Journalism & New Media II Spring 2018

Mass Communication and Communication Studies Department

Towson University

Class meeting time: M/W 9:30-12:10 in MC 110 (class starts on Wednesday, March 28. It is a 7-week course.)

Course description: Advanced skills in news writing, interviewing, reporting and editing required in print, broadcast and online journalism, and emerging new media formats. This course is a required continuation of MCOM 257, Journalism/New Media I. Students will learn to report, write and present news for all major media platforms used in contemporary journalism. Prerequisite: MCOM 257 –c or higher.(Towson University Undergraduate Catalog 2017-2018)

Jenny Atwater
Office: MC 204
Office Hours: M:12:30-2:30, Tu: 11-12, W/Th/F–by appt.

Email: | Office phone:  410-704-2004

objectives: This course is the foundation of your journalism education here at Towson University. Here, you will continue building on the basic skills of journalistic writing, reporting and editing that you will hone in later classes. The basic skills that a journalism student should master include:

  • Learn to conduct research and interviews for news and feature stories for all major media platforms and emerging news media formats.
  • Learn to create audio and video news packages
  • Learn to create nonlinear and visual news narratives
  • Learn to write in-depth news and features for print
  • Increase your understanding and skills in coming up with story ideas and collecting information through reporting. This includes source management (contacting sources, scheduling appointments and conducting interviews) and reporting (using sources such as experts, officials, everyday people, documents and other basic research to develop new information.)
  • Producing and editing multimedia such as photo slideshows, audio and video.
  • Producing and editing a basic WordPress blog.

assignments: To work on these skills, you’ll be expected to successfully complete the following assignments:

  • Keep a “reporter’s notebook” blog. You will publish news briefs and your longer stories to your blog. (5-12 points each)
  • Keep up your grammar/AP Style and current events knowledge with several quizzes. (3-5 points each)
  • Write a multimedia feature to practice your feature lead and in-depth reporting skills, along with basic photography. (11 points)
  • Create an audio story to practice your sound collection and audio storytelling skills.
  • Create and write a final project which will include producing and editing a multimedia story package.
  • Demonstrate accumulated knowledge of lead and story writing skills by passing a midterm and final exam (50 points each)

Expectations: Since this course is intended to teach you the basics of the business, it is also the appropriate place to begin practicing the professional standards that will be expected of you in the workplace. In the classroom, this means:

  1. Meeting deadlines without complaint.
  2. Attending and actively participating in all classroom meetings.
  3. Exhibiting professional behavior during class by refraining from: checking email, facebook or other websites during class;  making or receiving phone calls or text messages during class;  leaving class for water or bathroom breaks.
  4. all cell phones must be turned off and placed in your bag during the ENTIRE class. Each time I see your cell phone on your desk or in your hands, you will lose 2 points off your participation grade.
  5. Allocating an appropriate amount of time outside of the classroom for assignments, interviews, lab work, and consultations with the professor.
  6. Understanding that it is YOUR responsibility to turn in your work on time. I will NOT seek out missed assignments from you.

As your professor, you can expect that I will:

  1. Be fair in applying class policies, grading criteria, while adhering to industry values and standards. Every assignment will come back to you with an attached rubric that breaks down your points.
  2. Conduct useful discussions that will help you complete your assignments and provide some one-on-one feedback during lab time.
  3. Answer email promptly between business hours on business days (generally 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday).
  4. Post and keep office hours. (This is the appropriate time to discuss personal matters such as missed deadlines and class absences, questions regarding grading or missed coursework. This is also a good time to get my feedback on assignments you are working on before they are due. I am always happy to read and comment on rough drafts.)


The Associated Press Stylebook (For $20, consider an online subscription that will allow you access to a fully searchable style database.) (REQUIRED)

Inside Reporting by Tim Harrower (REQUIRED)


  • A portable hard drive. We will go over the proper hard drive to buy. The files we’ll be creating will be very large. It’s a good tool to have as you continue on at TU. (REQUIRED)
  • A computer (either at home or in a campus computer lab) with access to the Internet
  • A digital camera. You must have access to one.
  • NOTE: The MCCS Dept. has equipment available for checkout. In many cases I will recommend that you use the equipment we have available to you. This makes working with files easier as some recorders and video cameras create file types that are incompatible with our software.

Late assignments
This is a journalism course and you are expected to meet deadlines. Late assignments are not accepted. This includes classroom items such as quizzes. If you are more than 5 minutes late to class, you’ve missed a deadline if there is a quiz that day. You will NOT be able to make up exams without a valid excuse.

I expect you to attend class and be punctual. If you know you will be absent, it is your responsibility to do the following: 1) Email any homework to me before class starts. 2) Check with classmates and the course website to keep up to date on readings and assignments. 3) Meet with me during office hours should you have any questions. Attendance is part of your participation grade, which is worth 10 points of your grade. You are allowed one unexcused absence. Any more than one and you will lose all ten points.  If you are late to class (more than 5 minutes) you will lose 3 points off your participation grade for each three times that you are late. 


Students with Disabilities
This course is in compliance with Towson University policies for students with disabilities.  Students with disabilities are encouraged to register with Disability Support Services (DSS) 7720 York Road, Suite 232, 410/704-2638 (Voice or TDD) Students who suspect that they have a disability but do not have documentation are encouraged to contact DSS for advice on how to obtain appropriate evaluation.  A memo from DSS authorizing your accommodation is needed before any accommodation can be made. Here is a helpful link:

Student Athletes

Within the first two weeks of class, obtain a letter from your coach explaining your place on the team and a schedule of any away games or competitions during the semester. Make arrangements to  take any tests or prepare any assignments that conflict with this schedule before the test or due date, not after.

The best way to avoid plagiarism in this course: (1) Do your own, original reporting. (2) Write your own sentences. (3) Quote and attribute anything that you did not write yourself. (4) Get a head start on deadlines so you do not have to face temptation. (5) Do not try to recycle projects/stories from your other classes without prior permission from me. The university policy on academic integrity states it is a violation to submit “substantial portions of the same academic work (including oral reports) for credit more than once without authorization of the instructor(s). What constitutes a ‘substantial portion’ of the same work is determined soley by the university. Please familiarize yourself with the MCCS plagiarism policy. All cases of plagiarism will be handled according to this policy.

Legal Liability
In all assignments, students must comply with all laws and the legal rights of others (e.g., copyright, obscenity, privacy and defamation) and with all Towson University policies (e.g., academic dishonesty). Towson University is not liable or responsible for the content of any student assignments, regardless of where they are posted.

College of Fine Arts and Communication Civility Code

All COFAC students, staff, and faculty are expected to exhibit and practice civil behaviors that exemplify: (1) respecting faculty, staff, fellow students, guests, and all university property, policies, rules and regulations; (2) taking responsibility for one’s choices, actions and comments; (3) delivering correspondence – whether verbal, nonverbal, written, or electronic – with respectful language using professional writing standards and etiquette; and (4) accepting consequences of one’s choices and actions.
The use of offensive, threatening or abusive language, writing, or behavior will not be tolerated and can lead to academic dismissal. Further information about civility can be found in Appendix F of the university catalog.

TU Weapons Policy

Towson University prohibits students from bringing weapons to campus. Please click on the link above for more information.


There will be at least 150 points possible in this course, as follows:

  • Multimedia feature story: 11 points
  • Audio/video stories: 20 points
  • Final Project: 50 points
  • Midterm exam: 50 points
  • Style/grammar/current events quizzes: 4 to 5 points each, cumulative points to be determined
  • Blog entries: 5-12 points each, cumulative points to be determined
  • Participation: 10 points

Individual assignments will be graded on a rubric similar to this.

Letter grades will be assigned according to this scale:
94-100 A
90-93 A-
87-89 B+
84-86 B
80-83 B-
77-79 C+
70-76 C
60-69 D
0-59 F