Syllabus – Online Journalism (Monday)

Goals | Prerequisites | Assignments & Tests | Grading | Attendance | Standards, Ethics & Academic Integrity | Books & Materials | Students with disabilities

JOUR 352/652 (Monday section): Online Journalism, Spring 2011

Course: Jour 352, Online Journalism

Room: KNI 2103 Instructor: Dan Friedell Email:  Phone: 301.405.5415 (office); 703.829.5053 (google voice). Office hours (KNI2217): Before class Monday or Thursday (From approximately 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.). Course website:


This is not a computer class or an art class. It’s a journalism course in which we’ll use computers and readings and discussions to learn about online news publishing. You will learn the basics of HTML code and how to use web-editing, photo-editing and graphics-creation software to build pages. We will discuss credibility and ethics online as well as new strategies for storytelling on the Web. There will be lessons about site structuring and navigation and headline and link writing. You will build a resume package and a news feature. You will also be expected to create and maintain your own blog and twitter account and participate in a class blog where we’ll post links to stories and articles on the Web and carry on discussions outside the classroom. (Disclaimer: This document is a guide and the instructor reserves the right to update it as the semester progresses. Students will be made aware of any changes on the class blog and in person.


JOUR 201 (News Writing and Reporting I) and 202 (News Editing) or the broadcast equivalents.

Assignments & Tests:

Your instructor will supply more detailed instructions on some assignments in class. If you are asked to make a blog post as an assignment, you will either be given class time do so or will be given a deadline by the instructor. If you are assigned to react to a certain news event, expect to post to your own blog or a class blog immediately following the conclusion of the event. Please follow Associated Press style for print on all assignments in this class.

  • Feb 21: (5 percent of your grade): One-page Web resume due at the start of class on your WordPress blog, with text, subheads, internal (anchor) links, an e-mail address link, at least one external hyperlink, a photo and at least one bulleted list. Background colors are optional, as are changed link colors. Each factual mistake will result in one letter-grade deduction, as will each broken link or nonfunctional image tag. Unreadable resumes (because of bad color choices for fonts or backgrounds) will result in an automatic F. Assignments lose a full letter grade for each day that they’re late. AP style required.
  • March 28: (together, 10 percent of your grade): Midterm take-home assignment due at the start of class. The take home segment of the midterm will be an proposal of how you would play a long-form magazine or news enterprise story from 2000 or earlier online. (5 percent) More details to follow. Midterm in-class assignment due at the end of class (5 percent).
  • April 11: (5 percent of your grade) Two-page resume package due at the start of class. This is an expansion of your resume assignment. You will create a second page and link both to each other. You may use the Web-editor tool Dreamweaver when building this assignment, or tools you find in WordPress, but you must work independently. You may not take layouts from other students. The second page could link to published writing or broadcast samples — news clips, press releases, audio or video clips. Please do not link to unpublished work. Or it could be a montage of photos you’ve taken of friends, family or travel. The two pages, when linked together, must include external links, at least one photo and at least one graphic. The graphic could be a banner created by you in Photoshop or it could come from free art on the Internet. All links and navigation on your pages must work; all text must make sense and be written in AP style. Each factual mistake will result in a full letter-grade deduction, as will each broken link and broken image. Projects turned in late will lose a full letter grade for each day that they’re late. This should be something you’d be proud to show a prospective employer.
  • April 18: (5 percent of grade): Text-only version of your feature story is due at the start of class. (See next item). This is an originally reported story of 500 to 700 words, on a topic previously approved by the teacher. It should be in journalistic style and be worthy of publication. Stories must be original work and must not have been previously published elsewhere. Stories with factual mistakes will be given an automatic F (55 percent). Stories must be accurate, fair and fully reported, and include strong feature leads, nut graphs and transitions.
  • May 9: (20 percent of grade): Multimedia feature package due at the start of class. This must include an originally reported text story of 500 to 700 words (see above), at least one photo (either shot by you or acquired by you), a well-written photo caption, a headline and at least two related links. In addition, one complementary multimedia element is required: It could be an audio clip you’ve collected, edited and posted; a table of information you’ve compiled and linked to; a Google map you’ve created and linked to; or a photo gallery you’ve built. More specifics to come in class.
  • May 16, 7 p.m.: (20 percent of your grade): Final due: This is an analysis of a news website (word count to be determined), selected from a list the instructor will circulate in class. You will discuss how well the site uses navigation; how clean its design is; how well it uses photos and graphics, broadcast features (including audio and video and podcasts) and interactive elements (such as chats, blogs, polls, Google map mashups, quizzes and searchable databases); how much (if any) original reporting appears to be done by the online staff; and how well stories are written and presented and make use of the medium. You should tell me about any other features you loved or hated and why. And you should tell me what changes editors and publishers might consider to better position themselves for the future. I recommend that you include an introductory paragraph or two at the start of the paper and a summary paragraph or two at the end. Subheads throughout may help you organize your thoughts. The analysis should be based on your observations of the site throughout the semester and on background research you’ve conducted on the site. Comments should be supported with facts. Factual mistakes–including misspelled proper names and faulty URLs–will result in full letter-grade deductions. Papers must be double-spaced and numbered. Papers must be e-mailed to me, so I get the time stamp. Assignments turned in after deadline will receive an F.
  • Class blog/Personal Blog: (20 percent of your grade) You are required to participate throughout the semester on the class blog and publish assignments to your own blog. You will be required to post at least one item per week and at least five comments. I will explain more in class.
  • Class participation: (15 percent) Participation comes in two parts. You must attend and contribute in class (5 percent) and complete in-class written assignments.


Each assignment will be graded for accuracy, meeting of deadlines, substance, presentation/navigation/links (for Web assignments), quality of writing (headlines, story blurbs, photo captions and other text), usability and style. Associated Press print stylebook rules and rules of grammar should be followed on every assignment. Factual errors have serious consequences, as noted on each assignment. Letter-grade deductions will be taken for broken links, including for photos, and for navigation that doesn’t work. All written and Web assignments are due at the start of class, unless specifically instructed otherwise. No excuses, other than the hospitalization of the student or the death of a member of the student’s immediate family, will be accepted for late assignments. A full letter grade will be deducted for each day an assignment is late, except for the final paper, which will receive an F if turned in after deadline.


There is no mandatory attendance policy at the University of Maryland. However, as noted in the “Attendance and Assessment” section of the university’s Academic Requirements and Regulations policy, (see p. 36 of Undergraduate Catalog), “in some courses, attendance and in-class participation are ongoing requirements and an integral part of the work of the course.” JOUR 352 is such a course. In accordance with the college’s policy, there will be no excused absences or lateness for any reason.

Standards, Ethics and Academic Integrity:

Students are expected to adhere to the strictest journalistic and academic standards. For this class, you must do all work yourself, without collaboration with classmates or others, unless I tell you otherwise. Along with certain rights, students also have the responsibility to behave honorably in an academic environment. Academic dishonesty, including cheating, fabrication, facilitating academic dishonesty and plagiarism (including use of unauthorized photos, graphics, text or layout from the Web) will not be tolerated. Adhering to a high ethical standard is of special importance in the world of journalism, where reliability and credibility are the cornerstones of the field. Therefore, the college has adopted a “zero tolerance” policy on academic dishonesty. Any abridgment of the university’s academic integrity standards in a College of Journalism course will be referred directly to the dean. The dean will send all confirmed cases to the university’s Office of Judicial Affairs with a recommendation of expulsion from the university for any violation of the code. To insure this is understood, all students will be required to sign an academic integrity pledge at the beginning of the semester that will cover all assignments in the course.

Books & Materials:

We will be using a combination of required textbooks and handouts (printed and online) in this course:

  • Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual (for print). Please bring the stylebook to class with you to aid in lab work.
  • Journalism 2.0 – How to Survive and Thrive – (Briggs) selected readings.
  • Additional Readings: This syllabus links to various required online reading assignments under the class schedule. In addition, because the field is changing so fast, you’ll be expected to do additional reading to keep up as you see it on or elsewhere in the news industry.

Students With Disabilities:

Students with a specific disability (permanent or temporary, physical or learning) needing special accommodation during the semester should make an appointment to meet with the instructor.

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