Saturday, August 23, 2008

Fall 2008 Class Syllabus

Online Writing and Journalism
JTC326 Fall 2008


Jeff Browne

Office: Clark C258
Monday 3 to 4 p.m.
Wednesday 9 to 10 a.m. and 3 to 4 p.m.

Graduate Teaching Assistant

Eve Fisher

About this course
You will become better researchers, writers and editors in an online world, no matter the discipline, be it public relations or news reporting. The course and its related assignments will help you write clearly, concisely, conversationally and creatively for the World Wide Web.

The focus is on quality reporting, writing and editing, not computer skills. You will be introduced to audio news production and editing, and basic video and photographic storytelling as a means of preparing for the multi-platform newsrooms and PR shops where you likely will be employed.Original reporting and writing are required for this class.

You can do well in this class even if you, at the beginning of the course, know nothing about Web design. Online Web packages generally are produced by teams comprised of people with many different skills.By the end of the semester, you'll have a better understanding of the challenges facing both online and traditional journalism today, mostly because:
· You'll have created your own twice-weekly news blog;
· You’ll have learned the basics of audio news production;
· You'll have published original journalistic stories for the Web;
· You'll have read about and discussed the changing face of journalism and the role that online media have had in that change; and
· You'll have produced one multi-media package as part of a team.

In short, you'll leave this class not only with the skills considered vital in today's communication fields, but also a critical understanding of how communicators in the converging new media can best serve society.ObjectivesStudents who complete this course should be able to:
· Tell interesting stories and convey factual information more effectively over the Internet, both through words and through digital technology;
· Write in a style appropriate for online media, in blogs, in online-only stories, and in multi-media news or public relations packages;
· Search efficiently for credible information, documents and statistics on the Internet;
· Think critically about issues involving online journalism;
· Work with a team that plans, designs and creates a news site on the Web; and
· Work in a newsroom setting, complete with a commitment to accuracy, fairness, diversity, creativity and meeting deadlines.


Please bring to every class a recent version of The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual. All other printed materials will be provided to you via copy or through links on this site.

The textbook for this class is “Journalism 2.0: How to Survive and Thrive” by Mark Briggs. The book is available for FREE online at several links, including this one:

Please download the book, and if necessary, print it and place it in a binder. You will be responsible for keeping either a digital copy, a hard copy or both.

If you own an audio recording device (some cameras and cell phones, and almost all new laptops have this capability), you will find it useful in completing some assignments. Bring headphones and a digital camera, too, if you own one, as assignments will be easier to complete with a variety of digital recording devices. If you own none of these, you may check out equipment from the journalism department.

The Work
Twice-Weekly Blog Posts (140 points or 17.5 percent of final grade)
Beginning with the lab for the Sept. 3 class, you will be required to set up and maintain your own news blog for the duration of the course. Your blog must have a specific focus, and it must update your readers regarding breaking news on that subject. It does not have to contain original reporting, but you may choose to do so. All information gleaned from other sources must be attributed to that source.

Each post must link to and comment on at least one pertinent and recent Web page, Web site, or specific blog post by another author. Posts don't need to be long (in fact, they'll be better if they aren't), and they must make a point.

You will post twice every week (but not Thanksgiving week, if you choose not to) for a total of 28 blogs for the semester.

Word Press and Blogspot are the most popular means of creating a blog.Blogs will be graded on content, mechanics, and the quality and relevance of the links. I will be writing a blog along with you, and you can check
Browne Knows for examples.

Beginning in October, you will be asked to include a few multimedia elements to your written blog in occasional posts.

Lab Projects (100 points or 12.5 percent of final grade)
You will complete two simple lab projects that will allow you to practice reporting and interviewing skills as well as brush up on or learn new technology, specifically photo and audio editing skills.

The first of these is an interview of a partner which will culminate in a photo/audio package introducing the world to that person. The second will be an audio news package that combines the best of traditional radio and online audio news practices.

Reporting Project (100 points or 12.5 percent of final grade)
You will write and produce a story – told in at least three ways – during the middle portion of the class. I will provide more details on this assignment as it approaches.

Web site critiques (100 points or 12.5 percent of your final grade)
You will critique news sites for both content and design considerations. One critique will focus on comprehensive news sites, the second will focus on special multi-media packages.

Mid-term exam (100 points or 12.5 percent of your final grade)
You will distill information from lectures, articles and readings in order to determine if you understand the key concepts of online news and journalism.

Attendance and Participation (60 points or 7.5 percent of your final grade)
Regular attendance and active participation is expected – this includes contributing comments and questions, respecting the views of others, offering constructive critiques of other students' work, and sharing skills and knowledge with peers.

Unexcused absences will negatively affect your final grade. Excused absences involve documented personal or family illness. You are responsible for any missed material.

Also, if you miss a graded exercise or quiz, a zero will be recorded.

Multi-Media News Project (200 points or 25 percent of your final grade)
This is the class' culminating activity, and it will combine the varied skills of students working in a team that will create a multi-media news site about an issue in the Fort Collins and/or CSU community.


Late assignments will not be accepted. Period. If an illness or personal emergency prevents you from completing an assignment on time, advanced notice and written documentation are required.

Odds and Ends
You need a USB Jump Drive or other portable storage unit of at least 2 GB for this class. Bring it with you every day. Keep backup copies of all your work on it, even work that you have already published online.

Please turn off your cell phones in class unless you’re using it as part of an assignment to take a photograph or make a recording.

Check your e-mail and
this blog regularly. I communicate electronically with the class at times.

You may not "double-dip," or use the reporting, writing or design work in this class for another class, or vice versa, unless cleared with me and the other instructor in advance.

You are encouraged to have your work published in traditional media (such as KCSU-FM, The Rocky Mountain Collegian, College Avenue or The Fort Collins Coloradoan) or on professional Web sites in addition to publishing work for this class. If you can get a piece published for a professional medium, you will earn extra credit.

Cheating in any way (plagiarism, unauthorized collaboration, falsification, cheating on a test) will result in an F for the course, and may result in further ramifications. CSU's policy on academic integrity is stated in the general catalog.
Beware of violating copyright laws and the
No Electronic Theft Act, which allows you to link to other documents, but you may not use information from other sites in your own pieces without crediting the sources, just as you would in print pieces. You also may not grab graphics and photos from other sites without prior approval. Check the copyright policies when you take graphics from sites that offer free materials.


Grades will be assigned on a point basis for each assignment or quiz, then averaged over the course of the semester: 60-69=D; 70-79=C; 80-89=B; 90-100=A. I will assign plusses and minuses, e.g., 60-62-D-minus; 67-69=D-plus.Course


What follows is a general schedule for the course. Please subscribe to this blog or just check in regularly for specific assignments, deadlines, etc. These are not line-in-the-sand dates regarding content for discussion, as we will re-visit previously introduced topics throughout the course.

Aug. 25 through Sept. 3 (Weeks 1 and 2)
Online Journalism and Blogging
Blogging begins

Sept. 8 through Sept. 24 (Weeks 3 through 5)

Convergence, Citizen Journalism, and the Business of Online Journalism
Basic Audio Recording and Editing Lab Project: Class Interviews

Sept. 29 through Oct. 22 (Weeks 6 through 9)

Reporting and Writing for Online Media
Reporting Project
Mid-term exam

Oct. 27 through Nov. 5 (Weeks 10 and 11)

Standards, Law and Ethics for Online Media
Second Audio Lab Project (Online News Package)

Nov. 10 through Dec. 10 (Weeks 13 through 15)

Multi-media Reporting and Presentation
Website Critique #1 (Comprehensive news sites)

Multi-Media Reporting Project
Website Critique #2 (Multi-media packages)
Newsroom Lab

Dec. 17 (Wednesday)

Final Exam Period (7 a.m. to 9 a.m.)

Evaluations and presentation of multi-media project

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