Syllabus

INSTRUCTOR: STEVE FOX

How to contact Professor Fox in the Spring 2015 semester:

My New Office Location: S433, Integrative Learning Center

E-Mail: stevejfox@gmail.com. Phone: 545-5923 (office)

Classes: Tuesday, Thursday 1-3 p.m., ILC S405.

Office Hours: Mondays, 1-4 p.m.; Tuesdays, 3-5 p.m.; Fridays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. By appointment.


GOALS:

This is a hands-on journalism course in which we’ll use readings, discussions and projects to learn about online storytelling — with a particular focus on video and social media. This class builds on much of the skills learned in Introduction to Multimedia and emphasizes the following:

* Learning how to report, produce and edit online packages using blogs, social media, audio, video and photos together with text to tell stories;

* Lectures and discussions on emerging media themes, such as Internet-spawned media partnerships, mergers and technologies;

* Analysis of the business, ethical and legal implications of publishing online and using social media;

* Analysis of the characteristics that distinguish news Web sites and their stories from their print and broadcast counterparts;

A core portion of the class will include hands-on assignments, allowing students to report and edit stories using audio, video and photos. Students will also learn about site structuring and navigation, headline and link writing. We will experiment with a variety of different storytelling and reporting methods, including Twitter and database reporting.

Obviously, staying on top of the news is an integral part of this course. I expect you to be registered on multiple news Web sites, as well as industry news sites. Following the news on television and radio is also highly recommended.

Remember, this is a journalism class and plagiarism is a serious offense that can jeopardize your academic career. The Web has, in the minds of many, clouded the cheating playing field. But it really hasn’t. Work that is not yours needs to be credited. It’s really as simple as that. If you have questions, ask.

When you’re working on assignments, it’s strongly recommended that you not read the coverage of other news organizations or PR operations in order to prevent any influences on your writing or reporting. If you have any question about plagiarism, ask.


CLASS BREAKDOWN:

* NOTE: This class is unique in that your work will be a combination of individual work and team projects.

Your final grade is based on:

* Outside Assignments: (25 percent of your grade). There will be a mix of in-class and out-of-class assignments using your blog and Twitter accounts as well as other social media. Most of your assignments will be posted on a blog that you will design and customize.

I will grade each of your blog posts based on this Blog Grading Rubric. Each blog post will include the opportunity to revise based on my input and peer editing comments. I will not issue a grade until you revise your post. If you don’t revise by the scheduled deadline, your grade will be based on the initial post.

Video Packages: (30 percent of grade.) Your first three video projects will be team-based projects (I will assign teams.)  Each package will have a written component, which will be posted on your blog, as well as video component.  Each blog entry and video piece should be considered a published piece of work.  So, it should be well-designed, well-edited and well-written.

* Final Project:  (35 percent of your grade). We will discuss the Final Project more in class. The Final project will be a feature package that will include a video and blog entry. Unlike your first two projects, the Final Project will be a solo project.We will meet several times during the course of the semester to develop the news feature idea for your team’s Final Project. The video will be 3-5 minutes long and your blog entry should be 500-1,000 words.

* Class Participation: (10 percent of your grade). Class attendance is MANDATORY. There will be an attendance sheet you will be required to sign each class.  If you’re going to miss class, let me know and I will let you know whether it is an excused absence.  If not, after two unexcused absences, you will lose 5 percent of the points in your final grade; after four unexcused absences, 10 percent; after six unexcused absences, 20 percent; after eight unexcused absences, 40 percent.

Also, students will be expected to do class presentations, and read assigned readings in order to take part in class and blog discussions.

Weekly Check-Ins:  During the course of the semester we will set up times days/times for weekly check-ins.  But, if you’re struggling or want to talk through some story ideas, you can take advantage of office hours as well.

GUIDELINES FOR TEAM REPORTING PROJECTS: Each team member will be responsible for sharing all components of the project (ie: researching, reporting, writing, interviewing, editing.) Each team member will receive an individual grade as well as a team grade.

* Unless otherwise specified, please follow Associated Press style for all assignments.


TEXTS/READINGS*:

(*All listed readings are to be done for the week listed.)

REQUIRED:

* “Journalism Next:  A Practical Guide to Digital Reporting and Publishing,” 2nd Edition, Mark Briggs.

* “Grammar of the Edit,” by Roy Thompson and Christopher J. Bowen (Second Edition.)

* Reporter’s Guide to Multimedia Proficiency, Mindy McAdams (PDF)

* “Sound in the Story: Balancing the Tools in New-Media Journalism,” J. Carl Gatner and Eileen E. Gatner (PDF)

* Handouts/Tutorials. There is much debate within teaching circles as to how to approach the teaching of editing software.  My philosophy is this:  Take the first steps by reading the tutorials and we will work from there.  I try not to spend much class time teaching software — I would much rather focus on the stories you are producing and the journalism.

The new editing suites in the ILC are loaded up with Adobe Premiere.

You will be expected to read the tutorials listed on the Day-to-Day schedule. If you read the tutorials and learn the software, we are able to focus more on editing and storytelling in class.

Almost all software questions can be answered by reading the tutorials. If I sense that the tutorials are not being read, we will have some pop quizzes.

* Online Readings: This syllabus links to various required online reading assignments under the class schedule. In addition, because the field is changing so fast, you’ll be expected to do additional reading to keep up. You should on a weekly basis read relevant stories and columns in Poynter.org, OJR, CJR and other industry Web sites. This blog will also add to the reading list as the semester progresses.

* Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual (for print). Please bring the stylebook to class with you to aid inlab work.

* ALSO RECOMMENDED:

* Journalism 2.0: How to Survive and Thrive: A digital literacy guide for the information age, Mark Briggs (PDF)


EQUIPMENT:

* The Journalism Department has purchased video cameras, audio recorders and digital cameras. We will use that equipment in class, but if you have your own equipment, let me know –- that will help. When you use department equipment, you will sign out for it and be responsible for it.

* If you haven’t done so already, please purchase a flash drive or an “external hard drive” so that you can transfer your work from computer to computer. The raw video that you shoot takes up a lot of space and thumb drives don’t have enough space, so you’ll need the external hard drive.


GRADING:

Each assignment will be graded for:
* Accuracy — Misspelled names and factual errors will result in a letter-grade deduction. Video and audio that give an inaccurate sense of time and place will also be graded down.

* Meeting of deadlines — Missed deadlines will result in letter-grade deductions and you will lose one letter grade for every day you miss.

* Substance — each piece of a package must be able to stand on its own as a piece of journalism — whether text, photos, audio or video. Each piece should complement the other.

* Organization — Regardless of the format, stories should be organized coherently.

* Quality — should improve over the course of the semester. Part of the learning process with shooting video and collecting audio is making mistakes in collection and editing. Still, don’t submit an audio slideshow that is missing the audio. Always shoot for excellence, not mediocrity.

* Creativity — is welcome, but it has to work. Multimedia journalism is exciting because if offers so many opportunities for experimentation. But, remember, we’re doing journalism here. There are very well-defined boundaries.


* Reporting —
remember that this is a reporting class and that the more reporting you do both research and interviews, the better your projects will be.

* Writing — oftentimes in this class, students forget about the importance of writing — whether it’s the text feature or the script for the audio. Don’t forget, good writing drives all.

* Time Management — you won’t be graded on this directly, but managing your time will matter. Remember, multimedia packages take time. I know you all have lots of demands on your time, so plan accordingly. Remember, for every one hour of video shot, you should allow for about 3 hours of editing time. Storyboarding is important in this class. When working in teams, lay out ahead of time who is going to do what, when. And, make sure you have a backup plan. Interviews fall through.

GRADE BREAKDOWNS:

A: 94 +

A-: 90-93

B+: 87-89

B: 83-86

B-: 80-82

C+: 77-79

C: 73-76

C-: 70-72

D+: 67-69

D: 60-66

F: 60 and under

TO RECAP:

* Associated Press print stylebook rules and rules of grammar should be followed on every assignment.

* Factual errors will result in full-letter grade deductions.

* No excuses, other than the hospitalization of the student or the death of a member of the student’s immediate family, will be accepted for late assignments.

* A full letter grade will be deducted for each day an assignment is late, except for the final project, which will receive an F if turned in after deadline.


CLASS RULES:

1. Grades. Don’t negotiate your grade. In an ideal world, there would be no grades. In this world, I don’t negotiate grades. Everyone starts at 0; everyone can finish with an ‘A.’ Your grade is what you earn. I don’t want to hear why you need a B or an A. I don’t want you to tell me why you deserve a higher grade. And, I know you all compare grades, but I don’t want questions about why Bill or Sally received a higher grade.

2. Stay in touch. If you need to get in touch with me, email me. If it’s an emergency and you need an immediate response, call me. Or – you can come to my office! Conversations in the hallway, brief 5-minute visits will help, trust me. When you email me, use common sense. E-mails may not count as part of your grade, but they count as part of your overall personality. Remember that inappropriately informal and/or unprofessional emails leave indelible marks.

3. Class Behavior. Don’t IM, Gchat, text, tweet, ping, friend or update your Facebook page during class. We are all adults. Please do not make me ask why your keyboard is clicking when a guest speaker is talking. The first time, you lose points. The second time, I’ll ask you to leave class and come back the next week.

4. Electronics. When you enter class, turn off your cell phone and all electronic accessories. No rings. No exceptions. Every semester I have to ask someone to leave class for electronic abuse. Don’t be that student.

5. Assignments. Don’t ask to make up missed assignments. If you know you’ll miss a class with an announced assignment, you may be able to do the assignment early. Otherwise, if you miss class, you miss the assignment. Assigned readings should be completed by the start of class Monday. So, yes, read ahead.

6. No extensions. Deadlines are non-negotiable. If I have to adjust a due date, I will let you know (and any adjustment would be to your advantage). Otherwise, you know exactly when an assignment is due. If you get sick the weekend before your package is due, or if your best friend is having a crisis, the deadlines do not change, and if you miss one, you lose the points specified. Aside from your hospitalization or a death in your immediate family, there are no exceptions. Plan ahead.

7. Duh. Don’t ever, ever, ever make the argument that you actually would have had a higher grade if you had not have lost so many points for misspelled words or factual errors. I hope this is self-explanatory.

8. ** Attendance. Attendance is mandatory. You have a financial investment in this class and I should not have take attendance at this point in your academic careers, but I will. After two unexcused absences, you will lose 5 percent of the points in your final grade; after four unexcused absences, 10 percent; after six unexcused absences, 20 percent, after eight unexcused absences, 40 percent.

9.  Plagiarism. Students should be aware that suspect assignments (e.g., those with changes in voice and style; those missing significant attribution; those with quote that don’t match the reporting) may be submitted to Turnitin by the instructor for the purpose of checking for possible plagiarism. Submitted assignments will be included in the UMass Amherst dedicated database of assignments at Turnitin and will be used solely for the purpose of checking for possible plagiarism during the grading process during this term and in the future. Students must provide an electronic copy of their assignment to the instructor for submission to the service when plagiarism is suspected, in order to receive a grade on the assignment and to avoid possible sanctions.

10. Contacting Me:  I’m frequently on e-mail, but if you e-mail me with a question, you may not get an immediate response.  I receive many e-mails and I try to respond every day but if you send me an e-mail at midnight, don’t expect an answer until the following day.  Also, I do not discuss grades via e-mail.  If you have a question about a grade, come talk to me in person.  Google provides a gchat option as well.  I usually turn off the option during school hours and at night.  This can be an easy way of getting a quick question answered but remember that you want to remain professional — so no informal queries at midnight.



Standards, Ethics and Academic Integrity:

The University of Massachusetts has an Academic Honesty Policy, which we follow in this class.

Journalism students are expected to adhere to the strictest journalistic and academic standards.

For this class, you must do all work yourself, without collaboration with classmates or others, except for when I assign team projects. Along with certain rights, students also have the responsibility to behave honorably in an academic environment.

Academic dishonesty, including cheating, fabrication, facilitating academic dishonesty and plagiarism (including use of unauthorized photos, graphics or text from the Web) will not be tolerated. Mindy McAdams provides a good outline at her Against Plagiarism in Journalism Web site.

Any abridgement of academic integrity standards will be referred directly to the department director.

If you have a question about plagiarism, ask.


MORE ON DEADLINES:
Answers.com gives some interesting definitions/background on deadlines:

Deadline: Due date, latest time for the completion of a negotiation, project, service, or product. The failure to meet a deadline has negative consequences, such as loss of business, lack of credibility, and penalty charges. Origin: 1864

It began as a real line, drawn in the dirt or marked by a fence or rail, restricting prisoners in Civil War camps. They were warned, “If you cross this line, you’re dead.” To make dead sure this important boundary was not overlooked, guards and prisoners soon were calling it by its own bluntly descriptive name, the dead line. An 1864 congressional report explains the usage in one camp: “A railing around the inside of the stockade, and about twenty feet from it, constitutes the ‘dead line,’ beyond which the prisoners are not allowed to pass.”

Nothing could be more emphatic than dead line to designate a limit, so we Americans happily applied the term to other situations with strict boundaries. For example, the storyteller O. Henry wrote in 1909 about crossing “the dead line of good behavior.” But it was the newspaper business that made deadline more than just a historical curiosity. To have the latest news and still get a newspaper printed and distributed on time requires strict time limits for those who write it. Yet many are the excuses for writers to go beyond their allotted time: writers’ block, writers’ perfectionism, or just plain procrastination. (Perhaps the writer is a deadbeat (1863)–another dead word invented by Americans during the Civil War.) Seeking the strongest possible language to counter these temptations, editors set deadlines, with the implication that “Your story is dead–You are dead–if you go beyond this time to finish it.”

Our urgent twentieth century has made such deadlines essential not just for reporters and other writers but in every kind of activity; there are deadlines for finishing a job or assignment, for entering a contest, for ransoming hostages, or for buying a product at the special sale price.

SO, TO RECAP:

For our purposes, All deadlines are hard deadlines.

If you miss a deadline, you lose one full letter grade.

Late assignments will be reduced by one full letter grade for each day late.

Unless otherwise specified, please follow Associated Press style for all assignments.

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