JOURNALISM  3233    News  Editing  and  Copy  Reading

 

Spring 2002 – 3 credits                              Room B 114 Fain Fine Arts Center

Tuesday, Thursday – 12:30 p.m.

Dr. Jim Sernoe                                        Office:  B 110 Fain Fine Arts Center

Office Telephone:  397-4391                        E-Mail:  jim.sernoe@mwsu.edu

 

Office Hours:  Monday – 3-4:30 p.m.;

Tuesday – 9-11 a.m.;  Wednesday – 1-4:30 p.m.;

Thursday – 9-11 a.m.;  Friday – 1-2 p.m.

Also by appointment

 

Course Objectives

·             This course emphasizes skills needed to edit various publications, and students’ writing should improve as well.

·             Students will also learn the basics of publication design and may have the opportunity to learn the basics of using design applications.

·             Students will also examine personnel management strategies.

 

Books

Required:

         The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual

Brooks, Pinson and Wilson – Working with Words: A Handbook for

Media Writers and Editors

         Any paperback dictionary

 

Recommended (strongly):

Strunk and White – The Elements Of Style

Any thesaurus

 

An excellent resource on the Internet:

The Grammar Lady Online – www.grammarlady.com

 

These materials will be supplemented by numerous handouts over the course of the semester.

 

Grading

Final grades will be based on copy editing assignments, a copy editing exam, a personnel management essay and a final project.  There will not be a final exam.  Because journalism is a discipline that lives and dies by the clock, missed deadlines will be SEVERELY penalized.  Details on all assignments will be given as the semester progresses.

 

Copy Editing Exercises – 60 percent:  You will have a variety of in-class, timed assignments to do.  You will also have several homework assignments.

 

Copy Editing Exam – 10 percent.

 

Personnel Management Essay – 10 percent:  You will be required to write an essay detailing how you would handle a personnel situation.

 

Final Project – 20 percent:  You will be asked to write an essay that incorporates all aspects of the course.  This essay will be due on the day scheduled for the final exam, Thursday, May 9, 2002, at 11 a.m.  In lieu of a written final exam, we will spend the final exam period in May discussing your essays.

 

Quizzes:  There will not be any news quizzes as in past semesters, but we will discuss the news (in terms of how to deal with certain events), and if

I sense that students have no idea what the news is, there will be unannounced quizzes that will count toward your final grade.  In addition,

if I sense that students are not keeping up with the assignments or attendance is poor, unannounced quizzes will be given and they also will count toward your final grade.

 

Attendance:  Attendance does not constitute a specific part of your grade, but perfect attendance is required.  In the absence of a required textbook, attendance is critical, and I will go to great lengths to attain full attendance (see note above re. quizzes, for example).  In light of the fact that you will hand in work at the end of almost every class session, being here to do the work is equally critical (see also the Missed Assignments Policy).  If you have to miss a class or a deadline for any reason, please call me at

397-4391 IN ADVANCE to let me know.  CALLING IN ADVANCE DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY EXCUSE AN ABSENCE, but it is a lot better than calling after the fact.  If you fail to contact me before the next class period to explain an absence, it will be very difficult for me to excuse the absence.  Please note that work, non-emergency medical and dental appointments, hangovers, intramural games, visitors from out of town, fixing your roommate’s computer, fraternity/sorority events, arguments with boyfriends/girlfriends and studying for other classes do NOT constitute excused absences.

 

If you need to miss class due to a religious holiday, please see me as far in advance as possible.

 

If you need to miss class due to university-sponsored events such as field trips and sports, please see me as far in advance as possible.  You will be required to complete the assigned work before the due date, and you will be required to submit an official form from the university before your absence.

 

As one of my former colleagues says, in the “real world,” you can not do your job if you are not present to do it.  Employers do not generally tolerate such behavior, and employees who offer weak, irritating excuses frequently find themselves unemployed and unemployable.  The same rules apply in this course.  I don’t judge anyone who chooses to make attending classes a secondary (or lower) priority.  However, this choice is not without consequences.

 

If you cannot make it a priority to attend every class session, please drop now so another student, who is more serious, can have your spot.

 

IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO SEE ME IF YOU MISS CLASS.  I will not chase students around the city.

 

A related note:  You are required to be on time and I have little tolerance for those who are continually late.  Constant tardiness will be noted and could lower your final grade.  I am not above embarrassing students who walk in late.

 

Missed Assignments Policy:  If you miss any assignments without being excused, you will fail the course. 

I reserve the right to determine whether an absence will be excused. 

In-class assignments may be excused at my discretion; however, all outside assignments must be completed within a reasonable time frame after your absence – no exceptions.  In addition, I reserve the right to determine what, exactly, is a “reasonable time frame.”  In sum:  This is a zero-tolerance policy.  I have no time or patience for those who are not going to take this class seriously; thus, “three strikes and you’re out” does not apply.  “ONE strike and you’re out” is more applicable.  Some past students have flunked the course for this reason.  In any case,

I tend to be cynical about making up missed assignments, but if you have a legitimate problem, alternate arrangements can be made at my discretion.

 

If you cannot make it a priority to complete every assignment, on time, please drop now so another student, who is more serious, can have your spot.

 

By accepting this syllabus, you are indicating that you understand the Missed Assignments Policy.

 

Attitude:  Because this is an upper-level course, corresponding attitudes and work ethics are required.  This is not the type of course in which you can read a chapter, attend few class sessions, take a test  .  .  .  and end up with an A for the semester despite very little effort.  Skills courses like editing require your time, attention and effort.  I realize this course requires a lot for the three credits you earn, but every assignment is designed so you will move that much further with your skills.  Although there is no set percentage for this component, it will play a big role if you are on the “borderline” at the end of the semester.

 

If you cannot make it a priority to have a good attitude, please drop now so another student, who is more serious, can have your spot.  See also the Missed Assignments Policy.

 

A related note:  Cellular phones, pagers and other similar devices will not be tolerated.  In my mind, they are a sign of a bad attitude.  I will not tolerate annoying jingles and beeps.  If you must use such a device, turn it off, put it on vibrate or somehow make sure it doesn’t make any noise while I am trying to conduct class – better yet, leave it at home or in your car.  If your other commitments are so pressing that they can not wait until the end of the class session, it may be in your best interests to reconsider the priority you place on being here.  Students whose beepers/phones/pagers make noise during class will be asked to leave immediately.

 

By accepting this syllabus, you are indicating that you understand my expectations for students concerning attitude and work ethic.

 

I reserve the right to drop any student with an F if he/she has excessive absences or missed assignments, engages in disruptive behavior, has a poor attitude, or in any other way is clearly not taking the class seriously.

 

Class Participation:  This component is included not because I am a fanatic about class participation, but because being quiet when one has the chance to talk or ask questions is not an asset in any area of journalism.  And once again, there is no set percentage for this component, but it will play a big role if you are on the “borderline” at the end of the semester.

 

Ethics

Although your grade does not contain an ethics component like some other courses, I require COMPLETE honesty in producing your work.  Journalists are often encouraged to confer with their colleagues on strategies and wordings, but there is a difference between advice and blatant plagiarism. 

I also realize it will be very easy to confer with colleagues on take-home assignments, but you should realize that instructors can usually identify when students have worked together.  I also realize that the Internet provides a convenient source of information, but students need to be aware that proper citation will be required.  Past students will tell you I take this issue very seriously and have not hesitated to confront them.  A slightly higher grade on an assignment is not worth the extremely unpleasant experience of taking an accusation of academic dishonesty through the university hierarchy.  Please don’t force me to do it.

 

By accepting this syllabus, you are indicating that you understand the seriousness of academic dishonesty and realize I will impose the harshest sanctions possible if I can prove you have engaged in academic dishonesty.  You are also indicating that you understand what constitutes academic dishonesty; I will not tolerate the excuse that the student did not know he/she was engaging in academic dishonesty.

 

I reserve the right to drop any student with an F if he/she engages in any form of academic dishonesty.  I further reserve the right to recommend other sanctions as may be appropriate.  Students are also encouraged to see pages 23-24 and 33-35 of the 2000-2002 MSU Undergraduate Bulletin and pages 39-40, 43-44, 57-59, 60-63 and 67-77 of the 2002-2003 MSU Student Handbook for additional discussion of students’ rights and responsibilities regarding cheating, attendance and general conduct.

 

Materials

Each day you should bring the following to class:  the AP Stylebook, your pocket dictionary, Working with Words, your thesaurus, a large supply of pens or pencils and an extra supply of sanity for the days you leave feeling as if you have none left.

 

Some Advice

1.            Attend regularly.  This cannot be stressed enough.

2.            Note the Missed Assignments Policy and know that it is enforced.

3.            Note the Academic Dishonesty Policy and know that it is enforced.

4.   Read at least one regional newspaper a day and watch or listen to at

      least one local and one national newscast a day.  Keeping up with the

      news will help you learn the writing styles and learn about news

      judgment.

1.            Attend regularly.  This cannot be stressed enough.

2.   Note the Missed Assignments Policy and know that it is enforced.

3.   Note the Academic Dishonesty Policy and know that it is enforced.

5.   Keep a log of your errors and pay careful attention to the comments you

      receive with each assignment.  Finding trends in my comments will help

      you identify and eliminate your errors, thus strengthening your skills.

1.   Attend regularly.  This cannot be stressed enough.

2.   Note the Missed Assignments Policy and know that it is enforced.

3.   Note the Academic Dishonesty Policy and know that it is enforced.

6.   Get as much experience outside of class as you can.  It doesn’t matter if

      you’re interested in newspapers, broadcasting, the Internet, public

      relations or advertising – a potential employer will want to see a

      portfolio of your work.  Nothing can substitute for the experience of

      getting out there.

1.   Attend regularly.  This cannot be stressed enough.

2.   Note the Missed Assignments Policy and know that it is enforced.

3.   Note the Academic Dishonesty Policy and know that it is enforced.

7.   Take my words about ethics and attitude to heart.

1.   Attend regularly.  This cannot be stressed enough.

2.   Note the Missed Assignments Policy and know that it is enforced.

3.   Note the Academic Dishonesty Policy and know that it is enforced.

 

Special Accommodations

Students with disabilities or who are in need of special arrangements should see me as early as possible in the semester.  I will do what I can within reason to accommodate your needs.  Please note that in order to qualify for consideration of special accommodations, you must be registered with the MSU Office of Disability Services, and I must have a memo on file from that office, along with the Special Accommodations Request form.

 

Course Organization and Schedule

As you can learn to edit only by actually editing, the bulk of our time will be spent on copy editing exercises.  I will have minimal lecture.

 

This is the TENTATIVE course schedule.  Due to storms, last-minute changes, extended class discussions and my frequent inability to stick to the agenda I set at the beginning of the course, this schedule is likely to change.  I reserve the right to change the class schedule if circumstances make it necessary.  Chances are good that you will receive at least one revised schedule before the semester is over.  If deadlines change, I will tell you well in advance.  Please note that the reading and general workloads vary considerably from week to week.

 

You will receive a detailed schedule for the copy editing portion of this course after I have determined which types of exercises the class needs.

 

Date (s)                        Topic (s)                                                  Reading

 

1/15, 1/17, 1/22           Introduction; The Editing                         Handouts

                                    Profession; Review of

Editing Marks and AP Style

 

1/24 – 3/12                  Copy Editing

 

3/14                            Copy Editing Exam

 

3/18 – 3/22               Spring Break – Classes Canceled

 

3/26                             Personnel Management                            Handouts

 

3/28 – 3/29               Easter Break – Classes Canceled

 

4/2 – 4/11                    More Personnel Management                   Handouts

 

4/16, 4/18                    Layout and Design

 

4/18 at 12:30 p.m.    Personnel Management Essay Due

 

4/23, 4/25                    More Layout and Design

 

4/30, 5/2                      Legal and Ethical Problems                       Handouts

 

5/2                              Final Project Instructions

 

5/9 at 11 a.m.            Final Project Due

 

5/9                              Final Exam Session, 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.