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Unit of study_

MECO1003: Principles of Media Writing

This unit will give students foundational skills in information gathering and writing for media, with a focus on news and journalistic styles. Students will be introduced to the principles of interviewing and journalistic research.


Academic unit Media and Communications
Unit code MECO1003
Unit name Principles of Media Writing
Session, year
Semester 2, 2020
Attendance mode Normal day
Location Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney
Credit points 6

Enrolment rules

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff and contact details

Coordinator Sharon Smith,
Lecturer(s) Sharon Smith ,
Tutor(s) Bunty Avieson ,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Media portfolio
40% Formal exam period
Due date: 30 Nov 2020 at 00:00
1600 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Assignment News Analysis Presentation
20% Ongoing
Due date: 21 Nov 2020 at 00:00

Closing date: 21 Oct 2020
900 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Reporting package
40% Week 07
Due date: 12 Oct 2020 at 00:00
2000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO3 LO2

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a High distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a Distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100



75 - 84



65 - 74



50 - 64



0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Special consideration

If you experience short-term circumstances beyond your control, such as illness, injury or misadventure or if you have essential commitments which impact your preparation or performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Overview - what is news, where is news? Lecture (1 hr)  
Week 02 News conventions, objectivity Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 03 Researching during a Pandemic Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 04 Researching and statistics Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 05 Crime Reporting Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 06 Contacts and developing stories Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 07 Features and finding your voice Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 08 The future of journalism? Loungeroom Journalism & Constructive Journalism Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 09 False equivalency, news framing & agenda setting Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 10 Fake News Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 11 Media diversity: unconscious (and other) bias Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 12 Trauma & self care Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  

Attendance and class requirements

  • Attendance: According to Faculty Board Resolutions, students in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences are expected to attend 90% of their classes. If you attend less than 50% of classes, regardless of the reasons, you may be referred to the Examiner’s Board. The Examiner’s Board will decide whether you should pass or fail the unit of study if your attendance falls below this threshold.
  • Lecture recording: Most lectures (in recording-equipped venues) will be recorded and may be made available to students on the LMS. However, you should not rely on lecture recording to substitute your classroom learning experience.
  • Preparation: Students should commit to spend approximately three hours’ preparation time (reading, studying, homework, essays, etc.) for every hour of scheduled instruction.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

See Canvas site.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University’s graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. write stories that are clear, concise and accurate
  • LO2. demonstrate ability to find and research stories for publication
  • LO3. understand the processes of news
  • LO4. demonstrate awareness of key ethical issues involving the production of news.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities
No changes have been made since this unit was last offered.

Timetable Changes

Changes to delivery dates of some lectures may occur due to the availability of guest lecturers. Any changes will be notified via Canvas.

Sensitive issues

Due to the nature of the content, some topics that will be covered may make you feel uncomfortable or uneasy (e.g., descriptions of crimes including sexual assault, murder, child abuse, domestic violence, discussions of illnesses, death and dying). If you feel uncomfortable, it is important that you contact the unit coordinator or another member of the team as soon as possible to discuss this with them. You are not required to share confidential information with us if you do not wish to. If you attend the class but at any point you feel uncomfortable, you are free to leave. 

Publishing work in Salience & The Junction

Salience website showcases a selection of our best student assignments, such as audio­visual news stories, interviews, feature writing, creative nonfiction, commentary and other media­-related work. The Junction showcases university journalism from Australia, NZ and the Pacific. If you receive a D or HD for an assignment and it’s considered suitable for publishing, your unit coordinator may arrange for you to be contacted by the Salience Editor and The Junction campus editor, Pam Walker, who will guide you through the process for inclusion.

No rights are reserved, so you can still seek publication of your brilliance elsewhere. To ensure eligibility, please make sure that you secure consent from interviewees during the production process, using the templates provided by your unit coordinator. Also, you can only use music and samples from other media that you have the rights to ­ or that is Creative Commons licensed for modified use. We look forward to seeing your work made available to the public!


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