Learning to Write about News in my Community  

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By Christina Easter

I recently began taking a new course, Community Journalism: Reporting for Civic Power which is designed to teach journalism and design skills to individuals who want to write and share stories about their community. The course is free, held on Tuesday evenings via WebEx, and offers an optional certificate. I registered for the course because it’s another way for me to learn how to write stories, which I really enjoy doing. 

I really appreciate courses like Community Journalism because the instructors are usually very knowledgeable which results in them teaching information I had not really contemplated learning. When I decided to take the course, I thought more about writing news stories and didn’t really think more broadly about learning terms such as news, information, facts, sources, and interviewing.   

During the first session, the instructor asked for story ideas and there were so many good “pitches” offered by the students I think it surprised the instructors. Also, I was so fascinated with and curious about most of the pitches that I didn’t get a chance to offer any story ideas of my own. Maybe it’s just me, but virtual courses seem to be a safe space for people to participate and really say what they’re thinking. 

We also did breakout sessions in which each group had to select stories and structure a 15-20 news segment. Even though this was just an exercise, I felt a rush of being in a newsroom and working with a team to come up with, “what are we going to put on the news today.” This was another awesome exercise that I had not thought about learning.  

The more I get into writing, the more I recognize that having a team of writers is an opportunity for an invaluable experience. I say this because another writer doesn’t have to re-write your story, they can say just a couple of extra words that will enhance your story (idea). Writing in a group has also made me embrace rule one on page one of writing – all writing is rewriting.   

My ultimate goal is to write stories that can be made into a film or play and Tri-C’s Community Journalism course provides me another opportunity to become the best writer I can be. 

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