Sampler of photos, features and news with a digital twist

MCOM257 Syllabus

Department of Mass Communication and Communication Studies

MCOM257 Journalism/New Media 1

Sections 002, 003, 004

TTh, Sec. 002, 9:30-10:45 a.m., MC110; Sec. 003, 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m., MC110;

Sec. 004, 12:30-1:45 p.m, MC100.

Spring 2018

Taught by JoAnne C. Broadwater, Lecturer

Towson University, Department of Mass Communication and Communication Studies

Office: Stephens Annex 142

Email:, Emails received between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday will be responded to within 24 hours.

Office hours: TTh 1:45-3:45 p.m

Office Phone: 410-704-3947

I teach Feature Writing, Journalism/New Media I and Introduction to Mass Communication classes at Towson University. I started my career in journalism at The Sun, the major metropolitan daily in Baltimore, where I advanced to the position of reporter. I have a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University and I earned my undergraduate degree right here at Towson University. I have more than 25 years of experience as a freelance reporter and writer of feature and news stories. I did most of my work on assignments for The Sun. I am passionate about writing and I have been teaching students at Towson University since 2005. When I’m not helping my students to improve their reporting and writing skills, I love riding horses and caring for chickens on my family’s small farm. I also enjoy writing feature stories, shooting photos and taking barre, yoga, spin and step classes.

Keep up to date on class news by following my blog: (Learn how at

(This syllabus is a tentative plan for the upcoming semester. I will let you know in advance of any changes made to enhance student learning, provide valuable educational opportunities and allow for unforeseen events.)

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.

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:

Journalism is an exciting field that presents reporters with the opportunity to be at the heart of the fast-paced happenings of the day. Reporters have amazing adventures, meet incredible people and learn something new every day. The world is full of amazing stories and all we have to do is look about us with curiosity to recognize news before we embark on our information-gathering and writing.

This semester we’re going to learn how to write like a reporter. We’ll follow in the footsteps of professionals as we make our way from news alert to published story. We’ll discover how to grab the attention of the reader right from the start. And we’ll learn to use the tools of a journalist, including the all-important AP Style.

This course will include two primary writing assignments of 400 words, each with at least two expert sources and three or four strong quotes. Each student will write a section of a class-planned, collaborative news article. There will be six skills practices that will help students develop their photography, interviewing and other essential abilities of the trade. Preparation for a mid-term and final exam will help students to perfect their writing news style.

Required Textbooks:

AP Stylebook 2017
Additional readings of news stories will be assigned throughout the semester.

Tentative course calendar with subjects, timetable, due dates, exam

Week 1: Introductions; review syllabus and good classroom citizen points. Introduction to news and newswriting. Introduction to AP Style.
Week 2: The basics of newswriting, Skills practice #1 due Tues, Feb 6 (writing a lede), Introduction to Newsroom101, AP Style training.
Week 3: The steps in writing a news story, Nothing but the facts. From sources only. Skills practice #2 due Feb 13 (writing a news brief).
Week 4: Beat reporting, finding story ideas, Skills Practice #3 (Finding Story Ideas) due, Tuesday Feb. 20.
Week 5: Skills practice (developing questions) #4 due Tuesday, Feb. 27.
Week 6: Skills practice #5 (asking questions, taking notes=interviewing) due Tuesday, March 6.
Week 7: Mid-term exam, Tuesday, March 13. AP Style Must-Know List due and NR101 also due Tuesday.
Week 8: Spring Break
Week 9: Attribution and quotes, proper format, story structure.
Week 10  Work on Class news story (Roundup) Skills Practice #6 due next Tuesday, April 10.
Week 11: Skills Practice #6 due Tuesday, April 10.
Week 12 News story #1 due Tuesday, April 17.
Week 13 Photography, Photoshoot.
Week 14: News story #2 due Tuesday, May 1.
Week 15: Covering crime and fire.
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.

MCOM257 Important Due Dates

Feb 6: Skills Practice #1

Feb 13: Skills practice #2

Feb 20: Skills practice #3

Feb 27: Skills practice #4

March 6: Skills practice #5

March 13: Mid-term exam

April 10: Skills practice #6 (Class Roundup) due

April 17: News story #1 due

May 1: News story #2 due

Final exam dates: Thursday, May 17: MCOM257.002 (9:30 class) 8 a.m.

Thursday, May 17: MCOM257.003 (11 a.m. class) 10:15 a.m.

Tuesday, May 22: MCOM257.004 (12:30 p.m. class) 12:30 p.m.


Weight of assignments in course grade (total of 1000 points):

Good Classroom Citizen (250 points)(10 points for 25 classes tallied daily

each time all goals are achieved)

Skills Practices (150 points) (6@25 points each)

AP Style Must-Know Sheet (100 points)

Mid-term exam (100 points)

News Stories (200 points)(2@100 points each)

Final exam(100 points)

Newsroom 101(100 points)

Click here for grading criteria. All of your grades will be posted on Blackboard.


I follow Towson University’s requirement of attendance at all classes. Find the policy here.

Examinations: The mid-term and final exams will include your knowledge of AP style and may also include news story writing and/or information we have covered in class.   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.

Policy Regarding Late Submission of Work: Please meet all deadlines for assignments by submitting before the start of class on the due date. This is a professional standard of the industry of journalism. Any work submitted after class starts is late and will receive a reduced grade of one full letter grade. Late assignments will be accepted up to 48 hours late with the grade reduction.


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.

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.

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.

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.

The university requires me to include this statement: 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.

Here are other important Towson University policies:

COFAC Civility Code

Towson University’s Policy on Weapons

Department of MCCS policy on academic dishonesty:



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