MEDPL 377 | Neighborhood News


Professor Katina Paron

Welcome to Neighborhood News, the class that produces a Hunter College student website, the Athenian. This course serves a dual purpose. As reporters, you will learn to develop and pitch story ideas; research, observe and interview for news and feature stories; write with clarity and purpose in a conversational style; and adhere to sound journalistic principles such as balance, objectivity and fairness. This class also serves the Hunter student body by providing coverage of college activities, students, faculty and policies, advancing student opinion and sharing information. As a staff, we will cover the big issues at Hunter, but also try to discover and uncover the people and organizations making a difference on campus. You will also learn what it means to write for an audience and assume that responsibility. 


By the end of the term, you will be able to:

  1. Write news and feature stories on deadline that are ready for publication 
  2. Research, develop and pitch an idea
  3. Follow spelling, grammar and AP Style rules
  4. Take photographs and use a graphics program to produce art for stories
  5. Use social media to promote stories, break news and engage readers
  6. Use WordPress to design and develop the paper’s website
  7. Develop and demonstrate sound news judgment to achieve fairness, balance and diversity in the paper’s coverage.


You will produce a minimum of five stories – three features and two deadline stories – reporting in person using a variety of techniques: observation, interviews, meeting coverage and scrutiny of documents. You may also do video stories or audio slideshows for any of these assignments.

  • The three feature stories will be developed through a three-phase “snowball” process: Pitch / Draft / Final. You will have one week to complete each phase of the process. Each assignment will also require photographs or video and social media updates across several platforms. All drafts will be due at 8 a.m. sharp the Tuesday before class, unless otherwise stated.
  • The two deadline stories will include coverage of events, meetings, press conferences or sports games/matches. You will pitch those in advance and write them within 24 hours of the event.

Your weekly diet of readings will include exceptional examples of journalistic writing and/or videos. You will also read each other’s work; we will critique each issue as a group. 


I am here to help you succeed as individuals, and as a collective, to help you create a smart, high-quality publication for your fellow students. Anyone who does the work will not fail. 

Method of Evaluation

Your grade will be largely based (90 percent) on your five story assignments, following a rubric (see with these categories:

  • Sources and Reporting
  • Story Focus and Organization
  • Pre-reporting and Deadlines 
  • Writing Style
  • Spelling, Grammar and Self-editing
  • Photographs and Social Media

After a rewrite; grading will reflect these standards:

  • A= publishable as is; photos, excerpt, headline completed and posted
  • B= publishable with editing; supplemental material might be missing
  • C=publishable with a (third) rewrite
  • D=major problems with facts, reporting, writing and not publishable
  • F=missing key facts, containing gross misspellings, plagiarism or libel and not publishable

The remaining 10 percent of your grade will be based on class participation and social media posts. 

Required Readings

  • The New York Times. Subscriptions are free to CUNY students. Set up alerts for Hunter and CUNY. 
  • Associated Press Stylebook. You will be required to follow AP Style, so you should acquire the AP Stylebook either in paper (an old version is fine) or as a subscription online:
  • “A NewsHound’s Guide to Student Journalism.” Buy through Amazon ( or the publisher (
  • ALSO, each week you will be emailed links for the coming week’s discussion. 

The books are available on Akademus and on reservation at the Hunter library. 

Class participation

Reporters write alone, but, like students, they learn from one another. Your active participation is essential, and will be considered in grading. You will be asked to submit your stories for class critiques, participate in the critiques of others’ stories and engage with your classmates during pitch meetings. You should be taking notes throughout class discussions, lectures, with guest speakers and on field trips. You will also be expected to ask questions of guests in class or hosts on newsroom tours and participate in those conversations. Participation also means being present and prepared adequately for class by completing required readings and being prepared with questions.



The Introductions: To the Class, Your Classmates and the Athenian

Seminar: What is Community Journalism?

READING from best college newspapers around the country + about Hunter

ASSIGNMENT: Five potential story ideas with three potential sources for each one, due next week at start of class


DUE: Assignment 1
Vox Pop: What does your audience care about?

Seminar: Using Editorial Budget to Create Balance

ASSIGNMENT: Community reporting from NYC dailies 


DUE: Assignment 2
Local News on a college campus

Seminar: Topics to Ideas to Pitches

ASSIGNMENT: Pitch for News Feature


DUE: Feature 1 Pitch

Story 1 Pitch Meeting

Story Critique

Seminar: Anatomy of a News Story/The Lede

ASSIGNMENT: Draft 1, News Feature


DUE: Feature 1 Draft
Seminar: Photojournalism and Caption Writing

Seminar: Writing for Social Media

ASSIGNMENT: Final, News Feature


DUE: Feature 1 Final

Guest Speaker: Sha Sha Feng, Using WordPress

Seminar: Incorporating Sources

In-class critique
READ: Your classmates’ stories

Classroom as Newsroom
We will finish editing final versions, and post stories to WordPress. 


Field Trip: Bronx Documentary Center

ASSIGNMENT: Pitch for News Feature 2

include sources and shot list.


DUE: Feature 2 Pitch

Story 2 Pitch Meeting
review editorial budget, student update on deadline stories

Seminar: Event Coverage

Classroom as Newsroom
ASSIGNMENT: Draft 1, News Feature 2


DUE: nothing

Critical Reading activity
Photojournalism activity
Classroom as Newsroom

ASSIGNMENT: continue reporting


DUE: Feature 2 Draft

Seminar: Write Tight via WSJ

Peer Editing

Classroom as Newsroom 

ASSIGNMENT: Final, News Feature 2


DUE: Feature 2 Final

Guest Speaker: Mikhael Simons, Solutions Journalism

Classroom as Newsroom
We will finish editing final versions, and post stories to WordPress.

ASSIGNMENT: Pitch for News Feature 3

include sources and shot list.

READ AND WATCH: in preparation for guest speaker 


DUE: Feature 3 Pitch

Guest Speaker: TBD

Story 3 Pitch Meeting

ASSIGNMENT: Draft 1, News Feature 3


DUE: nothing

Field Trip: TBD

ASSIGNMENT: Continue reporting


DUE: Feature 3 Draft

Guest and Seminar: TBA

Final Critique

ASSIGNMENT: Final, News Feature 3


DUE: Feature 3 Final

Guest: Committee to Protect Journalists

Final Classroom as Newsroom