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COURSE NAME: "Writing Across the Media"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2017

INSTRUCTOR: Elizabeth Macias Gutierrez
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 4:30-5:45 PM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: EN 110 with a grade of C or above
OFFICE HOURS: By Appointment

The course introduces students to the various kinds of writing they will encounter in the media professions and in digital multimedia production, and prepares them for more advanced media courses in the Communications and Media Studies program. Students will also be introduced to basic legal and ethical issues, such as libel, copyright, privacy. Activities include writing for online media, press releases, strategic campaigns, and short scripts for visual and audio media as well as exercises to pitch their ideas. They will also explore issues concerning style, communicability, and effective storytelling.
All students will be required to create an e-portfolio using WordPress. This is where students will post and share their work from class assignments. Throughout the course students will be required to maintain a blog, with at least one post a week. There will be additional writing activities, both inside and outside of class, consisting of various different projects, including a press release, media kit, and short scripts (audio and visual) for a public service announcement and podcast. This course will include guest lectures from different media specialists.

·      Learn legal and ethical principles of writing for the media

·      Demonstrate an understanding of the history and role of writing for various media professions

·      Write correctly and clearly in forms and styles appropriate for a variety of communications professions

·      Apply tools and technologies appropriate for different communications professions

·      Critically assess institutional and individual media practices

·      Understand how to promote and share written works online

·      Conceive, draft, edit and finalize a basic script for visual and audio media

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
The Essential GuideSteve Hill and Paul LashmarSage978-1446207352  
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
The Huffington Post Complete Guide to BloggingThe editors of the Huffington PostSimon & Schuster978-1439105009  

BlogMaintain a personal weblog (blog) throughout the semester. This will involve creating a personal website using WordPress, which will serve as a digital portfolio for class assignments.20%
Press kitCreate a professional press kit for a band, film or book that features different types of copywriting.20%
Spot ScriptWrite a short script for a video spot20%
Podcast ScriptWrite a podcast script based on your blog.20%
Digital Portfolio 5%
Attendance/Partic.Attendance and participation is required. More than three unexcused absences will result in an automatic loss of a letter grade.5%
Final Exam 10%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

You cannot make-up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which you must attend the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences due to other meaningful conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam. Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Individual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed. The final exam period runs until December 7.
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


This schedule is subject to change. Please check weekly. Textbooks: HuffPost=The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging (on reserve); Hill/Lashmar = Online Journalism: The Essential Guide
Week Date Topic Key terms Reading Textbook/Links Assignment Activity
1 Intro Ethics, censorship, the law, fair use/copyright/creative commons chpts. 12-13 Hill/Lashmar Compare ethical principles
Take short online course: Online Media Law: The Basics for Bloggers and Other Publishers http://tinyurl.com/39ejw9x Take the minicourse and email the final grade to: [email protected]
2 Module 1: Curation/Blogging
Day 1: Main technical elements of blogs, blogging terms, choosing a blog topic

Chpts. 1-4

Headline writing; compare blog posts; active voice, writing captions
Research Activities: Examine coverage of controversial event; book/film review; find suitable info; compare and contrast sources; research an organization
Day 2: basic posting formula, critique HuffPost's best of blogs, headlines, ledes "Blogging and the Emerging Media Ecosystem" http://www.openmediaeducation.net/com480/files/2015/01/Blogging-and-the-emerging-media-ecosystem.pdf
3 Curation/Blogging Day 1: Lateral writing, summaries
Chpts. 2-4
HuffPost (on reserve)
Day 2: Chpts. 8-9 Hill/Lashmar
4 Curation/Blogging Day 1: "How to Write Articles and Essays Quickly and Expertly" http://halfanhour.blogspot.ca/2006/09/how-to-write-articles-and-essays.html
5 Curation/Blogging Day 2:
6 Module 2: Public Service Announcement (PSA) Day 1: Technical terms for scripts (camera movement, camera shots) Read and review PSA materials on class website
Research activities: Find suitable information; compare and contrast sources; research facts, statistics, data; audience research
Day 2:
7 PSA Day 1: Critique and discuss PSAs ch. 6 Hill/Lashmar
Day 2:
Day 1: Write PSA treatment for get out the vote campaign Read and review PSA materials on class website
Day 2:
8 PSA Day Storyboarding, scripts:
9 Module 3: Audio and podcasting script Day 1: Hand out chapt. 1 of War of the Worlds, listen to 15 minutes of 1938 Orson Wells broadcast, screen 10 minutes of 2005 film Read and review materials on class website
Research activities: Book/film review; trace scholar's career (interview)
Day 2: Go over keys to radio writing; handout transcript for This Ameriacn Life episode 126 Act One, listen to Act One and take notes in margins of different sounds used; handout Trump article, discuss how to convert to audio. Radio--An Illustrated Guide https://www.dropbox.com/s/e71bcaizj8lsyxx/Radio-An-Illustrated-Guide.pdf?dl=0
10 Audio cont. Day 1: Convert trump article to script. Ch. 5 Hill/Lashmar
11 Audio cont.
12 Audio cont.
13 Module 4: Press Kit and strategic communication Press Releases Read and review materials on class website Inormation literacy, research, audiences
Research activities: research media organization
14 Strategic Communication Copywriting
Writing a pitch