothing — no thing — like the excitement of a newsroom. There, you can be one of the first to know about a breaking news event. You can experience the challenge of compiling information in the wonderful, inevitable dash toward a deadline. and you often find yourself laughing at an offhand remark someone makes amid the stressful final push to get the paper out on time.

If you've already written for your high school or college newspa-

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