Teacher: Mr. Hinkle
Extra Help: RM 246, Fridays or by appointment.

Course Overview

Introduction to Journalism

There is a reason the first amendment comes first: a vigorous, free press is at the heart of  every true democracy. With traditional print journalism struggling to modernize and our society seeking news in ever more fragmented media outlets, the future of journalism remains to be determined by your generation. What is certain is that our democracy will continue to need  reporters committed to unbiased truth-seeking and clear, careful writing.  This class will teach students  a variety of facets of journalistic writing, from news and opinions to reviews  and in-depth profiles, from how to generate a great story idea to how to cut a piece down for maximum clarity and concision.  

Students will also read a variety of current journalism and study some of the key principles and dilemmas of journalistic ethics.

Though this course is separate from The Innovator, our school’s student-run paper, students will be encouraged to submit work there for publication.

Essential Questions

Essential Skills

— What is the role of journalism in our society?

— What does it mean to be fair and unbiased?

— What is factual? What is opinion?

— What is essential to a story ?What is irrelevant?

— What sources can be trusted?

— Writing a strong lede

— Writing on a deadline

— Writing in a variety of styles, including news, features, reviews and opinions

— Copy editing for clarity, correctness and concision


Academic Honesty: All work must be your own and must be written for this class alone. When doing research, you must make an earnest effort to seek out reliable sources and you must cite your sources so that others can check your research.

Timeliness: Meeting deadlines is a key part of being a successful journalist. A news story that’s completed late is never published. In this class, late work will  count for something — I will grade work handed in within a week of the deadline — but it will not be eligible for revision.

Revision: Revision of written projects is encouraged and expected. You should re-read and revise your work throughout the writing process. I take it for granted that work you hand into me is work that you have reread and thought through carefully. Even so, the point of handing me work is so that I can give you useful feedback; that feedback is only useful if you can incorporate it into revisions.

Honors: Any student may elect to take this course for honors credit. To do so, students must complete additional honors components of pieces. Honors students will also be asked to  complete additional independent reading (see below).

Independent Reading: A key part of being an writer is being a reader. Each student will keep a reading log in this course to track their independent reading. The requirements for independent reading are as follows:



  • 15 news articles (1/week)

  • 5 editorials/opinion columns.

  • 30 news articles (2/week)

  • 10 editorials/opinion columns, including both right-and-left leaning perspectives.

  • 1 non-fiction book of journalism

  • Strands: the strands will carry the following weight in this class in calculating your grade*.

    Work Habits (25%): Timeliness, outside reading, class discussions

    Language & Conventions (20%):  Copy editing, correct grammar and diction, formatting

    Content (20%): Strong ideas and logic , observation and use of vivid, appropriate detail,  thorough research and  use of sources.

    Structure (20%): Appropriate organization (according to form of writing),  strong paragraphing,  strong flow of writing from sentence to sentence and paragraph to paragraph.


    Major Pieces: Because this is a writing workshop, it is more  accurate to speak in terms of pieces of writing you will complete than in terms of projects.  Because this is the first time this course has been offered, it is likely the list of pieces will change in reaction to the needs of students as we move through the work: it is much more important to me that we do a good job with the work we get to than that we cover everything I  have planned.


    Each student will write at least two opinion pieces. In these pieces, you will  make an argument about a topic of importance to you.

    Everyone Has a Story: In-Depth Profile

    In this piece, you will be doing an in-depth profile of someone you don’t yet know.


    You will write a review of a movie, book, television program or restaurant.

    News Story

    You will write several traditional news stories.

    Ethics Paper

    In this paper, you will follow the coverage of a topic of interest in the media.

    Rights Paper

    In this paper, you will research court cases around the rights of students, journalists, or young people.  Possible topics include: privacy and the internet, the limits of school discipline.