Course Syllabus


JOUR 271       Section 8          News Reporting       Spring 2019





Cynthia Joyce

Office: 221 Farley Hall
Office hours: Wed 11-5, or by appointment.
    Phone: 662-915-8787
When and where our class meets:  T/Th 1-2:15pm, 138 Farley Hall



Semester course; 3 lecture and laboratory hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: JOUR 102. Detailed study in reporting and writing news stories for print publications, broadcast outlets and websites. Focus on interviewing, writing news and preparing for entry-level reporting assignments.

Students also will learn online presentation skills, including photos, audio, video and interactive elements.

JOUR 271 is an intermediate-level journalism course in which students report and write news stories. In this course, you will learn how to find story ideas, gather information, develop a beat, interview people and write effectively in a variety of story formats and styles. The course will integrate other journalism skills and concepts, including news judgment, ethics, diversity, copyediting and technological competence.

This class will emphasize outside publication of your work.  Possibilities include Ole Miss student media (such as the Daily Mississippian, Rebel Radio or Newswatch) or in other outlets (such as the Oxford Eagle or Enterprise).  In addition, you will begin to develop a portfolio of media that will help you land an internship or job and launch your journalism career.

You must make a C or better in JOUR 271 to continue in the journalism program.



By the end of the course the students will:

  • Recognize and articulate good story
  • Find and cultivate sources for a beat or a
  • Interview people – in person and by phone
  • Write both hard news and soft news
  • Understand the importance of diversity in reporting stories and selecting sources
  • Incorporate use of technology in newsgathering (including video gathering, editing and presentation, audio gathering, editing and presentation and writing for multiple platforms)
  • Apply copyediting rules for grammar, punctuation, spelling and Associated Press style


The following will assess student learning in JOUR 271:

  • Students will produce at least one enterprise story with topic approved by
  • Students must interview at least three sources for each
  • Students will produce one story that explores a diverse topic or includes diverse
  • Students will produce stories using new media technology (at least one with each of the following: audio, video, online enhancements).



Before taking this course, you must pass JOUR 102 (Multimedia Writing). If you do not meet that prerequisite, you will be dropped from JOUR 271.

Recommended books and other resources

  • Writing and Reporting News: A Coaching Method. (Eighth edition).
  • The Associated Press Stylebook (2015 or later).
  • A portable hard drive with 120 gigabytes or more to store digital files of your work and course Save all your work; keep a backup; and always work with the latest version of a story. The ability to manage information is a key to success in this course. Computer problems” will not be an excuse for missing deadlines.
  • A digital video camera (or cell phone). A laptop computer also would be
  • And, of course, no reporter would be caught dead without a notebook and


Class participation: WordPress blogs and Weekly WHAT WORKS assignments

Each student will create and maintain a WordPress blog for the purpose of this class. If you already have one and just want to create a separate category for your JOUR 271 work, that’s fine, as long as your work can be easily found. If you do not have one – and have never created one – we will review this during class on Week One

Every Tuesday, students will be expected to bring in a news story that “worked” (can be print, video, radio, infographic, slideshow or any combination thereof); students should be prepared to defend the elements they found to be the most/least effective (i.e., if an otherwise strong news story about a war battlefront moving forward into new territory does not have a map, make a note of it) during class. Not everyone will be asked to present their example every week, but a brief write-up, along with a link to the story, is expected from each student and should be posted to your wordpress blog.

Social media:

Students will be expected to create a Twitter and to follow at least 10 significant sources of news and information. At least five of these should be established news orgs (or individuals from within those orgs), at least five should NOT be local, and at least two (either local or national) should be specific to your beat.

You will be encouraged to develop your own Twitter Lists according to your interests/beats, but below are just a few suggestions:

News headlines: BreakingNews, CNNbrk

Media industry: BrianStelter, poniewozik, NiemanLab, Poynter, JLab

Digital News: Mashable, Slashdot, TechCrunch

General interest TheAtlantic, NYT, WSJ, New Yorker, Slate, Salon




In evaluating your work, we will apply professional standards. An A, for example, means your story required little if any editing and is ready for publication or broadcast. It is rare for an initial submission to meet that standard.

For most stories, I will critique what you submit and give you feedback. In my critique, I will evaluate your reporting skills (such as accuracy, completeness, objectivity and multiple sourcing), writing skills (the story’s lead, organization, use of interviews), mechanics (spelling, grammar, AP style). There will be no critique for the final project. 


It is NOT acceptable to interview roommates, friends and relatives, fraternity brothers/sorority sisters, employers or anyone else who could be considered a potential conflict of interest. These are the kinds of stories that require expert or independent opinion. Do not “recycle” a story you wrote for this or any other class or publication. When you quote someone, it will be assumed that you personally interviewed the person unless your story states otherwise. Interviews via e-mail should not be the primary interviewing tool.

Stories and projects: You will be assigned both team and individual projects. Your grade will be affected by accuracy, timeliness and quality.
Quizzes: Some weeks you will be quizzed on materials, including the readings and what’s going on in the news.
Exam: Your final will be a final feature story project, due during exam week.

Grade Range

97% A+
93% A
90% A-
87% B+
83% B
80% B-
77% C+
73% C
70% C-
67% D+
60% D
0% F
Attendance/participation = 10 percent

In-class assignments and quizzes = 10 percent

Stories = 70 percent

Final project = 10 percent




As journalists, it is crucial for you to keep up with what is happening on campus, in the Oxford area, in the United States and around the world. Every day, you should read, or at least skim, the Daily Mississippian and a major news publication such as The Wall Street Journal or The Washington Post – if not on paper, then online. You also should monitor the local papers, such as the Oxford Eagle, and you should listen to NPR and watch news on television.



Ole Miss gives each student an e-mail account, and that is the address Blackboard uses (and we will use) for this class. I will communicate frequently in this class by e-mail. Like, a lot. Therefore, you should check your e-mail regularly for messages about JOUR 271. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are receiving e-mails from me.

When you send me e-mail, begin the subject line with “JOUR 271:


No incompletes will be given in this course, except for dire emergencies. All assignments must be completed by the end of the semester to pass.


Fabricating material or using another’s work without attribution will draw an automatic F in the course, and your name will be turned in to appropriate university officials. In this course, as in the journalism profession, plagiarism is not tolerated. This means you must not use direct quotes or verbatim material from a newspaper or other publication without giving credit.

Unless we specify otherwise, all work done for this course is “pledged” work and implicitly carries this pledge: “On my honor, I have neither given nor received aid on this assignment.”


Attendance is mandatory at all class meetings. If you aren’t present on the first day of class, you’ll be dropped by the instructor. If you’re not present at least once in the first two weeks, you’ll be dropped by the Dean’s Office.

Students are expected to attend class and to do all assigned work. If a student misses class, excused or otherwise, it is his or her responsibility to get the assignments and turn the work in on time. In-class assignments can’t be made up. Do not schedule interviews or plan to attend news events during class times without prior approval. Either show up on time or don’t come.


For journalists, an essential skill is the ability to work against a deadline. Therefore, in this course, you must turn in work on time. Plan ahead, organize your time and do not procrastinate.

If you miss deadline, you will receive a grade of no more than 50 points on a major assignment.  All late minor assignments will earn zero credit.


You are entitled to receive instruction free from interference by other students. If you believe that another student’s behavior is disruptive, tell us so we can deal with the situation. During class, you may use the computers only as we allow; you may not read e-mail, browse the Web, play games or do other activities unless authorized. During lectures and discussions, you must turn off your computer monitors.

You must not install any programs on the computers in our classroom. You must not install screensavers or desktop images, either. Action will be taken against violators. Tell us immediately whether unauthorized programs have been installed on the computer you are using.

No food or drink is allowed in the classroom. You may not sleep, wear headphones or use electronic devices (such as computer games) in class. You must not conduct side conversations or create other disruptions. It is disruptive to arrive late and/or pack up early.

Be polite; respect your classmates, your instructor and others with whom you will interact during this course. If you engage in any behavior that we deem disruptive, you will get a verbal warning for the first incident and a written warning for the second. A third incident may result in your being administratively withdrawn from this class.

In reporting stories and doing other work for JOUR 271, you will interact with news sources, Ole Miss officials and other people. You must act professionally at all times: in interviewing people, talking to them on the phone and communicating with them by e-mail. This means being respectful, polite and non-argumentative – in short, acting as a professional and ethical journalist. It also means dressing appropriately for interviews and other meetings. If you act unprofessionally, we will lower your grade accordingly.



It is vital that students in this course broaden their mass communications experiences, with guidance from the instructor, by including in their course work people and subjects such as ethnic, racial and religious minorities, people with disabilities, gay men and lesbians, and other groups. The intent is to ensure that students are exposed to diverse ideas and perspectives. In this class, it is the responsibility of the instructor and students to foster an environment that supports free expression.



The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 requires the University to provide academic adjustments or accommodations for students with documented disabilities. If you have a disability that requires an academic adjustment or accommodation, meet with me to discuss your needs and how we can address them.


Week 1 Syllabus and News Value
Week 2 Sourcing and Interviewing
Week 3 Story 1 due
Week 4 Beat Assignments
Week 5 Covering a Beat
Week 6 More interviewing; Beat troubles
Week 7 Story 2 due
Week 9 Broadcast News
Week 10 Video and Sequencing
Week 11 Story 3 due
Week 12 Story 4 Pitches
Week 13 Field Research
Week 14 Online Publishing + Lab Time
Week 15 Story 4 Due







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