This subject provides an introduction to journalism and professional writing as both a set of skills and an evolving set of professional practices. At a practical level it focuses on developing fundamental skills in identifying and researching simple written and visual stories. Students are introduced to a range of interviewing and news gathering techniques. Students will learn to produce short written stories, photo portraits and simple video stories. They will look at a range of news content and learn to aggregate and repurpose traditional news content for different audiences. Students will apply these new skills through the production of a simple news blog which focuses on university life. These practical skills will be complemented by a theoretical investigation of the role of journalism in society and the emergence of new hybrid forms of professional storytelling.
Subject Objectives/Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this subject, students will be able to:
- Identify and evaluate some key issues currently shaping the future of journalism
- produce simple written stories in news and feature style
- take engaging photographs
- Conduct a basic news gathering journalistic interview
- Be able to produce a simple news blog
- produce and edit a simple video interview story
- Articulate and justify their decision-making processes in the development of professional journalism products.
- Articualte their future ambitions as a journalist or media worker
Attendance and online participation
This course is taught in alternating online and face to face modules. This provides opportunities for
- personal face to face contact between students and staff;
- guided self-directed learning and online resources; and
- support from colleagues and tutors.
Research has shown that this type of course design is very effective, because it provides multiple opportunities and different ways of engaging with course content and with one another. However it depends on your active participation.
You are expected to attend all scheduled face to face classes. Your active and constructive presence in class and your contribution to online discussions on moodle and through the class Facebook group makes an important contribution to your education as well as that of your peers. Failure to meet attendance requirements as set out below may significantly diminish your mark, and possibly lead to failure.
If you don’t attend at least 80% of all scheduled face to face classes and make designated contributions to online discussions, you risk possible failure in the subject. Roll books will be maintained in class and the learning mnagment system will provide a record of your contributions to the online tasks. Arrival 10 minutes late at class may be deemed an absence. Similarly, students who leave a class early without a satisfactory explanation will be regarded as having been absent from that class and roll books marked accordingly.
Early departure in order to attend another class or an employment commitment does not constitute a satisfactory explanation. Absences incurred by a timetable clash with another subject or by employment commitments do not represent legitimate reasons for absence.
Should your attendance fall below 60% (fewer than 8 classes of 12) owing to unforeseen circumstances or a serious medical condition, you should apply for a withdrawal without academic penalty on compassionate grounds. A passing grade cannot be awarded in these circumstances.
It is your responsibility to advise the subject coordinator or tutor of the reasons for any absence from a class. Although we will do our best to help you catch up if you have a legitimate reason for missing class it is not the responsibility of the teacher to provide remedial instruction to those who have not attended classes.
Assessment deadlines are important in all subjects. Meeting a deadline is an important professional skill that you will have to learn as you enter the world of work and is particularly important in media and journalism where publications run to daily, weekly, monthly or even hourly dealings. So don’t turn in late assignments.
Late submissions will result in a lower grade.
If you submit an assignment within three days of the deadline it will be marked at a maximum of a pass grade (64%). Any assignments submitted more than three days after the deadline will count towards your must attempt requirements but will not be allocated any marks.
If you have a serious medical reason for a late assignment you must submit a formal academic consideration request through SOLS at least 24 hours before the assignment deadline. Please also, as a matter of courtesy, email or talk to your tutor.
Keep up with the reading. You have quite a few chapters, modules, discussion postings, and e-mail messages to read for the class. Please allocate regular time each week to complete the necessary readings, reflections and writing tasks. Students who keep up with the reading tend to do much better in this kind of class than those who do not. This is not the sort of subject you can pass by putting in a super heroic effort in the final weeks. It requires regular consistent work.
Don’t miss a quiz. Missed quizzes may not be retaken.
Work with others. You are required to make every effort to work effectively and promptly with others in your groups. Many of the assignments and class activities will require you to work with classmates, be generous with your time and contribution. You will learn a lot yourself through helping your colleagues or reviewing their work. Journalism and media work is always a collaborative enterprise and you will be always working with your colleagues, sources, audience, editors and publishers in your professional life, so focus on learning good interactive and team skills while you are at University. However, you are personally responsible for your own work. If in doubt regarding collaboration on a graded assignment, immediately ask for clarification from the instructor.
The maximum mark for a student who fails to satisfy the above attendance and participation requirements is 49% (Technical Fail).
Facebook and email communications
All key communications in this course will be posted on the subject Facebook group and the subject Moodle site. You are expected to join the Facebook group and encouraged to ask questions, post articles and resources of interest and use the site to network with fellow students and problem solve for each other. If you are not a regular Facebook user you may set up an account and have the daily posts relayed to you via email. Insturctions on how to do this will be posted on the moodle site. The regular annoucnements posted on the Facebook group will be an integral part of this course. Make sure you:
- Check the Facebook group or your e-mail at least twice per week (everyday is better).
- Be courteous and considerate. Being honest and expressing yourself freely is very important but being considerate of others online is just as important as in the classroom.
- Make every effort to be clear. Online communication lacks the nonverbal cues that fill in much of the meaning in face-to-face communication.
- Do not use all caps. This makes the message very hard to read and is considered “shouting.” Check spelling, grammar, and punctuation
- You can ask simple questions of clarification to the whole class via Facebook and you are encouraged to answer each other’s questions
- If you have a detailed or personal question you may email your tutor
- When emailing Include “Subject” headings: use something that is descriptive and refer to a particular assignment or topic.
- Break up large blocks of text into paragraphs and use a space between paragraphs.
- Sign your e-mail messages with your full name and student number
- Never assume that your e-mail can be read by no one except yourself; others may be able to read or access your mail. Never send or keep anything that you would not mind seeing on the evening news.
- Be patient. Don’t expect an immediate response when you send a message. We will try to get back to you as quickly as possible but two days is considered reasonable amount of time to receive a reply.
- Note: Review the Netiquette and Viruses section below
Many of the “rules of the road” or protocols that apply to e-mail also apply to the use of discussions. Use the following conventions when composing a discussion posting:
- During a Discussion assignment, deadlines for posting to and replying will be specified with each assignment. It is a good practice to always check the Discussions multiple times during the week.
- If you want to send a personal message to the instructor or to another student, use e-mail rather than the discussions (see above E-mail Protocols).
- Use the appropriate Discussion Topic; don’t post everything on the “Main” Discussion Topic.
- Be patient. Don’t expect an immediate response when you send a message.
- Everyone should feel free to participate in class and online discussions. Regular and meaningful discussion postings constitute a substantial portion of your grade.
- Respect each other’s ideas, feelings and experience.
- Be courteous and considerate. It is important to be honest and to express yourself freely, but being considerate of others is just as important and expected online, as it is in the classroom.
- Explore disagreements and support assertions with data and evidence.
- “Subject” headings: use something that is descriptive and refer to a particular assignment or discussion topic when applicable. Some assignments will specify the subject heading.
- Use the “reply” button rather than the “compose” button if you are replying to someone else’s posting.
- Do not use postings such as “I agree,” “I don’t know either,” “Who cares,” or “ditto.” They do not add to the discussion, take up space on the Discussions, and will not be counted for assignment credit.
- Avoid posting large blocks of text. If you must, break them into paragraphs and use a space between paragraphs.
- Use the Technical Discussion topic for assistance with technical issues. Use the Help Discussion topic for questions about course material or assignments. There will be specific discussion topics for particular discussions – pay close attention to the assignment, and post appropriately.
Note: Review the Netiquette, Viruses and Technical Resources sections below.
“Netiquette” has evolved to aid us in infusing our electronic communications with some of these missing behavioral pieces. “Emoticons” and other tools have become popular and I encourage their use when it will add to the clarity of your communication.
- happy, pleased
- sad, displeased
- :-O surprised
- >:-| angry
Abbreviate when possible. Examples:
- LOL laugh out loud, “I find this funny”
- ROFL rolling on floor laughing, really funny
- BTW by the way
- *grin* smiling
- IMHO in my humble opinion
- FYI for your info
- Flame antagonistic criticism
Netiquette continues to evolve and I am sure that we will have constant additions to this growing language. The important thing to remember is that all of the “cute” symbols in the world cannot replace your careful choice of words and “tone” in your communication.
You can learn more about Netiquette and electronic communication by visiting Learning Online.
A virus can spell disaster. Your use of a reputable anti-virus program is a requirement for participation in this course (good ones include McAfee or Norton).
Also, back up your files: “My hard drive crashed.” “My modem doesn’t work.” “My printer is out of ink.” These are today’s equivalents of “My dog ate my homework.” And these events really do occur and they are really inconvenient when they do. However, these are not valid excuses for failing to get your work in on time.
For specific problems in any of the areas below or for further information go to the corresponding link for assistance.
- UOW homepage will help find UOW resources
- UOW ITS Support – for issues with your online account or technical difficulties you can also call the Service Desk at 429 2000