MC3306 | Writing for Electronic Media | Summer 2016

Classroom sessions every Monday and Wednesday 4-6:05 p.m.
Online sessions every Tuesday and Thursday
OM 212

This is a hybrid course, meaning you are responsible for online lectures, exercises and quizzes before meeting in class on our assigned days. Failure to complete these lectures and assignments means you will have an incredibly difficult time passing this class.

Instructor: Dale Blasingame, M.A.
Temporary Office: Old Main 230Z
Office Hours: Wednesdays and Thursdays 2-4 p.m. or by appointment. If my door is open, feel free to stop in.
E: blasingame@txstate.edu | T: @daleblasingame | W: daleblasingame.net

Catalog Description

The study and practice of writing copy for the electronic media, including the composition of commercials, news stories, public service announcements, promotions and documentaries. Prerequisites: Full major status, MC 1313 (WI)

Course Objective

This class will combine lecture and a writing lab. Students will learn the basics of how to write copy for the electronic media (TV, radio and the Web), how to conduct interviews and how to produce scripts.

Required Texts

Dotson, Bob (2016). Make it memorable: Writing and packaging visual news with style. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield. ISBN: 978-1-4422-5611-8

AP Stylebook (The online version is suitable for this class.)

Recommended Texts

Tompkins, Al (2012). Aim for the heart: Write, shoot, report and produce for TV and multimedia. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press. ISBN: 978-1-60871-674-6

Other Required Materials

You will need a digital voice recorder (smart phones usually work). It also helps to have a flash drive to store your files and work.

TRACS

This course will utilize the TRACS system for assignments and grading. Most course handouts, presentations and assignments will also be posted on TRACS, as well as my website.

Attendance Policy/Class Behavior

I treat this class like a newsroom. You are the reporters, and I am the news director. Therefore, you are expected to attend class, participate and complete assignments on deadline. School of Journalism and Mass Communication policy permits faculty members to lower a student’s grade for absences or tardiness. Graded work frequently will be performed in class during the semester. This work cannot be made up unless you have arranged an excused absence prior to class, as per university policy. Current events quizzes are also given during class time. These cannot be made up if missed. Your lowest current events quiz grade is dropped at the end of the semester. If you miss class, it is your responsibility to cover the material discussed in class on your own.

Perfect attendance will afford you the chance to make up your lowest story grade at the end of the semester.

There will be times in class where it is required to use your phone. Outside of those times, phones will be put away and silent. You will be asked to leave the room if there is a disruption in this policy.

Senior Portfolio

Evidence of your work in this class is required for your School of Journalism and Mass Communication senior portfolio.

Grading

Grades are available via the TRACS Gradebook. All categories, assignments and weights of grades are visible in the Gradebook. Missed assignments will result in a zero. Late work is not accepted in this class and will also result in a zero.

Story Assignments – 40%
  • This class is all about writing. Much of your grade will be based on the stories you write. Your story assignments will come from story ideas you generate.
  • Assignments in this category are weighted equally.
  • NOTE: In the news world, reporters are responsible for submitting assignments on air and online. Therefore, you will be responsible for this as well. Each story assignment will require a version of your story (with any accompanying multimedia) to be posted by deadline on the class blog. The online version of your story will constitute 25% of that story’s grade. Misspellings, fact errors and name errors will result in a zero for this portion of the story grade.
Current Events Quizzes – 5%
  • Staying up to date on current events is crucial to the media professional in every discipline. To succeed in this course, you must stay up to date on local, national and international current events by reading newspapers, listening to quality news radio (such as NPR or local news radio stations), watching television news and/or reading news on the Web and Twitter. You will have a current events quiz most weeks. Each quiz will be ten questions, including public figures that you should be able to identify and broadcast style questions. The quiz is given at the beginning of class. If you miss it, you cannot make it up.
  • Each quiz, I will reveal one question from the quiz on Twitter. You can follow me (@daleblasingame) or search the #mc3306 hashtag to find that question.
  • I pull current event questions from several different sources, including USA Today, CNN, Buzzfeed News App and the University Star. Get in the habit of checking these news sources on a daily basis.
  • The lowest current events grade is dropped.
Lab Assignments – 30%
  • You will complete lab writing assignments during most weeks. I will provide the topics for these writing assignments. The Story of the Day is also included in this section.
Online Quizzes – 15%
  • Since this is a hybrid course, you will be responsible for watching online lectures and completing quizzes before attending the next class day.
Final Exam – 10%
  • Your final exam will consist of you writing a complete broadcast story during the exam period.
  • Here is the final exam schedule.

Late Work

Mass communication is a deadline-driven business, and so is this course. Late assignments will NOT be accepted. If you must miss class on the day an assignment is due, you must submit your assignment by the deadline (via email or TRACS Drop Box) or it will not be accepted.

Story of the Day

Each session, one student will be responsible for the Story of the Day. The story must be from radio, television or Internet news sources and have some sort of video/audio element. We will spend a few minutes discussing why this story was interesting (whether it’s the production, content, story style, writing or visuals). The goal here is for you to begin to notice storytelling elements you like or find appealing. The schedule will be provided on the class calendar.

Email

You MUST have a Texas State email account. The grading program I use and the TRACS system utilize the Texas State email system. Check your Texas State email account regularly because I often send notices concerning class.

Use of School-Owned Camera Equipment

This class may utilize the School of Journalism and Mass Communication Equipment Checkout Room. Use of equipment is a privilege earned through your respect of and cooperation with the checkout rules. If you are late returning a camera to the Equipment Checkout Room, you lose all checkout privileges. In addition, a return that is two days late may result in up to a letter deduction on your grade. If equipment is kept five days past the due date, it is considered stolen.

Academic Dishonesty

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication commits itself to the preparation of ethical mass media professionals and scholars. Such a mission demands the highest standard of academic honesty and integrity. Violations of academic honesty, including but not limited to plagiarism, unauthorized collaboration, collusion, deception, conflict of interest and theft are not tolerated and can lead to severe penalties. Disciplinary actions are outlined in the Texas State Academic Honesty Statement, printed each year in the Texas State Student Handbook.

The policy is also available here: http://www.txstate.edu/effective/upps/upps-07-10-01.html or http://www.txstate.edu/swtexan/apolices.html

Falsifying sources or other information and copying material without proper attribution are acts of academic dishonesty that will not be tolerated in this class. They will result in a failing grade on an assignment and potentially a failing grade in the course.

Students with Special Needs

If you are a student with a disability certified by ODS and you require accommodation in my class, it is your responsibility to tell me at the beginning of the semester so accommodations can be provided promptly. You must notify me by the second week of class if you need accommodation. If your status is pending with ODS, notify me as soon as possible. Contact the ODS office if you have questions 245.3451. It is my desire to accommodate students to the best of my ability. ODS certifications assist in this endeavor.

Drop Policy

You can drop this or any course by March 29, 2016, and receive an automatic W. After that date, you cannot drop a single course. Instead, you must withdraw from all courses. Please review PPS 4.09 at this Web site: http://www.txstate.edu/academicaffairs/pps/pps4/4-09.html