J335: Intermediate Reporting SYLLABUS

J335: Intermediate Reporting

1:20-3:20 Tuesdays and Thursdays

Spring 2013

Vilas 2116


Prof. Sue Robinson

Office: 5148 Vilas Hall

Office/Cell: 608-287-6746 (no calls after 8:30 pm; best to text me)

Office Hours: By Appointment


Following J202, this class will provide you with a platform to practice the tools of the trade. The readings, lectures, discussions and assignments are meant to make you a more sophisticated reporter and to improve your writing and journalism production skills while providing you with a sense of purpose in journalism practice. This class is all about smart reporting and writing on deadline. It is about honing your critical thinking abilities. You will be developing your skills in pattern recognition, in finding the behind-the-obvious story, and in going beyond the superficial report. Journalism legalities, ethics and multimedia/interactive considerations will thread the entire course. We will talk specifically about reporting news in the digital era, such as thinking about journalism as a process as opposed to a product.

The class contains a mix of skill assignments, speakers, news coverage, event analysis and deadline as well as team reporting. Only one textbook is required: the Carole Rich Writing and Reporting for the News (2010, 6th edition) will provide a foundation for your journalistic practice. I also require regular reading of the local and national news as well as – of course – the Associated Press Stylebook. These will launch our discussions during the two-hour sessions we have each week. We will be reading and writing in class and out, including in the blog you began in J202. Other assignments will be given throughout the semester.

It’s going to be a ton of work. Indeed, much of this class is performed outside of class; dedicate a lot of time to your projects. This is a four-credit class, which means you should expect at least eight hours a week in outside work. PLAN ON THIS, PLEASE. I will promise you that when this course is all done, you’ll not only have some awesome clips, you’ll have learned to write and produce on a professional level really, really fast (if you put in the effort). You’ll be on your way to that Pulitzer. This is the best career in the world, and you have your whole futures ahead of you to make your mark in this profession, in this democracy. Let’s begin!


Required Texts:

Author: Carole Rich

Title: Writing and Reporting News: A Coaching Method (6th edition)

Year: 2010 (PLEASE NOTE THAT THERE IS A NEWER EDITION, BUT WE WILL USE THIS CHEAPER VERSION; A reserve copy is in the Journalism Reading Room)

ISBN: 978-0-495-56987-9

Publishers: Thomson Wadsworth

Associated Press Style Guide


(Can find it online for $12)

And also: THE NEWS. The very best way to become a fabulous, award-winning, difference-making, democracy-saving reporter is to READ JOURNALISM!! I recommend reading The New York Times or Wall Street Journal every day, as well as the local papers. Listen to NPR. Watch CNN or MSNBC. Do not limit your exposure to Jon Stewart or your Facebook page. You will be quizzed on the major news stories, national and local, of the week.


Server: afp://caan.journalism.wisc.edu/

Robinson Website: mediatrope.wordpress.com

Learn@UW: J335 Site

Sue on Twitter: suerobinsonUW (Please follow me so I may follow you)

Class Hashtag: #uwj335

Sue’s delicious: http://www.delicious.com/sjrobinson4

A Closed Facebook Group that you all create?

Grading: Your grade will be based on how well you write/produce, how thoroughly you report, how often you are in class, and how much you participate. The grade will be broken down as follows:

Production Assignments (65):

n    Daily Story I (7): This should be something simple and episodic: a meeting, an event, a festival. Examples of this might be a new report out, the cheese festival, or some other discrete happening. When I say “daily,” I really just mean a short-form news story. DO NOT TRY TO TACKLE SOME LARGE ISSUE FOR THIS. This assignment is reporting and writing a short, nonfiction story in journalistic fashion on deadline. Three human sources required (minimum).

  • Web Summary
  • One idea for multimedia
  • One idea for interactivity
  • Must tweet the event or other reporting.
  • Must have one blog entry off of it (or you may do a related interview Q&A for the blog post).
  • SEO headline

DUE 2/28

n    Election-Focused Daily Story II (8): This should be a quick hit off the municipal elections happening April 2, something that would run the day of the voting. Examples of this might be: Expectations of Voter Turnout; a Q/A with two candidates; a primer on the races; a campaign event story. When I say “daily,” I really just mean a short-form news story. DO NOT TRY TO TACKLE SOME LARGE ISSUE FOR THIS. This assignment is reporting and writing a short, nonfiction story in journalistic fashion on deadline. Three human sources required (minimum).

  • Web Summary
  • One idea for multimedia
  • One idea for interactivity
  • Must either do five tweets from a polling place the day of OR one blog entry
  • SEO headline

DUE 4/2

n    Feature Story (20): This will be a profile or issue that you will begin reporting and writing at the start of the semester and work on all semester long. I will require parts of this to be handed in throughout the semester:

  • Part I: The Story Proposal: Gist of idea, questions and background. Must have one blog entry and/or five crowdsourcing tweets associated with the idea. Must have a list of hashtags, key influencers and blogs on the topic in the proposal Due 2/5
  • Part II: The First Interview (Written in story form, with relevant quotes) and strategy going forward. Must have one blog post off the interview such as a Q/A. Due 2/21
  • Part III: The final story. FOUR human sources required (minimum). Must have primary sources and documentary evidence such as statistics. Must have one fabulous picture. Must have one blog post and FIVE tweets marketing your story to specific hashtags and key influencers.

Due 4/16

n    Collaborative SoundSlides (10): Working with one other student, a photo essay with audio, 1-1.5 minutes; one source minimum. One blog entry (per student) off the piece; five tweets. DUE 3/14

n    Collaborative Story Project (20): For this final project, you should pair up with 2 other people and work in a team around a single topic. Each project should have one feature text story with 6 sources, a radio version of the story, and one Alternative Story Form such as a SoundSlides, video, Google Fusion, or timeline. Every person must also do one blog entry and FIVE tweets around the project.

DUE 5/9






Your In-class Work: (35)

n  Quizzes (5): You will have SIX quizzes during the semester that will test you on the local and national news of the previous week, AP Style (you may use your book) and the readings. The lowest grade will be dropped.

n  Class Presentation (5): You will pair with one other person to discuss a Pulitzer-Prize winning story or package of your choosing. It can be from any year. You must tell us a week ahead which story so we can all read it. Then you will lead a 30-minute discussion about that package, talking specifically about the journalism – reporting, writing and production – associated with the piece as well as any ethical, legal or other issues that the piece may give rise to. This does not have to be a formal presentation but should be thought through. You can do exercises or games as part of the discussion; the goal is to engage the students in a lively discussion about the nitty-gritty journalism aspects of the piece (as opposed to a debate about the topic or issue the story is about).

n  Class Participation, Attendance and Professionalism (5): This is the grade that I will dock if you start missing classes or are caught on Facebook in class etc. You start out with an A and we go from there.

n  Deadline Writing In-Class Assignments (10)

  • Reaction Story
  • Breaking News
  • Profile
  • Press Conference (on the night of April 16, all the SJMC 335 students will be assigned to a press conference event hosted by 345 students; you are required to go to this event and will be graded both on attendance and your participation.)
  • Who We Are (A project with Isthmus)

Grading scale and standards

Every major project in this class can be rewritten for a new grade, as long as it meets the minimum requirements of the assignment. I will accept only one revision a week, so plan accordingly; if you hand in three revisions to me the last week of class, I will only grade one of them. If you elect not to rewrite, the original grade stands. I follow these general guidelines: An A represents a wonderful, publishable piece (I rarely, if ever, give out As in first drafts); a B represents a solid piece from a reporting and writing standpoint and may be publishable but needs some work (this can also include a story that is just boring and would have a hard time getting sold); a C represents a piece with good reporting, perhaps, but needs significant rewriting or re-reporting; a D represents a piece that contains significant issues with both reporting and writing, a lack of focus/point or news value, etc. An F means you did not meet one of the minimum requirements stated in the assignment. A dual grade such as AB or BC may be used when the quality of an assignment falls between the definitions of two letter grades. There is no reason you cannot revise until you receive an A for the assignment portion of this course. You may not rewrite or make-up in-class work.

All students are expected to demonstrate a good command of English grammar and spelling, and writing quality will be a factor in grades. If you are not fluent in English, you will be expected to visit the Writing Center before you hand in any assignments for proofreading. Poor language skills demonstrated in the articles will significantly affect your grade. Your copy should be as clean as anything you would turn into any editor. As explained above, the quality and quantity of your participation in this semester also is a significant factor in your grade, as is your attendance (please see below).

Academic honesty and dishonesty: Plagiarism and other forms of cheating

The following statement is from the online University of Wisconsin-Madison policy on academic dishonesty:

Academic honesty requires that the course work (drafts, reports, examinations, papers) a student presents to an instructor honestly and accurately indicates the student’s own academic efforts. UWS 14 is the chapter of the University of Wisconsin System Administrative code that regulates academic misconduct. UW-Madison implements the rules defined in UWS 14 through our own “Student Academic Misconduct Campus Procedures.” UWS 14.03 defines academic misconduct as follows:

Academic misconduct is an act in which a student:

* seeks to claim credit for the work or efforts of another without authorization or citation;

* uses unauthorized materials or fabricated data in any academic exercise;

* forges or falsifies academic documents or records;

* Intentionally impedes or damages the academic work of others;

* engages in conduct aimed at making false representation of a student’s academic performance;

* assists other students in any of these acts.

Examples include but are not limited to: cutting and pasting text from the web without quotation marks or proper citation; paraphrasing from the web without crediting the source; using notes or a programmable calculator in an exam when such use is not allowed; using another person’s ideas, words, or research and presenting it as one’s own by not properly crediting the originator; stealing examinations or course materials; changing or creating data in a lab experiment; altering a transcript; signing another person’s name to an attendance sheet; hiding a book knowing that another student needs it to prepare an assignment; collaboration that is contrary to the stated rules of the course, or tampering with a lab experiment or computer program of another student.

In this class, the penalty for academic dishonesty is failure of the class—not just the assignment, but the entire course. Any incident may also seriously jeopardize your standing in this program.

            ***As part of a broad range of educational tools used by SJMC to help ensure academic integrity, I am using Turnitin software. All of the written formal assignments must be submitted to turnitin.com as part of the submission process for work completed in this class. The Turnitin.com tool then compares the work from one student with a variety of sources, including (but not limited to) websites, publications, and a database of prior papers. Turnitin then provides the instructor with links to possible matches between the student’s paper and these other sources, along with a ‘similarity score.’ The instructor (not the software) then makes a complete assessment whether, or not, any form of academic misconduct may have occurred. All assignments are required to be submitted via both email to me as well as to the classroom drop box on Turnitin.com. Any assignment not submitted via both email and turnitin.com at the designated due date/time will be considered late. I will not read your stories until they are also uploaded to Turnitin, which must be done by deadline. Go to turnitin.com for STUDENT and enroll in a class.

Class/Section ID: 5964813

Enrollment password: j335sjmc


Attendance and missed work

A significant amount of material will be covered every week. In general, you may not make up the quizzes and in-classes that you miss. In addition, after two absences, I will start penalizing you. Regarding the material covered during the class(es) you miss, you must get notes from another student, and you are responsible for knowing that material. That said, I realize that sometimes absences are unpredictable and unavoidable. You do not need to tell me about your absence. I do request that you let me know if you will be arriving late or leaving early from class. In addition, if you find yourself experiencing some of the misfortunes that life sometimes throws at us (death in family, serious illness, personal crises, etc), please come talk to me.

Special needs

Any student who has a need for accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact me privately to discuss the specific situation as soon as possible.

Access to the instructor

I am available to see students by appointment, and you may reach me by phone or e-mail, listed above. If you email me, I should respond in some form by the following business day, assuming that I am not on academic-business travel and that the semester is still in progress.

Other Policies and Tips:

n  Every interview you do, every story you write is meant to serve as a building block for the next one. You may use any interview you have done from any story in this class in your new stories as long as you have not already used that information/quote.

n  You may share information with other people in the class, including quotes and facts. However, pieces of information must be exchanged with another piece of information. So, keep your classmates abreast of who you are interviewing in case they want you to throw in a question for them, but you must also get something out of this. Please let me know if a class member seems to be taking an awful lot, and not contributing in the spirit of the information exchange. YOU MUST CREDIT YOUR TEAM MEMBER AT THE BOTTOM OF YOUR STORY with the words “Mary Jones contributed to this report” or something like this – if you make use of this exchange policy.

n  Don’t be careless with facts, names or dates. A story with misspellings or other inaccuracies will never get above a C in this class and may result in a failing grade for the piece.

n  I have left time in some of our sessions for workshopping. Sometimes we will have in-class exercises; sometimes we will edit. However, always be prepared to work on one of your stories in these sessions. (In other words, bring a memory stick with your work for this class.)

Leave your cell phoning, emailing, Facebooking, Amazon-buying, text messaging and snoozing for outside this classroom pretty please. We can see you, and it’s rude. To help you be successful in resisting this temptation, I reserve the right to dock your grade every time I catch you. I am not bluffing.

n  Late papers get docked one letter grade for every day that passes, until I no longer accept the paper after five days. The clock starts ticking at the beginning of the class in which the paper is due. In other words, if class starts at 9 am, and you get me your paper at 10:30, the highest grade you will attain is a B.

n  When you produce photo essays or video, at least 75% of the material must be your original work. However, as much as 25% could be, for example, photos taken by other people. YOU MUST CREDIT ALL SOURCES APPROPRIATELY WITHIN THE WORK!! And you must abide by copyright law; in other words, you may not use more than 30 seconds of a song, for example, or download an image from the web without ensuring it is royalty free.

n  You are responsible for getting the material of any class you missed. Please do not email asking if you missed “anything important.”

n  I like emailed copies of your stories, as opposed to hard copies. I make copious comments on these stories, so please view them with “Track Changes” on.

n  Make sure you have a back-up of everything you hand in to me. This includes in-class work.

Paraphrasing information that you did not personally get or properly credit is considered plagiarism in this class. Fair warning: I fact-check some of your writing assignments, and so I ask for the contact information of all your sources. You must be able to produce all the information sources for your stories within 24 hours. I will hold your grade until you get me the source.

n  No anonymous sources will be allowed in this class. No exceptions.

n  No advocacy, public-relations or any non-journalism stories in this class. Concentrate instead on accurate, significant, balanced stories. You can always add spin after this class ends or take a strat-comm class.

n  No use of the first-person (I, we, me, us) is allowed in the stories for this class. No exceptions. You as either the reporter or the writer should not appear in the story at all.

n  EXTRA CREDIT: There will be several opportunities for extra credit throughout the semester, but I would especially love for you to try to get some of your pieces in this class published. If you do, let me know and I will give you some extra credit. We also have a number of journalism-related speakers that come to campus during the semester; I will also give you extra credit for going to these speakers and writing up a short (700-word) news article on the event (complete with multiple sources); in-class speakers do not count. Each student also has the opportunity of composing one Storify off of some current event at one time during the semester. Publication of sources earns you half a point each; a storify gives you half a point; an actual speech story with three sources would earn you 1 point. You may earn as many as TWO extra points to your final grade, but no more. I have found that even half a point is enough to bump someone from one grade to another.

n  Do feel free to come to me if you are having problems or you want to discuss stories. Earlier is always better. It is best to text or email me.



This should be fun. If it is not, it is not worth doing.

Come talk to me if you find yourself dreading your assignments. Choose story ideas, interviews, projects that make you excited, that inspire you.


If you are bored reporting and writing,

your readers will be as well.

Schedule (Subject to change)

Week One

Tuesday, Jan. 22: Introduction (What is Journalism; what are we doing here?)

HW due Jan. 24:

n  Why Twitter is Important: http://talentegg.ca/incubator/2011/02/10/why-every-student-and-new-grad-should-be-using-twitter/

n  Getting Started on Twitter: http://mindymcadams.com/tojou/2011/journalists-how-to-get-started-with-twitter/

n  User’s Guide: http://asne.org/article_view/articleid/1823/a-user-s-guide-to-twitter-for-asne-members.aspx

n  Seven Effective Twitter Tips: http://smedio.com/2010/03/22/seven-habits-of-highly-effective-tweets/

n  Blogging Tips for Journalist Job Hunters: http://ijnet.org/stories/five-tips-blogging-journalism-job-hunters

n  Jenna Goudreau of Forbes’ Top Ten Tips for Aspiring Journalists: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jennagoudreau/2012/11/09/top-10-tips-for-young-aspiring-journalists/

n  Jarvis’ Product v. Process journalism: The myth of perfection v. beta culture (check out the comments too!): http://buzzmachine.com/2009/06/07/processjournalism/

n  Five small steps to a more engaged audience: http://www.poynter.org/how-tos/digital-strategies/133987/5-small-steps-journalists-can-take-to-build-a-bigger-more-engaged-audience/

n  Beginner’s guide to SEO: http://www.seomoz.org/beginners-guide-to-seo

Thursday, Jan. 24: Journalism as Process: Your Blog, Your Twitter, Your Digital Life as well as your thoughts about stories today; Pitching stories; Detecting Online Bullsh*t

HW due Jan. 29:

n  Come up with a story idea for your Feature Story (be prepared to make a pitch to the class on Feb. 5)

n  Find a fabulous story that you will read the first 1-2 paragraphs of in class and explain why it makes for a fabulous story. Should be news.

n  What is plagiarism: http://journalism.library.wisc.edu/JRRAcademicIntegrity.pdf

n  McAdams on plagiarism: http://mindymcadams.com/tojou/2012/plagiarism-lessons-and-examples/ AND http://mindymcadams.com/tojou/2012/plagiarism-and-journalism-students/

n  Rich: Part One, pp. 3-70 (Changing Concepts of News, Blogs, the Basic News Story, Convergent Media Writing)

Week Two

Tuesday, Jan. 29: What is story? News values; Good Journalism Share; Plagiarism Quiz (Information that might keep you from getting fired – or kicked out of this program)

Thursday, Jan. 31: In-class Feature Story Pitch

HW due Feb. 5:

n  Rich: Chapters 8-10 (Leads and Nutgraphs, Story Organization, and Story Forms)

n  Do your Feature Story Proposal, including tweets and blog entry

Week Three

Tuesday, Feb. 5: Quiz 1; Leads and Nutgraphs

                      FEATURE STORY PART I (Story proposal; blog entry) DUE

Thursday, Feb. 7: Leads and Nutgraphs Workshop

HW due Feb. 12:

n  Rich: Part Two, Collecting Information, pp. 71-130 (Curiosity and Story Ideas, Sources and Online Research, and Interviewing Techniques)

n  Work on Feature Interview

Week Four

Tuesday, Feb. 12: QUIZ 2; Finding and Researching the Story; ACCURACY

Thursday, Feb. 14: Interviewing

HW due Feb. 19:

n  Rich: Chapter 20, pp. 377-392 (Speeches, News conference and Meetings)

n  Work on Feature Interview

Week Five

Tuesday, Feb. 19: Writing Workshop (Reaction Story)

Thursday, Feb. 21: QUIZ 3; Events, Speeches, Press Conferences, Meetings (Plus, local government reporting)

            FEATURE STORY PART II (First interview write-up and strategy) DUE

HW due Feb. 26:

n  Daily I Story

n  Rich: Chapters 10 and 11, pp. 161-222 (Story Organization, Story Forms, and Storytelling and Feature Techniques)

Week Six

Tuesday, Feb. 26: Story Structures; Writing for Story

Thursday, Feb. 28: Fact-Checking Workshop with your Dailies


HW due March 5:

n  Storyboarding: http://multimedia.journalism.berkeley.edu/tutorials/starttofinish/storyboarding/

n  Multimedia Storytelling article (see Learn@UW)

n  Video Tips and Resources (see learn@UW)

n  Revisit Al Tompkins’ Aim for the Heart you read in J202 (especially chapters on audio and visual journalism techniques)

Week Seven

Tuesday, March 5: Digital Concepts (Taking good audio, photos, video); Review Stories

Thursday, March 7: SoundSlides Pitch/Workshop

HW due March 12:

n  Rich: Chapter 23, pp. 443-472 (Disasters, Weather and Tragedies)

n  NYT’s Brian Stelter: http://thedeadline.tumblr.com/post/5904630983/what-i-learned-in-joplin

n  Work on SoundSlides

Week Eight

Tuesday, March 12: QUIZ 4; Breaking News (Disasters, Weather, Tragedies etc); “Parachuting” in as a journalist; Covering an election

Thursday, March 14: Writing Workshop (Deadline Writing)


HW dues March 19:

n  Rich: Chapter 18, pp. 335-356 (Profiles and Obituaries)

n  Think about Daily II possibilities

Week Nine

Tuesday, March 19: QUIZ 5; Profiles; Memorial Pieces

Thursday, March 21: Writing Workshop (Profile)

HW due April 2:

n  Do Daily II and work on the Feature (Don’t forget to blog!)

Week Ten

Tuesday, March 26: Spring Break

Thursday, March 28: Spring Break

HW due April 2:

n  Do Daily II and work on the Feature (Don’t forget to blog!)

n  Have TWO pitches ready for My Madison Day for April 4 Workshop

Week Eleven

Tuesday, April 2: Daily Two Workshop (Bring reporting notes/outline/as much copy as you have; story due at 3:20!)

Election-Focused DAILY TWO DUE

Thursday, April 4: “Who We Are” Workshop (Bring ideas!)

FRIDAY-SUNDAY: Who We Are (Isthmus)

HW due April 9:

n  Have the lead and nutgraph of your Feature story in my email box before noon Tuesday’s class so we can review them in a workshop

n  Work on Features

n  Rich: Chapter 21, pp. 393-412 (Government and Statistical Stories)


n  The News article is Breaking up: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-news-article-is-breaking-up-2011-6


n  The Twitter Story?: http://www.niemanlab.org/2011/06/is-twitter-writing-or-is-it-speech-why-we-need-a-new-paradigm-for-our-social-media-platforms/

n  Storify: http://www.poynter.org/how-tos/newsgathering-storytelling/153697/the-5-types-of-stories-that-make-good-storifys/

Week Twelve

Tuesday, April 9: Quiz 6; Alternative Story Forms; In-Class Storify; Your Feature Stories

Thursday, April 11: Covering the local city (Speaker: Andy Hall); Prep for Conference

HW due April 16:

n  Research Carrie Johnson; tweet out questions to @johnson_carrie

Week Thirteen

Tuesday, April 16: Carrie Johnson, NPR’s legal correspondent

** Press Conference At Night (Mandatory. Attendance will be taken)

                                    FEATURE STORY PART THREE (Full Story!!) DUE

HW due April 18:

n  Research Maryn McKenna; tweet out two questions @marynmck

Thursday, April 18: Maryn McKenna, blogger for Wired Magazine

** I will not be here this day; attendance will be taken.

HW due April 23:

n  Meet with team about class presentation

n  Rich: Part 4 Understanding Media Issues, pp. 289-334 (Media Law, Media Ethics, Multicultural Sensitivity)

n  Read Pulitzer assignment from group

Week Fourteen

Tuesday, April 23: Don’t Get Sued (Speaker Prof. Robert Drechsel); Team Meetings for Final Project

Thursday, April 25: Class Presentations I and II; Team Meetings for Final Project (if time)

HW due April 30:

n  Work on Final Project

n  Read Pulitzer assignment from group

Week Fifteen

Tuesday, April 30: Class Presentations III and IV; Team Meetings for Final Project (if time)

HW due May 2:

n  Read Pulitzer assignment from group

Thursday, May 2: Class Presentations V and VI; Team Meetings for Final Project (if time)

HW due May 7:

n  Work on Final Project

n  Read Pulitzer assignment from group

Week Sixteen

Tuesday, May 7: Class Presentations VII and VIII; Team Meetings for Final Project (if time)

HW due May 9:

n  Have a lead and nutgraph ready to workshop on May 9 (in my email before noon)

Thursday, May 9: Review Leads/Nutgraphs of Final stories; Evaluations



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