Sampler of photos, features and news with a digital twist

MCOM257 Syllabus


Fall 2017 Semester

Department of Mass Communication and Communication Studies

 MCOM257 Journalism/New Media 1, sections 002, 003, 005; Tuesday, Thursday, 8-9:15 a.m. and 9:30-10:45 a.m. MC110, and Tuesday, Thursday, 12:30-1:45 p.m. MC100.

Taught by JoAnne Broadwater. Click here to find out a bit about me and click here  to contact me.


(Note: Instructor has the right to change the syllabus with advance notice.)

Course Description: An introduction to the writing skills required in print, broadcast and online journalism, and emerging news media formats. This course is designed for students choosing the Journalism/New Media track in the Mass Communication major. The course is a gateway to the first of two in a convergence journalism sequence in which students will learn to report, write and present news for all major media platforms used in contemporary journalism.

Prerequisites: MCOM101.

(It is university policy that students may not attempt a course for the third time without prior permission from the Academic Standards Committee. Information regarding this policy may be obtained through Enrollment Services.)

Course Objectives:

  • Learn news values and news judgment, ie. “what makes the news.”
  • Learn the basic writing style for online news media and emerging news media formats.
  • Learn the basic writing style for print news media.
  • Become aware of commercial, ethical and legal issues affecting converged journalism and develop an understanding of how to create accurate and fair news reports in that environment. 

Brief description of course content: 

  • Unit 1: Overview of journalism
  • Unit 2: Basics of newswriting
  • Unit 3: Basics of story structure
  • Unit 4: Basics of revision
  • Unit 5: AP Style Bootcamp
  • Unit 6: Basics of Reporting
  • Unit 7: Reporting Practice


Required Textbooks:

  • Inside Reporting: A Practical Guide to the Craft of Journalism, Third Edition. By Tim Harrower
  • (This textbook is currently used again in MCOM258 and MCOM356.)
  • AP Stylebook 2017


Assignments and Grading (total of 1000 points): 

Skills Practices (10@40 points each)                                     400 points

AP Style Must-Know Sheet  (Skill Practice 6 )                      100 points

Mid-term exam                                                                          100 points

News Stories (2@100 points each)                                         200 points

Final exam                                                                                  100 points

Newsroom 101                                                                           100 points (instructions)

Click here for a complete semester schedule with assignments and due dates.

MCOM257 Important Due Dates, Assignment Details, Rubrics

Thursdays, Aug 31, Sept 7, 14, 21, 28, Oct 19, 26, Nov 2, 9, Nov.16 (rubric)

Ten of Eleven Skills Practices   

 Tuesday, Oct 10: Newsroom 101 (assignment schedule)  (instructions)

Thursday, Oct 12: (skills practice #6) AP Style Must-Know Sheet (click)

Thursday, Oct 12: Mid-term exam

Thursday, Nov. 9: Four Skills Assignment News Story (assignment)(rubric)

Thursday, Dec 7: Last two news assignments due no later than this day, last day of class

(Study Abroad rubric) 

                                                        (Class News Story rubric)

(Individual News Story rubric)

Final exam: see class schedule (study guide is here…)(click)

Examinations: The mid-term exam will include your knowledge of AP style and may also include news story writing and/or information we have covered in the textbook. The final exam will cover AP style only.  University policy states that no student may take the final exam at a different time. If you are unable to take the final exam at this time, it is recommended that you drop the class.

Click here for grading criteria. All of your grades will be posted on Blackboard which you may access through this link.

Attendance is required at all classes; students are also required to arrive on time.  Attendance/lateness policy is posted here.

Policy Regarding Late Submission of Work: It is expected in the profession that journalists always meet their deadlines so all of your assignments must be turned in at the beginning of class on the due date. I WILL NOT ACCEPT LATE WORK  WITHOUT A DOCUMENTED EXCUSED ABSENCE. 

I will make ONLY one (1) exception to this rule for each student during the semester. One (1) assignment may be turned in NO LATER THAN 48 HOURS AFTER THE TIME OF THE CLASS ON THE DUE DATE. (If the assignment was due at the 11 a.m. Tuesday class, it must be turned in by 11 a.m. on Thursday.) I will not accept any assignment after that. When a student chooses to take this exception, the assignment grade will automatically be lowered by the equivalent of one (1) full grade level in points from the actual grade earned. For example, an assignment that earns a B would automatically be lowered to a C. The specific number of points earned will be determined by the value of the late assignment. The student may not participate in peer editing on the due date and should not ask a classmate to edit his/her work. 

Students will receive only one opportunity to submit work up to two days late. Any other late assignment will earn a zero (0).

Other policies about assignments:  All writing and multimedia must be your original work. Stories will be written from information gathered in telephone or in-person interviews with  expert sources (knowledgeable persons with credentials) unless assignment specifies otherwise.

All assignments must be written and multimedia must be produced during the current semester. Do not recycle work from previous classes or from other classes during this semester. Do not recycle any of your work that has been published. DO NOT MULTIPLE SUBMIT ARTICLES TO DIFFERENT CLASSES. This is considered to be academic dishonesty and will result in a failing grade on the assignment or for the course. 

Elements among those that will contribute to the grade include spelling, grammar, punctuation, readability, order of information, AP style, general accuracy, topic selection, organization, use of quotes, completeness, quality and quantity of reporter’s notes, good transitions, quality of expert sources selected, quality of telephone and/or in-person interviews, effective lead, accuracy, etc. Quality of photos and video will also be considered.

Students will peer edit the written portion of a classmate’s work on some assignments. On the occasions when we do peer editing, students will have the opportunity to make corrections to the written portion of their assignment.

Need some help writing news style quotes? Click here.

And here’s a checklist to help you remember some of the basics of news writing. 

Liability statement: In all assignments, students must comply with all laws and the legal rights of others (e.g. copyright, obscenity, privacy and defamation) and with all Towson University policies (e.g. academic dishonesty). Towson University is not liable or responsible for the content of any student assignments, regardless of where they are posted.


Academic Integrity Policy: All student work including assignments, presentations, and tests must adhere to the university’s Student Academic Integrity Policy The policy addresses such academic integrity issues as plagiarism, fabrication, falsification, cheating, complicity in dishonesty, abuse of academic materials, and multiple submissions. See the last page of this syllabus for the department’s policy concerning plagiarism and cheating. Penalties to violation of academic integrity ranges from F for the assignment to F for the course, in addition to a report filed in the Office of Student Conduct and Civility Education.

Classroom policy on cell phones and other forms of technology: Keep computer screens black and turn the monitor to the side; turn cell phones off, pack them away in a backpack or purse.

University policy for students with disabilities: This course is in compliance with Towson University policies for students with disabilities as described in Students with disabilities are encouraged to register with Disability Support Services (DSS), 7720 York Road, Suite 232, 410-704-2638 (Voice) or 410-704-4423 (TDD). Students who suspect that they have a disability but do not have documentation are encouraged to contact DSS for advice on how to obtain an appropriate evaluation. A memo from DSS authorizing your accommodation is needed before any accommodation can be made.

University policy for Student Athletes/University Activities Participants: Provide a letter from your coach with a schedule of games/competitions during the semester. Take any tests and prepare any assignments that conflict with this schedule before the test or due date, not after.   Provide a Notification of Absence from Class Form for every absence throughout the semester.


Here are other Towson University policies:

COFAC Civility Code

Towson University’s Policy on Weapons

Department of MCCS policy on academic dishonesty:








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