JOUR201 Sample Syllabus: News Writing and Reporting 1 

Section: xxxxx, Spring 2018

Day and Time: 
xxxxxxx

Lab: xxxx Knight Hall

Instructor: 
xxxxxx

Phone: 
xxxxxx

Email: xxxxx; On Twitter: xxxxx

Office: xxxxx; Office Hours: By appointment or immediately after class


Prerequisites:
Minimum grade of C- in ENGL101, JOUR181 and JOUR200; and permission of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism

Goals:
JOUR201, News Reporting & Writing I, is a skills-based immersion into journalism. Students will learn the foundations of journalism and the craft’s two main components – reporting and writing of the news — and will explore how news is delivered through multiple platforms, including mobile devices, broadcast, Web and printed publications. They will be introduced to concepts of libel and copyright and discuss the need for multicultural sensitivities in their stories.

Learning Outcomes Expected: 
At the successful conclusion of the course, students will have demonstrated through their story assignments knowledge and professional proficiency of the following:

•   Fundamentals of Journalism – how to judge information for newsworthiness and to report and write with accuracy, balance, objectivity and fairness.

•    Basic News Writing Skills – with an emphasis on spelling, grammar and AP style; use of direct quotes, paraphrasing and attribution; structuring single-sentence and two-sentence paragraphs and tying them together in news stories, following the inverted pyramid structure with crisp, concise and compelling news leads.

•    Basic Reporting Techniques – with an emphasis on interviewing skills and the use of social media, commercial databases such as LexisNexis and the Internet to background stories and to find news.

•    Basic writing of a variety of stories for print, Web, radio and mobile devices. Students will learn to write obituaries and short stories about accidents and/or disasters, crimes and court cases, speeches, meetings and news conferences. They will learn the basics of headline writing and updating stories on continuous Web deadlines. Assignment length will vary from 140-character tweets to 400- to 500-word news articles.

JOUR201 serves as the main foundation for the skills-based curriculum at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, which is consistently ranked as one of the top journalism schools in the nation. This course is designed to be challenging. Be forewarned and prepared.


About the Instructor:

(Paragraph bio goes here.)

Required Readings and Texts:

The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law 2017 edition — a reference guide that you must bring to class each day. You may instead subscribe to the AP Stylebook online and download the mobile app instead of buying the printed book, but you will need one or the other.

Writing and Reporting News, A Coaching Method, 8th Edition, by Carole Rich. Chapters are assigned to supplement class lectures and writing assignments. You do not need to bring this book to class, although we will discuss concepts covered in the chapters.

Students must read the digital or print Washington Post every day – unless the teacher directs you to another site — focusing on the home page and National and Metro sections. Students should also regularly watch broadcast news reports on TV or online. News stories should be analyzed for both quality of writing and depth of reporting. We will discuss the content and structure of stories regularly in class. Students also should sample other media, including other newspapers, broadcast news, websites and blogs, and Twitter feeds posted by journalists. (The Skimm aggregates the day’s top news from a variety of sites, and links to original stories. Free subscriptions push the latest news to your email.)

Recommended:
 A dictionary app (or a bookmark on your computer browser to http://www.merriam-webster.com/ ). You also will be checking locations on Google maps.

Other readings may be handed out in class, posted on our class site or emailed to you throughout the semester.


Assignments:

There will be several types of assignments and assessments in this class. Most must be typed and double-spaced, with your name and a word count at the top. Please submit paper copies of all assignments, unless otherwise instructed.

News Quizzes: There will be about a dozen news quizzes throughout the semester, with five to 10 questions in each. Quizzes will be given at the start of class. Some quizzes may include a question or two from the week’s discussions or assigned class readings. All quizzes are weighted equally. The lowest two quiz scores will be dropped. News quizzes will be worth 15 percent of your class grade.

In-Class Stories and Exercises: There will be about 15 exercises reported and written on deadline in class – ranging from leads to tweets to Web headlines and blurbs to short radio stories to print stories (such as obits, accident, crime, speech, meeting and court stories.) All are weighted equally. The lowest two in-class scores will be dropped. In-class assignments will be worth 35 percent of your class grade.

AP Style Assignments: There will be four AP style exercises. (None of these scores will be dropped.) These will be worth 10 percent of your class grade.

Outside Writing Assignments: There will be 10 outside research (LexisNexis), reporting and writing assignments, and students will be given one week to complete many of them. The lowest single grade on an outside assignment will be dropped. Worth 30 percent of your class grade.

Final story assignment: Given on the last day of class. This final assignment grade cannot be dropped, and it cannot be taken or turned in late. This is given in lieu of a final test. This will be worth 5 percent of your class grade.

In-Class participation: Students are expected to do the assigned readings before class and come prepared to intelligently discuss them. Also come prepared to discuss ongoing news stories. To foster an environment for meaningful discussion, cell phones should be turned off during class, unless otherwise instructed by the teacher. Worth 5 percent of your class grade.


Math Competency Requirement: 

All JOUR 201 and 501 students must pass a journalism math competency requirement the semester they are enrolled in the course. Students will be asked to show facility with basic math skills such as adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, rounding, figuring percentages and percentage changes. They must also show they can calculate the answers to questions that might come up in stories, such as figuring out which city in a state has the highest crime rate per 10,000 or 100,000 population, or what the percentage change is in a category of budget spending over the last three years. This is basic math that news journalists must know to do their jobs successfully. It is rudimentary but requires attention to detail.

Students in this class will be asked to solve math problems as part of both crime and budget stories. Students must get all the math calculations correct on both sheets in order to pass the class math requirement. Each sheet will have about five problems. If any problems are missed on the first try, students will get another chance to solve them correctly.

The math work will be integrated into two stories, which will be graded following the rubrics laid out for other stories in class, with any factual mistakes dropping story grades down to an F=55.

If students do not complete the math requirement, they will be given an Incomplete for the class and will not be allowed to enroll in the next journalism skills classes until passing.

Help with basic math problems is available on Khan Academy, at https://www.khanacademy.org, and on the Merrill site.

If you believe you need one-on-one assistance, you are encouraged to contact the math department or the counseling center, which offer math tutoring and assistance.

Format of Sessions for JOUR201:

This is primarily a skills class, but you cannot learn the essentials of good reporting and writing unless you talk about them. So we will spend the first part of class doing some combination of the following: taking a news quiz and reviewing the answers, discussing the day’s top news, reviewing good writing techniques for print, Web or radio, and getting feedback on previous assignments. The second half of the class will usually be spent interviewing/researching/writing on deadline – or dissecting good news writing. For writing assignments, you will be given the facts of a breaking news situation — verbally and/or in writing — from me (or a guest speaker). The story may be an obituary, a brief about a car crash, or a story stemming from a press conference, speech, meeting or court case. Once you have gathered all the information, you will write a story or tweet, or write headlines or Web blurbs. Typically you will be given 30 to 45 minutes to compose a 250-word news story – and more time if the story is longer.


Grades: 

1.   The two lowest grades on in-class stories and exercises will be dropped.

2.   The two lowest news quiz grades will be dropped.

3.   And the lowest single grade on an outside assignment will be dropped.

Attendance will impact your final grade because any missed assignments – in our out of class – will receive 0 points. See the “Attendance and Punctuality” section for more information. Grades on assignments will be based on the following criteria in an effort to reflect professional newsroom and university standards:

Libel. Any story that includes libelous material will result in an F (55 percent). Examples would be if you describe someone as a murderer in your story before he or she has been convicted, or if you mistype the name of a convicted rapist or robber, implicating someone not guilty of the crime.

Accuracy. Any factual error in a story, including the misspelling of a person’s name or hometown or an incorrect age or address, will result in an F. (You will receive a score of 55 percent for your effort.)

Deadlines. Any story or assignment that is submitted after the deadline will result in an F, which will show up as 55 percent. The deadline for in-class assignments is the end of class, unless otherwise instructed, and for outside assignments, the start of class. Turning in an assignment late, even by one minute, will result in an F — no discussions.

Stories that have no factual errors and are submitted on time will be evaluated based on the following criteria: rules of spelling, grammar, AP style, story structure, conciseness, clarity, readability, accuracy, completeness and fairness.


Grading Rubric. Grades will be assessed as follows:

A (90 to 100 percent): The story has virtually no style, spelling, grammar or punctuation errors and is ready to be published by a professional news outlet with very little editing. The lead is strong, the point of the story is clear and it is well organized. It contains all the important elements, leaving out information that is off point or redundant.

B (80 to 89 percent): The story has a few style, spelling, grammar and/or punctuation errors but with minor editing is ready to be published by a professional news outlet. The lead is acceptable, main points are explained and the story is well organized. The writing may need to be tighter and some word choices may need to be clearer.

C (70 to 79 percent): The story has some style, spelling, grammar and/or punctuation errors but with some editing can be published by a professional news outlet. The lead may be buried, main points may not be clearly articulated, and the story may have left out one or two important facts or included information not germane.

D (60 to 69 percent): The story has multiple style, spelling, grammar and/or punctuation errors. It does not have a clear lead, main points may be missing and the story is poorly organized and written. Key points may be missing, requiring more interviews/calls. The story would have to be substantially reworked to be published.

F (<60 percent): The story is inaccurate, late or libelous, or it is of such poor quality that another journalist would be required to re-report and write the piece in order for it to be published.

XF: A final class grade that signifies the Office of Student Conduct found that the student plagiarized or otherwise cheated in class.

Minus and plus grading will be assessed as follows:

98-100 = A+

93-97 = A

90-92 = A-

88-89 = B+

83-87 = B

80-82 = B-

78-79 = C+

73-77 = C

70-72 = C-

68-69 = D+

63-67 = D

60-62 = D-

Below 60 = F

Grades will be recorded as soon as possible so that students can gauge their progress throughout the semester. I will also meet one on one with you, as warranted, to discuss your performance in the class.

 Make an appointment with me if you need help!

Extra Credit for Published Work:

 Journalism students and those considering journalism as a major are encouraged to get news stories published to begin building a professional portfolio.  There are a number of student publications on campus, including The Diamondback, the Eclipse, the Mitzpeh and Unwind! magazine, which accept stories from freelancers and staff writers. Up to two stories published from the first day of class until the last day of class may be submitted for extra credit in JOUR201; each of those two published bylined news stories will increase your final grade by 1 percent. Only originally reported news and sports stories and news features count for extra credit; editorials, columns, reviews and opinion blogs do not. Stories must be published in EDITED news publications –print or online. Submissions from internal (public relations) publications and newsletters (Greek life publications included) will not be accepted. Please consult the instructor for clarification.

Assessment:

 This course is assessed as part of the college’s learning outcomes assessment program, which helps us identify areas in the curriculum that need updates or improvements. Assessment is required by the university and by the national accreditation body, ACEJMC. Students enrolled in this course will be required to submit one writing assignment and one AP style exercise to the instructor for assessment.  Your math assignments are also used as part of assessment. I will remind you which story and which style assignments you will need to print twice — once for a grade, and once for assessment. Those assignments will be rated using a five-point system, or rubric, that considers how well students write, report and edit their work. The assessment scores do not affect any student’s grade in this class; however, students who do not submit the required assignments will not receive a grade for this class.




Attendance and punctuality: 

It is important that you attend every class and show up on time. To do otherwise will negatively affect your grade, because you will be missing reporting and writing instruction, class discussions, quizzes and assignments. The dropped grade policy (as described in the grading section above) is designed to accommodate missed class assignments due to brief illness and emergencies. Please notify the instructor in advance, if possible, if you will be missing class due to illness or emergency, so that she can make arrangements to get notes to you.

Academic integrity:

Along with certain rights, students have the responsibility to behave honorably in an academic environment. Academic dishonesty, including cheating, fabrication, facilitating academic dishonesty and plagiarism, will not be tolerated. Adhering to a high ethical standard is of special importance in journalism, where reliability and credibility are the cornerstones of the field. Therefore, the college has adopted a “zero tolerance” policy on academic dishonesty. Any abridgment of academic integrity standards in a College of Journalism course will be referred to the university’s Office of Student Conduct and the college’s associate deans. To ensure this is understood, all students are asked to sign an academic integrity pledge at the beginning of the semester that will cover all assignments in this course. Students found to have violated the university’s honor code may face sanctions, including a grade of XF for the course, suspension or expulsion from the university.


Religious holidays:

 There will be no tests or major assignments scheduled on religious holidays identified by the university. If you expect to miss a class during the semester due to a religious holiday, please notify the instructor in writing before the start of the second class, so she can get notes to you.

Inclement weather: 

If the university closes due to foul weather (snow, ice, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes) or other emergencies and class must be canceled, students will be advised of assignment adjustments by the instructor. We will likely use our class Elms site to make these notifications and/or conduct a virtual class. Please check the university’s home page if in doubt about whether or not classes have been canceled on campus.

Students with disabilities:

 Students with a specific disability (permanent or temporary, physical or learning) needing special accommodation during the semester should make an appointment to meet with the instructor immediately after the first class. Students may be asked to provide the instructor accommodation forms given to them after testing by the Disability Support Service on campus, 301-405-0813.

For more on university course-related policies,  please refer to The University’s Office of Undergraduate Studies: http://www.ugst.umd.edu/courserelatedpolicies.html .


TENTATIVE CLASS SCHEDULE:

(Subject to change at the discretion of the instructor, to accommodate the speed at which the class learns and the schedule of guest speakers. Updates will be posted in the schedule on our class Elms site.) Readings should be completed before the start of class, except for the first class, which will be done after that class.

journalist terpSession 1: Introductions / Course Syllabus Overview:

In-class Assignment – Getting to Know Each Other: Interview and then write up to a 400-word interview story of a classmate. This will be printed out and turned in to the instructor. It will be reviewed by the instructor but not graded. It is a chance for you to meet someone new in class, and for me to get to know all of you.

Read: Rich Chapter 1 (Changing Concepts of News) and begin reviewing the Appendix (Grammar and Usage). You should continue to review the Appendix throughout the semester, until you feel comfortable with the material.

 

Session 2: What is News? Elements of News, Decision-Making. Plus the inverted pyramid story construction for news. And some basics of lead writing. (Brevity (35 words of less); S-V-O structure; using active voice; avoiding unfamiliar proper names; focusing on a key point; getting time element near verb; including brief attribution as appropriate.) Plus an AP Style introduction: Your instructor will give you a crib sheet of commonly used style points.

Read: Rich, Chapter 2 – The Basic News Story. Skim your AP Stylebook to begin to get a sense of how it’s organized.

Outside class assignment given out: AP Style Ex. #1, due in one week. You may use your stylebook, but you must work alone.


Session 3: AP style tips and practice and lead writing practice exercise(s). 

Read: Rich, Chapter 7 – Leads and Nut Graphs, through to p. 123. (Stop before “Soft Leads.”) And Rich Chapter 8 – Story Organization.

 

Session 4: A discussion of types of hard-news leads: summary leads and delayed-identification leads.

In-class: Lead writing exercise(s).  

Review: Editing Marks (copy editing symbols) in your AP Stylebook (just before the Bibliography). I will put a copy of the sheet in the Files folder of our class Elms site.

Read: Chapter 4, Sources and Online Research, pps. 57 through 67, stopping at “Online Sources.”

AP Style Ex. 1 due at start of class.

Pre-work for LexisNexis session, due at the start of the next class. Read: Lexis-Nexis LibGuide for JOUR 201 and 501: http://lib.guides.umd.edu/JOUR201 . Review tabs for Academic Overview, Searching — for News Articles, Legal Information, Business Information.


Session 5: Research and sourcing, (primary vs. secondary; in-person vs. paper or digital; plus LexisNexis and library database training
in the classroom with Chuck Howell, our librarian for journalism.

Outside class assignment #1 handed out: LexisNexis research assignment. Due at start of next class. Complete the LexisNexis sheet that you were given in class, finishing all questions, and please also explain HOW you searched to get your answer.


Session: 6: Interviewing Techniques: Handling direct quotes and attribution, and paraphrasing and attribution — for paper and people sources. What’s the difference between interviews that are on the record, off the record and on background?
When should interviews be recorded? Conducted by email? Avoiding plagiarism when writing stories that rely heavily on research. And more on AP Style.

In-class exercise(s). 

Read: Rich Chapter 5 – Interviewing Techniques.

AP Style Ex. 2 handed out. Due in one week.

 

Session 7: Introduction to Accident, Disaster and Weather Stories. Structuring breaking news stories in the inverted pyramid format, using a tight lead, an amplifying paragraph, then weaving in secondary details/background and context.

In-class assignment: Accident story #1.

Read: Rich Chapter 21 – Disasters, Weather and Tragedies.

 

Session 8: Review of assignments. More practice on writing about accidents, disasters. We’ll review and discuss class leads and review hallmarks of strong news leads.

In-class assignment: Tightening phrases/ avoiding redundancies – small exercise.

HOMEWORK: AP Style Ex. 2 due at start of class.

Read: “Covering hurricanes,” “When the newsroom has to evacuate” and “Preparing for the Worst: Are You Ready?

Outside assignment #2 handed out – Accident /disaster story – begun in class; finish for start of next class. Additional quotes dictated in class.


Session 9: Practice interviewing.

In-class guest and Assignment: Practice interviewing xxxxxxx, who will talk to you about his or her career in journalism. You will write a 320- to 400-word story based on the interview and research from paper or online sources, and due in one week. It will count as a homework assignment (#3). The story will focus on a point of the talk — possibly career advice stemming from what the guest learned along his or her career path.  Must include a focused lead, amplification of that lead, background, quotes, context. Due at the start of next class.

AP Style exercise #3 assigned.  Due in one week.

Accident story due at start of class.

Read:12 basics of interviewing, listening and note-taking,” by Roy Peter Clark, Aug. 19, 2015, on poynter.org; “How journalists can become better interviewers,” by Chip Scanlan, March 4, 2013, on poynter.org; “Don’t be boring and 6 other interviewing tips from Jacqui Banaszynski,” by Lauren Klinger, May 20, 2015, on poynter.org.

 

Session 10: Intro to social media in journalism: Using Twitter. Discuss how journalists use Twitter to cover breaking news; to crowd-source stories; to re-publish stories to a larger audience and to interact with audiences. And ethical concerns. PLUS: Advanced research techniques, using google (with handout).

In-class Assignment: Create or update a Twitter account; discuss acceptable do’s and don’ts when tweeting; do live tweets from class discussion using hashtags and @ symbols. Then: research exercise.

Read: Rich Chapter 3 – Social Media. PLUS: “On Twitter, you’re better off fact-checking your crazy uncle than a complete stranger,” by Daniel Funke, on poynter.org, Sept. 11, 2017; “Newsrooms Grapple with How to Avoid Twitter Bloopers,” by Katie Takacs, American Journalism Review, Jan. 8, 2015;  “Slate’s Good Strategy for Correcting Errors on Twitter, Elsewhere,” by Craig Silverman, March 4, 2014, on poynter.org; “NPR’s Giffords Mistake: Re-Learning the Lesson of Checking Sources,” By Alicia Shepard, Jan. 11, 2011, NPR.

 

Session 11: Covering Speeches, Meetings, Talk Shows 

Plus: in-class review of leads from accident story

Read Rich, Chapter 18 – Speeches, Meetings, News Conferences.

Due at start of class: AP Style exercise #3; interview story.

 

Session 12: Covering Speeches, Talk Shows

Homework story #4: Speech story. You will be starting this in class, and turning in a completed story at the start of the next class. You will be writing the first 350 words of a story about this speech. You must double space your story. Write it in inverted pyramid structure, with your news lead at the top; amplification of the lead (possibly a strong quote) immediately below it, then context and background, and finally minor details.

Read Rich, Chapter 18 – Speeches, Meetings, News Conferences.

Homework: Outside of class assignment (#5): Watch and take notes on Sunday morning’s talk show, ABC News’ “This Week” on Sunday, xxxx, at xxx a.m., on WJLA-TV in Washington (Channel 7).  We will discuss the show at the start of the next class, so that I can help you find a focus. Story will be due in a week; 320 to 400 words, with a strong lead, amplification of the lead, context, background, transitions and quotes, focused on a key point or two made by a newsmaker (not a journalist) on the show. You will not be including every point discussed. You may need to find context and background from primary documents, such as the White House site and congressional sites. A transcript of the show should be available on its site within 24 hours.

 

Session 13: Covering Government Meetings. Include a discussion of covering meetings at the city, county and state levels, and a possible overview of Maryland’s Board of Public Works.

In-class assignment: A meeting story. 

Due at start of class: speech story (outside #4). This will be printed twice: once for a class grade, and once for assessment.

Homework assigned: Due in one week: Two story pitches from the most recent Maryland Board of Public Works agenda (or another agenda of the teacher’s choosing). Each pitch should be a complete paragraphexplaining what the story might be, why it’s important (remember your news values from our early sessions), and specifically who or what types of people you would need to talk to to report the story accurately and fairly (include some specific names and titles). Remember different types of people should be included, including members of the board or council and people who would be affected by the funding they approved or the action taken. Are there any primary documents that should be consulted?

 

Session 14: Covering News Conferences and Meetings (county/state).

In-class: Review leads and structure from recent stories. Review of basic math points: Rounding decimals; calculating ages;  averages; percentages; percent changes. Then take math test 1.

Read: Rich Chapter 19 – Government and Statistical Stories

Due at the start of class: Talk show story (outside #5).

 

Session 15: Covering meetings and budgets and working with numbers. 

Your teacher will return your math test, and allow you to make corrections to any problems you missed. 

In-class Assignment: First 300 words of a budget story, using some of the calculations from math test 1.

Read:  Writing With Numbers,” by Chip Scanlan, on Poynter.org; “How to Write Better Business Stories,” by Chris Roush, on Journalist’s Resource; “Ten Hints for Covering Government,” by Charlotte Grimes, on Journalist’s Resource.

Due at start of class: Board of Public Works story pitches. (outside #6)

 

SPRING BREAK. See you in a week!

 

Session 16: Class discussion/exercises: Reporters’ personal ethics and multicultural sensitivities. We’ll have a discussion of reporters’ ethics and the SPJ and Associated Press Codes of Ethics. Is it OK for a news reporter to wear political buttons? Blog opinions about politics? March in rallies? Accept gifts or free meals from sources? Vote? Run for office? And more. What kinds of stereotypes creep into news stories? How can they be thwarted? We may break into groups to talk about the Associated Press Code of Ethics: Should anything be stricken? Should anything be added?

Read: Rich, Chapter 15, Media Ethics, and Chapter 16, Multicultural Sensitivity.

In class, we’ll review: the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics and the Associated Press News Values and Principles

Homework assigned: AP Style exercise 4, which will be giving to you in electronic format. This must be typed, CORRECTED, into a Word document, because it will be printed twice: for assessment and for a class grade. Please bold your changes. Due in one week.

 

Session 17:  Writing Headlines for print and the Web: a discussion of similarities and differences and Search Engine Optimization. 

With class practice, then a graded exercise.

Read: Rich, Chapter 6: Mobile and Multimedia Skills, and IJNet’s “Tips for Writing Better Headlines.” And please bookmark these useful sites: ACES: The Society for Editing and Journalist’s Toolbox from the Society for Professional Journalists.

 

Session 18: Headlines and Web Blurbs

In-class Assignment: Writing headlines for the Web

Out-of-class exercise #7 assigned; due at start of next class: Web headlines & blurbs. Packet distributed in class today.

AP Style exercise 4 due. Print twice.

 

Session 19: Writing breaking stories for the Web on a 24/7 deadline with updates and multimedia.

Inclass: Writing a breaking story with constant updates from several sources.

Read: Rich Chapter 12 – Online Journalism

Homework due: Web headline and blurb packet. (out-of-class #7)

 

Session 20: Writing for radio

In-class assignment: Discussion of writing for radio  + analysis of professional radio stories from NPR and WTOP. Write a radio story: a 30- to 40-second reader.

Readings: Chapter 11, Broadcast News Writing, Carole Rich book.

 

Session 21: More on Writing for Radio 

In-class: review/discussion of radio stories from professional sites and write a radio story: a 30- to 40-second reader.

 

Session 22:  Crime and Courts, Copyright and Libel 

In-class Assignment: Libel / privacy / copyright / court reporting notes!

Read: Chapter 14, Media Law

Homework exercise on privacy and libel, (open book and notes): out-of-class #8. Due at start of next class.

 

Session 23: Covering Crime

Inclass Assignment: Crime story. Plus a review of calculating crime rates per 10,000 or 100,000 population. AND: Math test two: using crime data.

Read: Rich, Chapter 20 – Crime and Punishment.

 

Session 24: Crime and Punishment: Guest from the campus police. Covering crime on campus.

Math test returned; students will be given a few minutes to make corrections to missed problems.

Read: “Covering mass shootings and the resurrection of the dead,” by Roy Peter Clark, on poynter.org Nov. 13, 2017.  Explore “Portraits of Grief” from The New York Tmes. According to Clark, they are brief stories of the 1,910 killed in the World Trade Center attacks that are “short, but fervent” and “allude to the general circumstances of death,” but avert our “eyes from the horrors.”

Assigned:  Out of class assignment #9: Crime rate story, based on campus data and guest interview in class, due in one weekWrite 300 to 400 words, DOUBLESPACED. Put your name and word count at the top.

 

Session 25: Crime and Punishment: Covering courts.

Inclass story assignment / civil suit.

 

Session 26: More on covering courts. PLUS: Discussion of opportunities with internships & jobs and upper-level journalism courses. 

Inclass story assignment.

Read: Rich, Chapter 22 – Media Jobs and Internships. AND: How to cover a court trial: 6 tips for journalists,” published on poynter.org Oct. 21, 2013, by Saul Sugarman.

Homework due at start of class: Crime rate story (outside assignment #9).

 

Session 27:  Writing basic obituaries writing. With an inclass writing assignment or two. To kick-start the discussion of what to do and not to do when writing obituaries, we’ll compare these: The New York Times’ obit on author Colleen McCullough, and The Australian’s. If you’re not sure which is better (!), read The Guardian’s take on The Australian’s piece.

Outside assignment #10 handed out: Celebrity obit (Jane Fonda). Due in one week.

Readings: Rich Chapter 17, pps. 334-341 only, on Obituaries. PLUS: “The art of writing an obituary,” from The Economist June 5, 2017. As time permits, browse: “Not Forgotten,” memorable obituaries from The New York Times.

 

Session 28: Writing obituaries: longer form. PLUS: Storytelling techniques for stories with softer openings.

Inclass: An assignment on the Discussions page that examines June 2016 obituaries of Muhammad Ali from Time magazine and The New York Times.  Word choices matter in your writing. How can strong verbs/ concrete nouns / transitional words and sentences / and parallel constructions in sentences and phrases help with readability? How can mini-chronologies be used in obituaries to describe events from a life?

Read: Chapter 10 – Storytelling and Feature Techniques.

 

Session 29:  Final story assignment during last class.  THIS GRADE DOES NOT DROP AND CANNOT BE MADE UP; it is given in lieu of a final.

Outside class assignment #10 due: Celebrity Advance Obituary / Jane Fonda.

 

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