#J508 Syllabus!

#J508 Reporting and Information Strategies
Summer 2011 10-11:50 MTWThF

Suzi Steffen • ssteffen@uoregon.eduhttp://twitter.com/suzisteffen • #J508
Office: Suite 3, Annex (behind Rennie’s, on 12th Ave. across Kincaid from campus)
Office Hours: W 9-10 & by appointment

This class will introduce you to fundamentals of journalistic reporting and writing in a digital media environment. You’ll be asked to write, edit, aggregate, reflect, shoot and record. My intent is to expose you to a wide range of skills and help you to think about integrating them. This is less a class about delivering arcane knowledge than one about practice, exploration and teamwork.

You will learn: • Basic reporting • News writing • Story forms • Strategies for digital publishing • The media landscape of Eugene and Oregon

We’ll meet together MTW, and I’ll be in the lab on Thursdays, so come in whenever you want during our class time to work on stories or posts or learn more software (much of it free, some of it on the lab computers). Fridays are for enterprise story work on your own or with your team.

Assignments: Everyone in the class will post aggregation stories, news stories and features to Knight Library Boot Camp.

You’ll be assigned in teams to different neighborhoods of town. I’d like you to do your reporting about those areas. You can do any news story you like, and later almost any subject for your enterprise story, but it must be centered in the part of town where you have been assigned. You’ll choose which area to cover on our second day of class, and you’ll get to know that neighborhood quite well.

You might want to research how to get to your neighborhood before you pick it — the bus system in Eugene is superb, and biking in the summer is a joy, but you’ll want to check out ways to get there. (Hey, there’s a blog post idea: Transportation to and from the neighborhood. Demographics, examples, photos … )

Weekly aggregation
Write two posts a week for the blog, each with links to at least three stories (one must be from nontraditional media — this includes social media, so, yes, you can and should post about Twitter and/or Facebook; one post each week can include a Storify if you’d like to work with that) and a short summary that gets to the heart of each story and why it’s relevant to Eugene/Lane County. The posts are due by Friday at midnight. I recommend that you read The Oregonian, The Eugene Register-Guard and the Eugene Weekly, MyEugene and other locally focused specialty sites. You must find an image (with a Creative Commons license — check Wikimedia Commons first — or one you took yourself or have the photographer’s permission to use) to go with each post on the blog. You CAN do all of the posts on Fridays, but I’d suggest making yourself a schedule — WF or TTh or something that makes it regular for you.

Story generation

Work in a team to write two weekly 500-word news stories (with partner) developed from your reporting. This can riff on one of your aggregator stories (that’s encouraged) but it must bring three new sources, or new takes from those sources, to the table. You will each submit one story with a byline that says who wrote it and who edited it. You will post those stories on our class blog as drafts (one per team partner, with an editor byline, as I mentioned above) by midnight each Monday. This will be a total of THREE stories you’ve written and THREE you’ve edited, with due dates starting on June 27.

Write a 1,000-word profile of someone who would be interesting to readers in Eugene or Lane County. Include some element of multimedia that helps tell the story. It could be a brief slide show, a video clip of an interview, something you put together in Audacity or another audio editing program, etc. A draft of this will be due on July 8 at midnight You’ll need to email it to your workshop members. The final version will be due July 15 by the time we meet for class (we’ll decide that time together — it will be a class celebration day).

Media map
We’ll compile a database of media in Eugene with particular emphasis on digital sources. Your job is to bring at least one new media source every Wednesday that has something to do with your assigned part of Eugene or Lane County. Come ready to discuss who you think the site is trying to reach and how effective the sites are at doing that. These will serve as points of discussion about their audience and news value. You are on the hook for one each week, but I’d like to make this list comprehensive. Please feel free to bring more or add to the list at any time by emailing me. I’ll maintain the links on the blog.

Other assignments
… may come up during the course of the term. Usually, they’ll be simple things to populate the class site with information about the city, and sometimes they’ll be articles I want you to read. The class books will be Inside Reporting by Tim Harrower, ISBN 978-0073378916 (you can buy either edition); an AP Stylebook or the AP Stylebook app (kind of spendy; doesn’t update enough for my liking); and Mark Briggs’ Journalism Next (it’s a bit cheaper in Kindle version, if you’d prefer that).

Calendar:
Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday
Week 1 (June 20-22)
Intros, pick neighborhoods, learn about blog, Twitter for journalists, work on news stories, aggregation/curation/Storify, leads, SEO, a bit about software.

Week 2 (June 27-29)
Sources, story forms, audio stories, technology, Flip cams/Kodak zi8s, visual story forms, objectivity/transparency/what?

Week 3 (July 5-6)
No class on July 4 (shocking, isn’t it?)
Features, profiles, AP Style and more

Week 4 (July 11-13, 15)
Final media map info due, final compilations, final profile due on the last day of class (time TBD)

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About Suzi Steffen

Suzi Steffen teaches, writes, edits, reviews and rides (an adult tricycle named Momo) in Eugene, Oregon. For many years, she taught as an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon's School of Journalism and Communication. As of fall 2015, she's teaching in Oregon State's New Media and Communications program. Suzi also edits Lane Monthly and works as an arts journalist across the state and country. Email her at suzisteffen at gmail dot com; find her on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook for more info; and check out Lane Monthly in print around Lane County and online at lanemonthly.com.
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