Syllabus Fall 2021

 

Introduction to Journalism

Syllabus Fall 2021

MCA  233-4PR-28707

Online via Zoom Join Zoom Meeting

https://ccny.zoom.us/j/88074818546

Professor Barbara Nevins Taylor

917 678 6069

barbaranevinstaylor@mac.com

bnevinstaylor@ccny.cuny.edu      ConsumerMojo.com

@consumermojo

This syllabus by Barbara Nevins Taylor is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0

COURSE DESCRIPTION

The NBC Universal News Group chose The City College of New York and the Colin Powell School to participate in a program it calls NBCU. We hope it will benefit students in this and our other journalism classes.

NBCU will offer on-campus training and education and online programming. NBC journalists will talk to our classes and we expect that students will have the opportunity to apply for NBC fellowships.

Beyond this exciting partnership, we share a mission with journalists in New York City, throughout the U.S. and the world to report and tell stories that have meaning and impact. This is a difficult time for all journalists and it’s important to remember the challenges that we face.

Screen shot Clarissa Ward

In Afghanistan, during the summer of 2021, international journalists faced increasing danger from the Taliban as they rolled through the country into Kabul.

Afghan media workers, especially women, are under threat and the International Federation of Journalists has called on G-7 world leaders to protect them.

From the Philippines to Russia, Venezuela to Myanmar where a military coup essentially criminalized independent journalism, journalists face danger and still struggle do their jobs.

Here at home in the U.S. the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker found that so far in 2021, 120 journalists have been assaulted. This includes a parent attacking a journalist at a Michigan school board meeting.  Twenty-nine had their equipment damaged, 54 were arrested while covering stories and 15 news organizations were subpoenaed. In 2021, the Trump administration secretly obtained phone records of journalists.

What does all of this say? Many continue to pursue careers as journalists and to fulfill the mission enshrined in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution to inform the public and hold the powerful to account.

Journalists began 2021 covering the last gasps of election deniers. Then on January 6, an armed invasion of the U.S. Capitol by white supremacists, conspiracy theorists and neo-Nazis, put members of the Washington press corps in danger along with senators and representatives.

Outside the Capitol, January 6, 2021. Photo by TapTheForwardAssist Creative Commons License. Courtesy Wikimedia.

But journalists on the scene had to report about the events of the day and tell it straight. That’s hard, but most understand the need to take a step back and try to report as objectively as we can. So many things seem personal.

Now our country appears to be at an exciting inflection point.

Inflection point by Wolfgang Dvorak. Creative Commons License

The coronavirus upended the way we live our lives, took family, friends, and neighbors from us, and highlighted racial and economic inequities. The murder of George Floyd showed us the cruelty of systemic racism and indifference to human life.

George Floyd Mural in Soho
George Floyd Mural in Soho, Photo by ConsumerMojo.com

George Floyd Mural in Soho, Photo by ConsumerMojo.com

The Presidency of Donald Trump showed us that he, and some others we entrust with our votes, lie and think we will believe whatever they say if they say it loudly and repeat it over and over again.

Yet the chaos and heartbreak we have experienced sparked movements for change in racial justice, healthcare access, the way we treat our environment, and our economic safety net.

Where does journalism fit in here? Are you asking that question?

Journalism is at the center of it all. It is at the heartbeat of our nation and the world.  Journalists report on what is going on around them and provide the context. They give readers, viewers, and listeners the information to make informed decisions. That’s the point of journalism and that’s what you will learn and practice in this class.

This course aims to give you a theoretical and practical understanding of what it takes to become a journalist and the importance of journalism to democracy.

The digital revolution transformed the way we consume and deliver news, but the important principles of reporting remain the same. Every day, we see that journalism comes in many forms and appears on different platforms, from traditional print newspapers and magazines, to online sites that offer broad content or specialize in niche information, to social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. Local TV news and network broadcasts continue to use traditional formats but also use social platforms. Podcasts and public radio have become go-to sources of information for millions. And like a surprise in a stack of Russian dolls, you’ll also find carefully reported news stories within the noise of some cable TV news programs.

Serious journalists who work for serious news outlets continue to share the age-old principles of journalism. Whether we report about politics, events of the day, culture, sports, or entertainment, we share the same goals. Our curiosity drives us. We carefully observe situations and people and record or make note of what we see. We analyze, synthesize, and lay out the facts to provide information. We tell the truth.

Police Chief Terrence Monihan Takes a Knee With Protestors
Police Chief Terrence Monihan Takes a Knee With Protestors. Screen shot.

At this challenging time in our country’s history, we need accurate reporting and talented journalists willing to dig deep, write, record, shoot, produce and give unbiased context to what happens in our communities, the nation and the world.  Here in New York and elsewhere, we need committed journalists willing to go into our neighborhoods and report at ground level about what’s going on now. That’s what you’ll do for your class assignments.

We use HarlemView as our platform to post social justice stories about our communities.

In this class, you’ll learn how to write using the active voice to give your stories energy and power. You’ll learn how to identify what makes news, find, report and follow stories and gather information to craft into stories that can appear on multiple platforms.

Get ready to follow your curiosity, roll up your sleeves, put on your running shoes and practice journalism. Please make sure that you always wear a mask and maintain at least a six-foot separation between you and anyone you interview.

We use award-winning HarlemView as our platform to post social justice stories about our community and the best class work is posted there. The best of the best is often picked up by Dateline CUNY, the website that publishes work from all the CUNY colleges.

All of our classes will be on Zoom. I created a recurring meeting so that we can all use the link at the top of the syllabus. I’ll probably remind you and send it out before class. This is an Open Educational Resources class and that means you will not have to purchase a textbook. All of the class material will be posted on our class website: CCNY Introduction to Journalism-Truth Matters.

I also hope that you’ll write for The Campus and share your work with the class and The Paper.

*This is a journalism class and I am a news person and that means we follow the news. The syllabus can change to reflect what’s happening on campus, in our communities, the nation and the world.

Course Learning Outcomes

This course will help you learn:

How to work ethically to find the truth, pursue accuracy, fairness and diversity, and report strong news stories.

How to use your analytic skills to determine what makes a news story.

How to think creatively, independently, and critically about local and world events.

How to gather information, synthesize complicated details, and craft a succinct, logical story with a beginning, middle and end.

How to write stories of 300 to 500 words for print, digital and other platforms.

How to gather information using photographs, video and audio effectively.

How to use math and statistics to provide context.

How to understand the changes in the media industry and what they mean for journalists and news consumers.

How to meet deadlines.

Required Reading

Download the AP app. It’s free. You must keep up with current events and the news. This will help you do it. Th

Get a free subscription to The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal by using your CUNY email.  Read the NY Daily News online. Watch TV news, local and national. Try PBS NewsHour. Watch Vice. Look at Mic.com. Listen to the radio. Try WNYC FM 93.9 in the morning. Use a news aggregator like Google News, Yahoo, Apple News, Gothamist, or Facebook Trending.

Use Twitter. Add news sources, elected officials and newsmakers to your Twitter feed. Associated Press @AP, @Reuters, @Bloomberg, @NYT, @WashingtonPost, @theroot, @fusiontv
Look for mainstream and diverse sources that offer different points of view. They can keep you up-to-date and engaged in the news.

Book to Read:

The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. You do not need to buy this book. I donated at least 11 copies to the City College Library and you can borrow it.

Articles and links:

I will post articles, links, and essays for you to read regularly on the class website and will include questions about the stories in the quizzes.

Writing Assignments

You will have at least three reporting and writing assignments that we’ll peg to what’s happening in the city, country and the world. You have the option to report and write more for extra credit. The best stories from the class will appear on HarlemView, our journalism website.

Attendance

Our class meets once a week. We have a lot of ground to cover and that means you need to come to class and show up on time.

Two unexpected absences will mean you get a lower grade. If you must miss a class, email or text me in advance.

If you miss more than four classes, we’ll ask you to withdraw from the course. Please don’t do this.

Three instances of lateness will count as one unexcused absence.

Please get into the excitement of journalism and come to class on time.

Grading

Assignments: 30 percent

Class participation and news quizzes: 20 percent

Midterm exam: 20 percent

Final grammar exam: 10 percent

Final writing, photography, video or audio project: 20 percent

Class Conduct

Please put away your digital devices and other distractions. We need your full attention. Multi-tasking and concentration don’t mix.

Journalism requires collaboration. We depend upon one another in newsrooms, in the field and in the classroom, and we need to play nice.

Students will present their work in class for review and we want to provide positive feedback that helps them move their work forward.

Analyze the work before you speak up and then offer constructive criticism. Try to start with something positive and then explain your criticism.

Please use a word processor and double space your assignments.

Assignments

I’d like to keep you close to the news and our assignments may vary depending upon what happens in the news cycle. The assignments listed on the syllabus are likely to change.

I’ll edit your work so that you can improve week by week and you’ll be expected to rewrite and submit several drafts, if necessary. I will not grade your early work because you will get better and better as you continue to write.

Class Calendar

***This may change as we move through the semester.

Week One

Thursday,  August 26

Getting to know you. Introduction to class. What makes journalism.

Objectivity and Bias. What’s the difference between opinion and news or facts.

What the United States Constitution guarantees and what journalists need to know to fulfill their mission.

How much do you know about your government?

How you can follow developments and report about what’s going on.

Homework:

Read, watch and listen to the news.

Check the AP app. It will help you with the weekly news quiz.

Start to read The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Write a 300-word essay to answer the following questions:

Who am I?

Where am I from?

Where am I going?

Include a selfie or photo to illustrate your About Me.

Deadline: Tuesday, August 31 at 5 p.m.

Find out and write down the names of your city council member, assembly member, state senator, mayor, county executive, U.S. senators, U.S. representative, the police commissioner.

Find out the number of New York City council members and U.S. representatives to Congress. How many representatives does New York State have? New York City?

Bring the information to class.

Week Two

Thursday, September 2

Where does news come from?

Anatomy of a news story. The basic elements and how we construct stories. The Who, What, When, Where, Why and How of Journalism. How to incorporate that in your story.

What’s a news angle?

How do you check facts?

How do you find reliable sources for your stories?

How can you follow developments to learn what’s going on?

How to distill information quickly. My quick and dirty guide.

Writing workshop. We’ll review grammar and review active writing. Active writing exercises. How do we write numbers, time, addresses, quotes?

Homework:

Read, watch and listen to the news.

 Week Three 

Thursday, September 9

News Quiz including questions about (Did you read the book?)The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor.

Ethics and copyright. Creative Commons licenses and how you find information, photos, video and music that you can legally and ethically use in your own work.

What’s a news angle?

How do you check facts?

How do you find reliable sources for your stories?

How can you follow developments to learn what’s going on?

How to distill information quickly. My quick and dirty guide.

Writing for digital. What you need to know.

Writing workshop. We’ll review grammar and begin to understand active writing. Active writing exercises. How do we write numbers, time, addresses, quotes?

Using the Associated Press Stylebook

History informs journalism. We look at White supremacism, historical anti-Asian bias and extremist groups.

Guest Speaker: TBA

Homework:

Read, watch and listen to the news. Work on rewrite of your story.

There may be a reporting and writing assignment that follows the news cycle.

Week Four

Thursday, Thursday September 16    No class

Week Five

Thursday, September 23

News Quiz

Guest speaker: Hanna’ Tameez, Staff Writer, Neiman Journalism Lab, reporter covering Latin America.

The art of the interview. How to conduct an interview with the President of the United States, a grieving mother, a celebrity, a child, and anyone else. We look at examples in the news.

Homework:

Read the story or stories provided.

*The subject of this assignment may change.

Write a 300-500 word story about COVID’s effect on a neighborhood, church, school, family or business. Base the story on interviews with at least three people. Please make sure that you wear a mask and maintain at least a six-foot distance between you and anyone you interview.

Week Six

Thursday, September 30

News Quiz

History informs journalism. We look at White supremacism, historical anti-Asian bias and extremist groups.

Telling stories with images. How to make every story better with photos and video.

Guest instructor.

Homework:

Read, watch and listen to the news.

Read the story or stories provided.

There may be a reporting and writing assignment that follows the news cycle.

The difference between PR and news. We re-write a press release.

Using social media to find stories and sources. Class exercise.

Homework:

Read, watch and listen to the news.

Read the story or stories provided.

There may be a reporting and writing assignment that follows the news cycle.

Week Seven

Thursday,  October 7

News Quiz

Visual journalism using photography and video to tell stories.

Guest lecturer

Week Eight

Thursday, October 14

News Quiz

Using data and visualization to add to your stories.

How to find data. How to create charts, graphs and graphics that tell a story.

Guest Speaker TBA

Homework:

Read, watch and listen to the news.

Read the story or stories provided.

There may be a reporting and writing assignment that follows the news cycle.

Week Nine

Thursday,  October 21

News Quiz

Covering your local government. Where do you begin?

We tune in to a news conference and cover it as reporters.

Let’s discuss.

Guest Speaker TBA

Homework:

Read, watch and listen to the news.

Write 300 to 500 words about the news conference. Your report is due at 5 p.m. October 26

We need at least one photo.

Week Ten

ThursdayOctober 28

News Quiz

Why you should get in the habit of reading the obituary pages.

Election Watch: Covering the New York City mayor’s race and city council races.  

Homework:

Read, watch and listen to the news.

Pick a candidate either for mayor or city council. Follow a news conference the person holds and interview at least three people about the candidate. 

Deadline: The story is due Tuesday November 3, at 5 p.m.

 Week Eleven

Thursday, November 4

News Quiz

Covering a story that’s important to you.

How do you find information to make it a broad story?

How to write a story pitch. Who looks at the pitch in a newsroom and who gives you approval to report a story?

Homework:

Read, watch and listen to the news.

Write a pitch for the story you want to cover. If I give you the go-ahead, you might want to begin reporting. Please make sure that you wear a mask and maintain at least a six-foot distance between you and anyone you interview.

Deadline: The pitch is due Tuesday, November 9, at 5 p.m.

Week Twelve

Thursday, November 11

News Quiz

Review of your pitches.

Solving problems in research and writing.

Deep dives in research. How to find if a building has housing code violations, or if a company has a record of safety breaches, or what the statistics are in your police precinct.

Guest Speaker TBA

Homework:

Report and write your story. Please make sure that you wear a mask and maintain at least a six-foot distance between you and anyone you interview.

 Week Thirteen

Thursday, November 18

News Quiz

Covering the arts in New York. How do you cover arts and culture like a reporter rather than a fan?

Guest Speaker.

Writing workshop

Homework:

Read, watch and listen to the news.

Report and write your story. Please make sure that you wear a mask and maintain at least a six-foot distance between you and anyone you interview.

Deadline: First draft of your story is due November 23 at 5 p.m. 

Week FourteenThanksgiving Break November 25 to November 28

Week Fifteen

Thursday, December 2

News Quiz

Review of stories.

Advocacy journalism and when it works for the public good.

Guest Speaker

Writing workshop

Homework:

Read, watch and listen to the news.

Work on your stories. Please make sure that you wear a mask and maintain at least a six-foot distance between you and anyone you interview.

News Quiz

Week Sixteen

December 9

Last Class

News quiz

Review of stories

Class readings

Where we go from here.

Virtual pizza.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 International License.

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