Writing and Reporting the News: A Journalism Practicum.

Academic Connections
Summer 2008

Instructors: Erin Malone, Laurel Friedman
Email: ude.dscu|enolame#ude.dscu|enolame, ude.dscu.rebew|mdeirfhl#ude.dscu.rebew|mdeirfhl
Course Location: Morning: MCC 222; Afternoon: Sequoyah 142.

Course Description
This course is a practicum, which means that you will be taking an active and engaged approach to learning. For the next three weeks, you will be on staff as journalists at the Triton Times. You will be exposed to the fundamental principles of journalism and hone your skills in journalistic writing. You will be familiarized with multiple forms of news media including: print, television, and “new media.” Of the utmost importance for the course are deadlines, attention to detail, and commitment to your work. The three weeks of the course will move quickly. Activities will vary from day to day but the general format of the class will be as follows—morning session: discussion of the news, lecture and discussion, and in-class activities. The afternoon session will be reserved for writing labs and hands-on activities.

The goal of the course is to help you become more critical thinkers, better writers, and wiser consumers of the news. In this course you will learn:

  1. How to write well under pressure
  2. How to gather information independently and organize it effectively
  3. How to conduct interviews
  4. How to collaborate with your peers
  5. How to apply design and formatting principles

Course Media: The Triton Times, the news vehicle for the course, can be viewed online at : Additionally, the course also has a news and photography blog that can be viewed at: You can post text, images, and videos to the blog by sending a text message from your mobile phone to: moc.xov.golbom|e5c1de362539d8b5#moc.xov.golbom|e5c1de362539d8b5

Class and Classwork Standards:

  1. Accuracy: This is the fundamental requirement of all writing. People read for information, trusting that this information is correct. Credibility, defense against libel, and professionalism rest on accuracy. Fact errors are intolerable.
  2. Deadlines: All assignments must be turned in on time. A missed deadline means an F on the assignment.
  3. Plagiarism and fabrication: Intolerable and either will result in an F on the assignment and, depending on severity, possibly for the course.
  4. Libel: This is costly in the real world and will be in class as well. Stories with libelous content will get an F. (Don’t worry, we will cover libel in class.)
  5. Participation: We hope you find the course fascinating and intellectually stimulating but participation on the part of the students is necessary to make that a reality. Ask questions about the material or offer examples from everyday life to supplement our discussions. You have important and interesting ideas to share with the class. Your contributions will make each section more interesting and engaging.
  6. Dedication: As we are always learning, we do not expect your work to be perfect. We do expect you to steadily improve throughout the course. We expect the best effort and the highest quality work you can produce. Incorporating feedback and criticism in your class performance and seeking help in problem areas are two of the ways we expect you to demonstrate your dedication to the course.
  7. Absences: Attendance is mandatory. Missed work cannot be made up, except for absences excused IN ADVANCE for genuine emergencies. Show up on time for classes and lectures. Be respectful, professional and willing to try.
  8. Grammar, style, spelling, and punctuation: These are the basic tools of writing. You must master them thoroughly and quickly. GSP counts as part of your grade.

Readings: Readings assigned on the syllabus are to be read before the following class. Most of the readings for the course are in your course reader; however, readings may be distributed in class.

Writing: This course will involve intensive writing practice. You will write almost every day. All written assignments should be typed and double-spaced with 12pt Courier Font. Assignments are to be emailed to both instructors by the end of the afternoon session on the deadline date.

Other assignments: There will be a small number of non-written assignments in the course. Guidelines for those assignments will be given when they are assigned. You will be assigned reading for homework on occasion. Again, NO LATE WORK WILL BE ACCEPTED.

Final Project: For the final project, you will write a feature on some aspect of the Academic Connections program. You will spend time during the program focusing on a topic, gathering information and resources, deciding on a compelling frame, and writing your feature story. This feature will be due on the last day of class. More instructions will be given as the course progresses.

We will grade you on almost everything you write. You grade will be calculated based on the quality of your writing, the quality of your research and interviewing, and the level of your success with grammar, style, spelling, and punctuation. Criteria for grades are:
A: Professional-level, possibly publishable work. Needs little or no rewriting.
B: Nearly professional, but needs minor editing or rewriting.
C: Shows a grasp of writing principles, but lacks professionalism or depth. Needs heavy editing or rewriting.
D: Shows poor grasp of principles, has serious problems in writing or research.
F: Does not meet basic standards of accuracy, libel, or honesty or has missed deadlines.

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