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Database & Public Records Reporting/JOU3121 | News Workshop/JOU 3113




Print News Workshop

JOU-3113/Fall 2006


AC2/258 – Tuesday, 5 p.m. – 7:40 p.m.

Professor Neil Reisner

Office hours:

Office: AC2/318

Monday, 11 a.m.– 1 p.m.

Phone: 305-919-5677

Tuesday, 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Mobile: 954-629-2275

And by appointment. (Always best to make an appointment)

E-mail: neil.reisner@fiu.edu

And drop-in whenever I’m around, if I’m free we can talk

Website: http://www.nreisner.com




Required Texts:

News Reporting and Writing, 8th Edition, The Missouri Group, Bedford/St. Martin's, 2004


“The AP Stylebook,” The Associated Press, Basic Books, 2004


“Letters to a Young Journalist,” Samuel G. Freedman, Basic Books, 2006


The Sun-Sentinel, The Miami Herald, The New York Times, NPR and any other news outlets that attract you.


“The Elements of Style,” William Strunk, E.B. White and Roger Angell, Longman, 2000


“Media Writer’s Handbook,” 4th Edition, George T. Arnold, McGraw Hill, 2007


Writing Strategies/MMC 3104; Introduction to Journalism/JOU3004 3003





JOU-3113L teaches the fundamentals of reporting and writing news stories for print, the basics for any sort of journalism.


·   To understand the role of journalists in society and the culture of journalism.

·   To learn the basics of journalism – reporting and writing.

·   To understand what makes something news and sharpen your news judgment.

·   To understand the notion of “story,” what a story is and is not.

·   To be able to report and write basic news stories – meetings, speeches, news conferences, crime and the like – that are suitable for publication.

·   To learn Associated Press style and how to use the AP Stylebook.

·   To improve spelling and grammar skills to newsroom standards.




Consider this class as an entrance to your careers as journalists. We’ll apply the same standards here as you will find in any newsroom.

·   Attendance is mandatory and will comprise 10 percent of your final grade. Students who must be absent due to illness must bring a note from the treating physician. Absences due to traffic, assignments in other classes, interviews, car trouble, cruises, trips home for anything other than verifiable emergencies, will not be excused. Other issues will be considered case-by-case but will not generally be excused

·   Courtesy counts. Turn your cell phones off before class starts. Don’t talk on the phone or among yourselves, answer e-mail, IM, listen to your iPods or surf the web when the instructor is teaching.

·   Be on time. Arrive late more than twice and your grade may be reduced by one letter.

·   Deadlines will be enforced. Grades for assignments turned in after deadline will be reduced by one-half letter per day, at the professor’s discretion. Likewise, lengths. Assignments turned in over or under the assignment length will be reduced by one-half letter grade, at the professor’s discretion.

·   Spelling and grammar count, both in your papers and in your e-mails. So does adherence to AP style. Grades will be reduced for spelling, grammar and AP style errors.

·   Format counts. Assignments that do not conform to the required format (see below) will not be accepted.

·   There is only one rule regarding plagiarism: Don’t. Any student who turns in a plagiarized assignment will fail the class and be subject to university discipline. For specifics, see the university’s Code of Academic Integrity: http://www.fiu.edu/%7Eoabp/misconductweb/1acmisconductproc.htm



You learn by reporting and writing stories and by critiquing your own and others’ work. Expect writing assignments in every class and homework assignments every week, usually based on what is learned in each class. Spend time learning and reviewing AP style, spelling and grammar.



Stories you’ll write in the real world must be formatted for the media outlet to which they’re aimed. Class assignments must also be formatted in a specific way.

·   Leave one-half page at the top of every assignment blank so Prof. Reisner can make comments.

·   Turn in two copies of every assignment, unless instructed otherwise. One will be marked and commented; the other will be kept as a record of your improvement.

·   Assignments must be printed out. Handwritten assignments will not be accepted.

·   Assignments must be stapled, each copy separately.

·   Each page of each assignment must be clearly labeled with your name, the assignment, the date, the page number and the total number of pages. The easiest way to do this in Microsoft Word is with a header.

·   One-half grade may be deducted for papers in the wrong format.



Journalism is a deadline business and there’s nothing worse than missing one. Class deadlines will be equally sacrosanct.

·   Assignments are due in class. One-half grade per day may be deducted for papers not turned in on time, including the day of class.

·   You may leave assignments in Professor Reisner’s mailbox in the Journalism Department office. If they arrive before class, they’ll be marked on time. If after, they’re late.

·   Assignments will not be accepted via e-mail or fax.


Journalists need to know everything and staying informed is crucial. Read newspapers and magazines. Listen to and watch broadcast news. Visit news Web sites. Expect quizzes randomly throughout the semester on current news.

In class, students critique news articles of their choosing and defend their critiques before the class and instructor. E-mail the instructor a copy of or Web link to the story so that copies of the article can be printed and shared in class.



The class will likely take one or more field trips over the course of the semester. Field trips are mandatory; ample notice will be provided so students may make necessary arrangements. Should students be unable to go on a field trip, Prof. Reisner will provide alternate assignments, but the grade on that assignment may be affected.



The Language Skills Examination is required as part of this class. Students do not have to pay to take the exam and do not to achieve a particular score to pass the class. The exam does, however, count for 10 percent of the final grade in the class.



We will conduct much of our class business via three online venues.

·   Prof. Reisner’s web site, www.nreisner.com.

·   A listserv, or Internet mailing list, JOU3113@FIU.EDU

·   A listserv provides an easy way to exchange information via e-mail. Any mail sent to the class listserv will go to Prof. Reisner and all students in the class. Use the list to ask questions about class or assignments, to seek assistance if you run into trouble on any technique, to help out your fellow students; use it to continue the conversations we will have in class. Participation counts in this class and note will be taken of those who take advantage of the listserv.

·   A Web Log or "blog", where Prof. Reisner will occasionally post articles of interest, notifying the class via the listserv. The blog will be accessible via Reisner’s web page.



Students will be graded on:

·   Attendance/Participation: Attendance and how much you engage in class discussions count. 10 percent

·   Writing Assignments: While evaluating writing is by definition subjective, you can ensure a good grade by using proper grammar and punctuation, sticking to AP style and making sure every word is spelled correctly. Other factors include structure, completeness and news judgment. There will be two types of writing assignment, graded and ungraded. Ungraded assignments will be used to practice skills and marked as complete. Graded assignments will be assigned letter grades. 60 percent.

·   News Quizzes: Journalists must keep up on the news to do their jobs. Occasional pop quizzes will encourage students to do so. 10 percent.

·   AP Style Quizzes: Writing in proper AP style is critical to your future. Style quizzes will be announced. 10 percent.

·   Language Skills Examination: The grammar test. 10 percent.

·   Extra Credit Opportunity: One point of extra credit will be awarded for reported stories published during the semester.


There are no strictly objective ways to grade writing. Much is in the eyes and experience of the beholder. So papers will be graded from the perspective of an editor reviewing a story submitted for publication by a reporter. The descriptions here apply to complete stories. Adjustments are made for exercises that don’t result in complete stories, but the general guidelines remain the same.

·   A work is nearly ready for publication and needs no substantial editing. It’s written in the active voice with a tight lede and a logical structure. It comports to AP style, is grammatical, has no misspellings and no facts are left out. The sources and their quotes make sense in the context of the story. Quotes are used economically and not just for the sake of being there.

·   Stories receive Bs when they would require substantial work to make them ready for publication. Their ledes and structure need work; there are holes in the reporting; there are style, grammar and/or spelling problems. But the gist of the story is evident, the right sources are interviewed and the reporter clearly has a good idea of what the story is about.

·   Work receives a C when it cannot be prepared for publication no matter how much and editor might work. The lede is off base, the story not on point, the sources and quotes are wrong, there are grammatical errors and misspellings. But it is still clear that the reporter put substantial effort into the work and tried hard to get it right.

·   Stories receive Ds when it is clear that the reporter blew them off.

·   Fs go to work that is not turned or if a source’s name is misspelled or the source is misidentified.



Here is how points are awarded, though the professor reserves the right to adjust grades upward or downward if warranted:

Home Work

























Final Grade



95 and above






















Raising your grade is easy. Here some pointers:

·        Do assigned readings and apply them to what you learn in class and your outside assignments.

·        Participate in class and engage in the material.

Pay attention to spelling, grammar and AP style.

·        Re-report and rewrite assignments based on feedback for a higher grade. Simply correcting mistakes noted on the graded assignment will not raise the grade.



Lowering your grade is difficult if you abide by the pointers above. You’re guaranteed to lower your grade if you:

·         Don’t come to class or consistently come late..

·        Don’t turn in work on time or in the correct format.

·        Talk, send e-mail, IM, play online games or surf the Web in class.

·        Answer your phone or send text messages.

·        Sleep.



Students are advised to obtain a USB Flash Drive – also known as a “Thumb Drive,” or “Jump Drive.” USB Drives operate at the speed of memory, many times faster than floppy disks. A 512 megabyte USB Drive holds the equivalent of about 500 floppy disks, should cost about $20 and is available at Target, Best Buy, Office Depot, Office Max, CompUSA, even Walgreen’s. Professor Reisner can direct you to online sources with good prices.



“Learning and teaching should not stand on opposite banks and just watch the river flow by; instead, they should embark together on a journey down the water. Through an active, reciprocal exchange, teaching can strengthen learning how to learn.” Loris Malaguzzi (1920–1994), Italian early childhood education specialist.

The transmission of knowledge is collaborative. I can present to you information, resources and my 25 years of experience. It is up to you to avail yourself of them by reading the text, handouts and other resources; by reading newspapers and paying attention to the news; and by spending enough time on all assignments to do them as well as you can. If you do these things, you will learn.




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