Course Outline (tentative)

Jan. 9 – Introduction, discussion of syllabus and course objectives, question-and-answer
Jan. 12 – Associated Press style, grammar, word usage (Appendix), discussion of EGUMPP
Jan. 14-16 – Understanding news – Read Chapters 1 and 2 (Jan. 14 is the last day to add a course for spring or drop a course with no charge)
Jan. 19 – No class – MLK Jr. Day
Jan. 21-23 – Convergence, mobile media and online journalism – Read Chapters 3 and 12
Jan. 26-28 – Social media and sources (courtesy and diversity) – Read Chapters 4 and 5
Jan. 30-Feb. 2-4-6 – Writing leads and organizing stories – Read Chapters 7, 8, 9 and 10
Feb. 9 – Review for first exam
Feb. 11 – Exam 1
Feb. 16-18-20-23 – Understanding media issues (law, ethics, multicultural sensitivity) – Read Chapters 14, 15 and 16
Feb. 25 – Assignment/writing workday
Friday, Feb. 27, through Sunday, March 8 – Spring Break and travel-study trip to London, etc.
March 9-11-13-16-18 – Profiles, speeches, meetings and government stories – Read Chapters 17, 18 and 19
March 20 – Advising and workday (Registration for Maymester, summer and fall begins Monday, March 23)
March 23-25-27-30-April 1 – Crime and disasters – Read Chapters 20 and 21
April 3 – No class – Good Friday
April 6 – Review for second exam
April 8 – Exam 2
April 10-13-15-17 – Writing workdays and review for third exam (which is comprehensive)
April 20 – Exam 3
April 22-24 – Writing workdays; course wrap

One of your writing assignments will include a project that replaces the final exam in this course. You should plan to pick up any remaining graded work during finals week.

Spring commencement is at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 2, 2015.

Objective: To provide preprofessional basic instruction and practice in writing stories for print and online; to stress the importance of accuracy, fairness and responsibility in reporting and writing; and to teach the fundamentals of story organization and news style.

Prerequisites: You must have completed English 111 with a minimum grade of C, and you must be able to type. This course is a prerequisite for most upper-division Communications courses.

Texts and supplies:
Writing and Reporting News, seventh edition, Carole Rich (Wadsworth Publishing Company, 2010), textbook
Paper for notes and news journals
Pencils for editing and style exercises
Jump drives for storing your work
1-inch ring binder

Course rules:

  • Be current, be aware. Staying abreast of change in any field is tremendously important, and mass communications is no exception. To keep up with the rapid growth in technology and the dissemination of information, you must watch, listen and read!!! Check headlines on the Internet, watch a local newscast (daily), listen to bulletins on your car radio and, most importantly, read newspapers and articles in magazines or trade journals. The Communications Reading Room, 309 Gooch Hall, features mass publications as well as scholarly journals. So does Paul Meek Library.
  • Attend class. Because of the laboratory nature of this course, attendance is essential and mandatory. Roll will be taken at the beginning of each class.
  • Be prompt. If you aren't in the lab by the time I finish calling roll, you're late. If you face some sort of emergency, contact me quickly, preferably via email or text message. For those students who, for physical reasons, must ride the elevator, I will be tolerant of problems that arise when the elevators are not working. Be sure to tell me if such a situation exists or occurs.
  • Do all work on time. Late or makeup work will be accepted in cases of legitimate excused absences, e.g. university-related travel, documented illness, documented employment scheduling conflicts, etc. All makeup work, including missed exams or quizzes, will be allowed only at my discretion. Be sure to consult with me before the expected absence, or as quickly as you can in case of an emergency.
  • Do not disrupt class. Students may consult with each other or with me while working on assignments during class, but please do so in a courteous manner.
  • Show some respect. The computers in the lab are tools, not toys, and I will not tolerate students checking their email or surfing the Internet while I am lecturing. Lecture time is my time; you may check your messages and your Facebook on your own time.
  • No cheating. Academic dishonesty and plagiarism will not be tolerated. Cheating on quizzes or copying a previous or current student's work will certainly result in a zero for the assignment without a chance to redo the work and, depending on the severity of the offense, could result in a zero for the course. Plagiarism is defined as using or stealing others' work and presenting it as your own. You should be careful, particularly when you begin to write stories for The Pacer, to correctly cite all sources. Example: Finding a movie review on a Web site, then copying it and pasting it into a file, changing a couple of sentences and putting your byline on it, then submitting it to The Pacer for print, is considered plagiarism. If you wish to be sure that you are not guilty of plagiarism, please do not hesitate to consult with me on how to use others' words in an appropriate manner. As with any other form of academic dishonesty, plagiarism will result in a zero for the assignment and could result in a zero for the course. If you've read your Student Handbook, you already know that plagiarism is a cardinal sin in the academic world and could get you expelled from the university.
  • Extra credit. I give few extra credit opportunities in this class. If I do assign extra credit work, it will have a due date, just like any other assignment. No extra credit will be given beyond the last day of classes.
  • Bring all supplies to each class. This includes your textbook, paper, pencils and jump drive.

Course structure: The course consists of lectures and labs, reading assignments, class discussions in which students should participate, graded lab exercises, weekly current events quizzes, and heavily weighted writing assignments. The course outline is flexible, and other assignments may be given when needed or appropriate. Most classes will begin with a brief lecture, followed by discussion. The remainder of the time will be used as a writing laboratory session. Students who want or expect to make an "A" in this class should have at least one story published in The Pacer, the campus newspaper, or in another media outlet as long as the publication has been cleared with me. However, publication of a story does not guarantee an "A" in the course. Clips of published work must be turned in to the instructor.
All writing assignments must be typed, double-spaced, copy-edited and on time.
Exam questions will be drawn from material covered in lectures and in the text. Be sure to read assigned material before class, and be ready to take notes in class.

Grading: The following grading system will be used, subject to modifications that may become necessary as the class progresses:
All homework and writing assignments (including the required grammar assessment) -- about 700 points
Three exams/frequent news journals -- about 250 points
Class participation, attendance and attitude -- 50 points
Total possible points = 1,000 (estimated total)

Grading scale:
A = 900-1,000 points and possibly at least one story published in The Pacer or other acceptable media outlet
B = 800-899 points
C = 700-799 points
D = 600-699 points
F = Fewer than 600 points

Accommodations: All students who face medical/physical challenges will be provided appropriate accommodations to meet their educational needs. However, those students must bring me a letter from the UTM Office of Disabilities within the first two weeks of the semester in order to qualify for special accommodations. Anyone who believes he or she may need extra help or may have other special needs should visit the Disabilities Office for information, and should also bring those concerns to my attention.

Reminder: You are adults, thus you are responsible for keeping up with your assignments, meeting deadlines, and completing quality work for this course. I expect that of each of you. That said, if you have any questions or concerns about the content or direction of this course, or your progress in it, please do not hesitate to contact me. Any discussions we have are privileged and will not affect your grades. I prefer to keep problems to a minimum, and I am here not only to teach, but to help you if I can.