I’ve written about Poynter’s News University a few times before and I am continuing to not only because of my class requirements, but also because of the large role it plays in my education. News University is such a great tool for anyone, especially journalism and Public Relations students!
If you’re a still a little bored by the website, though, allow me to shed some light on the coolness of some of the courses that are offered within “NewsU”.
My favorite course I’ve taken so far is called the “Lead Lab” and it’s instructed by Chip Scanlan, who is an affiliate faculty member of The Poynter Institute. I am a very hands on learner and I learn the best in environments where all of my senses are being stimulated. So I can relate, naturally, as to how taking an online course can be boring.
However, what I liked about the “Lead Lab” is that it had a “scientist’s laboratory” theme that also engages its students in virtual animations that have 360 degree rotation. Students can literally “circle the lab” to discover each area which teaches the students, through a series of examples and different activities, how to successfully construct or edit a lead of a story.
If you’re unfamiliar with a lead, I suggest visiting the lead lab. But in short, a good lead informs the reader of the “who, what, when, where, how and whys” of the story in a brief first paragraph of any journalism- related news story.
My favorite activity was found by clicking on the “First Aid” box hanging on the wall. Here, the course leads the student through the steps to make their leads better by correcting, editing and revising their leads after they’ve already been written. Plus there’s a game at the end to help test what skills have been learned and how to apply them.
The only thing I wish this course included more of, however, is the number of lead-building activities. As of now there are seven, but two of them involve finding a good lead elsewhere and then sharing it, which don’t exactly aid in the actual writing basics of leads.
Overall, however, the “Lead Lab” is a great course and is just one of many that are offered at Poynter’s News University website. To find out the other courses offered or to check out the Lead Lab, click on the corresponding words.