Syllabus

Reporting 3/Newsgathering 2

JOUR 4502/5502

Summer 2012

Professor:        Elizabeth A. Skewes

Office:               Armory 104B

Phone:              303-735-1096

E-mail:              elizabeth.skewes@colorado.edu

Office hours:    Tuesdays, after class; and by appointment

Class:                Tuesdays, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., Chem 131

Course Description

Newsgathering 2 and Reporting 3 are the final reporting classes in the Newsgathering and News-Editorial sequences.  The class, which features an internship component, is designed to give you a professional reporting experience at a daily newspaper or similar publication or broadcast station. This arrangement will allow you to put to use what you’ve learned in the classroom and to use the classroom this summer to resolve issues that you may bump into in the workplace. Your internship will be a rare and valuable opportunity to gain experience, develop a portfolio, and establish contacts with reporters, editors, designers and producers. Treat this opportunity as a job and it may lead to one. Whether a journalism career is your ultimate career goal or not, the benefits you can derive from this experience are extraordinary.

To succeed you must have a sound grasp of spelling, grammar, punctuation and AP/broadcast style; be well informed about international, national and local news; and adopt a professional attitude toward each assignment that you are given. The internship is an intense experience that will require you to focus your energy and carefully schedule your time.

Ultimately, this class should help each of you:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of professional ethical principles and work ethically in pursuit of truth, accuracy, fairness and diversity.
  • Conduct research and evaluate information by methods appropriate to the journalism.
  • Write correctly and clearly in styles appropriate for the medium in which you are working.
  • Apply tools and technologies used in newsrooms.

Your time in class will focus on applied discussions about your internship experience, reflections and conversations about advanced journalistic issues and workshops designed to fill in any dearth of skills or curriculum that might exist.

Requirements

1. You will be working at a local newspaper, radio station, television station or other media outlet. You are expected to spend at least three days each week at your internship developing, reporting and writing stories; editing copy and designing print and/or web pages; shooting photographs and gathering information for photo cutlines; or engaging in other creative and substantive publication, broadcast or production work. For those in reporting internships, your editor will assign many stories, but you will be expected to come up with your own story ideas.  By the end of the term in late July each undergraduate student in a daily reporting internship is expected to have submitted a minimum of 12 stories. Each graduate student in a daily reporting internship should submit a minimum of 16 stories. It is your responsibility (not your editors’) to make sure that you meet the minimum story requirement, and you are encouraged to do more than the minimum.

Those of you in other internships – feature writing at newspapers, editing, production work at magazines or broadcast outlets –will need to do work that is similar in scope and volume, but is appropriate for your media outlet, as the 12 or 16 story requirement above. You will need to submit something to me in writing outlining what you expect to produce by the end of July as work product for me to evaluate. If your projected workload is insufficient, I will work with you to find ways to make the internship better fit the class requirements.

2. You are required to keep an internship diary of your experiences, and you will post these each week on the class site on D2L that will be accessible to your classmates and me. This will be a place to talk honestly about your internship experiences and, if you’re running into problems, to get help from your classmates or me with those problems. Therefore, each of you will need to check into the “Discussions” section of the class D2L site several times a week to post your own work journals and to respond to the comments and questions of others.

3. In addition, there is a class blog set up on WordPress. Each of you is (or will soon be) a contributor to that site. You are expected, over the course of the summer term, to post at least twice on issues related to journalism that you’re reading about or thinking about. These posts should be well thought out and should make and rational and well-supported argument about the future or the practice of journalism in some form. The posts should provide relevant links to other sources. Of course, I’d encourage you to post more often in order to start to develop your voice as a blogger, and I’m expecting each of you to comment on the posts of others in the class.

4. You will be required to present to the class an internship portfolio containing clips from the professional work produced during the class. This content should appear on a personally branded Web site with your resume, contact information and relevant resources.

5. You will contribute to either the “American Homecomings” project at the Denver Post or to the election coverage being done by NPR. Each of you will be asked to do one assignment for one of these projects. The American Homecomings project involves digital archiving of news and other information regarding veterans (Professor Rick Stevens, who is heading the journalism program’s involvement in the project will be coming to class to talk to you more about this).

The work for NPR will focus on one of two projects related to the 2012 election. The first, called “Listen to Me,” is inspired in concept by the popular “It Gets Better” YouTube campaign. NPR has created the Listen to Me YouTube based project through which it will solicit 1-minute videos about what’s really bothering people this election year.  What is it they want their leaders to know about their situation? What aren’t lawmakers listening to from their communities?  Your can report on key issues in the community, as well as the hopes and frustrations that people have with the political system. The questions NPR wants to see answered in these videos are as follows:

  • What is your full name, and where are you located?
  • What is the most important issue to you during this election?
  • Are you hopeful about the future? If so, why? If not, why not?
  • Do you think the political system is broken? If so, why, and how would you fix it? If not, why not?

The second project for NPR is the “Digital Map Center.” Here’s how NPR describes the project:

“Imagine a national map that can allow consumers of news to add layer after layer of information, whether it be races for the president, senate, governor, electoral votes, candidate travel, or county-by-county demographics from our partners at Patchwork Nation. Then imagine that map can be used on-air, with a cue for the audience to follow along to use the same tools that the NewsHour reporting team uses to explore the story: AP statistics, Patchwork Nation demographic and census information, county-by-county historical voting records, etc. The concept brings the “two screen” experience to life and puts it in the hands of as wide an audience as possible.  We want to invite your classes to participate in looking at the data and using it to look for unique local reporting that can be added to the map.”

Finally, you are also responsible for coming to class prepared. Reading assignments and the occasional other small assignments are important, as they allow us to make efficient use of precious class time. Please show respect to your classmates and instructor by arriving to class on time and prepared to dive into the day’s work. Part of your grade will reflect your attendance and participation, so you should plan to contribute ideas, questions, and even technical assistance to the class when appropriate.

Preparation

Begin by getting information on the town, city, agency or topic you’ll be covering or working in. Writers should clip anything and everything that may help them write a story later. Editors and photographers need to know the key issues and people in the community. Read a week’s worth of your newspaper or the online content on your station’s website, or six months of your magazine. In many cases, back issues are available at your workplace, and many regional publications are in the reading room in the lower level of the Armory. Many are online or are at Norlin Library. If you are assigned to a specific beat, pay attention to the stories that have been done in the past year or so. Your editors will expect to come up with fresh story ideas – not ones the paper has done in the last year or so. You’ll have to get up to speed quickly. It will pay off.

For editors, get a copy of the publication’s style manual so you can familiarize yourself with the variations on AP style that some publications use – and be sure that you’re very familiar with AP style. You also should ask about keyboard shortcuts for common editing tasks and should be familiar with the tone and writing style of the publication.

For those in broadcast jobs, start watching/listening to your station regularly, if you haven’t already. Develop an understanding of what the station covers and how, and develop ideas for follow-up stories. Be thinking about how you can use your internship to strengthen your resume and develop pieces for your own portfolio.

Grading

Grades will be based on the following breakdown:

  • Attendance and participation   (10 percent)
  • Weekly work journal on D2L site   (5 percent)
  • Blogs on class WordPress site   (5 percent)
  • “American Homecomings” or NPR assignment   (10 percent)
  • Portfolio site   (20 percent)
  • Internship evaluation   (50 percent)

Your site supervisor at your internship will evaluate you on writing mechanics, reporting/photography skills, creative work, attitude and professionalism. There are only eight class meetings, so missing even one class will negatively impact your grade. If you do miss a class, call a classmate – not your instructor – for information on what you missed.

Grades on your written material – including your blog posts, your own portfolio and the “American Homecomings” or NPR assignment – will be reduced for errors in facts, grammar, spelling, punctuation, style, and proofreading. In accordance with the policy adopted several years ago by the faculty, an error in fact or a misspelled name will result in an F on that assignment.

A few words on professionalism: Your editors and supervisors are willing to work with you to make you better journalists, but they should not have to train you regarding basic matters of professionalism. Among the things you should know going into your internship are:

  • Show up on time (or even a few minutes early).
  • Stay until your shift is done … or longer if a story or something else still needs your attention.
  • Meet deadlines … always.
  • Stay in contact with your editor or supervisor so that he/she knows how far along you are on your work, what problems you’re having, etc. If a problem is going to surface, let your editor know ahead of time.

I will not tolerate any professionalism problems at your internship. I will be in contact with your editors regarding your work ethic and, if I get complaints regarding failure to show up or to meet deadlines, I will immediately give you a failing grade in the class. The work that you do this semester has impacts for other students in future semesters, so it is very important that you treat this internship – whether paid or not – as you would a job.

Plagiarism/Academic Ethics

Plagiarism, defined as copying the words or ideas from another person and claiming them as your own, is a very serious breach of journalistic and academic ethics and will not be tolerated in this class. I will spot-check your stories for plagiarism, and if I find that you’ve plagiarized information, you will fail the course. The same sanction applies to fabricating information or quotes, as well as other serious breaches of journalistic and academic ethics.  You also will likely be immediately fired from your internship.

Please be aware that in the age of the Internet, it is very easy to plagiarize material without even intending to do so. As a result, you need to be proactive and assiduous in keeping track of the sources of the information you gather, which information you’ve copied verbatim into your notes, and which you’ve paraphrased. To avoid plagiarism, you need to provide clear and appropriate attribution for information AND use quotation marks for information you are using verbatim. (Providing a source for directly copied information without using quotation marks is still plagiarism.)

This is not intended as a complete discussion of plagiarism. So if you have any questions concerning what it is, how to avoid it, and the consequences for committing it, please do not hesitate to speak to one of us.

Additionally, the university’s Honor Council notes that: “All students of the University of Colorado at Boulder are responsible for knowing and adhering to the academic integrity policy of this institution. Violations of this policy may include: cheating, plagiarism, aid of academic dishonesty, fabrication, lying, bribery, and threatening behavior.  All incidents of academic misconduct shall be reported to the Honor Code Council (honor@colorado.edu; 303-735-2273). Students who are found to be in violation of the academic integrity policy will be subject to both academic sanctions from the faculty member and non-academic sanctions (including but not limited to university probation, suspension, or expulsion). Other information on the Honor Code can be found at http://www.colorado.edu/policies/honor.html and at http://www.colorado.edu/academics/honorcode/.”

Attendance and Participation

You are expected to attend all classes (unless you have already made alternative arrangements with the instructors) and to offer comments and insights during class discussions. You also may be asked to periodically turn in short assignments for class. Again, your careful reading of the assignments and knowledge of news events are essential for meaningful discussion.

Students with Disabilities

If you qualify for accommodations because of a disability, please submit to us a letter from Disability Services in a timely manner so that your needs can be addressed. Disability Services determines accommodations based on documented disabilities. Contact: 303-492-8671, Center for Community N200, and http://www.colorado.edu/disabilityservices.

If you have a temporary medical condition or injury, see guidelines at http://www.colorado.edu/disabilityservices/go.cgi?select=temporary.html.

Religious Observances

Campus policy regarding religious observances requires that faculty make every effort to deal reasonably and fairly with all students who, because of religious obligations, have conflicts with scheduled exams, assignments or required attendance. See full details at http://www.colorado.edu/policies/fac_relig.html.

Classroom Behavior and Environment

Students and faculty each have responsibility for maintaining an appropriate learning environment. Those who fail to adhere to such behavioral standards may be subject to discipline. Professional courtesy and sensitivity are especially important with respect to individuals and topics dealing with differences of race, color, culture, religion, creed, politics, veteran’s status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and gender expression, age, disability, and nationalities.  Class rosters are provided to the instructor with the student’s legal name. I will gladly honor your request to address you by an alternate name or gender pronoun. Please advise me of this preference early in the semester so that I may make appropriate changes to my records.  See policies at http://www.colorado.edu/policies/classbehavior.html and at http://www.colorado.edu/studentaffairs/judicialaffairs/code.html#student_code.

The University of Colorado at Boulder Discrimination and Harassment Policy and Procedures, the University of Colorado Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedures, and the University of Colorado Conflict of Interest in Cases of Amorous Relationships policy apply to all students, staff, and faculty.  Any student, staff, or faculty member who believes s/he has been the subject of sexual harassment or discrimination or harassment based upon race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, creed, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status should contact the Office of Discrimination and Harassment (ODH) at 303-492-2127 or the Office of Student Conduct (OSC) at 303-492-5550. Information about the ODH, the above referenced policies, and the campus resources available to assist individuals regarding discrimination or harassment can be obtained at http://www.colorado.edu/odh.

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