UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI  SCHOOL OF JOURNALISM & NEW MEDIA Introduction to Multimedia Writing  JOUR 102  Section 12  Spring 2010

Instructor: Office: Office hours: Phone: E-mail: When and where our class meets COURSE DESCRIPTION: JOUR 102 will help you develop fact-gathering, critical-thinking and storytelling skills for a career in journalism. It represents a major step toward becoming a professional writer. You will learn to interview people and do other research, to distill and organize information and to produce clear, accurate, concise and engaging news stories under deadline pressure. The course will emphasize the journalistic writing styles appropriate for newspapers, magazines, broadcast news and online news. You will learn what the communications industry demands: clear thinking, solid research, proper English usage and effective expression. You must earn a C or better in JOUR 102 to continue your studies in the School of Journalism & New Media. PREREQUISITES FOR JOUR 102: To register for JOUR 102, you must have completed one of the following prerequisites: ENGL 101, ENGL 102, LIBA 102, or an equivalent of one of those courses. LEARNING OUTCOMES: By the end of the course students will:
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Deb Wenger Farley 129 M, W – 12n-2 p.m., Tue. – 10 a.m. – 12n 662-715-7912

Farley 233 M, W, – 4-5:15 p.m.

Enhance stories for online readers by producing text stories with links and visual elements. Write a basic newspaper-style story with a traditional lead and at least 40 percent quoted material. Write broadcast news reports of varying lengths. Record and edit audio/video at a basic level; completing at least one video package with interview(s) and b-roll. Apply basic numerical and statistical outcomes.

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Students will demonstrate an understanding of the role diversity plays in reporting the news.


LEARNING ASSESSMENT: Student learning in JOUR 102 will be assessed by the following:       The successful Web posting of one text-based story, including links to additional information and at least one visual element. Produce one newspaper-style story with a traditional lead and at least 40-percent quoted material. Write one broadcast news report with video & audio elements, which the students have gathered and edited. A math skills quiz. Two diversity-related questions on the final exam. Pre- and post-test.

For all of these assessment items, the following criteria for success will be applied:     Scores between 90-99 reflect exemplary proficiency. Scores between 80-89 reflect professional proficiency. Scores between 70-79 reflect proficiency within a cautionary range. Scores between 60-69 reflect deficiency.

REQUIRED TEXTS AND OTHER MATERIALS: You must buy the following books for this course: Writing and Reporting the News (third edition; © 2008), by Jerry Lanson and Mitchell Stephens The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law (© 2007 or 2008) You may also purchase online access to the AP Stylebook:, and both texts are available at the Ole Miss bookstore and online from a variety of Web sites. You will need at least one binder or folder for this class. In it, you will keep exercises, assignments, news stories and other work that you do, as well as handouts, tip sheets and other materials that we will provide. You will need a flash drive (at least 1 gigabyte) to store digital files of your work and course materials. Save all your work; keep a backup; and always work with the latest version of a story. The ability to manage information is a key to success in this course.


You will need a Flip camera for doing interviews. You’ll want to do some checking to find the best price, but consider, or Walmart as options. You may consider sharing a camera with a classmate or buying a used one. If you already own a different type of video camera, let’s talk. We also recommend that you have, or have access to, a digital camera. A point-and-shoot is fine; you don’t need a high-end SLR. Bring your textbook, AP Stylebook, binder, and flash drive to every class. And no reporter would be caught dead without a notebook and pen. SUPPLEMENTARY TEXTBOOKS: This course assumes that your grammar skills are pretty good. If they aren’t, you must sharpen them, quickly. If you need help with grammar, you should consider obtaining one of the following books: When Words Collide: A Media Writer’s Guide to Grammar and Style Working with Words: A Handbook for Media Writers and Editors Woe is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English In addition, you may be interested in reading more about multimedia and online journalism, in particular. You can download the following book for free: Journalism 2.0 ( Finally, we suggest the following book for help with the math skills you will need in your journalism career: Math Tools for Journalists NEWS CONSUMPTION AND KNOWLEDGE OF CURRENT EVENTS: As journalists, it is crucial for you to keep up with what is happening on campus, in the Oxford area, in the United States and around the world. Every day, you should be accessing news – on paper, on TV or online. By following the news media, you will sharpen your news senses, and you will learn from good (and perhaps bad) examples of journalism. We will give you news quizzes to check your news consumption habits. CLASS WEB SITE: We will use the Blackboard course management system for JOUR 102. When you log into Blackboard, you will see a link to the JOUR 102 course. I will often put course materials and post grades on the site, so be sure to check it frequently. IMPORTANT RULES ABOUT E-MAIL: Ole Miss gives each student an e-mail account, and that is the address Blackboard uses (and I will use) for this class. We will communicate frequently in this class by e-mail. Therefore, you should check your e-mail at least once a day for messages about JOUR 102. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are receiving e-mails from me.


When you send me e-mail, begin the subject line with “JOUR 102” - otherwise, my spam filter may delete your message. CLASS ATTENDANCE POLICY: Attendance is mandatory at all class meetings. Do not schedule interviews or plan to attend news events during class times without my prior approval. If you miss class you risk failing or having your final grade in lowered. If you are absent from class and miss a quiz, test or graded assignment, you will receive a zero for that grade book item. Exceptions will be made at the instructor’s discretion only for dire circumstances. DEADLINES AND LATE WORK: For journalists, an essential skill is the ability to work against a deadline. Therefore, in this course, you must turn in work on time. Plan ahead, organize your time and do not procrastinate. If you miss a deadline, you will receive a zero for that assignment. You may submit the assignment later, with substantial penalty, for a “rewrite” grade. REWRITING: Writing for a newspaper, broadcast or online outlet involves writing and rewriting. On some of your assignments, I will give you an opportunity to revise your work for a higher grade. For those assignments, I will edit the first submission of your story and give you an initial grade. You then will have until the next class meeting to revise the story, and I will give you a “rewrite” grade. GRADING STANDARDS: In evaluating your work, I will apply the standards of a professional news editor. An A, for example, means your story required little if any editing and is ready for publication. It is extremely rare for an initial submission to meet that standard. I will critique each version of a story that you submit and give you feedback. In my critique, I will evaluate your reporting skills (such as accuracy, completeness, objectivity and multiple sourcing), writing skills (the story’s lead, organization, use of interviews), mechanics (spelling, grammar, AP style) and your ability to interpret often-complicated material for you’re the end user. Here are the standards for specific letter grades: A = Substantially error-free and ready for publication B = Solid effort; only minor editing errors C = Average work; needs some reorganization and rewrite D = Multiple errors; needs major rewrite F = Gross factual errors; unsuitable for publication


0 = Missed deadline; ignored assignment CALCULATION OF FINAL COURSE GRADES: This chart show how much each grade book item would be worth. This grading scheme will be modified if we change the number or types of assignments during the semester. Changes will be announced in class and on Blackboard. Gradebook item In-class exercises News & AP style quizzes Midterm exam – AP style, journalism concepts Field reporting Final exam Honors journal Total % 15 15 10 40 15 5 100

Here is how I will calculate your final grade: Grading scale 90 to 100 80 to 89 70-79 60-69 Below 60 INCOMPLETES: No incompletes will be given in this course, except for dire emergencies. All assignments must be completed by the end of the semester to pass. ETHICS: Fabricating material or using another’s work without attribution is an extremely serious offense, and your name will be turned in to appropriate university officials. In this course, as in the journalism profession, plagiarism is not tolerated. This means you must not use direct quotes or verbatim material from any published source without giving credit – this includes information published online. BEHAVIOR IN THE CLASSROOM AND THE FIELD You are entitled to receive instruction free from interference by other students. If you believe that another student’s behavior is disruptive, tell me and I will deal with the situation. Final grade A B C D F


During class, you may use the computers only as I allow; you may not read e-mail, browse the Web, play games, write letters or do other activities without permission. Turn off your cellular phones before class begins. You may not sleep, wear headphones or use electronic devices (such as computer games) in class. You must not conduct side conversations or create other disruptions. It is disruptive to arrive late and/or pack up early. Be on time for class and plan on meeting for the entire class period. Be polite; respect your classmates, your instructor and others with whom you will interact during this course. If you engage in any behavior that I deem disruptive, you will get a verbal warning for the first incident and a written warning for the second. A third incident could result in your being administratively withdrawn from this class. In reporting stories for JOUR 102, you will interact with news sources and other people. You must act in a professional manner at all times: in interviewing people, talking to them on the phone and communicating with them by e-mail. This means being respectful, polite and nonargumentative – in short, acting as a professional and ethical journalist. It also means dressing appropriately for interviews and other meetings. Your behavior and appearance reflect not only on you but also on Ole Miss and the School of Journalism & New Media. COMMITMENT TO DIVERSITY: It is vital that students in this course broaden their journalism experiences, with guidance from the instructor, by including in their course work people and subjects such as ethnic, racial and religious minorities, people with disabilities, gay men and lesbians, and other groups. The intent is to ensure that students are exposed to diverse ideas and perspectives. In this class, it is the responsibility of the instructor and students to foster an environment that supports free expression. The School of Journalism & New Media is committed to diversity in the classroom, in its publications and in its various organizations. Faculty and staff recognize that the diverse backgrounds and perspectives of their colleagues and students are best served through respect toward gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race, culture and other personal characteristics. In addition, the School is committed to taking a leadership position that calls for promoting a commitment to diversity in and out of the classroom and in the practice of journalism. STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES: It is University policy to provide, on a flexible and individual basis, reasonable accommodations to students who have disabilities that may affect their ability to participate in course activities or meet course requirements. Students with disabilities, which have been verified through the Office of Student Disability Services, should feel free to meet with me to discuss specific needs and how we can address them.


Schedule of classes, readings and assignments
As a general rule, we will introduce important concepts during the lecture; practice those concepts; and then work on a graded assignment. Before coming to the lecture, you must read the chapters to be covered in that day’s lecture. This schedule is subject to change. Changes will be announced in class and posted on Blackboard. Week 1 (Jan 20-22) - Review syllabus. The multimedia approach. Writing exercise. How to keep up with the news on paper, online and on TV/radio Week 2 (Jan 25-29) - - Chapters 1 (News Judgment), 2 (Fairness), 3 (The Language of News). Exercises on news judgment and fairness. Writing with precision and clarity; how to be concise and direct. Week 3 (Feb 1-5) - Chapter 4 (Traditional Leads). Identifying the 5 W’s and H. Focus statements. Exercises on writing traditional print leads. Week 4 (Feb 8-12) - Chapters 6 (Attribution), 7 (Quotations) and 8 (Information Selection). AP style: quotes, attribution and titles. Exercises on attributions and quotes. Exercises on information selection. Exercises on writing short hard-news stories with traditional leads from notes provided by instructors. Week 5 (Feb 15-19) - Chapter 5 (Other Leads), 9 (Organization) and 10 (Background and Context). AP style: capitalization. Exercises on writing alternative print leads. Exercises on organizing stories and providing background and context. Practice AP capitalization rules. Story 1 due. Week 6 (Feb 22-26) - Chapters 12 (Facts), Chapter 13 (Story Origination), 14 (Research) and 18 (Meetings, Speeches and Press Conferences). Note-taking skills. AP style: abbreviations. Exercises on checking facts, generating story ideas, doing research and covering speeches and meetings. Week 7 (Mar 1-5) – Midterm exam. Chapters 15 (Sources) and 16 (Interviewing). Importance of diversity in story and source selection. Exercises cultivating sources and interviewing people. Week 8 (Mar 8-12) – Chapter 27 (Broadcast Journalism). Broadcast style. Broadcast vs. print leads. Exercises on broadcast writing. March 15-19 - SPRING BREAK! Week 10 (Mar 22-26) – Video newsgathering and editing. Exercises on telling stories with sound pictures and words. Week 11 (Mar 29 – Apr 2) - Writing to video. AP style: broadcast writing. Exercises on video referencing. Math for journalists. Story 2 due. Week 12 (Apr 5-9) - Chapter 11 (Reporting in a Multimedia Age). Exercises on writing for the Internet and using alternative story forms.


Week 13 (Apr 12-16) – Headline writing. Multimedia project planning. Exercises on headline writing. Week 14 (Apr 19-23) – Meeting with instructor on final projects. Exercises on storyboarding. Week 15 (Apr 26-30) – Final project editing and production. Final project due.

FINAL EXAM: Friday, May 5 – 4 p.m.


I hereby acknowledge that I have received a copy of the syllabus for JOUR 102 (Writing for the Media). I have read and understood the course policies, including the policies on class attendance and grading. ________________________ Signature ________________________ Printed name ______________________ Date

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