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.
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
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.
GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY
COMMUNICATION 361-001 / ONLINE JOURNALISM SPRING
SEMESTER 2009 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
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
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.
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)
GMU e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Personal e-mail: email@example.com
Web page: http://mason.gmu.edu/~sklein1/ 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
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.
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 RecoveringJournalist.com 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.
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.
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 WANT TO DO WELL IN THIS CLASS:
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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:
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)
First draft due Tuesday April 15
Final version due Tuesday April 22
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.
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
utilizes a nine-point +/-
of Communication has adopted the following scale for core and
basic courses, which will be used to assign final grades in COMM
97 to 100 (outstanding work of publishable quality).
93 to 96.
90 to 92.
87 to 89.
83 to 86 (publishable with editing and minor changes).
80 to 82.
77 to 79.
73 to 76 (publishable only with major changes).
C-: 70 to 72.
60 to 69 (unpublishable because of fundamental problems).
59 or less (unacceptable; lack of basic skills, or work not
JOURNALISM AND ACADEMIC ETHICS:
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.
courtesy should always prevail.
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
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.
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
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.
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
Conversations about grades or individual problems are best dealt
with in my office during office hours.
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
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).
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.
class. Only in extreme circumstances should you request permission
from your instructor to miss class. There are only 28 of them.
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.