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COM 110E MEDIA WRITING

Fall 2017 (TTH, 10:30 a.m.–12:10 p.m.)

“If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”
-- Old journalism standard

Professor: Colin M. Donohue
E-mail: cdonohue@elon.edu
Web Site: www.cdonohue.com
Office Phone: (336) 278-5850
Office: McEwen 101E
Office hours: 1-3 p.m. MW, and by appointment. E-mail is the fastest and
easiest way to reach me.

Please read the syllabus carefully. NOTE: Actively check your e-mail. I will
often send class notices via e-mail.

Catalog Description

Clear, logical writing is necessary to communicate effectively to an audience.
This course focuses on background research, interviews, accuracy,
attribution and styles of writing (print, broadcast, online, news releases).
Grammar and language skills are refined, and Associated Press style is
introduced.

Course Goal

Teach accepted practices and skills used in writing for mass media.

Course Objectives

Students will be able to:

• gather information from multiple sources and critically evaluate the
credibility of sources.
• incorporate truthful, accurate and fair information into written, aural or
visual forms consistent with professional requirements.
• create content that reflects domestic and global diversity of sources,
words and images and that avoids the use of stereotypes.
• demonstrate proficiency in content organization, grammar, spelling
and mechanics, including the ability to use Associated Press style.
• compare and contrast writing for different audiences, different media
and across multimedia platforms.

Inside Reporting: A Practical Guide to the Craft of Journalism. Teachers may designate more stringent policies on their course syllabi. Course Materials • Tim Harrower. 2009). more than three absences for classes meeting during Winter Term) automatically receives an F because the student has missed too much content and participation to pass a course in a professional school. It must be new because your final portfolio must evoke an air of professionalism. since journalism and communications are disciplines with rigorous professional standards. 2013). 2016) • Patricia T. A student who misses more than 20 percent of scheduled classes in a term (more than eight absences for classes meeting three times a week. O’Conner. Third Edition (Riverhead Books: New York. Third Edition (McGraw Hill: New York. more than five absences for classes meeting twice a week. and one absence during Winter Term or a summer session) as indicated in the course syllabus. An exception may exist for a student who misses more than a week of classes for a sanctioned university activity. Attendance Policy: Students in the School of Communications are expected to attend all classes. 2016 edition (The Associated Press: New York. Woe Is I. such as presenting research at a national . audience and medium. • write with accuracy and clarity in forms appropriate to the topic. two absences for classes meeting twice a week. • apply numerical concepts such as percentages and proportions. Just as professionals go to work each day. we expect students in a professional school to come to class on time and be prepared to work. Teachers will lower the final grade in a class for each absence beyond the equivalent of one week of class (three absences for classes meeting three times a week. • A new 1-inch binder and clear-plastic pages for your work portfolio. • Associated Press Stylebook. • Reporter’s Notebook (suggested) School of Communications Professional Standards Policies The School of Communications has adopted the following minimum policies to provide students with a clear understanding and consistent application of course expectations.

See the syllabus for those dates. you will be required to read an abundance of material. Because we cover a lot of ground in Media Writing. Students participating in such events must submit a written request in advance to the professor. test or examination they must submit a written request for a makeup to the professor. excused and unexcused absences are no different. “students are not guaranteed permission to make up examinations and have no guarantees about the impact of the absence on their final grade for the course. professors may assign additional work. In this sense. Quizzes: You will take a quizzes to test your knowledge of assigned readings. Coursework: If students miss a class because of illness. newspapers and other outside pieces. All assignments should be submitted on time. Be . or to lower a grade by one letter for each weekday it is late. participation in a university-sponsored activity. class travel or university athletic travel. I have outlined them below. the AP Style Book. a grammar book. Reading Assignments: This course is writing and reading intensive.” Assignments: Professionals meet deadlines. For example. you must demonstrate proficiency in and completion of the following tasks. as assigned. and they are due on the assigned date even if the student is absent from class. What Say I? There are course requirements specific to my section of Media Writing. grammar. job interview or other causes. AP Style and current events. That means reading the entire text book. All readings should be completed before you come to class.forum. Tests and Examinations: If students miss a quiz. they have missed valuable content and engaged learning. a professor may require a student to write a 400-word summary of material covered in a missed class session or complete an additional lab assignment that demonstrates comprehension of material covered. Course Requirements To accomplish the goals laid out for this course. Students who miss a final examination must secure permission for a makeup from the department chair. A teacher may choose not to accept late work. To ensure that students avoid gaps in the progression of a course. As indicated in the Elon University Faculty Handbook.

It will test you on what you learned throughout the entirety of the fall semester. late work will cost you your grade. Late work will not be accepted. It will help you land an internship if you put in the proper work to edit your material. . You are expected to complete the homework and turn it in the next class. write. But occasionally. Deadlines are firm and final. This will serve as a professional product that you can show to potential internship coordinators and media professionals when you apply for internships. multiple choice. Participation: I expect you to participate in classroom activities. style. These are short. assignments. It will be important to you as you continue advancing in this field.prepared to absorb a great deal of information. there will still be opportunities to engage in class discussions. broadcast. I will ask you to do work in addition to the readings. Final Portfolio: Heed my copy editing suggestions. you will learn how to compose basic print. We will take time during the last class session before the final to review. All writing assignments MUST be typed and double- spaced. write. clarity. Update it throughout the fall. In this course. The portfolio is not simply a busy work add-on to this course. Final Exam: The exam will consist of AP/grammar questions. your reading assignments are homework. In this class. online and PR pieces. Many times students provide unique insights into class material that have lasting impressions on the other students taking the course. The portfolio is worth 10 percent of your grade. You will be expected to complete a number of writing assignments both in and outside of class. Anything that comes in past deadline receives a zero. and I will expect you to participate actively. You will be tested on your readings through the weekly quizzes and the final examination. You are preparing for a career in which late work could cost you your job. short essay and comprehensive writing components. all of it enriching and foundational. Writing Assignments: Media writing accurately implies that you will learn how to write across multiple media platforms. true/false. Participation and homework combine to form 10 percent of your final grade. etc. Homework: Obviously. The only way for you to become competent in all these forms is to write. unless otherwise indicated. I will line edit some of your work. It is a vital component because it provides you with a product to display to employers. So make it look superior: Put all stories in clear plastic pages. While this is not a seminar. You are required at the end of the fall semester to resubmit your class writings to me in a new 1-inch binder. correcting for grammar. but important.

check it out. forcing an automatic failure. B indicates above-average performance. And remember. the grading works like this: Writing/Reporting assignments 50 percent Quizzes/In-class work 10 percent Participation 10 percent Final examination 20 percent Final Work Portfolio 10 percent Number grades translate into these letter grades: • A: 93-100 • A-: 91-92 • B+: 89-90 • B: 85-88 • B-: 83-84 • C+: 81-82 • C: 77-80 • C-: 75-76 • D: 70-74 • F: less than 70 Grading Template: Accuracy and truth are the core principles of all journalists. Triple check all factual claims and names in your stories before you turn them in. Factual errors and misspelled names in your articles will cost you half an assignment’s points. “If your mother says she loves you. punctuation and AP Style mistakes. As the old journalism standard goes. In this course. missing a deadline will result in a zero. C indicates an average performance. grammar.” Also pay attention to other spelling.Grading Procedures The university defines grades as follows: A indicates distinguished performance. D indicates a passing performance despite some deficiencies. and F indicates failure. in which a basic understanding of the subject has been demonstrated. Your writing assignments will be graded based on the following criteria: .

Get out. Completeness: You must cover completely any event to which you are assigned. The lede sucks readers in. Again. The quotes add the spice. If you deliberately fabricate a story. give credit where credit is due. Get to the point. Grammar rules always apply to whatever you write. Honor Code All work done in this class is expected to be your own. Clarity: You may have done some of the finest reporting work in known history. misrepresenting false information as factual and spelling names wrong will cost you half an assignment’s points. If you are caught plagiarizing or fabricating or simply masquerading someone else’s ideas as your own. Attribution is key. Organization: Is your nut graf readily available? Do ideas flow naturally? Are your transitions intuitive and clear? Does the story move easily from idea to idea? All these questions are at the heart of a story’s organization. but if you can’t present your information in a clear and coherent manner. All names must be spelled correctly. Style and Grammar: AP Style is the industry standard. Be sure to use active voice. You may not lift material from another source without proper attribution. “Why should I care?” If your article is clear. 4. then it will have no effect on your audience. DO NOT PLAGIARIZE OR FABRICATE! I will spot-check your work periodically throughout the semester to ensure that all work is original and not lifted or completely made up. . Include all pertinent information. 2. People will always ask. though. If you do one-on- one interviews for an outside assignment. they’ll know right away. Quotes and Kickers: Always be sure to write a lede that best describes the event or situation. you will fail the course. You may not recycle someone else’s work or your own. Word choice. 3. the words you write must be substantially different from the material from which you’re working. you will earn a failing grade for that assignment. 5. Accuracy: All your work must present factual matter correctly. 6. you must provide me with names and contact information so I can ensure that all quoted material is accurate. And be sure to end on a strong note. If you plan to paraphrase material. Find telling quotes that advance a story and give some flavor to your readers. Give the details. A cursory examination of a topic will leave readers questioning your credibility and your ability. Don’t back-in to your story. Even in that instance. Ledes. All stories should be accurate portrayals of events. 1. The kicker leaves an imprint. organization and simplicity all contribute to clarity. You should be proficient in English grammar.

If you have a concern. .xhtml. Necessary accommodations can be arranged. cheating. including physical challenges. E-mail: swise2@elon.All students are expected to uphold the four fundamental values of the Elon Honor Code: • Honesty • Integrity • Responsibility • Respect Breaches of these values will result in an academic or social honor code violation report. contact Susan Wise for more information. should discuss their needs with me and provide me with the Elon documentation available to students with special needs.edu/e-web/students/handbook/acahoncode. Office phone: 336-278-6500.edu. Students should consult with their professor if they are uncertain about whether specific activities are violations of the honor code. Definitions and examples of each of the Honor Code violations above may be found at http://www. lying. learning disabilities or serious health concerns. While “intent” may be considered in assigning sanctions. These violations may result in the lowering of a grade or failure of a class. stealing or vandalism. it is not a factor in determining responsibility for an offense.elon. Honor code violations include: plagiarism. and facilitating academic dishonesty. and you do not have documentation. Students with Challenges: Students with challenges.

7:30 p. 208-209 .m. STORY DUE BY EMAIL BY 2 A. ungraded classes) Style & editing quiz marks sections in back 2 Tue 9/5 Communication . 220-227 . McCrary Theatre. 5 p.All the President’s Men Ch. C” .Harrower Quiz Basics & Feature Preface. Story Discussion pg. In-Class Writing G" .AP letters “D. 2 . TICKETS AVAILABLE AUG. Alumni Gym.. 4 Tue 9/19 News Writing. 241 .“Mrs. 3. Quiz pg. COM 110E Media Writing Fall Course Schedule Wk# Day Date Topic Readings Notes 1 Tue 8/29 Introduction In-Class Writing Th 8/31 Style .The Art and In-Class Writing Quotations Craft of Feature Writing Ch.Harrower Ch. Ch.AP letters “B. 3 OUTSIDE ASSIGNMENT: Jennine Capo Crucet. 1 Th 9/7 Writing . Quiz pg. E” . sample.Woe Ch. YOU MUST HAVE TICKETS TO THIS EVENT.. .m. Th 9/21 After the Lede. 1 Th 9/14 Interviewing. 4.AP letters "F. . SEPT.AP letter "A" Diagnostic Grammar (Bring AP book to all and Punctuation Test. 29. 20: Siddhartha Mukherjee. Ledes . Kelly’s In-Class Writing Monster” by Jon Franklin 3 Tue 9/12 Reporting Basics . TURN IN YOUR NOTES TO ME AFTER THE EVENT. 1.Woe Ch.Harrower Ch. 3 OUTSIDE ASSIGNMENT WEDNESDAY.The Art and Bring 2 Printouts of your .Woe Ch.M. 2.

TICKET INFORMATION AND LOCATION TO BE ANNOUNCED. Bring 2 Printouts of Your Meeting Stories to Class Today. STORY DUE BY EMAIL BY MIDNIGHT. O and P” .AP “K.M. 7 Tue 10/10 Feature Story FEATURE STORIES Presentations DUE TODAY. 9 Tue 10/24 Broadcast . Quiz Generating Story pg. OCT. L and M” ASSIGNMENT . Th 9/28 Fly-out-the-Door . 2: Attend Town of Elon agenda-setting meeting at 6 p. Th 10/5 Budget Meeting MEET IN MCEWEN 213 FOR CLASS. I and J" OUTSIDE . 228-230. 4 ASSIGNMENT: Rich Benjamin.m. Story Structure Craft of Feature Mukherjee Stories to Writing Ch.Woe Ch. 6 6 Tue 10/3 Headline Writing. 264-285 .Harrower Ch.Woe Ch.Woe Ch.AP “N. 9 Quiz . 7:30 p.Harrower Ch. 4 Class Today. 5 Tue 9/26 Feature Writing and .M. Ideas 240. 5. Th 10/12 Work on Portfolio 8 Tue 10/17 No class No class Th 10/19 Internships/Careers Bring a copy of your resume to class. 5 MONDAY. 246-251 OUTSIDE . STORY DUE BY EMAIL BY 2 A. 6 Th 10/26 Broadcast In-Class Writing 10 Tue 10/31 PR .AP "H. 6.The Art and In-Class Writing Craft of Feature Writing Ch.Harrower Ch. Quiz .Harrower Ch. STORY DUE BY EMAIL BY 2 A.m. Quiz Covering Meetings pg. OUTSIDE ASSIGNMENT FALL CONVOCATION: David Cameron..m. Whitley Auditorium. . 3:30 p.

5:30 p.Harrower Ch. 6: Active Citizen Series. McBride Gathering Space.AP “W-Z” Quiz . 11 .M.R and S” .Woe Ch. STORY DUE BY EMAIL BY 1 A. STORY DUE BY EMAIL BY MIDNIGHT. Whitley Auditorium.m. Th 11/16 Portfolio Work FINAL WRITING PORTFOLIOS DUE TODAY.Harrower Ch. Th 11/9 Script Coverage .Woe Ch.m. 9. 7 Quiz 15 Tue 12/5 Media Ethics Th 12/7 Final Review Final Th 12/11 FINAL for Media 11:30 a.AP “Q.. 7 p. 10 MONDAY. ending time Exam Writing COM110E starting time .m. U and V” & social media OUTSIDE guide in back ASSIGNMENT . 2:30 p. Bring 2 Printouts of your Active Citizen Series Story to Class Today. NOV.AP “T.Woe Ch.Woe Ch. 8 Th 11/2 PR In-class writing 11 Tue 11/7 Online Reporting . 13 Tue 11/21 No class No class Th 11/23 No class No class 14 Tue 11/28 Deadline Reporting In-Class Writing Th 11/30 Media Law/Libel Law . 12 In-Class Writing OUTSIDE ASSIGNMENT: Cameron Phelps Munter.“Comm Terms In-Class Writing A-O” 12 Tue 11/14 Fly-out-the-Door .. 8 Quiz and MMJ . 10 .m.