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JRN8004 Specialised Reporting (Masters)

Semester 1, 2014 External Toowoomba
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts
School or Department : School of Arts and Communication

Contents on this page


Examiner: Caryn Coatney
Moderator: Dianne Jones


Pre-requisite: Students must be enrolled in the following Program: MARA

Other requisites

Students will require access to e-mail and have internet access to UConnect for this course.


This course makes it possible to study Journalism at the Masters level through an engagement with specialised reporting including innovative practices and changing theoretical frameworks. Students will develop advanced skills in writing and reporting to cover a specialised news “round”. Specialist reporting is based on a journalist’s practical experience and knowledge of a particular aspect of society or world conditions. This course allows Master of Arts students to apply their previously acquired knowledge of an academic area to the practice of journalism.


In reporting and writing on a major round or beat, journalists are expected to communicate clearly, accurately and creatively on complex ideas related to specialised areas of knowledge. This course helps students to develop their expertise in reporting the current news and ideas from a particular journalism 'round' including international stories, politics, the environment, the police and crime. Students will advance their skills in critical analysis of specialised news reporting, complex storytelling and writing with imaginative flair. The emphasis will be on explanatory reporting for the general public to facilitate the students' ability to accomplish investigative reporting projects of a high-quality, publishable standard. Students will reflect on their professional practice in the context of ethical issues and values related to truthtelling.


On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate high journalistic skills in the practice of developing, researching and reporting on investigative news stories in an accurate, creative and ethical manner
  2. demonstrate an understanding of the need to develop and maintain multiple, varied contacts and sources in specialist reporting
  3. demonstrate advanced skills in identifying and assessing information from new media and traditional sources
  4. demonstrate an understanding of key studies and major theoretical frameworks in the analysis and practice of specialist reporting, related multimedia, audiences and publics
  5. identify how changing theoretical frameworks generate fresh challenges, issues, opportunities and forms of analysis in the practice of specialised reporting
  6. apply ethical frameworks and methods of analysis in their own studies of specialist reporting and critically reflect on these for achieving a high journalism standard
  7. complete the process of creating a high-level, major piece of specialist journalism
  8. reflect critically on their professional practice as specialist journalists.


Description Weighting(%)
1. The journey: topic selection, background research, reporting and interviewing, organising, writing, rewriting and polishing 40.00
2. In the toolbox: computer-assisted reporting 10.00
3. Storytelling: the medium, the tools, strengths and weaknesses 10.00
4. Bumps in the road: from economic to fairness and PR issues 10.00
5. Journalistic ethics: truthtelling, critical thinking and practice, universal values or relativism, and the future for journalism 10.00
6. That went well, or did it? Critical self-reflection 20.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

  • Kovach, B & Rosenstiel, T 2007, The elements of journalism: what newspeople should know and the public should expect, Three Rivers Press, New York.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
  • Berger, G 2000, 'Grave new world? Democratic journalism enters the global twenty-first century', Journalism Studies, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 81-99.
  • Hargreaves, I 2003, Journalism: truth or dare, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.
  • Houston, B 2004, Computer-assisted reporting: a practical guide, 3rd edn, Bedford/St Martin’s, Boston, Massachusetts.

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Private Study 165.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
ASSIGNMENT 1 100 20 04 Apr 2014 (see note 1)
ASSIGNMENT 2 100 40 23 May 2014 (see note 2)
ASSIGNMENT 3 100 40 13 Jun 2014 (see note 3)

  1. Story pitch and reporting plan (1,000 words). PLEASE NOTE: No assignment submitted for this course can have been written for, or submitted for publication by any media outlet within three months of the assignment due date.
  2. Investigative, specialist news story (1,500 words).
  3. Essay (2,500 words).

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    There are no attendance requirements for this course. However, it is the students' responsibility to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration. Students must attend and complete the requirements of the Workplace Health and Safety training program for this course where required.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete an individual assessment item a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    Students should refer to the Assessment Procedure (point 4.2.4)

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted
    marks available for the course.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the aggregate of the weighted marks obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    There is no examination in this course.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Not applicable.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at