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ENG 121 & 122 Course Playbook

Supplementary materials for English 121 and English 122, Introduction to Journalism I & II.

Code of Ethics

Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics. Four principles: Seek truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently, be accountable and transparent

News vs Opinion



The writer reports the news. People’s opinions may appear as part of that reporting (“According to Mr. Smith…”), but the writer does not explicitly present his/her own views.

The writer shares his or her own views and explicitly seeks to persuade readers to adopt those views as their own.

Adapted from Writing Commons (Links to an external site.) which uses a Creative Commons license: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

Types of Bias

According to the News Literacy Project, news bias is usually "incidental and debatable rather than intentional and overt," meaning news organizations are trying NOT to be biased in their news reporting. (This rule does not apply to opinion or commentary pieces which, quite intentionally, present a point of view.) Sometimes bias happens, but most reputable journalists and news organizations attempt to be accurate and fair.

Below are common types of bias in news reporting.
Type of Bias Definition
Partisan When news coverage unfairly favors one political party, viewpoint, or group.
Demographic When the demographic of the news organization and journalists affect how they present or write an article. Can be present when the newsroom staff is not diverse.
Corporate When the parent company or owner affect the presentation of news stories.
Neutrality Also known as "false balance" or "both sides." When something is demonstrably known (like climate change), but the news article attempts a neutral stance.
Big Story When journalists lean in (focus too much) on big stories.
Visual Including visuals will draw the reader's attention.  Do images presented evoke specific responses?  Do they prejudice the reader to view the news one way?

These types of bias are usually presented by the following forms.

Form of Bias Definition
Absence of fairness and balance The failure of a straight news report to present a fair and balanced representation of the event or issue. 
Framing The way that journalists approach and organize a story. Various types of news media bias can be expressed in how a story is framed.
Story selection The process that news outlets use to decide which issues and events to cover. 
Tone In journalism, the use of words and phrases that affect the audience's perception of the issue or event being covered.
Sourcing All of the people, organizations, documents and other providers of information that are used to put together a news report, the use of incomplete or otherwise flawed sourcing.

Read more about the types of bias here on the Student News Daily.

Bias Through Tone

Loaded Language (Connotative vs. Denotative--dictionary definition) 

A word "that carries additional emotional weight or significance--whether positive or negative--beyond its literal meaning."


  • Bureaucracy
  • Dream
  • Home
  • Child-like

What are the dictionary definitions of these words? What thoughts, feelings, emotions, or stereotypes do these words evoke?

Reading Level

Questions to ask yourself: Is your writing readable by the general population? Does the general reader understand the terms you use?

Suggested Readings/Viewings