Quick Syllabus

English 215 / SA: Introduction to Journalism Prof. Amy King

Summer 2008 Office: Y 230

Mon-Thurs / 10:00 – 12 noon Phone: (516) 572-7185

North Hall – 220 amyhappens @ gmail.com


News Reporting and Writing, 9th edition. The Missouri Group.

Course Description:

This course examines the principles and practices of journalism with emphasis on reporting and writing news, features, interviews, and editing; today’s press is also examined. Because of the many writing assignments of this course, only students seriously interested in journalism should enroll.

Please be prepared to spend a significant period of time each week reading and writing intensively for this course. Daily class sessions may be demanding and often include leaving the classroom to utilize the library, do research in other campus buildings, and interact with a range of campus faculty/staff. Occasionally, we will watch a DVD related to the field of journalism.

Course Topics (time-permitting):

  • Define “news” and “how news has evolved” since journalism began
  • “Citizen journalism” (alternative media)
  • “Convergence” (changing technology, online journalism)
  • The art and practice of good reporting skills, which includes brainstorming story ideas, rudimentary interviewing skills, and contacting sources in preparation for a series of news stories (crime/accident/fire/town meeting)
  • Use of Associated Press style, accuracy, newsworthiness, objectivity and fairness
  • Familiarization & use of commercial databases (i.e. Lexus Nexus) & the internet
  • Definition, assignment, and pursuit of a “beat,” key writing concepts, including the inverted pyramid, how to write a lead, and when and how to use quotes effectively
  • In addition to covering basic news stories, students will be exposed to various magazine styles, and encouraged to write a query letter and feature article for a magazine of his or her choice
  • We will conclude by studying review writing, and students can choose, for his or her final assignment, to write a film, book, theatre, or restaurant review

Course Requirements:

1. Five major assignments (one due at the end of each week; typed and double-spaced):

(10% each = 50%)

a. A profile piece

b. A hard news story (crime, accident, or fire)

c. A “Hot Topic” piece – (You will have a few topics to choose from such as sexual discrimination in politics, advancement in alternate fuel sources, gay marriage, etc.)

d. A magazine feature article (most likely a cultural piece)

e. A review (medium to be determined)

2. Daily class activities / homework and fieldwork assignments as assigned from textbook (see attached schedule) = 25%

3. Class participation = 15%

4. Blog Completion = 10%

Class Blog:

Everyone must send me an email before the second day of class. Send your email to amyhappens @ gmail.com – I will enlist you as a user on the class blog, where you will post your assignments: https://collegejournalism.wordpress.com/

Upon receiving your email, I will send you a confirmation notice.

You will be “publishing” your articles, as requested, to the class blog by a set deadline.

Some Examples of Class Activities:

  • Viewing and critiquing famous news photographers such as Weegee, Margaret Bourke-White, Lotte Jacobi, and Gerda Taro.
  • Obituary practice – your hero dies …
  • Researching and reporting on news sources beyond the mainstream presses
  • Turning facts into “story” exercises
  • Practicing with the inverted triangle
  • Associated Press editing exercises

Classroom Behavior / Code of Conduct:

  1. All assignments must be typed or are unacceptable. Since journalists need to work on deadline, no late papers are accepted. You will also know each assignment and its due date in advance, just as journalists do.
  2. Since summer classes are so short and intense, it is best to avoid absences (you will miss too much and fall behind if you don’t). More than three absences instantly affects your final grade. Three late arrivals = an absence. If there is a serious emergency, please contact me immediately. When absent, you are responsible for keeping up with the reading, the assignment schedule, the handouts you may have missed, and the submission of all assignments—on time.
  3. No cell phones in class. Turn off your phones, pagers, and text messengers before entering the classroom. You may not use your cell phone in class for any reason, including to receive phone calls or text message others. Leave the room to take an emergency phone call. You may make phone calls and text others during the break only. If I see you check your cell phone – even under your desk or ducking behind another student — you will be dismissed from class and receive an absence for the day. If you would like to know the time, raise your hand and ask me or consult your watch. Do not use your cell phone. Committing to a class does not entail chatting with others elsewhere.
  4. No plagiarism: it is illegal and unethical, and I will recognize it immediately. We will discuss how and when to cite sources correctly, so there is no excuse for plagiarism in this course. Plagiarism will result in immediate dismissal and failure of the course as well as officially being reported to the Dean of Students. In other words, you will receive all of the warranted punishments for plagiarism.
  5. Please familiarize yourself with the NCC Student Code of Conduct. I enforce it. Respectful behavior and good manners are expected. Personal attacks and insults will not be tolerated.

Attendance – Detailed:

  • If you are late three times, I will count this as one absence.
  • Late arrivals of 10 minutes or more will be considered an absence.
  • Early departures will also be recorded as an absence.
  • Because this course meets four times per week, you are allowed three absences, at most and for emergencies only, for the semester. For each additional absence, your final grade for the course will be lowered by one letter grade, regardless of the work completed – no exceptions. For example, your final earned grade of B will be reported as a C if you have three absences. Each additional absence will lower your grade by another letter. Please do not be surprised at the end of the semester if you have earned an A in the class but receive a final grade of C because you have accumulated four absences. I will not amend this policy.
  • You must attend on a regular basis. If you have a job or any other activity that will inhibit your attendance, drop this course. Everyone is expected to attend regularly.
  • While I appreciate the difficulties life throws our way, I cannot excuse absences based on car accidents, the deaths of relatives, cats caught in the dryer, runaway dogs, rabid computers, a bad cold, or for any other reason. Absences will only ever be excused as a direct result of your own hospitalization—with proof.

American Disabilities Act (ADA) Statement: If you have a verifiable learning, psychological, or physical disability or condition and you need special accommodations, visit The Center for Students with Disabilities in the U Building – 572-7241.

ATTENTION! HOMEWORK TO BE COMPLETED BY THE SECOND DAY OF CLASS: Read Chap 3: Interviewing (p. 29-41) and email me at amyhappens at gmail.com (see “Blog” above).

Quick Course Reading Schedule (subject to change & time permitting):

  • Chap 3: Interviewing & Chap 4: When to Use Quotes
  • Chap 1: The Nature of News (i.e. the definition of news and the industry, profession of newsgathering and dissemination, writing skills).
  • Chap 7: The Inverted Pyramid and Writing a Lead (i.e. writing hard-news stories, attention to such features as the lead and attribution)
  • Chap 9: Beyond the Inverted Pyramid (i.e. soft-news or features and narration).
  • Chap 2: Citizen Journalism, Convergence, and Jobs in Journalism
  • Chap 14: Covering a Beat (crime/fire/accident)
  • Chap 16: More Beats, Alternative Leads; Chap 23: Ethics
  • Chap 10: Obituaries and Life Stories
  • Chap 12: Speeches, News Conferences, and Meetings
  • Chap 19: Writing for Radio and Television; and Chap 20 Writing for the Web

One thought on “Quick Syllabus

  1. I hope to go though this course successfully as studying journalism has always been my dream since childhood.

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