Communication Studies 211A
Office & Hours: Daily 9-10 and by appointment in 24 McNeill Hall.
Course Web site: http://www.simpson.edu/~steffen/news.html
Newswriting is one of the most utilitarian styles of writing you can learn once you get the knack of it. Even if you have no interest in becoming a journalist in the traditional sense, the journalistic style of writing is a basic skill for all communication professions and beyond. And even if you eventually decide to get out of the communication field entirely, this course still provides you with important critical skills. Not only does news style help you order your writing, it helps you order your thinking and ponder what is really important about your topic.
Our objectives will be to help you progress from the position of someone who knows nothing of leads and inverted pyramids to that of being an experienced writer whose stories are worthy of publication in the print media.
To help you get started, the syllabus is organized in the form of an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions):
Plenty. By the time the end of the term rolls around, you should have a good idea of what it's like to be a working journalist. Students can earn up to 600 points for their work in the course. Students with no unexcused absences on their records and superior classroom participation will be rewarded with an increase of up to 1/3 of a letter grade on their final grade. Students will be penalized 1.5% of the course point total for each unexcused absence. (Special Note: All absences on Monday, March 17, will be deemed unexcused.) At the end of the course, final grades will be determined on a straight percentage basis (100-92%=A, 91-90%=A-, 89-88%=B+, 87-82%=B, 81-80%=B-, etc.).
A variety of experiences in the course will be graded:
All stories will be graded using an evaluation form that assigns points up to 50 points for each story you need to complete for this course. No letter grades will be assigned to stories, though you might think of them as following a rough percentage scale in coming up with how your story compares with others. My philosophy on grading papers is not to coat them in red as a means of copy editing your; after all, that's your responsibility. Rather, you will frequently find me making notations in the margins and between lines of text that are designed to force you to go back and think about your work. And there are incentives for going back over a story again: I permit students to resubmit stories for up to a 10 percent increase in points as a means of helping you further develop your writing talents.
Adherence to deadlines also plays a role in this course: During my years in journalism, I met deadlines because my job was on the line if I didn't. Deadlines set for stories in this course are final; those turned in late without cause will be subjected to a 50 percent reduction in total points earned on the story and will not be eligible for a rewrite.
Honesty is a must in this course. The College's policies regarding academic dishonesty are outlined on Page 66-67 of the 2001-03 Simpson College General Catalog. With regard to this course, acts of dishonesty include, but are not necessarily limited to, cheating on examinations, plagiarizing material from other sources, making up material or sources of information, and/or submitting work for this course originally completed for other courses without the permissions of the instructors involved.
The penalty for any form of substantiated academic dishonesty (that in which the instructor has firm evidence) is:
- Failure of the course, or
- Failure in the paper, project, test, etc., where the dishonesty occurred, or
- The requirement that the work be replaced with a suitably substituted assignment.
Students wishing to appeal charges of substantiated academic dishonesty may request a hearing before an academic appeals committee of the College.
|Topic||Read in Rich|
|News and Newswriting||Ch. 2|
|The Coaching Process||Chs. 1|
|Basic Journalistic Writing and Structure||Chs. 3-4, 8|
|News Story Structures||Ch. 10-11|
|Bodies and Endings|
|Introduction to Reporting|
|Curiosity, Observation and Sources||Chs. 5-6|
|Event-Centered News Coverage||Ch. 20|
|Writing for Broadcast and New Media||Ch. 13-14|