J216 Writing for Media Syllabus

Clackamas Community College

J216 – Writing for Media

Instructor: Melissa Jones
Email: melissaj@clackamas.edu

Fall 2015                                                                    Phone: 503-594-3261

MW 10-11:50                                                                        Office: RR 132

4 credits                                                                     Office Hrs: MWF noon – 1

Streeter 143                                                              and by appt.


Materials:           Weekly reading assignments are posted clackamasjournalism.com


Required:              USB thumb drive (2 GB or more)


digital audio recorder, digital camera, computer, headphones

Inside Reporting, by Tim Harrower. McGraw Hill, 2nd or 3rd Ed.



Course Description: This class introduces students to the fundamentals of writing for media including journalism, public relations and other communications-related fields. Topics include news gathering, interviewing and media law, with an emphasis on writing new for print, broadcast, the web and social media. We will discuss the challenges and responsibilities of a free press in a democracy, and ultimately, become a part of it, as each student will create a blog and have the opportunity to publish stories in the Clackamas Print, the college’s student newspaper.


The primary objective of this class is to publish good stories and art by YOU. Your stories will be posted on your blog as well as shared with The Clackamas Print, the student newspaper/website at the college. This work will help you build a portfolio, which is the culmination of this class.


While the focus of this class will be writing news stories, we’ll also work on multimedia elements you can add to your blog and your portfolio, including digital photography and audio pieces. You’ll also look at press releases, report news via social media and practice story telling with images.


Course Requirements

Final Grades will be determined from the following:


10% Participation/Attendance/In-Class Assignments

10% Weekly in-class reading questions

60% Stories

10% E-Portfolio, including LinkedIn profile, story pitch and blog

10% Final (In class)


If you have three or more stories/photos/work published in The Clackamas Print or online at http://www.theClackamasPrint.com during the fall term, you are excused from the final exam.


Grading: Grades are based on percentage of total points possible:

90% or more = A.   80-89 = B.     70-79 = C.     60-69 = D.     59 and below = F.

Borderline grades can be influenced by participation, improvement and effort.


Expectations: Attendance is mandatory. I expect everyone to show up to class prepared and ready to engage in conversation. All students are expected to follow Clackamas’s guidelines for acceptable student conduct. Please let me know ahead of time if you know you’re going to be absent.


Plagiarism: Plagiarism is the act of stealing ideas, passages, or writings of others and using them as one’s own, without acknowledgment or documentation. In journalism, telling the truth is one of the most important elements of the work. Intentional plagiarism on will result disciplinary measures. Similarly, fabricated sources, stories, quotes or anecdotes in an article will result in disciplinary action – most likely an “F” in the course. Language and ideas should be your own or credit should be cited. If you’re confused on attribution, talk to me about it.


Learning disability? If you are identified as having a disability, and if you require specific instructional accommodations, please notify me during the first week of the term. Questions? Problems? Conflicts? See me, call me, email me, talk to me.


Required stories:

You’re required to write and post at least four stories. They will range from news stories to a profile or Q/A. Further information will be given in class.


Your news stories may include the following:

  • News Story 1
  • News Story 2: Profile/Q&A
  • News Story 3
  • News Story 4


Students must turn in all four stories to have a shot at earning an A in the course.


Stories will be graded on these criteria:

  • An effective and compelling lead
  • A “nut graf” that tells the reader “why this story matters”
  • Research/reporting (including multiple sources), content and organization; clarity and creativity of writing
  • Online links
  • You can earn bonus points when you ensure that a photo accompanies your story.


NOTE: This course does not include writing stories about your family and friends, your boss or co-workers, or the groups to which you belong, such as campus clubs. Should this occur, your story grade may be reduced at least one letter grade, and possibly to zero, in which case you will have to report and write a different story. Keep in mind potential conflicts of interest!


Revising Stories – To improve your grade, you are encouraged to edit and revise your stories throughout the term. Re-submit your stories for a higher grade, even if they already have been published. One of the most important lessons of this course is the process of journalism, which puts a premium on revising work for print as well as online.


Deadlines Matter! – You will be given deadlines for turning in each of your stories. Failure to turn in stories on the specified dates may result in a reduction of at least one letter grade on your story. Extensions on deadlines must be discussed with the instructor IN ADVANCE to avoid this penalty. Stories must be posted on the day they are due!


Online Blog – Students will create their own blog, where they will post their news stories. In addition to adding various components to your blog (personal biography, blogroll, archives), you are encouraged to post other writing and commentaries as well. WordPress is recommended.


Portfolio – Your final assignment will be to complete your portfolio, including updating your online profile on LinkedIn.com, writing an email story pitch and highlighting your best stories or “clips” on your blog.


Twitter – We will use Twitter during the term to keep up with current events, learn about things going on in the world of journalism and let people know about the news stories you are writing or working on in class. Go ahead and sign up for an account on Twitter.com during the first week. Then start following those who can expand your knowledge of journalism.


If you have three or more stories/photos/work published in The Clackamas Print or online at http://www.theClackamasPrint.com during the fall term, you are excused from the final exam.

 This schedule is subject to change.


Date: Read for this class: Due this day:

1.   Mon. Sept. 28



   Wed. Sept. 30


2. Mon. Oct. 5


See the website


     Wed. Oct. 7


Story 1 due

3. Mon. Oct. 12

See the website

     Wed. Oct. 14

4.   Mon. Oct. 19


See the website


     Wed. Oct. 21

Story 2 due

5.   Mon. Oct. 26


See the website

     Wed. Oct. 28


6.   Mon. Nov. 2


See the website


     Wed. Nov. 4

7.   Mon. Nov. 9

See the website

Story 3 due

     Wed. Nov. 11


8.   Mon. Nov. 16


See the website



     Wed. Nov. 18


9.   Mon. Nov. 23


See the website


     Wed. Nov. 25


Story 4 due

10. Mon. Nov. 30


See the website


       Wed. Dec. 2

Portfolio due


   Mon. Dec. 7

     10 a.m. to noon




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