Skip to Content

Course : Media Writing and Reporting

Course Number
MCOM 1243
Section Number
201
Semester
Spring 2022
Location
Fain Fine Arts Center, D202
Days & Times
Final Exam Day/Time
Thursday, May 05, 2022 10:30 am - 12:30 pm

COURSE DESCRIPTION

Prerequisite: Cannot be enrolled concurrently with MCOM 3313.

A workshop course focusing on news reporting and writing techniques used in both traditional print media and Internet publishing. Students will be introduced to the basics of accuracy, clarity, word choice, journalistic style, story structure, and deadlines. Coverage of on-campus news events is supplemented by deadline writing exercises in a classroom laboratory.

Course Objectives

To introduce you to journalistic writing and principles of good journalism. Upon successful completion of this hybrid class you should be able:

1. To use an online educational environment (D2L/Brightspace) to accent learning in a classroom environment;

2. To apply a news sense to finding stories and sources;

3. To have the ability to write a news/feature story whether for a public relations entity, a marketing entity or a news media outlet for both print and online;

4. To apply social media skills to media writing;

5. To evaluate a news/feature story based on criteria established in class including, but not limited to, news value, readability, grammar, spelling and punctuation;

6. To know and apply Associated Press style to ensure consistency;

7. To possess the ability to conduct an interview and gather information;

8. To make decisions based on ethical, legal, technical and journalistic criteria;

9. To understand basics of covering general news, spot news, meetings and speeches; and

10. To work successfully under deadline pressure.


GRADING

40% Stories (eight possible)

40% In-class assignments (including participation, attendance, quizzes, other stories)

10% Mid-term exam online (March 3)

10% Final exam online (Thursday, May 5, 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.)


Notes

• I will not discuss grades in any fashion via electronic means. You must discuss grades in person or by videoconference.

• Stories are due with all drafts and notes from classmates at the end of lab.

• Late work receives a grade of zero.

• Any story submitted with a name misspelled in a final draft receives a grade of zero.

• You may not submit a story that has been (or will be) submitted in any other class unless you get my explicit, written permission.

• ANY story (and ALL stories) you write for this class should be considered publishable material and may be submitted to local news media, including MNG Media and The Wichitan, for publication. Hence, in ALL cases you should identify yourself as a reporter for MNG Media or The Wichitan. Make it clear that your story has a audience broader than just the instructor.

• Initial interviews must be conducted in person, by videoconference or telephone. Reporters may ask follow-up questions via e-mail, texting or social media.

• Avoid all perceived conflicts of interest. You may NOT write a story for which you could be a source. For example, if you are a football player, you may not write a story on the football team or using other football players/coaches as sources. You should NOT use MCOM students as sources except in very rare instances.  

• Review and follow the Society for Professional Journalists Code of Ethics available online at http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp.


Statements

As the instructor of record for this course, I reserve the right to change any part of this syllabus for any reason. The most current version of the syllabus will be maintained online. I reserve the right to drop — with an F — any students who have excessive absences, who miss assignments, who engage in disruptive behavior, have a poor attitude or who are not taking the class seriously.


Academic dishonesty

Academic honesty is expected of all students in all examinations, papers, classwork, academic transactions and records. The possible sanctions include, but are not limited to, appropriate grade penalties, course failure, loss of privileges, disqualification and/or dismissal.

Neither plagiarism, the use of someone else’s thoughts, words, ideas, or lines of argument in your own work without appropriate documentation, nor copyright violation in any form will be tolerated whether intentional or not. Both plagiarism and copyright violation involve the theft of intellectual property and will be considered not only a violation of the Student Honor Creed as well as University policy and applicable laws. To avoid any instances of plagiarism or copyright violation, credit the sources of all information appropriately and obtain written permission for the use of copyrighted works when necessary.

Fabrication and falsification are unacceptable. Falsification is the changing or omission of research results including misquoting a source. Fabrication is the construction and/or addition of data, observations, or characterizations that never occurred including making up quotations from real or fictional sources.

Cheating and collusion are also unacceptable. Cheating includes, but is not limited to: (1) use of any unauthorized assistance in taking quizzes, tests, or examinations; (2) dependence upon the aid of sources beyond those authorized by the instructor in writing papers, preparing reports, solving problems, or carrying out other assignments; or (3) the acquisition, without permission, of tests or other academic material belonging to a member of the university faculty or staff. The term “plagiarism” includes, but is not limited to, the use, by paraphrase or direct quotation, of the published or unpublished work of another person without full and clear acknowledgment. It also includes the unacknowledged use of materials prepared by another person or agency engaged in the selling of term papers or other academic materials. The term “collusion” means collaboration with another person in preparing work offered for credit of that collaboration is not authorized by the faculty.


Student Honor Creed

“As an MSU Student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else do so.”

As students at MSU, we recognize that any great society must be composed of empowered, responsible citizens. We also recognize universities play an important role in helping mold these responsible citizens. We believe students themselves play an important part in developing responsible citizenship by maintaining a community where integrity and honorable character are the norm, not the exception. Thus, We, the Students of Midwestern State University, resolve to uphold the honor of the University by affirming our commitment to complete academic honesty. We resolve not only to be honest but also to hold our peers accountable for complete honesty in all university matters. We consider it dishonest to ask for, give, or receive help in examinations or quizzes, to use any unauthorized material in examinations, or to present, as one’s own, work or ideas which are not entirely one’s own. We recognize that any instructor has the right to expect that all student work is honest, original work. We accept and acknowledge that responsibility for lying, cheating, stealing, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty fundamentally rests within each individual student. We expect of ourselves academic integrity, personal professionalism, and ethical character. We appreciate steps taken by University officials to protect the honor of the University against any who would disgrace the MSU student body by violating the spirit of this creed. 

Written and adopted by the 2002-2003 MSU Student Senate.


Student conduct

Classroom behavior that interferes with either the instructor’s ability to conduct the class or the ability of other students to profit from the instruction will result in the removal of that student from class. Such students may be referred to the appropriate university departments including, but not limited to, the University Police, Office of the Dean of Students, Vinson Health Center or the Counseling Center.


Title IX

Social justice is one of Midwestern State University’s stated core values. The professor considers this classroom to be a place where everyone will be treated with respect as a human being — regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political beliefs, age, or ability. Additionally, diversity of thought is appreciated and encouraged, provided you can agree to disagree. It is the professor’s expectation that ALL students consider the classroom a safe environment.

MSU officials strive to create and actively promote a welcoming and supportive environment in order to recruit, hire, retain, and support a culturally diverse faculty, staff, and student body. Midwestern State University officials are committed to providing an environment of nondiscrimination and equal opportunity. In accordance with federal and state law, the University prohibits unlawful discrimination, including harassment, on the basis of race, age, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, veteran’s status, disability, or citizenship. Retaliation against individuals who in good faith file a claim of discrimination or otherwise oppose discriminatory actions will not be tolerated.

At Midwestern State University, the Title IX Department conducts investigations into possible violations of MSU’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, as well as oversees the university’s primary prevention and education programming related to sexual assault, interpersonal violence, and sexual harassment.

Effective Jan. 1, 2020 SB212 creates a Class B misdemeanor offense for a person who is required to make a report of an incident of sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence or stalking, to report it but knowingly fails to do so. 

The crime must allegedly have been committed by or against a student or employee of the institution and it must be reported, promptly, to the institution’s Title IX coordinator or deputy Title IX coordinator.

https://msutexas.edu/titleix/


Students with disabilities / special needs

The Americans with Disabilities Act is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact the Disability Support Services.

Students that need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, that need to share emergency medical information, or students that require special accommodations in the event of an emergency should contact the instructor.


Student privacy statement

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act prohibits instructors from releasing information about students to certain parties outside of the university without the signed consent of the student. Thus, I will not discuss your academic progress or other matters with your parents or any other party. Do not have them call me. 

http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/


Personal technology

Cell phones and tablet devices must be silenced and put away. The first time the instructor sees a device, the student will be warned about the use of the device. The instructor will ask the student to leave the class and to visit with the instructor.

In an emergency requiring the use of a cell phone — on vibrate, notify the instructor and leave the class to handle the emergency.

Research has shown that students retain material better when they write it down. Hence, personal computers are permitted in class only for the purpose of taking notes only if the instructor approves in advance. 

Students should never use only technology to record an interview but should instead supplement it with written notes.

Attendance

Students are expected to be in class each and every time the class meets. Students will not be able to make up unannounced quizzes given in classes they miss. E-mail Dr. Wilson prior to the absence as a courtesy. Students are responsible for making up any work missed on their own time, working with classmates.

Students who miss class due to University-sponsored events such as field trips or athletics, should visit with the course instructor in advance and will be required to complete the assigned work on or before the due date. Students should submit an official notification form before the absence.

Exams (all of which will be available in D2L/Brightspace for an extended period of time), projects and stories with advance deadlines will not be accepted late. Plan ahead.

After a warning, a student with more than four absences may be dropped from a course by the instructor or summarily given a failing grade.


GRADING

Grading is on a scale of:

≥90 A Excellent

80-89 B Good

70-79  C Satisfactory

60-69 D Passing

<60 F Failing

Semester grading follows the same scale. Grading will be determined from specific assignments, projects, written exams, quizzes, a final exam, and class attendance. Assignments are due when announced and will not be accepted late. Any assignment turned in after the deadline receives a grade of zero. Written exams will include material covered in the class and may include, but may not be limited to, multiple choice, short answer and essay questions.   

The instructor reserves the right to add, adjust, or cancel assignments as the course progresses. The method of obtaining the final grade will remain essentially the same: the total points achieved will be divided by the total points possible to obtain a percentage, and a grade will be assigned according to a percentage scale.


Writing proficiency

All students seeking baccalaureate degrees must fulfill the Writing Proficiency Requirement in ONE of the following ways:

Take and pass the Writing Proficiency Examination,

Take and pass ENGL 2113 Intermediate Composition and Grammar, or

Take and pass two courses designated as Writing Intensive. One of these WI courses may be a Texas Core Curriculum Course, but one of the courses must be outside of the core.

Once a student has passed both communication core courses and completed at least 60 credit hours, he or she is eligible to take the Writing Proficiency Exam or ENGL 2113. Writing Intensive courses may be completed at any time during a student’s degree plan. If a student has not met the Writing Proficiency Requirement before completing 90 credit hours, a hold will be placed on the student’s account.

https://msutexas.edu/academics/wpr/


Note: You may not submit a paper for a grade in this class that already has been (or will be) submitted for a grade in another course, unless you obtain the explicit written permission of me and the other instructor involved in advance.

Plagiarism is the use of someone else's thoughts, words, ideas, or lines of argument in your own work without appropriate documentation (a parenthetical citation at the end and a listing in "Works Cited")-whether you use that material in a quote, paraphrase, or summary. It is a theft of intellectual property and will not be tolerated, whether intentional or not.

Student Honor Creed

As an MSU Student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else do so."

As students at MSU, we recognize that any great society must be composed of empowered, responsible citizens. We also recognize universities play an important role in helping mold these responsible citizens. We believe students themselves play an important part in developing responsible citizenship by maintaining a community where integrity and honorable character are the norm, not the exception.

Thus, We, the Students of Midwestern State University, resolve to uphold the honor of the University by affirming our commitment to complete academic honesty. We resolve not only to be honest but also to hold our peers accountable for complete honesty in all university matters.

We consider it dishonest to ask for, give, or receive help in examinations or quizzes, to use any unauthorized material in examinations, or to present, as one's own, work or ideas which are not entirely one's own. We recognize that any instructor has the right to expect that all student work is honest, original work. We accept and acknowledge that responsibility for lying, cheating, stealing, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty fundamentally rests within each individual student.

We expect of ourselves academic integrity, personal professionalism, and ethical character. We appreciate steps taken by University officials to protect the honor of the University against any who would disgrace the MSU student body by violating the spirit of this creed.

Written and adopted by the 2002-2003 MSU Student Senate.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact the Disability Support Services in Room 168 of the Clark Student Center, (940) 397-4140.

The professor considers this classroom to be a place where you will be treated with respect as a human being - regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political beliefs, age, or ability. Additionally, diversity of thought is appreciated and encouraged, provided you can agree to disagree. It is the professor's expectation that ALL students consider the classroom a safe environment.

All instructors in the Department have voicemail in their offices and MSUTexas e-mail addresses. Make sure you add your instructor's phone number and e-mail address to both email and cell phone lists of contacts.

All students seeking a Bachelor's degree from Midwestern State University must satisfy a writing proficiency requirement once they've 1) passed the 6 hours of Communication Core and 2) earned 60 hours. Students may meet this requirement in one of three ways: by passing the Writing Proficiency Exam, passing two Writing Intensive Courses (only one can be in the core), or passing English 2113. If you have any questions about the exam, visit the Writing Proficiency Office website at https://msutexas.edu/academics/wpr, or call 397-4131.

Senate Bill 11 passed by the 84th Texas Legislature allows licensed handgun holders to carry concealed handguns on campus, effective August 1, 2016. Areas excluded from concealed carry are appropriately marked, in accordance with state law. For more information regarding campus carry, please refer to the University’s webpage at https://msutexas.edu/campus-carry/rules-policies.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact MSU Chief of Police Patrick Coggins at patrick.coggins@msutexas.edu.