Kristin Louise Gustafson
Covers the basic elements of reporting and writing for print media, as well as meta-issues of ethics, the First Amendment, and a brief history of American journalism. Teaches reporting skills and the cultural context for the practice of those skills.
The course begins (and ends) with writing, reporting, critiquing, contextualizing, conceptualizing, and connecting to the journalistic story. Students learn hands-on reporting skills, the culture and context for the practice of those skills, and critique of journalism practice. We replicate journalism practices, including working in teams. By the end of the quarter, students should be able to talk about media and journalism in a way that is informed and reflexive, be prepared to contribute to local newspapers and campus media, be excited and wary about the powerful role that journalism plays in our lives, and be ready to participate.
Student learning goals
Fundamental skills in reporting news and features
Fundamental skills in writing for print media, and an introduction to writing for other media
Fundamental skills in media critique
Fundamental understanding of ethics, history, and legal issues in U.S. journalism, including the First Amendment
Fundamental knowledge and hands-on experience with online media and community newspapers
General method of instruction
To achieve Introduction to Journalism's learning goals, students will do many things in the class. Students will read some, write a lot, practice new skills, reflect on processes, get out of the classroom, work with one another, lead discussion, think critically, do self-reflection, and explore journalism's vulnerabilities and strengths.
This is an introduction course without prerequisites or necessary background other than an eagerness to learn. Students who need help with some writing basics are encouraged to supplement course learning with university services and books on grammar and punctuation.
Class assignments and grading
The assignments fall into the three categories explained below. Each assignment is designed to complement the other assignments to help students integrate the learning goals.
(1) Reporting/Writing/Critique: The majority of course points revolve around the basic skills of journalism -- how to report, how to write, how to edit and critique, and how to pitch the journalistic story. In-class meetings replicate news teams and peer review. (2) In the Field/Community Newspaper Sites: BIS 204's experiential-based learning and site visits help students understand journalism first hand. (3) Context and Concepts of Journalism: In order to talk about media and journalism in a way that is informed and reflexive, students need to know the relevant terms, concepts, and rules, as well as have an understanding of journalism's histories, ethics, and laws. This knowledge is expressed through short-answer exams, case studies, and student-led discussion.