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A Reporter’s Toolkit for the Digital Age

Learn essential skills and useful tools to help you become a reporter in a social media and digital era.

A Reporter’s Toolkit for the Digital Age
  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours
  • 100% online

    Learn at your own paceHow it works
  • Included in an ExpertTrack

    Course 2 of 3
  • Get full ExpertTrack access

    $39/monthFind out more

Enhance your skills as a news reporter

With so much of our news now consumed online, it’s important to know how digital journalism differs from traditional forms.

On this four-week course, you’ll increase your understanding of the essential ingredients for good reporting and how to apply this to online journalism.

This practical course will take you through a variety of exercises including how to pick the best stories for different target audiences, how to write a news story from information and quotes, and writing other forms of journalism to build your skills.

Explore the value of community news

You’ll examine what it means to have different communities reflected in the news and the impact this has on society.

Drawing from your own experiences, you’ll discuss how far you have seen various communities represented in the news before learning how reporters create this type of story.

You’ll also have the opportunity to create a story about your community or area of special interest.

Examine the power of social media in reporting and journalism

Social media has undoubtedly changed the way we report and consume news.

You’ll explore how news platforms use social media in reporting and what makes an engaging post without being ‘clickbait’.

As well as this, you’ll examine how news outlets use social media to pick up stories, interviewees, and case studies.

Explore the realms of digital journalism

Finally, you’ll explore the power of the personal story.

You’ll examine the attraction and also the danger of people telling their own stories before taking the opportunity to create your own piece of personalised journalism.


  • Week 1

    Building blocks of good journalism

    • Welcome to the course

      Welcome to ‘A reporter’s toolkit for the digital and social age’ – a course designed to cement in your mind the building blocks of good, authoritative and engaging journalism – and get you creating some of your own.

    • Building blocks of good journalism

      What goes into making quality journalism? What are the key principles it is built on?

    • Developing 'news sense'

      How do editors decide which stories to feature on their pages or in their news programmes? The decisions will be based on news judgement or news sense. What is this and how can you develop it? Follow the next steps to find out.

    • Weekly wrap-up

      Lead Educator Angela Harrison looks back on what you’ve covered this week and highlights what’s coming up next week.

  • Week 2

    Covering your community or area of special interest

    • Welcome to Week 2

      Let’s look ahead to what we will cover this week when we will be examining the important job many journalists do in covering and reflecting communities. How well do you think different areas or groups are covered in the media?

    • Exploring 'communities' in news

      Let’s look more closely at how different groups, areas and communities are covered by news outlets and find a story of your own related to this.

    • What is a 'patch' and how to cover one?

      Let’s take a closer look at how to cover a local area or ‘patch’ as a journalist. You will also hear some tips which will get reporters ahead of the opposition so that they are first with important local news.

    • Covering your own community - newsgathering

      Get some more tips on how to find stories in your local area or community - and then have a go at finding one of your own.

    • Plan a story about your local area or community

      In this task you will be completing a peer-graded assignment. We would like you to put into practice some of what we have been covering this week by finding a story in your local area or community you would like to write about.

    • Weekly wrap-up

      Let’s wrap up our journalistic journey for this week with a quiz designed to get you thinking about what we have covered. Then we will look ahead to what’s coming next in this ExpertTrack.

  • Week 3

    The power of social media in reporting and journalism

    • Introduction to Week 3

      We’re looking at the power and use of social media in news this week. Let’s find out more about how we are going to do that and what the week has in store.

    • The value of social media

      What’s the value of social media to journalism, reporting and news organisations? Let’s click through and find out.

    • What makes a good SM post for news?

      Let’s analyse some of the ways that social media posts for news can grab our attention and make us ‘click’.

    • The trouble with social media

      It’s not all puppies, smiles, chatting and contact-building on social media. Let’s look at some of the problems it brings for audiences, users and journalists.

    • Create your own social media post for news

      Having heard the tips and looked at some examples of striking social media posts for news, try out what you’ve learned by planning your own ‘tweet’ for Twitter.

    • Weekly wrap-up

      Let’s look back across the week and recap on what we’ve covered - and have a taste of what’s coming next.

  • Week 4

    Personal stories in the news

    • Introduction to Week 4

      Let’s dive into Week 4 of this ExpertTrack and see what is coming up.

    • Finding 'you' and 'I' in the news

      Let’s analyse some news stories and websites for examples of ‘personalisation’ of news stories and content.

    • Reporters becoming part of the story

      Trends for reporters putting themselves into stories come and go and digital technology has brought more informality to some story-telling in news. But does more of the reporter or presenter mean less objectivity?

    • Peer Graded Assignment

      In this task, we would like you to create your own journalistic blog post and a headline for it.

    • End of Course 2

      Let’s recap what we’ve covered this week and in this course before we wrap it up.

Prove you're job ready

Highlight the new, job-relevant skills you’ve gained and supplement existing qualifications with a hard-earned, industry-specific digital certificate – plus one for every course within your ExpertTrack.

  • Learn the latest in your chosen industry or subject.
  • Complete each course and pass assessments.
  • Receive certificates validated by the educating organisation.
  • Impress employers with learning outcomes you can add to your CV.
  • Make your career dreams a reality.

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Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Summarise the essential ingredients of good reporting
  • Develop news judgement
  • Reflect on different communities being represented in the news
  • Discuss the power of social media
  • Explore impartiality and personal news stories

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone with an interest in media reporting.

It will be of particular interest if you are an aspiring journalist or writer.

Who developed the course?

The University of Kent

The University of Kent, the UK’s European university, is one of the country’s most dynamic universities. Established in 1965, it now has 19,850 students studying at its various campuses.

About this ExpertTrack

Develop skills to produce good journalism in a digital era and learn tips about how to consume news with a better understanding.

Start learning today - free 7-day trial

After your free trial you can:

  • Pay $39 per month to keep learning online
  • Have complete control over your subscription; you can cancel any time
  • Work at your own pace and set your own deadlines at every stage
  • Only pay while you’re learning; the subscription will cancel automatically when you finish
  • Complete online assessments to test your knowledge and prove your skills
  • Earn digital course certificates and a final award that you can share online, with potential employers, and your professional network
  • Keep access to the content of courses you complete even after your subscription ends

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps, but you can complete them as quickly or slowly as you like
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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