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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, 2021
Attendance mode Normal day
Location Remote
Credit points 6

Enrolment rules

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff and contact details

Coordinator William Wyman,
Lecturer(s) Kathy Marks ,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Second news story
35% Formal exam period
Due date: 26 Nov 2021 at 23:59
1400 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Assignment First news story
35% Week 07
Due date: 24 Sep 2021 at 23:59

Closing date: 22 Oct 2021
1200 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO3 LO2
Presentation News analysis
30% Week 09
Due date: 11 Oct 2021 at 13:00

Closing date: 14 Oct 2021
2000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO1 LO4

All assessment items must be submitted to pass this unit. Detailed information for each assessment item 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.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

5% per calendar day.

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 Introduction to the class. What is a news story—and why is a news story what it is? Intro to freedom of the press and the media's responsibilities. Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4
Week 02 Elements of a news story I: Writing conventions and elements of presentation. Lead-writing exercise Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4
Week 03 Elements of a news story II : Beyond the lead. Basics of reporting and editing. Introduction of news analysis assignment. Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 04 Media law and ethics Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4
Week 05 Mechanics of reporting Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 06 Inside the newsroom: How news organizations work. Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO3 LO4
Week 07 Trauma & self care; guest lecture. Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO3 LO4
Week 08 Metrics and the business of news. Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 09 High-impact journalism: How to make a splash in a highly competitive environment. Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 10 Navigating the real world. How the freedoms, and responsibilities, of journalists play out. The journalist and social media. Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO3 LO4
Week 11 Guest lecture. Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 12 News and journalism in the 21st Century. The opportunities and battles ahead: New business models, the challenges of fake news, and the wisdom of Hunter S. Thompson. ("When the going gets tough, the tough get weird.") Lecture (3 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 13 Class review. Elements of the news story, redux. The strictures and power of the free press. And: Beyond the news story. Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4

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 news 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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