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COURSE NUMBER: CMNA 395
COURSE TITLE: Introduction to Journalism
NAME OF INSTRUCTOR: Brent Wittmeier
CREDIT WEIGHT AND WEEKLY TIME DISTRIBUTION: credits 3(hrs lect 3 - hrs sem 0 - hrs lab 3)
COURSE DESCRIPTION: This is an applied writing course about news journalism in a variety of media, its function as business, art, and public service, and how the character of "The News" changes with new technology and social media. It examines what is included and excluded from "The News" and the impact of those choices on news consumers. Interviewing, journalistic ethics, liability, writing news stories and opinion pieces, and critical reflection on the role of "The News" in society will all be introduced. Media professionals in news-related careers will present. Students will contribute to the King's student newspaper.

Prerequisites: ENGL 215

Students who do not posses the prerequisite may have it waived upon demonstration of writing competence.
REQUIRED TEXTS: William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction.
MARK DISTRIBUTION IN PERCENT:
Course Participation 12%
Out-of-class writing Assignments (12) 48%
Election story assignment15%
Final exam25%
100%
COURSE OBJECTIVES:On successful completion of the course, students will be able to:
  • Exercise news judgment: identify suitable topics for news stories.
  • Craft basic news stories: write accurately, cleanly and on deadline.
  • Think about the news: understand the ethical dilemmas facing journalists.
  • Differentiate between sources: find news that’s accurate and well-reported.
  • Understand the economics: articulate problems facing contemporary journalism.
COURSE OUTLINE:
  • WEEK 1: Intro and Overview
    • Introduction to course; discussion of course goals.
    • The cris-otunity of journalism
  • WEEK 2: Basic building blocks
    • News judgement; understanding hard and soft news. 
    • Basic inverted-pyramid news stories; Developing story ideas
  • WEEK 3: Putting Blackie in the lede; Ending on a high point
    • Hard and soft ledes. Nut grafs and kickers
    • Interviews; Other writing tips
  • WEEK 4: Middles and Endings
    • LEDE QUIZ
  • WEEK 5: Writing and Rewriting; Interviews
    • Editing down a story. Intro to CP style.
    • How to cover a public meeting (election, town hall, meeting)
  • WEEK 6: Elections, Meetings and Speeches
    • Covering politics
    • Guest speaker
  • WEEK 7: Beats and crime
    • Same-day story post-mortem. Crime and Punishment. How to avoid getting sued.
  • WEEK 8: Digging deeper
    • Citizen journalism: FOIP; investigative journalism
    • Guest speaker
  • WEEK 9: Feature writing
    • Finding feature subjects. Transitions. Profiles, obituaries
    • Guest speaker
  • WEEK 10: The art of the pitch to publishers, pitching ideas to journalists
    • Freelancing. The wonderful world of public relations
    • Guest speaker
  • WEEK 11: Other ways of making journalism pay
    • Alternative business models
    • Guest speaker
  • WEEK 12 – Your two cents
    • Opinion-writing and blogging. Covering religion.
    • Guest speaker
  • WEEK 13: Broadcasting
    • Writing for TV and radio
    • Guest speaker


Required texts, assignments, and grade distributions may vary from one offering of this course to the next. Please consult the course instructor for up to date details.

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