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JRN4004 Specialised Reporting

Semester 1, 2012 External Toowoomba
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Arts
School or Department : School of Humanities and Communication

Contents on this page


Examiner: Dianne Jones
Moderator: Rebecca Te'o


Pre-requisite: JRN4001 and two graduate level courses (areas of specialisation)

Other requisites

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


The specialist journalist's judgment of the significance and meaning of things reflects his or her depth of experience in a domain of human action. It also reflects an understanding of the methods of interpretation that have been incubated within a specific discipline or interdisciplinary field. This specialised reporting course stitches the substantive knowledge of an academic discipline into the craft of reporting.


In reporting and writing on a major round or beat, journalists are expected to develop and draw on their subject matter expertise.This course builds on students' enrichment of their specialised knowledge in a field of study while at the same time developing advanced knowledge and skills to carry out analysis and specialty, complex storytelling. The emphasis will be on explanatory reporting for the general public, culminating in the production of an extended work of journalism. Students will reflect on their professional practice in the context of ethical issues and values related to truthtelling.


On completion of this course students will have:

  1. developed the ability to find the story, pitch the idea, and write, to deadline, clear and grammatically correct copy on their specialty topic in an accurate, fair and balanced manner;
  2. learned and practised advanced techniques of specialist reporting, including how to gather and verify information from traditional sources as well as electronic databases;
  3. employed the advanced techniques of a medium, including an understanding of its strengths and weaknesses and the storytelling tools inherent in it;
  4. advanced their skills in and knowledge of computer-assisted reporting, including the use of spreadsheets and online databases;
  5. developed the ability to identify journalistic ethical issues, be critical of ethical aspects of journalism practice both within and outside their national borders, and examine their own practice within these contexts;
  6. learned how to identify, research and report on the full suite of issues surrounding stories in their specialist areas;
  7. experienced the process of creating a major piece of specialist journalism;
  8. come to think of themselves 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.
  • Hargreaves, I 2003, Journalism: truth or dare, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Houston, B 2004, Computer-assisted reporting: a practical guide, 3rd edn, Bedford/St Martin?s, Boston.
  • Berger, G 2000 'Grave new world? Democratic journalism enters the global twenty-first century.' Journalism Studies, 1 (1): 81-99.

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Directed Study 20.00
Private Study 145.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
DEEP PROFILE (1500 WORDS_ 100 30 26 Mar 2012
FEATURE & REFLECTIVE LOG 100 60 04 Jun 2012

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:
    If students submit assignments after the due date without (prior) approval of the examiner then a penalty of 5% of the total marks gained by the student for the assignment may apply for each working day late up to ten working days at which time a mark of zero may be recorded.

  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:
    As there are no examinations in this course, there will be no deferred or supplementary examinations.

  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

Assessment notes

  1. The due date for an assignment is the date by which a student must despatch the assignment to the USQ. The onus is on the student to provide proof of the despatch date, if requested by the Examiner.

  2. Students must retain a copy of each item submitted for assessment. This must be despatched to USQ within 24 hours if required by the Examiner.

  3. In accordance with University Policy, the Examiner may grant an extension of the due date of an assignment in extenuating circumstances.

  4. If electronic submission of assessments is specified for the course, students will be notified of this in the course Introductory Book and on the USQ Study Desk. All required electronic submission must be made through the Assignment Drop Box located on the USQ Study Desk for the course, unless directed otherwise by the examiner of the course. The due date for an electronically submitted assessment is the date by which a student must electronically submit the assignment. The assignment files must be submitted by 11.55pm on the due date using USQ time (as displayed on the clock on the course home page; that is, Australian Eastern Standard Time).

  5. If the method of assessment submission is by written, typed or printed paper-based media students should (i) submit to the Faculty Office for students enrolled in the course in the on-campus mode, or (ii) mail to the USQ for students enrolled in the course in the external mode. The due date for the assessment is the date by which a student must (i) submit the assessment for students enrolled in the on-campus mode, or (ii) mail the assessment for students enrolled in the external mode.

  6. The Faculty will NOT normally accept submission of assessments by facsimile or email.

  7. Students who do not have regular access to postal services for the submission of paper-based assessments, or regular access to Internet services for electronic submission, or are otherwise disadvantaged by these regulations may be given special consideration. They should contact the examiner of the course to negotiate such special arrangements prior to the submission date.

  8. Students who have undertaken all of the required assessments in a course but who have failed to meet some of the specified objectives of a course within the normally prescribed time may be awarded one of the temporary grades: IM (Incomplete - Make up), IS (Incomplete - Supplementary Examination) or ISM (Incomplete -Supplementary Examination and Make up). A temporary grade will only be awarded when, in the opinion of the examiner, a student will be able to achieve the remaining objectives of the course after a period of non directed personal study.

  9. Students who, for medical, family/personal, or employment-related reasons, are unable to complete an assignment or to sit for an examination at the scheduled time may apply to defer an assessment in a course. Such a request must be accompanied by appropriate supporting documentation. One of the following temporary grades may be awarded IDS (Incomplete - Deferred Examination; IDM (Incomplete Deferred Make-up); IDB (Incomplete - Both Deferred Examination and Deferred Make-up).

  10. Students may be assigned an "Incomplete" grade to signify that all the requirements of the course have not yet been met. Students who are graded "I" can pass the course by successfully completing such additional work as prescribed by the examiner by a given date. Students who have been awarded an IM, ISM, IDM or IDB grade must access information regarding further work to be completed, in the Student Centre of U Connect. The Grades Page in the Student Centre contains information about further work to be completed. Students who have not completed the additional work to the satisfaction of the examiner by the given date will receive the appropriate Failing grade.

Other requirements

  1. Students can expect that questions in assessment items in this course may draw upon knowledge and skills that they can reasonably be expected to have acquired before enrolling in the course. This includes knowledge contained in pre-requisite courses and appropriate communication, information literacy, analytical, critical thinking, problem solving or numeracy skills. Students who do not possess such knowledge and skills should not expect to achieve the same grades as those students who do possess them.