JR101- Section 3: Syllabus

JR101 — Section 3: Introduction to Journalism

Tuesdays/Thursdays   2pm-3:45pm

Ansin Building/Room 503

Teacher:  Karla Vallance




“Explore the role of news in U.S. history, from its beginnings in the American Revolution to today’s world of ‘all news all the time.’ Gain tools to analyze and understand how print, broadcast and online news organizations have evolved. Examine parallels between issues raised by the explosion of online news and earlier periods in journalistic evolution. Explore issues confronting the contemporary journalist by learning how news has evolved. Study the First Amendment and address ethical dilemmas faced by those practicing journalism.”


We are going to plunge into the world of journalism. From the historical underpinnings that will give you crucial context, to exploration of how a newsroom works, to the sometimes soul-searing ethical dilemmas that you may one day face — we will try to survey them all, and give you a solid journalistic foundation to build on. We will also peer closely at the turbulent state of journalism today, as it morphs before our very eyes. What will your role be? Come to JR101 to dive into the discussion.


  • Learn what news is and how it evolved to where it is today. Examine where it might be going
  • Learn key points in US journalism history and how that history affects you today
  • Find out about today’s journalistic principles and practices, learn how they got that way – and put them into practice yourself
  • To have you immerse yourself in news, and in good journalism in particular, so you will be able to consider yourself fairly well-informed
  • To learn fundamentals of reporting and key elements of news
  • Learn about journalistic ethics
  • Learn about how the First Amendment grounds daily journalistic work, and the crucial relationship between the media and the government
  • Learn the role and limits of news coverage in modern democracies
  • Learn about story angles, sources, and the rules of today’s journalism that you need to learn to live by: filing on deadline, how to handle a source who requests confidentiality or anonymity, regulations and laws that affect journalists, media business practices, ethical concerns, etc.


  • By interactive discussion: this is a lecture-discussion course; you are expected to take part in the class discussion of journalistic principles and concepts and of current events and how they’ve been handled by the news media
  • By closely reading the textbook
  • By reading, watching and listening to news
  • By regular, focused blogging
  • By field trips to Boston-area newsrooms to see how they work
  • By hearing from — and talking with — industry professionals


  • Textbook (see below)
  • One of the two Boston daily newspapers, either in hard copy or online or both. Plan to read one of the two EVERY DAY
  • One of the national newspapers — the New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, the Wall Street Journal or USA Today. Either in hard copy or online, plan to read it EVERY DAY
  • Watch or listen to a TV or radio news program every day. You will be asked to pick one, whether it’s public radio news, commercial newsradio, a local TV news program or a national TV news program. Plan to pick one and follow it closely
  • I will also ask you to read or watch stories that are published or aired during the semester that will enrich what we’re covering. I expect you to read those before the next class


Journalism: Who, What, When, Where, Why by James Glen Stovall

You can buy it at Barnes & Noble on campus, online or even at several online retailers of used books.

YOUR BLOG: (with special thanks to Michelle Johnson)

Nearly one-third of your grade will be determined by the quality of the blog that you will be expected to write at least once a week.

You will choose a reporter, and track him or her for the entire fall semester.

You must read or watch or listen (depending on if they are a print/online reporter or a TV reporter or a radio reporter) to everything they do. Get familiar with their beat — what they cover — with their style, and with the kinds of stories they do.

Do that for the first six weeks. Study. Watch. Learn. Absorb what they do.

Only then will you start your regular posting. During those first six weeks, you will also need to be thinking of what to call your blog and how you might write and produce it.

There’s one more thing you will need to do: you must contact your chosen reporter early in the semester and ask for an interview, which will need to take place near the end of the semester. Your final piece on the blog will be a profile of the reporter you’ve been studying and following.


•    Attending class; that is not optional. Just as will be expected of you in the work world, you are expected to be in class each week, on time. If you are ill or must miss a class for some other reason, please email or call me BEFORE class – all my contact information at the top of the syllabus, and on the class blog. You will be responsible for completing work assigned during your excused absence. Multiple unexcused absences will affect your final grade. If you miss more than three classes, you will not receive credit for this course.

•    Participation in class discussion. Don’t just expect me to lecture.

•    Keeping on top of news and current events: you will need this in order to take part in class discussions and to do well on any homework that may be assigned during the semester. Mid-term and final questions will include news questions.

•    You will need to create a WordPress blog and sign up for a NewsU account.

•    While in class, there will be no talking, texting, game-playing or other unrelated activity on mobile devices, no text messaging, game-playing or other unrelated computer/online activity. Yes, I will be expecting your full engagement.

•    Any written assignments should be sent to me via email with a time-stamp at or before the due date/time.

  • And yes, future journalists, you are expected to spell correctly and get your grammar right. This is not optional.


  • Class participation/homework: 20%
  • Blog 30%
  • Mid-term 20%
  • Final exam 30%


90-100 = A

79-89 = B

68-78 = C

77 + below = D

  • Class participation/homework: how engaged are you in the classroom discussion? Is it obvious that you have read the assigned readings in the textbook? How often do you ask questions or share insights or probe more deeply into a topic we’re discussing? With homework, is it accurate, concise yet thorough, well-written and thoughtful?
  • Blog: needs to cover the journalistic basics (who, what, when, where, why and how) in a lively, yet authoritative manner. Same spelling and grammar rules apply. And know this now: you *must* secure an in-person interview with your reporter, so get in touch with that person early in the semester. Blog entries can vary in length, but must be AT LEAST weekly, starting the week of Oct. 26. To get a good grade, it must be clear that you have completely familiarized yourself with the reporter’s work and beat and style. Part of the grade also will cover how you create the blog: the thought put into naming it, the writing of the headlines, the writing of the entries, any multimedia that you decide to include.
  • Mid-term: will cover knowledge of news events during the first half of the semester and how they were covered, the textbook reading assignments, other assigned readings, classroom discussions, guest speakers and homework assignments.
  • Final: will most likely cover knowledge of news events during the second half of the semester and how they were covered, some material from the entire semester, with emphasis on material covered since the mid-term: the textbook reading assignments, other assigned readings, classroom discussions, guest speakers and homework assignments.

A Special Note on Plagiarism and Cheating

(Excerpted from the Academic Policy Committee and approved by the Faculty Assembly, May, 1983, and updated and approved by Faculty Assembly, October, 2005):

“Plagiarism is the use of the words and ideas of another as if they were one’s own and without acknowledgment of their source. Plagiarism is stealing, and constitutes a serious offense against any ethical code, be it scholastic, artistic, or professional. Plagiarism can be committed intentionally, or it can happen inadvertently, due to careless note-taking, or to a lack of knowledge of the conventions by which sources are credited, or even because of a misunderstanding of what constitutes original thinking. Plagiarism is unethical in any context.”

(Excerpted from the Department of Journalism’s statement):

“There is nothing more central to the credibility of journalism and to the trust of readers, listeners and viewers than the implicit promise that every journalist makes to the public that the information provided is accurate, original and truthful. Journalists who fabricate stories or portions of them, or who steal the work of others and pass it off as their own, undermine not only their careers, but the careers of other journalists, the public’s trust in the Fourth Estate, and the credibility of the entire profession. This department will not tolerate plagiarism, fabrication and/or cheating. If you have a question about attribution, ask.

Disability Statement:
If you believe that you have a disability that may warrant accommodations in this class, please register with the Disability Services Coordinator so that together you can work to develop methods of addressing needed accommodations for this course. To make an appointment, call x.7874.


Tuesday, Sept. 15 — Class 1

Introductions: why you’re here; your news diet

Thursday, Sept. 17 — Class 2

Setting up your blog

Tuesday, Sept. 22 — Class 3

TOPIC: What is news? What is journalism?

DUE: Decide on media you will follow this semester

DUE: Have taken NewsU.org course, ‘News Sense: the Building Blocks of News

ASSIGNMENT: Read Stovall through p. 11

Thursday, Sept. 24 — Class 4

Stovall, Chap. 1

News & society: why does news matter? What is its impact?

Tuesday, Sept. 29 — Class 5

Stovall, Chap. 2

Culture of Journalism — Stovall, Chap. 2: what are journalists like, really? What does it take to be a good one? What is expected of you, what will get you fired, what people think of us — and why

Thursday, Oct. 1 — Class 6


Tuesday, Oct. 6 — Class 7

History of journalism:

Thursday, Oct. 8 — Class 8

Tuesday, Oct. 13 — Class 9

History of journalism: Invention of printing press thru the American Revolution

Thursday, Oct. 15 — Class 10

History of journalism: French Revolution to electronic broadcasting

Tuesday, Oct. 20 — Class 11

History of journalism: the Internet. Blogging.

Thursday, Oct. 22 — Class 12

Tuesday, Oct. 27 — Class 13

DUE: Blogging begins

Thursday, Oct. 29 — Class 14


Tuesday, Nov. 3 — Class 15

Thursday, Nov. 5 — Class 16

Tuesday, Nov. 10 — NO CLASS

Thursday, Nov. 12 — Class 17

Tuesday, Nov. 17 — Class 18

Thursday, Nov. 19 — Class 19

Tuesday, Nov. 24 — Class 20


Tuesday, Dec. 1 — Class 21

Thursday, Dec. 3 — Class 22

Tuesday, Dec. 8 — Class 23

Thursday, Dec. 10 — Class 24

Tuesday, Dec. 15 — Class 25

DUE: Blog post of the interview with your reporter

Thursday, Dec. 17 — Class 26




Introduction: amazing time in journalism field; why are you here. What is journalism? What is news?
Historical foundations and evolution of the media world:
Print: Newspapers, magazines (history of newspapers)
Electronic: Telegraph, radio, TV
Media: who are the players?
Interactivity: the end of mass communication?
Media convergence
Media & technology impact on life today
Inter-media comparisons: –how news, goals, services, delivery, format, etc. differs between newspapers, magazines, radio, television, news websites, blogs, podcasts, online video
Journalism & democracy
First Amendment: free speech & fairness
The international scene: US & non-US approaches to news  (Outfoxed)
Good journalism: dissect some examples (Edward R. Murrow, find Pulitzer winners) “The best news stories connect the dots.”
Fundamentals of reporting
International reporting (Yr of Living Dangerously, Live from Baghdad)
Fundamentals of editing
The media business : consolidation & globalization; the major players; the role of competition
Sources: access, regulations, traditions
Rules of the journalistic profession–secrecy, privacy, defamation, the press conference, etc.
Public relations and the news media
Manipulation of the media (Moyers program)
Journalistic ethics (Jayson Blair film)
Citizen journalism (http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2006/09/digging_deeperyour_guide_to_ci.html)
The future of journalism


  1. September 13, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Many thanks, However I am encountering problems with your RSS.

    I don’t understand the reason why I can’t subscribe to it.
    Is there anyone else getting similar RSS problems?
    Anybody who knows the solution can you kindly respond?

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: