Essential Journalism: News, Opinion & Interview

  • Upcoming groups

    • Sept. 11 - Nov. 29, 2023 18:00 - 19:00

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Essential Journalism is a comprehensive course consisting of 20 lessons over three months. Its goal is to allow students to take on their first journalistic responsibilities.

During the course, you will learn the principles of high-quality journalism while practising planning, researching, and writing on subjects of your choice under the guidance of practising award-winning journalists from the UK and around the world.

Our goal is to teach students not only what is necessary to commence their path to journalism but also to equip them with knowledge and understanding of the media industry, allowing them to become more conscious consumers of news and less susceptible to misinformation.

By the end of the course — if everything goes according to plan — you will have published at least three articles.

Entry requirements

The course is open to students aged 14-17, regardless of their country of residence. To be able to take advantage of the course, you should have a good command of English and a computer with unrestricted access to high-speed broadband.


The course consists of 20 one-hour-long sessions. All lessons take place on Google Meets.

Please note that as the course is scheduled for 12 weeks, there will be two one-week-long breaks. These will be arranged to best accommodate participants’ availiability.

Price & Scholarships

Essential Journalism: News, Opinion & Interview cost is £1,000 per person. The fee may be reduced or waived if you qualify for one of our scholarship schemes.

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As we take a very practical approach to teaching, each 60-minute session will be run as a workshop focused on interaction and discussion, with traditional lecturing reduced to a necessary minimum.

Each session will focus on different journalistic elements as a base theory adjoined with student practice to develop their writing through challenges, as provided in more detail below.


  • Session 1: What is Journalism?

    Theory: The very foundations of journalism: understanding the purpose of media, what is truth, maintaining ethical conduct, due impartiality, the pluralism of the media and its accessibility for audiences. Understanding different types of audiences and media outlets – from the BBC to the Oxford Mail and from The London Review of Books to Vice and The Mirror. Where does Harbingers’ Magazine stand against the background of the global media industry?

    Practice: Create your Harbingers’ Magazine profile page.

  • Session 2: News in the information age

    Theory: Deciding what media is important amongst the modern wave of data and online information widely available. The notion of ‘newsworthiness’. Differences between press releases and other sources of information. Considering the importance of language in a news article. 

    Practice: You are a reporter, and your editor approaches your desk. “Hey, look, this piece of rubbish has just landed. Sadly, we should cover it”. He hands you a press release and asks for a 140-word news article.

  • Session 3: Legal framework of Journalism

    Theory: Journalists, as people representing the public, have certain privileges and responsibilities. You will learn about the legal framework as well as the ethics of journalism employed at Harbingers’ Magazine.


  • Session 4: Structure of news articles

    Theory: How to structure a news article correctly. The impartiality standards required in writing news articles. Differences between news and opinion writing.

    Practice: You will be asked to outline your first news article.

  • Session 5: Reporter’s practices

    Theory: Reporting is not just about the finished article but what you do behind the scenes to get the story, taking due diligence to cover all sides and make appropriate approaches to sources. Where to start with a story when assigned – required research, fact-checking, sources, interviewing, cutting through the information gathered, and bringing the story to life for publication. The story does not stop after publication, how do you continue developing if it is of interest to editors and its audience?

    Practice: Share how you will tackle your news piece in order of priority and how you will organise your work, and the actions you will take to bring it to publication.

  • Session 6: Research for news writing

    Theory: As a reporter, you have to make it your job to research and understand the subject you are writing about. This does not mean you should know everything but do the work to find out and explain the story whether that means interviewing experts in the subject area you chose to report on.

    How to find good sites/organisations providing factual information, and not relying on Wikipedia for knowledge as it is not always accurate as anyone can edit the pages.

    Being mindful of social media and the age of ‘fast information’, you should always be cautious and double-check content seen online before redistributing. How false information could affect the credibility of the news organisation.

    Practice: Research the facts and background to your story and pitch your idea in an editorial to show why it should be run and why it’s interesting. Share the most important and interesting parts of your article, what makes it different?

  • Session 7: News writing - part one

    Theory: The difference between news and opinion. How to conduct proper research and structure a news piece. How to organise sources of information, such as press releases, personal stories, and experts. How to utilise social media in breaking news stories and developing content from press releases and interviews.

    Practice: Write your article beginning with the introduction, putting the most important/new information at the top, then supporting it with facts and background information from your research.

  • Session 8: News writing - part two

    Theory: Following the structure of the article and employing good writing practices. Making decisions on vocabulary, reported speech, and attribution of quotes. How to lead with important information first and bring in sources and background.

    Practice: Finish your first news article (up to 300 words). Edit your piece, and work on making a good headline and your introduction stronger.

  • Session 9: Fact-checking

    Theory: Each article goes through a procedure called fact-checking. Different media employ different strategies but the main objective is the same: every word and every number has to be double-checked before the article appears online. How to fact-check correctly.

    Practice: You will fact-check an article written by one of your colleagues.

  • Session 10: Ethical journalism

    Theory: Maintaining ethical standards in journalism. In many instances, people claiming to pursue public interest have overstepped the line of ethical conduct in reporting. You will learn about the most significant scandals and the lessons the media industry has drawn from them.

    Practice: You will be faced with choices – from easy to all-but-easy – and asked for your understanding of the situation.


  • Session 11: How to pick an idea for your opinion piece

    Theory: Anyone can write an opinion piece, but writing one that will be accepted by a newspaper and actually read by the audience is a challenge. So how do we pick ideas and write compelling opinion pieces?

    Practice: Outlining your first opinion piece.

  • Session 12: Structure of an opinion piece

    Theory: What are the three parts of every opinion piece? How to outline a well-informed and clear argument.

    Practice: You will structure your opinion article and research all the information relevant to your argument.

  • Session 13: Writing an opinion piece

    Theory: What should you know before starting opinion writing? Deciding on vocabulary and tone makes all the difference when you want to persuade a reader to take your point of view under consideration. The tutor will share tips that will help you develop this approach.

    Practice: You will write your opinion article.

  • Session 14: Clear argument - finishing your opinion article

    Theory: There is a thin line between being knowledgeable and having an article so spiked with distractions that the reader will struggle to follow your train of thought. How to decide what needs editing down at the final stage of writing.

    Practice: Finishing your opinion piece.


  • Session 15: Interview as a type of feature

    Theory: Beyond reporting and commentary lies a vast space of features: human interest stories, interviews, reportage, informational features, personality sketches, etc. What are those, why does the media use them – and why is the interview arguably the most prominent form for journalists?

    Practice: Whom to interview (and whom not to)? Why are the media interested in some people, and why are some people completely not interested in giving interviews? You will decide who you want to interview and start trying to arrange this.

  • Sessions 16: Research for an interview

    Theory: There are different interviewees and different approaches to interviewing, but it is always crucial to be prepared. What are the types of interviews in broadcasting and press, and what steps are necessary for each of these? Finally, you will learn what research for an interview involves.

    Practice: You will be assigned an interviewee and asked to prepare a list of questions you would like to ask. You will then test these in practice with the tutor playing the role of the interviewee. At this stage, you will have your interview scheduled.

  • Session 17: Conducting an interview

    Theory: An interview is, after all, a conversation, and being able to hold human-to-human contact nearly always brings the best results. How to behave before, during, and after the interview. How to steer the conversation, maintain flexibility, interrupt, and finish the interview.

    Practice: You will practice all elements of interviewing with your colleagues and tutor, who will show you all the things that can go wrong during the conversation. After this session, you should conduct your interview.

  • Session 18: Structure - narrated interview vs. Q&A

    Theory: Interviews, as all features, are typically longer than news or opinion articles. Therefore, it is of paramount importance to think of the structure of the piece and decide what elements are necessary for the reader to be able to take full advantage of your work.

    Practice: You will outline the structure of the article and review it with the group.

  • Session 19: Editing spoken word

    Theory: As you start writing up your interview, one of the challenges you will face is deciding on how to use reported speech and edit spoken word so it would be clear, concise, and easy to understand without breaching the ethical rules. What are journalists allowed to do and what is absolutely forbidden?

    Practice: You will use quotes from your interview and decide how to use them in your feature.

  • Session 20: The Interviewee is not the story

    Theory: Writing an interview is much more than reporting on what someone said – you still need to tell the story, which made you reach out to the interviewee in the first place. You will learn how to combine all the elements so they can work together instead of against each other.

    Practice: You will research and write all the elements of the story which are necessary for the reader to understand your interview.

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