Lo/56k Hi/300k
HomeSubjectsResourcesE-SeminarsE-CoursesColumbia University
Browse according to your interestsClass websites, webcasts, and more
 
Short courses free to ColumbiaFor-credit coursesColumbia new media initiatives
Columbia InteractiveSite MapSearchHelp
E-Seminars: E-Seminar Detail
News Reporting Simulation: A Fire Scenario
Taught by: Melvin Mencher and John Pavlik

Description
E-Seminar Description
A five-alarm fire rages late at night in a high-rise apartment in Freeport, a medium-sized city in the Midwest. On the police beat, you hear the report on the police scanner. Your assignment is to cover the fire for the Freeport News within a two-hour deadline.

The News Reporting Simulation (News Sim) is a self-contained learning environment. By using the simulation, users will practice their news gathering skills, interviewing techniques, and writing in a controlled digital environment that approximates some of the conditions found in the real world by reporters covering news stories. The exact spelling of names of sources are all known, official sources are available for the users to interview, and it does not matter if the user undertakes the assignment on a weekday, weekend or in the middle of the night. The simulation is a standalone piece of software that can be accessed via the Internet. The simulation is intended to serve as a practice place for users.

E-Seminar Length:3-5 hours
Start Date:Anytime
Credits:Not-for-Credit
Prerequisites:None
Moderator:None
Columbia Students, Faculty, Staff, and Alumni:FREE

Interested in this
e-seminar?
Go to the e-seminar now*.

Note: Columbia students, faculty, staff, and alumni will need to use their University Network ID (UNI) to access e-seminars.



E-Seminar Objectives | Outline | Course Structure | Instructor's Background | Recommended Reading | Technical Requirements

E-Seminar Objectives
•    Acquire basic news-gathering skills.

•    Develop basic lead-writing skills.

•    Master basic communication skills.

•    Develop moral compass for reporting.

•    Develop basic mathematics skills relevant to journalism.


back to top

Outline
1.Introduction
2.New Media Technologies
3.Transforming Journalists' Work
4.Transforming News Stories
5.Transforming the News Industry
6.Redefining Relationships
7.Conclusion

back to top

Course Structure
The News Reporting Simulation (News Sim) is a self-contained learning environment. By using the simulation, users will practice their news gathering skills, interviewing techniques, and writing in a controlled digital environment that approximates some of the conditions found in the real world by reporters covering news stories. The exact spelling of names of sources are all known, official sources are available for the users to interview, and it does not matter if the user undertakes the assignment on a weekday, weekend or in the middle of the night. The simulation is a standalone piece of software that can be accessed via the Internet. The simulation is intended to serve as a practice place for users.

In the simulation, users can review background readings and exercises on math and grammar. Then, the user can take a quiz that tests her or his comprehension of the math and grammar readings. After passing the quiz, the user is prompted to go to the Freeport News. The setting is the office of the Freeport News where the user is introduced to the editors and introduced to some common tools used by journalists. The city editor assigns the user to the police beat. The user reporter will cover a large five-alarm fire in a local apartment building as a spot news story. The user will gather the basic facts and write a lead and a story for the spot news assignment.

Next, the user navigates using the Freeport City Map to the police station. The user is sitting next to a police scanner for Freeport, listening closely. The dispatcher reports one incident, five-alarm fire. The fire will take place in a fictitious city, Freeport. The user chooses to either cover the story or not. The user must also check with the city editor to confirm the assignment (to cover the large fire as a spot news story). The user then checks the cross directory in the Freeport map for the location of the fire. Upon choosing to cover the story, the user will work continuously against a two-hour deadline. The clock will run continuously. Along the way, the user will have an on-screen clock available to check. The user will have to gather the news, including selecting and interviewing appropriate sources such as fire marshal, medical examiner, firefighter, witness, resident, building owner, and ask the appropriate questions to obtain the needed information (i.e., the 5Ws, including what caused the fire, what was the resulting damage, was any one injured or killed, and whom, etc.). Sources and questions are selected from a list provided on screen to the user. Answers are given in audio or video. The user is expected to take notes.

Next, the user will synthesize the raw materials collected during the news gathering process. The users will have to decide what to include and exclude when writing the lead and the story.

Lastly, the user will submit her/his lead and story. It will be submitted via e-mail to the course moderator.

back to top

Instructors' Background
Melvin Mencher
Melvin Mencher is Professor Emeritus at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He worked for the United Press and newspapers in New Mexico and California and covered Central America for the Christian Science Monitor. He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University.

He taught at the University of Kansas and Humboldt State University (California) before joining the Columbia University faculty. He is a frequent contributor to many publications and lectures at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies and at universities throughout the country.

Mencher is the author of Basic Media Writing (now in its sixth edition) and News Reporting and Writing (ninth edition), which is the most widely used textbook in its field. He is the coauthor of Brush Up: A Quick Guide to Basic Writing and Math Skills, a self-teaching, interactive CD-ROM.

Dr. John V. Pavlik
Dr. John V. Pavlik has been, since 1995, Executive Director of The Center for New Media at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, where he is also a professor. His Ph.D. in mass communication is from the University of Minnesota. He has taught at Penn State University, directed the School of Communication at San Diego State University, served as Associate Director for Research and Technology Studies at The FREEdom Forum Media Studies Center, and been a Senior Fellow at the San Diego Supercomputer Center. He is the author of Demystifying Media Technology, with Everette Dennis, New Media Technology: Cultural and Commercial Perspectives, and Journalism and New Media.

back to top

Recommended Reading
Mencher, Melvin. News Reporting and Writing. 9th ed., paperback. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2002.

Mencher, Melvin. Brush Up: A Quick Guide to Basic Writing and Math Skills, a CD-ROM to accompany News Reporting and Writing, CD-ROM - 9th edition McGraw-Hill.

back to top

Technical Requirements
You will need to use a computer with Internet access to complete this course. We recommend the following minimum configurations:

IBM-COMPATIBLE PC
Windows 95, 98, 2000, XP, or NT
64 MB of RAM (128 recommended)
Monitor: 800x600 resolution recommended
Connection: Internet service and 56K modem minimum
Browser: Internet Explorer 4 or above (Internet Explorer 5 strongly recommended) or Netscape 4.7 or above
Sound Card (if you can hear audio you have a sound card)
Plug-ins: QuickTime 5; Flash Player 5 or later; Acrobat Reader 5 or later
(all plug-ins are free)

MACINTOSH
MAC OS 8.6 or higher
64 MB of RAM (128 recommended)
Monitor: 800x600 resolution recommended
Connection: Internet service and 56K modem minimum
Browser: Internet Explorer 5 or above or Netscape 4.7 or above
Sound Card (if you can hear audio you have a sound card)
Plug-ins: QuickTime 5; Flash Player 5 or later; Acrobat Reader 5 or later
(all plug-ins are free)

*Note: This e-seminar is optimized for high bandwidth connections.

back to top

Help   |   Privacy Policy