Sculpture of girl on a rope swing

Production Standards

Audio: Is your audio even, level, clear and devoid of distracting noise? Have you made appropriate use of natural sound?

Lighting; Are your subjects well lighted? Do we see faces and other detail clearly?

Motion: Have you told your story by video? Have you kept your set-ups and stand-ups to a minimum?

Supers: Are your supers readable (color, duration) but not obtrusive?

Transitions: Do your transitions flow smoothly and logically?

Have you included images that help to tell your story? Good visuals can tell your story and/or add depth not possible with words alone.

Have you included charts, graphs and/or tables that visually show relationships between or evolution of data important to your story?

Have you stayed within style guidelines for your publication?

Answer all questions that apply to print re: visual elements, charts, data, style, etc.

Have you made use of Web interactivity including links?

If video, audio or animation will help tell your story, did you employ those elements?

Did you organize your story into appropriate "chunks"?


Syllabus – JOUR 4350 – Spring, 2015

Meets: 11 -12:20 TR CoMC 375 Instructor: Randy Reddick
Office: CoMC office tower 207 Hours: MW 9:30-11, TR 2-3 p.m., and by appointment
Phone: 834-0776 · TTU E-mail: r.reddick

This syllabus is your contract with the instructor for the course. Please read it carefully and ask questions if anything is unclear to you. Course participation signifies your acceptance of this contract.

COURSE PURPOSE & Description:

Prerequisite: JOUR 3311 and 3312. JOUR 4350 is a "Capstone course on production of news in print, online, broadcast environments." This is a converged, working newsroom where senior journalism students refine their news gathering and reporting skills in a multi-platform environment.

REQUIRED TEXTS and other materials:


  • Debora Halpern Wenger and Debora Potter. Advancing the Story: Broadcast Journalism in a Multimedia World. 3e (CQ Press: Washington, D.C.; 2014) and attendant Web workbook.
  • Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel. The Elements of Journalism: What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect . (Three Rivers Press: New York , 2001).
  • Larry Makinson. Follow the Money Handbook, (Center for Responsive Politics: Washington, D.C., 1994)
  • Brant Houston. The Investigative Reporter's Handbook: A Guide to Documents, Databases and Techniques. 5e. (Bedford/St. Martins: Boston, 2009).


This is a working newsroom, known in the college as “News Central.” A team atmosphere is the rule. During the term you will be expected to “take ownership” of the overall output of News Central, helping to define and refine its mission, message and market. In most cases, you will work as a part of a news team to produce news packages. At other times you will work alone. You will continue to build your own portfolio of news products that will help you find employment in the convergent media world at large.

  • News Packages (55% of grade): Minimum requirement: You will research and write a minimum of seven stories and otherwise contribute to news packages. Each “package” will be filed on roughly two-week deadlines and will involve a mix of print/web articles, photo essays, audio podcasts (optional), TV news stories. Each student must complete two stories in each of the three required formats (so everyone will produce two print/web articles, two photo essays, and two video stories).
  • Leadership (10% of grade): Components include team leadership, news enterprise work, newsroom management, production. Strive to earn at least 3 leadership points.You will maintain a detailed inventory of news package work during the term, and compile team leadership reports when you head a team.
  • Newscast participation (15% of grade): Each student will take part in three of the weekly MCTV newscasts throughout the semester. We need students to fill the following roles: News anchors, camera operators, graphics and audio operator, and teleprompter operator. Contact Josh Robinson for assignments, and you should learn as many different positions as possible.
  • Participation and collegiality (10% of grade): How well do you work with others in the newsroom and how much do you contribute to class discussion (online and in class)? Half this grade includes making thoughtful, timely story proposals for and participating in news budget meetings.
  • Quizzes (10% of grade) You have current events quizzes as well as quizzes over assigned readings.
  • Attendance: Absences hurt your work. We do a lot of practical presentations in class, using examples of "published" work from many professionals and we also regularly examine and discuss your assignments in class. There are many opportunities to learn and refine your reporting technique and it begins to show in your work if you aren’t there. So you may have up to five unexcused absences over the course of the entire semester (that’s about one absence every three weeks). A sixth unexcused absence will result in the loss of a full letter grade for the course. A seventh unexcused absence will result in the loss of two full letter grades for the course, and so on.


Any student who plagiarizes another person's work will receive an F for that assignment, will stand in jeopardy of failing the class, and will be dealt with according to the Student Code of Conduct. All source materials must be clearly cited in your copy.


WRITING: For each story you WRITE, the grade you receive will take into consideration both form and content of your work.
TECHNICAL MERIT: See "Production Standards" tabs in the syllabus sidebar at left.
FORM considerations include spelling, grammar, punctuation, format, logical presentation, usage, diction, transitions, passive-active voice, conciseness, adherence to AP Style, clarity.
CONTENT considerations include accuracy, completeness, significance of information, reader appeal, newsworthiness, fairness, coherence, strength of verbs (especially in lead).

Lttr Pts Typical Characteristics
Outstanding writing! Exceptional prose. Thorough research and understanding of topic shown by clear expression of uncommon contextual insight. Solid 3D Reporting. Free of mechanical errors.
Good work, clearly above average. Free of serious mechanical error. Accurately reports issues/events in appropriate, meaningful context. Thoughts clearly expressed. Needs only minor editing.
Fulfills the assignment but lacks contextual insight and/or clarity. Work largely sound and accurate, but may be missing important detail and perspective. Only simple grammar or spelling errors. Needs revision
Has fundamental, often multiple, problems. Missing important information, lacking details. Marred by multiple (or serious) errors in grammar, spelling, or punctuation. Expression often ambiguous, unclear.
Unacceptable work. Typically marred by multiple errors in mechanics and  thought content. Often contains factual errors.

FACT ERRORS, including misspelling of names of any kind will result in an automatic F on the assignment. Serious, multiple errors in punctuation, grammar, spelling, or AP style will result in an F.

Production Standards:

When you produce a news package, that package is also graded on its technical excellence. Separate standards govern each platform; see side panel for details.

LATE WORK / DEADLINES: Late work will not be accepted. All finished packages are due at the conclusion of lab time on the assigned due dates.
EXTRA CREDIT points may be awarded for quality pieces entered in contests sponsored by SPJ, the Hearst Foundation, BEA, or others. The following packages delivered on CoMC servers may earn extra credit or work to fulfill portions of the course packaging requirements: 1) Creation/delivery of a regular weekly or bi-weekly (every other week) podcast (3-5 minutes each); 2) creation/management of a carefully researched weekly blog on topics aimed at the TTU / Lubbock / West Texas community; 3) appropriate enterprise work.
OPERATIONS: Lab time is for producing packages. Scheduled lecture time should be used for students pitching story ideas, sharing story packages, and critiquing.  After critiquing, students may want to revise their stories for their portfolios.  All members of a team contribute to news research and gathering of information that will be used on all three platforms.

Beginning with Week 2, each even-numbered week will start with a News Budget meeting Students will "pitch" their story ideas to the NewsCentral team. The story "pitch" will have been turned in to your course instructor on the previous Friday. As a result of the news budget meeting, news teams will select stories to develop. Each team will produce a print, a Web and a video package. This class is a product-oriented class, and you will be graded on both the quality and quantity of your output. This is also a class in working as team. Part of your grade on each story will be based on how well you contribute to the team effort.

GENERAL SCHEDULE: (subject to minor revisions)

Lecture and Lab
Course introduction, requirements and expectations. State of the news industry, digital news workflow. Leadership. Our software (1).
Web site, syllabus, procedures and standards. Story Pitch and Leadership apps

News budget meeting 1 Jan. 20. Our software (2). Cross-platform journalism skills.

Study website, read Mindset Document

Newsroom organization, critique cycle 1 packages. Journalism and the citizen dialogue.
Story 1 pkg due Jan. 29. Story pitch 2 due Fri. Jan. 30

News budget meeting 2 Feb. 3. Critique. Visual storytelling. Copyright, other media law in a digital environment, ethics
SPJ Code of Ethics, Kaufhold Ch. 1
Ethical decisions 1 / accuracy. What is news?,
Story 2; Pitch 3

News budget meeting 3 Feb. 17. Critique. Online sources, data & contexts, focus.
Reading as assigned
Multi-media news
Story 3; Assigned reading

News budget meeting 4 March 3. Critique. Web concerns, review.
Assigned reading
Depth reporting.
Story 4, Pitch 5

News budget meeting 5 March 24. Critique. Source credibility. The inventory, review
Story 5, Pitch 6, assigned reading

News budget meeting 6 April 7. Critique. Tough assignments.
Assigned reading
Job shopping 1, Webscape.
Story 6, Pitch 7, assigned reading

News Budget meeting 7 April 21. Ethics, review
Review all

Wrap up, Review. Job shopping 2. Last class day May 5.
Story 7 due April 30, Inventory due May 5.

Note:   Each team story should have a print version, a television package and a Web version.

Key Leadership Roles

  • Editor, This person should have good copy editing skills and must pay attention to detail. Needs good understanding of news and audience. He/she has editing privileges, and approves all copy that is published on the Web site. Needs basic understanding of media law. Works closely with Daybook Editor. Receives a minimum of 4 leadership points, 50% reduction in story load.
  • Podcast editor / producer(s): One or two persons. Creates weekly (or biweekly) 5-minute podcast culled from department-wide contributions and augmented as necessary by calendar-centered pieces. Receives a minimum of 4 leadership points, 50% reduction in story load.
  • Team leaders / editors: Each story developed as a team will require a team leader and a video editor / packager (one leadership point each). The team leader acts as an editor for the overall story, making sure that all angles get covered – including acquisition of photos and appropriate graphics and charts. The team leader works with the Web editor to knit individual stories together (that belong together) into one consistent whole.

Notes on Overall Grading Philosophy

In JOUR 4350 you become part of a working newsroom. Your performance in News Central will be graded along the same dimensions as your performance in any commercial news room. You will be rated on your reporting excellence, the technical expertise exhibited in your work, and your collegiality and leadership.
A “C” student does what is asked of him / her. All assignments are completed on time with an acceptable level of proficiency both in the reporting and whatever technical aspects apply. The individual fulfills all team assignments and contributes to the development and fleshing out of the team’s story concepts.
“A” and “B” students do more than meet simple expectations, and as a rule they do it better. This means that they willingly or enthusiastically assume leadership responsibilities including going the extra mile in developing a story or story segment for which they are responsible; taking team leadership responsibilities for stories; serving as on-air talent for weekly newscasts; assuming the role of editor and/or package producer

In addition to doing more than simply required, “A” and “B” students do it better. Their work is a cut or two above the average in terms of both the reporting and the technical excellence.
Unsatisfactory performance includes work that contains fact errors or work that has merely a whisper of plagiarism. Grammatical and spelling errors, omissions of important facts or data or other “holey” reporting also detracts from the report. Late work is not acceptable.

Course Assessment

Expected Learning Outcomes Assessment Methods
Demonstrate ability to generate newsworthy story project ideas and sell them to an editor 1, 7
Create news packages based on story ideas generated by self and others 2
Understand the relative strengths and limitations of print, online and television news environments 1, 3
Demonstrate knowledge of ethical challenges faced by news people and options available 6, 7
Comprehend the role of media in society 6, 7
Work as an effective member of a news team 3, 4
Develop and demonstrate newsroom leadership 1, 4, 5

Methods Key:

  1. Students “pitch” stories in news budget meetings and participate in discussion of how each story might “play out” in print, television and online.
  2. Students work on stories as individuals and in news teams where the responsibility for developing the story and gathering necessary information is shared.
  3. As part of news teams, students contribute to news products that see light as print, television and online packages
  4. Students are responsible for producing both team and individual packages
  5. Students assume management roles in the newsroom
  6. Students successfully complete 3 exams and 6 random quizzes
  7. Students participate in and contribute to classroom discussions

ADA statement: Any student who, because of a disability, may require special arrangements in order to meet the course requirements should contact the instructor as soon as possible to make any necessary arrangements. Students should present appropriate verification from Student Disability Services during the instructor’s office hours. Please note instructors are not allowed to provide classroom accommodations to a student until appropriate verification from Student Disability Services has been provided. For additional information, you may contact the Student Disability Services office in 335 West Hall or 806-742-2405.