Contact Information




Activities and Projects




(as of 2/10/09)

Both this site and syllabus for the Spring '09 semester of Comm361-001/Online Journalism is updated. We have a TAP assistant: Isaac Pacheco, an Iraqi War veteran and editor of AMVETS magazine.

Please remember that Comm303/Writing Across Media is the prerequisite for the course (or permission of the instructor). You will be graded on your use of Associated Press Style.

2009 CLASS WEBSITES and BLOGS: You will soon be able to access all class websites and blogs.

2008 CLASS WEBSITES: You can check out last year's class websites.

C-SPAN3 televises and streams all video conferences on Friday at 5 p.m. You can also access a replay of the video conferences online at any time.

Grading Sheet: Check out your grading sheet for the semester. You can print it out and personalize it to keep track of your assignments and deadlines.

You can access an archive of the video conference sessions on the C-SPAN site as they are available.

Check out Apple's Professional Profiles for this terrific look at what the Washington Post is doing online.

This is one of the coolest things I've seen on YouTube in a while. Check it out!

What will the future look like?
Have you seen EPIC 2015?

Check out a sample template created in the Mason Template Generator.

Press Conference Speakers: During the Spring Semester, you will have a unique opportunity to participate in two-way televised, press conference-style classes in conjunction with C-SPAN. Steve Scully, a senior executive producer and political editor at C-SPAN, teaches and coordinates a distance learning course with the participation of classes from the University of Denver, Pace University and George Mason. Using the video conferencing facilities in 455 Innovation Hall (and an overflow hookup in our 336 Innovation Hall classroom), students will participate in several programs this semester.

STAR Workshops
Because of the nature of multimedia journalism, you will need to spend time outside the classroom using on-campus resources such as STAR (Student Technology Assistance & Resource Center) in 229 and 311 Johnson Center. I highly recommend STAR workshops, which resume on Jan. 14.

Make a Class Buddy
I'm a great believer in teamwork. I strongly suggest that you get to know someone in the class. Know that person's e-mail address and phone number; get together during the week to work together on your websites and assignments or just to talk over the class. You'll get more out of the class that way.



INNOVATION HALL, room 336 (Tuesday and Thursday, 3-4:15 p.m.); video conferences take place in room 455 (the GMU-TV video studio)
INSTRUCTOR: Steve Klein, Coordinator, Journalism concentration and Electronic Journalism minor
ASSISTANT: Isaac Pacheco

ESSENTIALS: This class meets Tuesday and Thursday (with the exception of Spring Break March 9-15) over a total of 16 weeks and 28 sessions beginning Thursday Jan. 22 and concluding Tuesday May 5 from 3 to 4:15 p.m. in 336 Innovation Hall. The last day to drop this course with no tuition liability is Feb. 3. The last day to drop this course (with full tuition liability) is Feb. 20 (for more information, see the Spring 2009 Academic Schedule. There is no final exam; you are, however, responsible for a multimedia story/project that is due April 23.

NOTE: Please let me know if you spot a typo or error in this syllabus. Yes, its true: Even instructors/professors make mistakes! AND, it shows me that you're reading and checking your syllabus!

OUR CONTRACT: This syllabus represents an agreement (or contract) between the student and the instructor. By remaining enrolled in this course, each student is accepting the policies and guidelines covered in this syllabus.

THE FIRST CLASS: We will firm up the class list on the first Thursday meeting Jan. 22, so it is critical that you not miss the first class (or contact me before it meets). This class is fully enrolled; if you do not show up or contact the instructor, you risk being dropped for a waitlisted student. According to Communication Department policy:
"Students who do not confirm their registration by attendance at the first class meeting are subject to being dropped at the discretion of the department."

A previous Comm361-001 class interacts in the video studio with 1996 Republican presidential candidate Sen. Bob Dole.
(Photo by Wayne Lin)

CLASS WEBSITES: You can check out last year's class websites to get a sense of previous students' work.

SPEAKERS: Students are invited to attend guest lectures from my other classes as classroom size allows. Please contact me in advance if you'd like to attend.

INSTRUCTOR: Steve Klein TAP ASSISTANT: Isaac Pacheco



GMU office: 219-B Thompson Hall
Office phone:
GMU e-mail:
Personal e-mail:
Web page:
Office hours: I have open office hours for the Spring Semester in my 219-B Thompson Hall office on Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to about 1 p.m.; Monday and Wednesday from 9:30 to about 11:45 a.m.; and by appointment. I update changes to my office hours and location weekly on my office door.

THIS CLASS deals with online journalism: writing for the Internet; creating and maintaining a website on the Mason server utilizing Dreamweaver and/or other webpage-creation programs; creating and maintaining a weblog (an online diary or journal covering a particular interest utilizing Blogger or other blog creation tools); reporting and writing for the online medium; creating RSS feeds; podcasting; and completing a multimedia story/project based on your reporting.

SPEAKERS include (depending on their availability) Claudia Holland, the GMU copyright officer; producer Jim Iovino of NBC News4; multimedia producer Joel Sucherman of USA Today; Mark Potts, who writes the blog; and others.

PRESS CONFERENCE SPEAKERS: During the semester, you will have a unique opportunity to participate in two-way televised, press conference-style classes in conjunction with C-SPAN. Steve Scully, a senior executive producer and political editor at C-SPAN, who teaches and coordinates a distance learning course ("Congress, the Presidency & 21st Century Media") with the participation of classes from the University of Denver, Pace University and George Mason. Using the telecourse facilities in 455 Innovation Hall (and an overflow hookup in our 336 Innovation Hall classroom), students will participate in several programs this semester.
Utilizing the online writing techniques you will learn in class, students will report, write and post stories on their websites.


  • COMM303 (Writing Across Media). All classwork utilizes AP style.
  • Adequate keyboard skills and knowledge of file management.
  • Familiarity with the Internet and webpage creation software.
  • All coursework will be part of the website you will create in this class on the Mason server.


Comm361/Online Journalism prepares you to integrate the many things you've already learned about journalism into a world in which everyone is a publisher. You'll create stories in ways that were never possible before the Internet. And you'll do it with all the style, creativity, energy and accuracy you put into everything else you do at George Mason University. To practice what we learn, your class-related work will be completed online.

Reading assignments, lecture and computer lab topics, and in-class assignments may vary based on the week's news. Topics and assignments will be updated on the online schedule, which you should check regularly.


  • Become the kind of web-first journalist who reports, writes, edits and publishes on the Internet. 
  • Learn how online journalism applies to your career direction, and how an expanded skillset can help you to get a better job in and out of journalism.  
  • Learn to present multimedia stories in exciting new ways while maintaining traditional journalism standards of fairness, accuracy and quality.  
  • Become more comfortable with the software used to tell stories online.


  • You must read and observe how news is presented online and on a consistent basis – not just during our limitted class time -- throughout the semester. My website provides URLs from several sites worth monitoring.
  • Take advantage of resources available to you OUTSIDE the classroom like the Student Technology Assistance & Resource Center (STAR) in 229 Johnson Center.
  • Don't miss class. There are only 28 of them!

REQUIRED TEXT (please bring to every class):

SUPPLIES: Please bring a flash/jump drive or some kind of portable meia to every class to save your work. Our classroom computers are purged nightly.


Reading: You will be responsible for reading several articles online every week. Most will be linked off the course schedule page; others will be available in Townhall or by e-mail. You'll write a short (about one screen) analysis of 5 articles of your choice and upload them online by posting them on your website by specifically scheduled dates. You will be graded on how well you present the information, analyze what you've read, and relate it to this course utilizing AP style, proper grammar and punctuation, and web writing techniques.

Weblog: You can choose a pre-approved subject and and comment on it throughout the semester. Your observations will often be our starting point for class discussions. You will track your observations on your weblog (I suggest using Blogger or WordPress) accessible from your personal website. You are responsible for a minimum of two entries a week (beginning no latter than by the end of the second week of the semester), although you are encouraged to make entries more frequently (which will be taken into account for extra credit).

Personal website: You will construct a website on the Mason server by the end of the third week of the semester and build on it throughout the semester. This site will have links to your homework and classwork, a variety of personal material (including your resume and portfolio), your weblog, a resources page that includes RSS feeds, and your multimedia story project. As part of that project, you may include a variety of multimedia elements, such as the (Lance Armstrong) flash annimation example included here, and a photo gallery. You can view examples of last year's classwork online.

Video conference stories: Throughout the semester, you will attend video conferences in 455 Innovation Hall as part of our collaboration with C-SPAN, the University of Denver and Pace University in New York City. You will write and upload a short story on each, demonstrating your command of web-writing technique, AP style and proper grammar, punctuation and writing style.

Final multimedia story/project: This will be a multiple-media presentation that combines what you've learned in and out of class this semester. You'll select a story (approved by the instructor) to cover, and you'll gather all the elements -- photos, video, audio, data -- needed to do a great job of telling that story online. This in-class (between April 23 and May 5) presentation will be linked off your personal website. 


The final grade for this course will be based on the quality of your work and your ability to meet deadlines. You'll be evaluated on each assignment. At the end of the semester, these assignments will be given these weights:

Assignments Total Points
Home reading assignment story uploads (4 @ 10 point each)  100 (125 w/EC)

Personal Web site (navigation and consistency)
and weblog (based on regular entries)

150 (190 w/EC)
100 (110 w/EC)

Video conference or in-class speaker stories (minimum of 6) (50 points each)

Final project:
First draft due Tuesday April 15
Final project:
Final version due Tuesday April 22     

Your classroom ethic: Regular attendance, timeliness, participation and attentiveness are expected. Regular progress (deadline benchmarks will be indicated) on your assignments, particularly your website and weblog, is important. Classes will begin and end on time.

Deadlines: Adherence to deadlines plays an important role in this course and in journalism in general. Journalists meet deadlines; their job is on the line if they don't. Deadlines set for assignments for this course are final; those turned in late without an excused reason will not be accepted. 

Communication: The best way to reach the instructor is by e-mail. Please include the course number and the subject of the specific e-mail in the SUBJECT line.

You must e-mail or call the instructor if you miss class because of illness or emergency. I consider this communication part of your class participation. In-class assignments cannot be made up unless pre-arranged.
If you think class may be cancelled because of inclement weather, watch TV. listen to the radio, or call 703-993-1000.


GMU utilizes a nine-point +/- grading scale. The Department of Communication has adopted the following scale for core and basic courses, which will be used to assign final grades in COMM 361:

  • A+: 97 to 100 (outstanding work of publishable quality).

  • A: 93 to 96.

  • A-: 90 to 92.

  • B+: 87 to 89.

  • B: 83 to 86 (publishable with editing and minor changes).

  • B-: 80 to 82.

  • C+: 77 to 79.

  • C: 73 to 76 (publishable only with major changes).

  • C-: 70 to 72.

  • D: 60 to 69 (unpublishable because of fundamental problems).

  • F: 59 or less (unacceptable; lack of basic skills, or work not submitted).


Honesty is a given for those who engage in journalism. When you violate the trust of your readers or audience, you lose your most important commodity: your credibility.
You should familiarize yourself with George Mason University's "Honor System and Code". With regard to this course, acts of dishonesty include, but are not necessarily limited to, cheating on examinations, plagiarizing material from other sources, making up material or sources of information, and/or submitting work for this course originally completed for other courses without instructors permission. The penalty for academic dishonesty is failure of the course -- and you will be reported to the Honor Committee.
Plagiarism means using the exact words, opinions or factual information from another person without giving that person credit. Plagiarism is the equivalent of intellectual robbery and cannot be tolerated in an academic or journalistic setting.


In all discussions and assignments, this course emphasizes the importance of avoiding identifications and descriptions that serve to perpetuate stereotypes about gender, age, dialect, disability, national origin, race, religious affiliation and sexual preference. It is expected that discussions will be open and honest, but abusive language or behavior will not be tolerated.

No food will be allowed in the classroom, nor will smoking be tolerated.

Common courtesy should always prevail.

Your regular attendance in this class will have a great impact on your final grade. Your in-class participation is critical (in other words, you want me to know your name as early in the semester as possible!). I will create a seating chart since there's a learning curve (for me) to remember your names.

The only acceptable excuse for missing class is illness, serious family emergency, or a major religious holiday.
For an excused absence, you must bring a note from a doctor (or medical professional) or parent (in the case of a family emergency).
Any application for an excused absence must be submitted in writing with a copy for my records.

Missing class without an approved written excuse will mean a failing grade for any in-class work and participation for that class.
If the number of missed classes add up, you will discover that you are failing that portion of the class. Equally important, it will strongly affect your final grade in other ways: missing important information that impacts your ability to successfully complete assignments.

If you are sick or can't attend class for whatever reason (and I have heard them all by now), I expect an e-mail explaining the absense (just as you would do for an employer). I consider this part of your class participation. This policy remains in force from the first class to the last.

Classes will start on time; it is rude to your fellow students and instructor to be late and costs them classtime if I need to repeat material for your benefit.

Be aware of traffic and parking patterns in and around campus, especially the first week of the semester.

It is the policy of George Mason University and this instructor to make every reasonable effort to allow members of our diverse university community to observe their religious holidays without academic penalty. However, it your responsibility to provide me with advance written notice of the dates of any major religious holidays on which you will be absent (the earlier notice the better please).

I have office hours and encourage you to use them -- as well as making mutually convenient appointments as necessary.
Students who proactively visit with their professors before a situation becomes a problem tend to avoid problems and do better in class.
Conversations about grades or individual problems are best dealt with in my office during office hours.

This university and this instructor are committed to providing an equitable learning environment for every student. I will readily adjust for those students with special needs. If you have special needs in the classroom, please provide a letter from Disability Support Services confirming and describing your special needs at the start of the semester. You may have Disability Support Services contact me directly. This information will be kept in confidence.

Finally, you will find that I'm extremely responsive to e-mail. However, it is important that you include Comm361-001 and an applicable title or headline in the SUBJECT line or your note may go unanwered (or end up in my SPAM folder).


  • The Associated Press Stylebook applies for spelling, accuracy, style, attribution, etc. Don't get so caught up in the presentation that you lose sight of solid, accurate, credible journalism.
  • Attend class. Only in extreme circumstances should you request permission from your instructor to miss class. There are only 28 of them.
  • You alone are responsible for saving your work and transferring files. We'll teach you how to do it if you don't already know, but after that, you're on your own (with help always available from our TAP assistant and from the STAR lab in Johnson Center 229 and 311). You must bring your files to every class on some type of portable media.

Updated 1/21/09