Syllabus for Spring 2012 #J361 with Suzi and Jen

J361/Reporting 1 (#J361 on Twitter)

Instructors: Jennifer Schwartz and Suzi Steffen

Emails: jschwar1 at uoregon dot edu and ssteffen at uoregon dot edu

Office: UO Annex, Suite 3 Office Hours: 9:30-10:30 F & by appt.

For Suzi: Twitter  and Text: (in class)

Times: Spring Quarter 2012 • Mondays/Wednesdays at 10 a.m.

Places: Room 100 Agate Hall; the UO campus; Eugene; KEZI; the internet; online chats; online newscasts; online research; podcasts; etc.

Purpose: Our purpose is to perform acts of journalism on many platforms — and to improve that journalism as the term goes on. We follow the tenets of good journalism, understanding the differences between news and features, using shoe leather and face to face interactions, spreading our stories through social media, telling stories with reporting and research and revision.

Required texts and materials:

  • Inside Reporting by Tim Harrower (either edition is fine)
  • 2008-9 Best Newspaper Writing (Aly Colón, ed.; 2006-2007 & 2007-2008 also OK)
  • The Associated Press Stylebook (you can buy a book, or there’s an iPhone/Touch/iPad app for $27.99)
  • News sources about Oregon: Register Guard, Daily Emerald, Oregonian
  • “On the Media,” on the radio at 550 & 1600 AM, 8 pm Mondays; also available as podcast from iTunes, usually on Sunday afternoons & at
  • Other daily news sources (Christian Science Monitor, LA Times, NY Times, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, Sydney Morning Herald, Guardian, International Herald-Tribune, Le Monde, etc.)
  • Political blogs, newspapers and/or magazines (from many sides of the spectrum)
  • Science, arts and other specialized blogs
  • Online and print general news magazines (Slate, Salon, Newsweek, Time, Atlantic Monthly, New Yorker, etc..)
  • Twitter account, from which you’ll follow each other, industry professionals and Suzi
  • WordPress account and an ability to post to the class blog
  • A journal, probably a 3-ring binder – see assignment sheet

1. Attendance is required, as in all J-school classes.* You must be on time; quizzes usually begin at 10 a.m., and several students have missed enough quizzes to affect their grades. Missed lab assignments cannot be made up. Under exceptional circumstances (a death in the family or serious personal illness), we may give an additional assignment to supplement coursework – but you must email us both at least an hour ahead of time. Class is not optional. Skipping class for a family reunion or wedding; for a UO or Blazers game; for flying to Texas to see your boyfriend is just that: skipping. Your choices affect your grade, but they’re YOUR choices, and you’re an adult, so you get to make them and deal with what comes from them. That’s not a threat. We’re just saying that it’s OK to make your own choices, and we will respond appropriately.

*Obviously, if you have the flu or any kind of fever, this requirement is more like “staying home is required.” Please do not come to campus and infect other people if you are ill! Email us BEFORE class for a chance for an excused absence.

2.    The course calendar is full of good intentions, but it might need to be revised based on what happens as the term goes on, We’ll talk about it in class, and you should watch your email for updates from Jen, and watch Suzi’s Twitter feed like a hawk (we’d suggest getting the @reporting1suzi posts as texts to your phone, if you have a good plan). We welcome your ideas and am willing to adapt based on what happens to journalism as class goes on.

3.    This class is fun, and this class is extremely demanding. Again, you’re adults, and your behavior is up to you … and in addition, your behavior will help determine your grade. As a friend who’s also an instructor says, get out of your own way. Schedule your time; read the syllabus; check your email and Twitter; be professional; don’t whine; don’t expect special treatment; treat your classmates and professors with respect; use the internet appropriately during class time. Texting, chatting, Facebooking and other enjoyable/useful tools MAY BE appropriate, but they usually are not during class, so be extremely careful with the lovely technological tools in front of you and in your hands/pockets.

4. Plagiarism — including copying of anything from the internet without attribution and appropriate quotation/paraphrasing — can get you an F in the class and, if it’s bad, kicked out of school, so don’t do it. Be careful. ALWAYS ATTRIBUTE AND LINK.

5.. Keep in touch! That will be fairly easy while Twitter is working (it has its iffy moments). Emailing Jen Schwartz is the best way to get in touch with her. Texting Suzi or direct messaging her on Twitter is the best way to get in touch with her (but not between 10:30 p.m. & 6:30 a.m.). Finally, you could use her email address. You should feel absolutely free to email, text or tweet with questions you have no way to answer on your own. Be sure to get in touch with us early and often, not at the last minute!

Course Objectives


This course will introduce you to the basics of writing and reporting, grounded in community and framed by democratic principles.

You’ll find that journalistic writing is similar in some important ways to the kind of writing you’ve been doing in other courses. For example, your ideas must be well-organized and clearly presented; your words must be spelled correctly, and your sentences must be punctuated properly.

But you’ll also find that newswriting differs in important ways from essays you’ve written for other classes. For example, in writing news, you can’t underline words for emphasis, and you rarely get to use exclamation points! And no, you don’t need a thesis statement, but you’d better be ready with a nut graf or an establishing section.

We’re focusing on multimedia as well as the basics of reporting this term. You’ll need the online presence and skills to help you get a job in journalism. Still, this is a writing class, and your job is to learn how to write news across multiple platforms. Our job is to make sure you know how to do that properly so that you leave for internships prepared.

We will not let you get away with errors in spelling (especially proper names), grammar, or AP Style.

You cannot do a decent job of reporting or writing news if you do not read it. So read online and in print and on your mobile!

The current event quizzes keep coming, every other Wednesday. Listen to NPR’s “On the Media;” read the R-G, the Oregonian and the NYT (esp the World News section of the NYT); look at CNN and Yahoo News – and you’ll probably do OK on those quizzes.

THE JOURNAL: Get yourself a 3-ring binder, and start a journal to record your impressions/analysis about what you’re learning from your journalism reading – what you like, what you find interesting, what you promise to change as you join the professional world. See the assignment sheet for more detail.

You will learn to recognize and despise the comma splice, the misplaced modifier and overwrought prose. We’re pretty intent upon making sure you clean up your writing. You might want to find a copy-editing buddy in the class; it’s hard to catch your own mistakes. Hint: READ YOUR STORIES OUT LOUD.

To do well, you’ll need to be willing to sacrifice family/friend time, going-out time and hang out time in order to get your work done in an intelligent and interesting fashion.

You have to take care of yourself, and a big part of that is advance planning and time management so that those big assignments don’t kick your ass. There’s a big assignment due at the end of the term, one that will take much of the term to complete, so start getting reading for this assignment and its time constraints early on.

You need to be ready to travel within the area — you will be part of a group that is assigned to cover a neighborhood in Eugene — and devote time to this class no matter what else you’re doing. If you’re not ready, let someone else have your spot, please.

That said, let’s enjoy. The classroom is a community for learning and a place for you to hone your chosen craft. The world of journalism is changing faster than we can know, but we’ll do our best to help prepare you, and we know that you’ll do your best to bring your ideas as well. We look forward to active collaboration with you!

WARNING: Know that we are fairly laid-back, approachable people, but we are the ones giving grades, and we can be hard graders. We expect a lot from you, and you’ll get a lot in return.

Short Course Calendar (elaborated during class)

Week          Date                                   The What

1                     April                                  Introductions; Chapter 1 (Harrower, 2nd ed.); digital media

2 & 4                                 AP Style and Usage Quiz on Wednesday

Other in-class assignments: Listen up!

2                     9 & 11                              Chapters 2 & 3 (Harrower)

Twitter 101; WordPress 102

Choose your neighborhood on Monday

Current events quiz on Wednesday.

                                                                        Neighborhood blogging begins with April 9


3                     16 & 18                           Chapters 3 (cont.) & 4 (Harrower)

AP Style and Usage Quiz on Wednesday

Journal due Wed, April 18

                                                                        Neighborhood blog post assignment

4                     23 & 25                           Chapter 5 (Harrower)

                                                                        Current events quiz on Wednesday.

                                                                        Discussion of enterprise stories; preliminary work

                                                                        Neighborhood blog post assignment

                                                                        Twitter scavenger hunt

5                     April & May              Chapter 6 (Harrower)

                         30 & 2                              AP Style and Usage Quiz Wednesday               

                                                                        Neighborhood blog post.

                                                                        Enterprise pitch due over email May 4! Worth 5 of 75 points

6                     7 & 9                                 Midterm Wednesday, May 9,
                                                                        PROFILE ASSIGNMENT HANDED OUT

                                                           Neighborhood blog post will be on the Midterm

7                      14 & 16                           May 14: Meet at KEZI, 2975 Chad Drive. You are responsible for getting there by 10:30 a.m. Please plan to help your group members all get there on time as well.

Journal due Monday, May 14

Profile draft due Wednesday, May 16

                                                                        Neighborhood blog about profile

8                      21 & 23                           Dealing with interviews; dealing with sound

                                     Mp3 clip tentatively due May 25 (more details TK)
                                   Final profile due on blog Wednesday, May 23, with images
                                    Enterprise draft due May 27 by 11:59 p.m. OVER EMAIL

9               28 & 30                         One-on-one meetings about enterprise stories
                                                       Final journal due Wednesday, May 30

10             June
4 & 6                                 Reporting and writing time; more details TK


• Sprinkled throughout will be additional assignments during class and between classes.

• Enterprise packages due on or before our final class time, 10:15 a.m., Thursday, June 14.

Grading: This course has been designed to help you learn reporting and writing skills. It assumes you will improve mightily by the end of the term. Your final grade will reflect what you have accomplished by then. We want you to finish this course with a grade and a portfolio of stories that represent the very best work that you can do, not the goofy mistakes you made the first week or the lede you’d never write that way again.

We expect you to work hard in this course. In return, you will get feedback, ruthless editing and lots of enthusiasm from us.

Participation in class                                                  15 points

Blog (writing, links, tags, images)                  25 points

Twitter (professional, frequent use)                10 points

Journal                                                                                    50 points

Midterm                                                                                50 points

Quizzes (CE & AP)                                                     25 points

Profile                                                                                     50 points

Enterprise Story                                                              75 points (Pitch 5, draft 10, final 60)

Total:   300 points

Participation includes homework, attendance, helpful attitude in groups and in class discussions. Journal points will be awarded on a 15-20-15 split; writing assignments will be weighted more heavily as the quarter progresses.

Errors in facts, names and style are unacceptable. Beginning the third week of class, stories that contain such errors will be returned without comment or a grade. You are expected to follow AP Style in everything you write. No grade means a zero for that assignment.

A “C” grade is a normal grade for students who do all of the work in the class. An “A” grade is reserved for students who not only do all the work, show up to class, perform brilliantly on assignments and write smart journals but also whose work is publishable.

No, there is no extra credit in this class.

The Bottom Line:
100% = A+                93-99% = A    90-92 = A-
87-89 = B+                 83-86  = B         80-82  = B-
77-79  = C+               73-76  = C         70-72  = C-
65-69  = D                                    0-64 = F

Academic Integrity and Great Expectations:

We expect you to do your own work and to conform to high standards of academic integrity. We expect you to respect yourself enough that the idea of plagiarizing or cheating is ridiculous. Therefore, plagiarizing and/or cheating will not be tolerated. Students who do so will likely fail the course. Read Chapter 2 in the MLA Handbook immediately and review it often. The UO libraries offer an excellent primer on plagiarism here.

You should also familiarize yourself with the provisions of the UO Student Conduct Code about cheating at this link.


Classroom Protocol: We expect you to give us your full attention when we are speaking to the class; full attention may include your using Twitter to take notes for absent peers or for yourself, depending on who’s teaching that day. Turn your cell phone to vibrate even if you’re using it for a story that we’ve approved. Put down your smartphones, cells and iPads, and don’t turn on the classroom computer or your laptop unless we say it’s OK. Chew gum quietly. Don’t bring drinks or food near the computers.

No chatting, except when you are participating in a group discussion, which is pretty common. This extends to blogging and Twitter: Stay focused and appropriate. Remember: DO NOT POST ANYTHING TO TWITTER OR THE BLOG THAT YOU WOULDN’T WANT  YOUR PARENTS AND A BOSS (LIKE US, YOUR EDITORS/INSTRUCTORS) TO SEE.

When we have guest speakers, we might use Twitter to report about their presentations. You must not be on the computer or your cell if the guest speaker requests no Twittering. If your inattention, consistent tardiness, talking or other activities unrelated to the course are disruptive to us or to others, you will be instructed to leave the classroom, and 20 points will be deducted from your final grade. You will be required to meet with us and possibly with Julianne Newton to determine if you will be allowed to return.

For more information on University of Oregon policies regarding disruptive behavior, see this link.


Building and Maintaining a Diverse University Community

Discrimination of any kind, disrespect for others, and inequity in educational opportunity are not acceptable. In addition, the School of Journalism and Communication is committed to assisting students with disabilities. If you have a documented disability and anticipate needing accommodation, let us know. We encourage you to ask for assistance at any time.

The goal of building greater social, political, cultural, economic and intellectual diversity among our students, staff and faculty — as well as in our curriculum, public scholarship and communities — is central to the mission of the School of Journalism and Communication. Only by achieving this goal can we become professional communicators, critical thinkers and responsible citizens in a global society. In this course, we will study and learn from a world in which people’s experiences, identities, communication styles and viewpoints have been shaped by the history and culture of the communities in which they live.

The promotion and practice of freedom of expression and intellectual inquiry is an integral part of the School of Journalism and Communication’s long tradition of academic excellence, which is defined in part by a climate of respect for various points of view.

The School of Journalism and Communication welcomes inquiries and discussion on its policies and procedures. The SOJC web site,, offers a complete student resource guide as well as a directory of faculty and staff contacts for students with questions or comments on specific issues.

About Suzi Steffen

Suzi Steffen teaches, writes, edits, reviews and rides (her adult tricycle named Momo) in Eugene, Oregon. For many years, she taught as an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon's School of Journalism and Communication. As of fall 2015, she's teaching at Linn-Benton Community College, and as of fall 2017, she's also teaching at Wenatchee Valley College in Washington State. Suzi edited Lane Monthly and works as an arts journalist across the state and country. You can find her at jprofsuzi on Twitter or email her at jprofsuzi at gmail dot com.
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