A Course Plan

Posted June 19 2002 | Part of the On Teaching category

Note: The Mass Communication Department faculty at Texas State University adopted this plan for its “Writing for the Mass Media” class beginning in the Fall of 2002.

A plan for MC 1313

Having participated in two semesters, and numerous behind-the-scenes discussions, of MC1313 I present the following plan, for what it’s worth. I believe it will be reasonable to implement this plan in the fall of 2002, and I am willing to work toward that. The plan addresses the key issues which have come up during meetings I have had with faculty members who have a interest in this course, my fellow teaching assistants, and students. Those issues are summarized below in no particular order.

Issues addressed

How can this course stress a news-writing perspective and, at the same time, be meaningful to advertising students who have no plans or desire to be news writers? How can this course stress writing for print media as the “father” of all media writing and, at the same time, be meaningful to broadcast students? How can this course promote the idea amongst public relations students that writing for all types of media, especially the print media, will be crucial to their professional lives? How can this course promote an overall interest in journalism and current events? How can this course inspire involvement in the student media? How can this course provide useful, real-world media experience which students can cite in applying for jobs and internships? How can this course promote risk-taking in writers while, at the same time, demand that students adhere to the many “formulaic” standards of journalism writing. My original idea was to explain here precisely how this plan addresses each of those issues. A better plan, however, is to ask the reader to carefully examine the following pages to decide, for himself, if the course adequately addresses the issues. Before the reader proceeds, it should be noted that this course follows the general model of many successful writing courses, including those taught by the course’s textbook author and by professors in the SWT English Department’s creative writing program.

Course Structure

Under this plan, the core of MC1313 will be a portfolio of newspaper articles, broadcast stories, public relations materials and advertisements each student will write for and about groups in San Marcos and/or SWT. Students will be assigned two groups, one to cover as a reporter for the SWT student media, and another to represent from a public relations and advertising perspective. Each week, students will write materials about these two groups and include them in the portfolio which will account for well over half of course grade. The rest of the grade will be based on students’ performances on at least 15 current events quizzes, at least three tests over lectures and assigned readings, a final exam, and class participation. Below is a suggested value for each part of the course.

Portfolio – 60% Current Events – 15% Tests – 10% Final Exam -10% Class Participation -5%

About the Portfolio

The portfolio structure follows many of the suggestions made by Carole Rich in the “Instructor’s Manual” supplement to this course’s textbook. It addresses nearly all of the issues mentioned above by requiring students to interact with real groups about real media-writing problems. It encourages students to take risks in their writing while, at the same time, being coached individually on a myriad of journalism basics. Below is a summary of how this central feature of the course can work.

  • Beat coverage: On the second day of lab sessions each student will be assigned a “beat” to cover for the student media. Beginning the following week, the students will be responsible for turning in one news story per week about his beat. Each story will be marked and returned — but not graded — the following week. Students will revise each story and include the revision, along with the original, in their portfolios which will be submitted twice per semester for grading based on standards which will be discussed in both lectures and labs. Because this course will stress news writing as the “father” of all media writing, students will submit newspaper articles alone during their first four weeks. Beginning in the fifth week, they also will submit weekly broadcast versions of their newspaper stories. The first half of the portfolio grade will be assigned after week eight.
  • Public relations and advertising work: At mid term, the students will be assigned to their second group, which will have agreed to take the students on as a PR and advertising “consultant.” At the end of each of the next four weeks, students will submit a public relations product prepared for these new groups. As during the first half of the semester, the products will be marked and returned within a week and then later revised for formal submission in the portfolio. In the fifth week of the second half of the semester, students will begin submitting weekly advertising products for their new groups.
  • Focus on newswriting continues: To ensure that the news writing remains a significant focus in the course, students will be required to continue submitting weekly news stories about their “beats” all during the second half of the semester. They will alternate between submitting print stories and broadcast stories.
  • Exta credit for “useable” materials: All during the semester, lab instructors will be on the look-out for publishable quality materials which students may submit to student media and/or the groups which they are consulting. Any story which appears in the student media and/or is used by a group for promotional purposes will result in a half point of extra credit for the student’s final course grade. To receive this credit, of course, the work must first be declared publishable by the lab instructor.

About the current events quizzes

Throughout the semester students will be strongly encouraged to read a daily newspaper, and watch/listen to news broadcasts. They will be reminded to pay particular attention to the writing styles of the various media and use their observations when writing their own stories. To assure that they are fulfilling this very important part of the course, students will be given 15 pop-quizzes (approximately one per week) that ask basic questions about high profile news stories. These quizzes will be given randomly throughout the semester in both lectures and lab sessions. As noted above they will count for 15 percent of the course grade.

About the tests

To assure that students properly study the topics covered during lectures and in textbook reading, three tests and a comprehensive final will be given. As noted above, these tests will count for 20 percent of the grade. Key concepts on each test will be reviewed during lab sessions.

About class participation

Students will interact extensively with each other and with the lab instructor. They will be asked to share their writing with their fellow lab members and offer meaningful critiques in a workshop environment. They will also be asked to work individually with their lab instructor on their various writing problems. Five percent of the student’s course grade will be based on the lab instructor’s assessment of the student’s participation in this regard.

Delivery of Instruction

Below is a schedule of what topics will be covered during lectures and labs. Lectures will follow a format as determined each week by the course instructor. Labs will follow this daily schedule which is explained below.

0-10 minutes: Routine business and/or quizzes

11-20 minutes: Review of key points made in lecture and readings

21-45 minutes: Writing Workshop

46-75 minutes: Writing Work

  • Daily review: Near the start of each lab session, (after quizzes and other housekeeping matters have been addressed) lab instructors will review the most important points and concepts made in recent lectures and readings. The instructor can also focus on areas which seem to be problematic for the particular lab group. To ensure maximum participation in this review, the instructor should call on students randomly to answer questions. The instructor should be on the lookout during these sessions for concepts which perhaps need to be addressed again in either lectures or labs.
  • Writing Workshop: This component of the course is, arguably, as important as the portfolio. The middle part of each lab session will be devoted to student’s comments on their peers work. An anonymously submitted piece from a student’s portfolio will be distributed to students at the end of many lab sessions. Students will be asked to review the piece before the next class period and then be prepared to critique it during this writing workshop period. Students comments during this period will be noted as part of the class participation grade. The lab instructor will lead the discussion about the piece, encouraging each student to speak, answering questions, and limiting criticism that is not constructive. Following the rules established by writing teachers who have been successful with this approach, the author of the piece may not defend his piece during the critique session. During the final few minutes of the session, however, the lab instructor should invite him to identify himself and to ask any questions he may have of his fellow students. The author may, of course, choose to remain anonymous. During some workshop sessions, to give students an idea of what their own work should look like, lab instructors will find previously written material for the class to discuss during the workshop sessions.
  • Writing Work: Each lab session will end with the students working on their portfolio pieces. During this time, lab instructors should circulate amongst the students, being available to consult with them on their various writing problems. Instructors should, of course, be available for outside-of-class consultation with students who are having particular trouble.

Course Schedule/Syllabus

Included in the Appendix is a proposed schedule for MC 1313 during the fall of 2002. A proposed course syllabus is also attached.

Course materials

The MC 1313 teaching team will have to produce a number of materials during the semester. This job, of course, should be shared by all team members. Listed in the appendix is a list of materials required.

Preparing for the course

The teaching team should begin this course with a series of planning sessions just before the semester starts. Here is a suggested schedule for those sessions Aug. 13 – Provide a broad overview of the course structure. This session will assure that each team member understands the various components of the course. Aug. 14 – Discuss the instruction techniques. This session will assure that each team member understands precisely what will be expect of him or her in the classroom. Aug. 20 – Establish a schedule for the course. This session will assure that each team member knows when student assignments will be due and when those assignments need to be graded and returned. (This session comes almost a week after the previous one in order to give team members time to carefully review the “proposed schedule” and make thoughtful suggestions for changes.) Aug. 21 – Assigning duties. This session will assure that teach team member is responsible for an equal share of the preparation work. Aug. 22 – Clear up loose ends. This session will assure that every team member is completely comfortable with his or her role in the course. A dry-run of the first two lab sessions might be helpful.

Appendix 1 – Course materials needed

The following are listed in order of their appearance in the course.

Pretest, Pre-written news story 1 for workshop, Portfolio Guidelines, Current Events Quiz 1, Current Events Quiz 2, Pre-written news story 2 for workshop, Pre-written news story 3 for workshop, AP Style handout 1, Pre-written news story 4 for workshop, Current Events Quiz 3, Current Events Quiz 4, Test 1, Review Sheet Grammar handout 1,  AP Style handout 2, Current Events Quiz 5, Current Events Quiz 6, Test 1, Pre-written broadcast story 1 for workshop, Pre-written broadcast story 2 for workshop,  Current Events Quiz 7,  Current Events Quiz 8, Pre-written feature 1 for workshop, Current Events Quiz 9, Pre-written feature 2 for workshop, AP Style handout 3, Grammar handout 2, Test 2, Review Sheet, Current Events Quiz 10, Pre-written PR piece 1, Pre-written PR piece 2, Current Events Quiz 11, Current Events Quiz 12, Grammar handout 3, AP Style handout 4, Current Events Quiz 13, Advertising handout, Current Events quiz 14, Pre-written advertisement 1, Pre-written advertisement 2, Current Events Quiz 15

Appendix 2 – Proposed Course Schedule

Week 1 — August 28-30

  • Lecture Topic: None
  • Lab 1: overview of course, hand out portfolio requirements, handout workshop story 1, Pretest
  • Lab 2: None
  • Reading for following week: Ch.5 “Curiosity and Story Ideas”, Ch. 18 “Beat Reporting”, Ch 7 “Interview Techniques”

Week 2 – Sept. 2 – 6

  • Lecture Topic: None
  • Lab 1: None
  • Lab 2:
    • Start of class: CE Quiz #1, hand back pretest, beats assigned, workshop dates assigned
    • Review: story ideas, beat reporting
    • Workshop: pre-written news story 1, handout pre-written news story 2
    • Writing Work: portfolio news story 1
  • Reading for following week: Ch. 1, “A Coaching Method”, Ch. 3, “The Basic News Story”

Week 3 – Sept. 9 – 13

  • Lecture: Pretest results, News Elements, The Basic News Story
  • Lab 1
    • Start of class: CE Quiz 2, hand back CE Quiz 1
    • Review: news elements, news story basics, portfolio procedures
    • Workshop: pre-written news story 2, handout pre-written news story 3
    • Writing Work: portfolio news story 1
  • Lab 2
    • Start of class: hand back CE Quiz 2
    • Review: news story basics, review portfolio procedures
    • Workshop: pre-written news story 3, handout pre-written news story 4
    • Writing Work: portfolio news story 1 due, collect student-written news story 1 for workshop, collect student-written news story 2 for workshop
  • Reading for following week: Ch. 4 “Grammar Usage”, AP Style sheet handout

Week 4 – Sept. 16 – 20

  • Lecture: Grammar Usage, AP Style, Hit list
  • Lab 1
    • Start of class: instructor’s option
    • Review: Grammar Usage, AP Style, Hitlist
    • Workshop: pre-written news story 4, handout student written news story 1
    • Writing Work: portfolio news story 2
  • Lab 2
    • Start of class: CE Quiz 3, hand back portfolio news story 1
    • Review: Grammar Usage, AP Style, Hit list
    • Workshop: student written news story 1, handout student written news story 2, collect student written news story 3
    • Writing Work: portfolio news story 2 due
  • Reading for the following week: Ch. 8 “The Writing Process”, Ch. 9 “Leads”, Ch. 10 “Story Structure

Week 5 – Sept. 23 – 27

  • Lecture: Writing Process, Leads, Story Structure
  • Lab 1
    • Start of class: hand back CE Quiz 3, issue reminder of upcoming test
    • Review: Writing Process, Leads, Story Structure
    • Workshop: student written news story 2, collect student news story 4, handout pre-written story 3
    • Writing Work: portfolio news story 3
  • Lab 2
    • Start of class: CE Quiz 4, hand back portfolio news story 2, hand out review for test
    • Review: Writing Process, Leads, Story Structure
    • Workshop: student written story 3, collect student news story 5, hand out student news story 4
    • Writing Work: portfolio news story 3 due
  • Reading for following week: More hit list, Elements of Style handout, AP Style book handout

Week 6 – Sept. 30 – Oct. 4

  • Lecture: Grammar review, CE Quiz 5
  • Lab 1
    • Start of class: hand back CE Quiz’s 4 & 5, issue reminder of upcoming test
    • Review: Grammar review
    • Workshop: student news story 4, hand out student news story 5
    • Writing work: portfolio news story 4
  • Lab 2
    • Start of class: CE Quiz 6, hand back portfolio news story 3
    • Test: Grammar, Story Structure, AP Style, Covering beats, Generating story ideas, Portfolio requirements
    • Workshop: student news story 5, hand out pre-written broadcast story 1
    • Writing work: portfolio news story 4
  • Reading for the following week: Ch 13 “Broadcast Writing”

Week 7 – Oct. 7 – 11

  • Lecture: Broadcast Writing, Hand back tests and quizzes
  • Lab 1
    • Start of class: instructor’s option
    • Review: Broadcast Writing, Test Results, Portfolio requirements
    • Workshop: pre-written broadcast story 1, hand out pre-written broadcast story 2
    • Writing Work: portfolio news story 4 due, portfolio broadcast story 1, portfolio news story 5
  • Lab 2
    • Start of class: CE Quiz 7, hand back portfolio news story 4
    • Review: Broadcast Writing, Portfolio requirements
    • Workshop: pre-written broadcast story 2
    • Writing Work: portfolio broadcast story 1 due, portfolio news story 5 due, collect two student’s portfolio broadcast story 1 and portfolio news story 5 for workshop
  • Reading for following week: Ch 15 “Accuracy and Libel”, Ch. 16 “Media Ethics”, Ch. 17 “Multicultural Sensitivity”

Week 8 – Oct. 14 – 18

  • Lecture: Accuracy and Libel, Media Ethics, Multicultural Sensitivity, CE Quiz 8
  • Lab 1
    • Start of class: Hand back CE Quiz 8
    • Review: Accuracy and Libel, Media Ethics, Multicultural Sensitivity
    • Workshop: student broadcast story 1 and student news story 6
    • Writing: portfolio broadcast story 2, portfolio news story 6
  • Lab 2
    • Start of class: hand back portfolio news story 5, hand back portfolio broadcast story 2
    • Review: Accuracy and Libel, Media Ethics, Multicultural Sensitivity
    • Workshop: student broadcast story 2 and student news story 7, hand out pre-written feature 1
    • Writing: portfolio broadcast story 2 due, portfolio broadcast story 6 due
  • Reading for following week: Ch. 11 “Storytelling and Feature Techniques”, Ch. 24 “Profiles”

Week 9 – Oct. 21 – 25

  • Lecture: Feature Writing, Portfolio procedures
  • Lab 1
    • Start of class: CE Quiz 9, issue reminder of upcoming test
    • Review: Feature Writing, Portfolio procedures
    • Workshop: pre-written feature 1, hand out pre-written feature 2, collect student broadcast story 3
    • Writing: portfolio broadcast story 3, portfolio feature
  • Lab 2
    • Start of class: hand back CE Quiz 9, hand out test review
    • Review: Feature Writing, Portfolio procedures
    • Workshop: pre-written feature 2, hand out student broadcast story 3, collect student broadcast story 4
    • Writing: portfolio broadcast story 3 due, portfolio feature, collect portfolios
  • Reading for following week: Hit list continued, AP style handout, grammar handout

Week 10 – Oct. 28 – Nov. 1

  • Lecture: Hit list, AP style, Grammar, CE Quiz 10
  • Lab 1
    • Start of class: Hand back CE Quiz 10, issue reminder of upcoming test
    • Review: Test review
    • Workshop: student broadcast story 4, collect student news story 8
    • Writing: portfolio feature
  • Lab 2
    • Start of class: instructor’s option
    • Test: Broadcast Writing, Law & Ethics, Feature Writing, Grammar
    • Workshop: student news story 8, hand out pre-written PR piece 1
    • Writing: portfolio feature
  • Reading for following week: Ch. 12 “Public Relations Writing”

Week 11 – Nov. 4 – 8

  • Lecture: Public Relations Writing, Hand back tests
  • Lab 1
    • Start of class: Review test results, Assign PR and advertising groups
    • Review: Public Relations Writing
    • Workshop: pre-written PR piece 1, hand out pre-written PR piece 2
    • Writing: portfolio feature
  • Lab 2
    • Start of class: CE Quiz 11, Return portfolios
    • Review: Public Relations Writing
    • Workshop: pre-written PR piece 2
    • Writing: portfolio feature due, collect two portfolio features for workshop
  • Reading for following week: Ch. 20 “Speeches, News Conferences and Meetings”, Ch. 21 “Government and Statistical Stories”

Week 12 – Nov. 11 – 15

  • Lecture: Relationship between PR and news, CE Quiz 12
  • Lab 1
    • Start of class: hand back CE Quiz 11, hand back CE Quiz 12
    • Review: Relationship between PR and news
    • Workshop: student feature 1, hand out student feature 2
    • Writing: portfolio PR piece 1, portfolio news story 7
  • Lab 2
    • Start of class: hand back portfolio feature
    • Review: Relationship between PR and news
    • Workshop: student feature 2
    • Writing: portfolio PR piece 1 due, collect 2 PR pieces for workshop
  • Reading for following week: Hit list continued, Grammar and AP Style handouts

Week 13 – Nov. 18 – 22

  • Lecture: Hit list and grammar
  • Lab 1
    • Start of class: CE Quiz 13
    • Review: Hit list and grammar
    • Workshop: student PR piece 1
    • Writing: portfolio broadcast story 4, portfolio PR piece 2
  • Lab 2
    • Start of class: hand back CE Quiz 13
    • Review: hit list and grammar
    • Workshop: student PR piece 2, hand out pre-written advertisement 1
    • Writing: portfolio PR piece 2 due, portfolio broadcast story 4 due
  • Reading for following week: Advertising handouts

Week 14 – Nov. 25 – 26

  • Lecture: Advertising, CE Quiz 14, Portfolio requirements
  • Lab 1
    • Start of class: hand back CE Quiz 14
    • Review: Advertising, Portfolio requirements
    • Workshop: pre-written advertisement 1
    • Writing: portfolio advertisement 1, portfolio news story 7, collect two in-progress advertisements for workshop
  • Lab 2 – None
  • Reading for following week: Course review materials

Week 15 – Dec. 2 – 6

  • Lecture: Course review
  • Lab 1
    • Start of class: hand back PR piece 2, hand back broadcast story 5
    • Review: Advertising, Portfolio requirements
    • Workshop: pre-written advertisement 2
    • Writing: advertisement 1 due, news story 7 due, collect two advertisements for workshop
  • Lab 2
    • Start of class: CE Quiz 15, hand back portfolio advertisement 1, hand back broadcast story 5
    • Review: Course review
    • Workshop: student advertisements
    • Writing: student advertisement 2 due by last day of classes, portfolio due
  • Third test will be part of final exam. Instructors will hold review sessions on last day of classes

 

Appendix 3 – Suggested Beats

Technology Resources Alumni Association San Saba Hall, Blanco Hall,Bexar Hall,San Marcos Hall Jackson Hall, Arnold Hall, Smith Hall, Hornsby Hall,Burleson Hall Read Hall, Elliot Hall, Buckner Hall, Tower Retama Hall, Bereta Hall, Brogdon Hall, Laurel Hall Sterry Hall, Falls Hall,Butler Hall,Lantana Hall off-campus student apartments Library Human Resources Registrar Financial Aid Campus Activities and Student Organizations Office University Police Student media Accounting Department Agriculture Department Outlet Malls Theater Department Chartwells Office of Institutional Effectiveness ROTC Programs Art and Design Department Biology Department Center for Initiatives in Education Center for Multicultural and Gender Studies Center for International Studies Aquarena Center Georgraphy Department Center for the Study of the Southwest Chemistry Department College of Health Professions Computer Information Systems Deparment Computer Science Department Office of Continuing Education Offices of Correspondence, Extension and Study Abroad Programs Criminal Justice Department Curriculum and Instruction Department Edwards Aquifer Research and Data Center Technology Department English Department Finance and Economics Department Heath, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance Department History Department Honors Program Management Department Marketing Department Mass Communication Department Mathematics Department Modern Languages Department Multi-Institutional Teaching Center Music College of Applied Arts Philosophy Department Political Science Department Psychology Department Public Administration Department Institute of Texas Music History San Marcos Chamber of Commerce San Marcos High School Student Health Center Athletic Department Administration Bookstore Auxiliary Services (everything except bookstore and Chartwells) Physical Plant Counseling Center Campus Recreation Cheerleaders Lair, Styx, Boko’s, Mugs, Paws Admissions Career Services Multicultural Student Affairs Disability Services Parking Services Student Learning Assistance Center International Students Office Non-traditional student orgnization International Students Office Student Recreation Center Graduate College Media Relations Williamson County Campus Writing Center San Marcos Parks and Recreation San Marcos Activity Center San Marcos Public Library Alcohol and Drug Resource Center Student Justice Mentoring Program San Marcos Fire Department Central Texas Medical Center Greek Affairs office Alpha Tau Omega,Delta Chi, Delta Tau Delta; Kappa Alpha Order, Lambad Chi Alpha, Phi Kappa Alpha Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Sigma Nu Sigma Tau Gamma, Tau Kappa Epsilon, Phi Sigma Kappa, Omega Delta Phi Alpha Phi Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta,Zeta Phi Beta Alpha Kappa Alpha, Omega Psi Phi, Phi Beta Sigma Kappa Delta Chi, Sigma Delta Lambda,Sigma Lambda Beta Parents Association San Marcos Restaurants Strutters Bobcat Marching Band Strahan Coliseum and Bobcat Stadium Attorney for Students Baptist Student Union CARTS College Republicans, Young Democrats, Campus Greens Catholic Student Center Faculty Advancement Center Family and Consumer Sciences Department Institutional Research International Institute for Sustainable Water Resources Office of Veteran Affairs Research Administration Sports Clubs Student Association for Campus Activities Texas Long Term Care Institute Upward Bound LULAC San Marcos Chapter San Marcos River Foundation San Marcos Police Officers Association Tourism in San Marcos (besides outlet malls) San Marcos Baptist Academy San Marcos Churches San Marcos Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Media Services

Appendix 4 – Proposed Syllabus

Mass Communication 1313 Writing for the Mass Media

Professor and instructor information inserted here

Introduction to the course

This is an introductory writing course required for all mass communication majors. You will learn the many basic elements of writing for print, broadcast, public relations and advertising. The core of the class will require you to work with your lab instructor (or your “writing coach”) on “real world” assignments for the SWT student media and promotional pieces designed for “real” groups. These materials will be compiled into a portfolio upon which 60 percent of your final grade will be based. The remainder of the course will require you to learn a wide range of media-writing concepts discussed in the course reading materials and in lectures. (You will, of course, be expected to apply these concepts to your portfolio materials.) You will also be expected to participate extensively in lab discussions about writing done by yourself, your fellow classmates and professional writers. And, to encourage you to pick up informal writing tips by watchin the professional media, you will be tested very regularly about your knowledge of current events.

Course Objectives

At the conclusion of this course, you should be able to

  • critically analyze media writing;
  • write concisely and accurately in the media environments studied;
  • differentiate among the demands of different types of media writing and adjust your writing style and approach based on those demands;
  • identify news values and concepts critical to accurate, clear newswriting;
  • construct a basic hard news story with a summary lead and inverted pyramid story organization;
  • construct a feature story using appropriate lead and story organization;
  • construct a broadcast news story using broadcast conventions;
  • create a press release using newswriting conventions;
  • create advertisements following basic copywriting techniques;
  • demonstrate an understanding of basic concepts of media ethics and law.

Check this list occasionally during the semester. If you think you are not learning everything listed, please consult your instructor outside of class. Your success in future mass communication courses will depend upon your mastery of this material.

Course Materials

Required Textbooks:

  • Rich, Stoval (2003) Writing and Reporting News: a coaching method: Belmont, CA: Wadswoth/Thomson Learning
  • The Associated Press Stylebook. (2000) New York City: The Associated Press

Optional, but highly recommended text:

  • Kessler, L. and McDonald, D., When Words Collide, 5th Ed. Boston: Wadsworth

Other Materials:

  • You will need a 100 MB Zip disk, a dictionary and a Thesaurus

Course Evaluation

Your course grade will be based on your portfolio, your test scores and your participation in “workshop” sessions in your lab. Each component of the course will receive the following weight.

Portfolio – 60% 15 Current Events Quizzes – 15% 3 Tests – 10% Final Exam – 10% Workshop Participation -5% Below are details of each component:

Portfolio: You will add materials to your portfolio each week during the semester and submit it twice to your lab instructor for grading. The portfolio will include 16 assignments which you will complete during the course, submit to your instructor for comments and then revise. You must include the original (along with the instructor’s comments) and the revision of each assignment, but only the revision will be formally graded. The grades will be based on the following scale: A= publishable quality; B = publishable with a few minor revisions; C=publishable with more than a minor revisions; D= significant revisions needed; F= no improvement upon original or original not submitted by deadline. All assignments will receive a letter grade which will translate into a number grade and then be averaged to determine the portfolio grade. The translations will occur on this scale: A+ = 100, A=95, A-93; B+=89, B=85, B-=82; C+=79, C=75, C-=72; D+=69, D=65, D-=62; F=0

Current Events Quizzes: These will be given at random times throughout the semester. They will consist of between 5 and 15 questions about current events. Your average score on these quizzes will account for 15 percent of your final grade (each quiz, therefore, counts as one percent of your semester grade). The best way to prepare for these quizzes to read a daily newspaper, and watch and/or listen to a daily news cast. Suggested sources are National Public Radio, The Austin American Statesman, The San Antonio Express News, CNN, nightly network news programs, and nightly local television newscasts. You are, of course, not expected to keep up with every story or even every source. Quiz questions will be based on stories which appear widely in the national and local media. The goal of this component is to have you examine , in action, the concepts presented in this course. For best results, as you prepare for these quizzes, pay careful attention to the writing.

Tests: You will be given three tests and a comprehensive final exam which will cover the material presented in readings and lectures. These will be objective tests graded by a scantron machine. A few days before each test, your lab instructor will offer a review. The third test will be given on the same day as the final exam. Your average of the three tests will count for 10 percent of your course grade, and your performance on the final exam will count for another 10 percent.

Workshop Participation: During each lab session your instructor will lead your class in an analytical discussion of particular pieces of writing. Some of the writing will be by professional writers, some will be by student media writers, some will be by your classmates, and, at least once in the semester, the writing will be yours. Your participation in each of these discussions is vital to their success. Your lab instructor will access your “workshop participation” grade based on the following scale: A=significant contribution to every discussion; B=significant contribution to most discussions; C=occasional contribution; D=little contribution. F= frequent inappropriate contribution, very little contribution, or failure to supply material for workshop in which your writing is discussed. Your workshop grade will be translated into a number using the same scale as the portfolio grade. This grade will count as 5 percent of your overall grade.

Additional Course Requirements

1. For best results, all readings should be completed before lectures. Instructors reserve the right to lower your final grade by up to a full letter if there is strong suspicion that you have routinely not completed the required reading on time. 2. Attendance and participation during class times is required of students who hope to receive a passing grade. Each unexcused absence after the second will result in a letter grade penalty on the final course grade. 3. All work must be submitted on time. Late work is not accepted. Make-ups are not allowed on quizzes and tests. While exceptions to this will be rare, they can be granted in accordance with the next requirement. 4. Some absences can be excused, with the consent of both the lab instructor and professor. When an absence is due to school-sponsored activities, each student must notify the lab instructor and provide official confirmation of participation BEFORE the school-sponsored activity. The student will be responsible for material presented in class due to his or her absence and for turning in assignments by the due date. In cases of extreme illness or emergency, students must notify the professor, preferably BEFORE the missed class period, to make arrangements to complete any missed assignment. Before exceptions to requirements 2 and 3 above will be granted, emergencies must be documented and reviewed by both the lab instructor and the professor. In qualifying cases, missed assignments must be made up within one week for the student to receive credit.

Extra Credit

You are strongly encouraged to submit publishable quality writing to publications and/or companies which may have use for it. If a piece your lab instructor has deemed publishable is used (or scheduled to be used) by a media outlet or other group, you are eligible for extra credit to be added to your final course grade. Contact your lab instructor for more information.

Students with Disabilities

Students who need special consideration and specific accommodations should discuss their needs with the professor as early as possible in the semester.

Department of Mass Communication Code of Student Conduct

The Department of Mass Communication has specific policies regarding academic behavior. Academic honesty is expected in this course, and transgressions will be addressed as outlined in the code. Academic dishonesty “includes, but is not limited to plagiarism, deception, collusion, conflict of interest and theft.” “Plagiarism” is defined as “the use of another’s intellectual property and claiming it as your own.” Students are expected to know how to give credit for another’s words or ideas.

Very Important Note

You will likely find this to be a very demanding course. Your teachers understand that, and are willing to do all that they can to help you with the many new — and quite likely frustrating — experiences you will face as you do the writing required for this course. But, unlike other courses, your teachers do not have all of the answers. No one has developed a strict formula for “how to write,” so, unfortunately, this course will not be a simple matter of the teachers imparting knowledge and students dutifully taking notes. No, this course will require more than that. It will require a constant stream of creative and critical thinking. It will require a willingness to take risks, to both admit and learn from mistakes, and, well, to work incredibly hard. In short, whining and laziness– while tempting –will not do you any good. While there is no set formula for how to write, there are many writing conventions which you will learn in this course. Writers have created these conventions over the years as a means for efficiently and consistently creating writing that “works.” There is certainly a difference between writing that works and writing that does not. Your teachers will coach you throughout the semester to both recognize and create the former. The key word in the previous sentence is “coach.” Just as with any football team, the coach is only as good as the player.

Course Schedule (subject to change as needed)

Reading must be completed before your lecture session

Week 1 — August 28-30 Reading – None Lecture Topic – None Mon/Tues Lab – None Weds/Thurs Lab – Overview of Course; Pre-test (not counted)

Week 2 — Sept. 2 -6 Reading – Ch.5 “Curiosity and Story Ideas” ;Ch. 18 “Beat Reporting”; Ch 7 “Interview Techniques” Lecture Topic: None Mon/Tue Lab – None Wed/Thus Lab – Workshops begin; Beats assigned

Week 3– Sept. 9 – 13 Reading – Ch. 1, “A Coaching Method” Ch. 3, “The Basic News Story” Lecture Topic: Pretest results; News Elements; The Basic News Story Mon/Tue Lab – Begin work on portfolio news story 1 Wed/Thus Lab – Portfolio news story 1 due; student 1′s workshop story due; student 2′s workshop story due

Week 4– Sept. 16 – 20 Reading – Ch. 4 “Grammar Usage”; AP Style sheet handout Lecture Topic: Grammar, AP Style; Hit list Mon/Tue Lab – student story workshop dates assigned Wed/Thus Lab – Portfolio news story 2 due; student 3′s workshop story due

Week 5– Sept. 23 – 27 Reading – Ch. 8 “The Writing Process”; Ch. 9 “Leads”; Ch. 10 “Story Structure Lecture Topic: Writing Process, leads, story structure Mon/Tue Lab – student 4′s worshop story due Wed/Thus Lab -student 5′s workshop story due; Portfolio news story 3 due

Week 6– Sept. 30- Oct. 4 Reading – More of the hit list, “Elements of Style” handout; AP Stylebook handout Lecture Topic: Grammar review Mon/Tue Lab – Test review Wed/Thus Lab – Test 1

Week 7– Oct. 7 -11 Reading – Ch. 13 “Broadcast Writing” Lecture Topic: Broadcast Writing Mon/Tue Lab – portfolio news story 4 due Wed/Thus Lab – portfolio broadcast story 1 due; portfolio news story 5 due; student 6′s workshop story due; student 7′s workshop story due

Week 8– Oct. 14 -18 Reading – Ch. 15 “Accuracy and Libel”; Ch. 16 “Media Ethics”; Ch. 17 “Multicultural Sensitivity” Lecture Topic: Media law and ethics Mon/Tue Lab – work on portfolio broadcast story 2 and portfolio news story 6 Wed/Thus Lab – portfolio broadcast story 2 due; portfolio news story 6 due

Week 9 – Oct. 21 -25 Reading – Ch. 11 “Storytelling and Features Techniques”; Ch. 24 “Profiles” Lecture Topic: Feature Writing; Portfolio Procedures Mon/Tue Lab – work on portfolio feature Wed/Thus Lab – portfolios due; portfolio broadcast story 3 due; student 8′s workshop story due

Week 10– Oct. 28 – Nov. 1 Reading – Hit list continued, AP Style handout, Grammar handout Lecture Topic: Grammar Mon/Tue Lab – student 9′s workshop story due; Test review Wed/Thus Lab – Test 2

Week 11– Nov. 4 – 8 Reading – Ch. 12 “Public Relations Writing” Lecture Topic: Public Relations Mon/Tue Lab – work on portfolio feature; PR and advertising groups assigned Wed/Thus Lab – portfolio feature due; student 10′s workshop story due; student 11′s workshop story due

Week 12– Nov. 11 – 15 Reading – Ch. 20 “Speechs, News Conferences and Meetings”; Ch. 21 “Government and Statistical Stories” Lecture Topic: Relationship between PR and news Mon/Tue Lab – work on portfolio PR piece Wed/Thus Lab – portfolio PR piece 1 due; student 12′s workshop story due; student 13′s workshop story due

Week 13– Nov. 18 – 22 Reading – Hit list continued; Grammar handout; AP Style handout Lecture Topic: Grammar Mon/Tue Lab – work on portfolio PR piece 2 Wed/Thus Lab – Portfolio PR piece 2 due; Portfolio broadcast story 4 due

Week 14– Nov. 25 -26 Reading – Advertising handouts Lecture Topic: Advertising, Portfolio requirements Mon/Tue Lab – work on protfolio advertisement 1; student 14′s workshop story due; student 15′s workshop story due Wed/Thus Lab – none

Week 15– Dec. 2 -6 Reading – Course review material Lecture Topic: Course review Mon/Tue Lab – portfolio advertisement 1 due; portfolio news story 7 due; student 14′s workshop story due; student 15′s workshop story due; student 16′s workshop story due Wed/Thus Lab – Portfolios due by 5 p.m. on last day of classes Note: Third test will be included on final exam. Lab instructors will hold review sessions (and pick up portfolios on last day of classes).

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