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Introducing The Craft of Journalism

This course is expected to run but has not yet been scheduled.

Course Description

This course is designed to introduce students who are already strong writers to the craft of Journalism. They will learn to report stories, how to conduct interviews, and to become close observers of everyday life. In the process, they will become even stronger writers, learning how to rid their writing of clutter, focus on the essentials, and learn what it takes to become a good reporter.

The course teaches news writing as a thought process as well as a set of skills, and as a vital function in a democracy. Students will learn how to think as a journalist, weighing news values and making decisions on the importance of facts and how to use them to tell a compelling story. They will learn effective interviewing techniques, how to ask the right questions to get information, and how to navigate through ethical dilemmas that reporters face in their jobs. We'll be working throughout the course on finding the heart of stories and telling them clearly, without wasting words. In this course, students will also learn the responsibilities and challenges of the only profession - the press - specifically protected by the First Amendment. There will also be field trips to Providence City Hall and the state Superior Court where students will learn how to use public records to get information for stories. Students who succeed in this course are strong writers who often go on to write for their high school or college newspapers.

Aims & Objectives of the course include:

  • Spot the news - the importance, the significance, the effect - in a sizable amount of information.
  • Gather basic information for a news story, knowing the key questions to ask based on what the reader needs to know.
  • Take clear, accurate notes.
  • Think conceptually.
  • Use the basic mechanics of language - grammar, style, spelling, and punctuation - well.
  • Find, focus, and craft a clear, accurate news story.
  • Write a short profile.
  • Use the Internet as a journalistic tool.
  • Know where to find information in the public record and how to background issues and people.
  • Be discriminating consumers of news.


Pre-Requisites: This course is designed for strong writers with excellent mastery of the English language, both spoken and written, and who know the rules of English grammar and punctuation.

Special Note: A writing placement exercise will be conducted on the first day of class, and students whose command of English is deemed insufficient will be directed to an alternate course. Students who have doubts about their proficiency and who wish to improve their writing might consider Composing the Academic Essay or another writing course as an alternative. Students for whom English is a second language should also consider the Intensive English Program.

Tracy Breton, the instructor of this course, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and formerly a reporter for The Providence Journal.

Please Note: This course has a Supplemental Fee of $50.