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Dynamics of News Reporting and Writing

Dynamics of News Reporting and Writing
Foundational Skills for a Digital Age

Second Edition

January 2021 | 392 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Dynamics of News Reporting and Writing: Foundational Skills for a Digital Age shows students how to approach their stories and think on their feet in the evolving media landscape. Recognizing that well-crafted stories are founded on sharp prose, author Vincent F. Filak covers more foundational elements of a newswriting textbook, like lead writing, structure, and storytelling, while also teaching students how to think critically and determine what matters most to their readers. The Second Edition includes even more writing and grammar exercises, discussions of social media and digital media advancements, and additional career-related examples to help students succeed upon entering the field.   

About the Authors
Chapter 1: Audience-Centric Journalism
Thinking Ahead: Understand Your Audience

Media and Media Users Today

Defining Your Audience

The Rise and Impact of the “Fake News” Phenomenon

What Do We Owe Our Audience?

What Attracts an Audience?

The Big Three

Best of the Blog

Chapter 2: Critical Thinking
Thinking Ahead: How to Fully “Get” a Story

How Do We Think?

The Requirements of Critical Thought

How to Approach a Story as a Critical Thinker

How to Think Your Way Past Fake News

Critical Thought and the Value of Your Questions

The Big Three

Best of the Blog

Chapter 3: Basics of Writing
Thinking Ahead: Writing for a Newsreader

A Quick Look at Types of Leads

Identifying Problematic Leads and Finding Potential Fixes

The Inverted Pyramid: Ordering Information After the Lead

Quotes: Letting Your Sources Tell the Story

Attributing Your Information

The Big Three

Best of the Blog

Chapter 4: Expanded News Writing
Thinking Ahead: Learning to Break the Rules of Writing

Expanding the Inverted Pyramid

Writing With a Narrative Feel

Nonlinear Storytelling

The Big Three

Best of the Blog

Chapter 5: Social Media
Thinking Ahead: Rethinking How to Reach Readers

What Is Social Media?

Value of Social Media

Social Media Tools for Your Toolbox


The Big Three

Best of the Blog

Chapter 6: Interviewing
Thinking Ahead: Avoiding the Awkwardness While Speaking to Others

Critically Thinking About Interviewing’s Purpose

Understanding the Interviewing Basics

Types of Interviews

Other Purposes for Interviews

The Big Three

Best of the Blog

Chapter 7: Basic Reporting: News That Finds You
Thinking Ahead: Getting Ready to Hit the Field

Reporting Basics

Event Coverage

Basic Tips for All Event Stories

Stories Beyond Standard Events

The Big Three

Best of the Blog

Chapter 8: Beyond Basic Reporting: News You Have to Find
Thinking Ahead: How to Find Bigger Stories That Matter

The News Feature: How to Find Stories in Everyday Life

Beat Reporting

Drone Journalism

Personality Profiles

Working as a Watchdog

The Big Three

Best of the Blog

Chapter 9: Broadcast-Style Writing and Voicing
Thinking Ahead: Writing Scripts and Building Stories

Broadcast Style: Different, Yet the Same

Script Writing 101

The Basic Elements of Broadcast Structure

Story Types and Formats

The Big Three

Best of the Blog

Chapter 10: Collecting Audio and Visuals in the Field
Thinking Ahead: How to Get Enough Material to Build a Good Story

Tools of the Trade

Types of Material You Gather

Capturing Vivid Visuals

Making Your Video Valuable

The Big Three

Best of the Blog

Chapter 11: Editing Audio and Video
Thinking Ahead: Editing Your Raw Material Into a Polished Gem

Audio Bites Online

Video Bites Online

Pairing Script and Video

Building a Story From Start to Finish

The Big Three

Best of the Blog

Chapter 12: Law and the Media
Thinking Ahead: The Law Is Your Friend

Understanding the First Amendment

Law Across Media Platforms: Levels of Protection

Reporter’s Privilege

Let the Sunshine In: Rules for Transparency and Access

Rules for Recording

The Basics of Libel

Defenses Against Libel

Invasion of Privacy

The Big Three

Best of the Blog

Chapter 13: Ethics
Thinking Ahead: Just Because You Can, It Doesn’t Mean You Should

Why Ethics Matter

Basic Approaches to Ethics

Tenets of Journalistic Ethics

The Big Three

Best of the Blog

Appendix A: Using FOCII to Build Your Leads
Appendix B: Résumés, Cover Letters and More
Appendix C: A Deeper Dig Into FOIA and State Public Records Laws
Appendix D: Step-by-Step Editing Processes for Final Cut and Premiere
Appendix E: Freelancing 101 (and Beyond)


Instructor Site

Online resources included with this text

The online resources for your text are available via the password-protected Instructor Resource Site, which offers access to all text-specific resources, including a test bank, editable, chapter-specific PowerPoint® slides, news writing exercises, and sample syllabi.
Student Study Site
The open-access Student Study Site makes it easy for students to maximize their study time, anywhere, anytime. It offers flashcards, AP Style quizzes, and learning objectives that reinforce the most important material.
For additional information, custom options, or to request a personalized walkthrough of these resources, please contact your sales representative.

Text is very approachable for students and has up-to-date examples. Highly recommend.

Ms Shailin Alisha Kennedy
Communication Studies, College Of The Sequoias
March 17, 2022

Chose different approach for the class -- and Filak's other book, Media Writing, with its broader focus including PR and Broadcast rather than just Journalism.

Dr Jennifer Rauch
Journalism Dept, Long Island University
November 18, 2022
Key features


  • New Best of the Blog features showcase the author’s most popular blog posts at the end of each chapter to further drive home chapter points. More of the author’s blog posts can be found at
  • More writing exercises at the end of each chapter give students opportunity to hone their skills.
  • Updated media examples, particularly in the digital media and social media chapters, reflect crucial changes that occur on an almost daily basis.
  • Updated law and ethics chapters keep students informed on the latest practices for operating in a professional and ethical way.
  • Expanded content covers how to monetize journalism efforts and includes a new appendix that discusses the art and craft of freelance journalism.
  • An audience-centric approach encourages students to reflect on why and how news is relevant to the lives of their readers before they even start digging into their stories.
  • Chapter-opening learning objectives identify what students should be able to do after reading each chapter.
  • Thoughts from a Pro sections offer students an up-close look at a specific aspect of reporting and writing from real professionals.
  • Helpful Hints sections based on the various experiences of journalists provide students with guidance on different aspects of their work, from improving a piece of copy to dealing with a crisis.
  • Consider This sections spark classroom discussions by asking students to take a closer look at a current issue or ideological dilemma and make a valid case for their position.  
  • Think Ahead discussions at the beginning of each chapter act as a roadmap to help students navigate through chapter content.
  • The Big Three chapter-ending summaries ensure students take three crucial ideas with them as they move on to the next chapter.
  • Discussion questions and Work it Out assessments allow students to check their understanding once a chapter is completed.
  • Write Now! exercises provide students with an opportunity to practice key writing skills required in newsrooms today.

For instructors

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ISBN: 9781544385914

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