American Journalism 122 Syllabus

“Journalism provides something unique to a culture — independent, reliable, accurate and comprehensive information that citizens require to be free.”
— The Elements of Journalism

 Classtime: Tuesday, Thursday 03:00PM – 04:45PM

Office hours in Sichel 105A: 12:30 -2:30 Tue, Thur and by appt.

What’s expected from you

1. Deadlines are deadlines. You will lose points for late assignments unless you have a valid excuse (i.e. doctor’s note).
2. Class starts promptly. Latecomers disrupt the class so please be on time. Unless you have a valid excuse you are expected to be in class each day. Sickness must be documented with an authorized note from the health center or doctor. I’ll give you one unexcused absence before points start to come off your grade

Saint Mary’s College expects every member of its community to abide by the Academic Honor Code.  According to the Code, “Academic dishonesty is a serious violation of College policy because, among other things, it undermines the bonds of trust and honesty between members of the community.”  Violations of the Code include but are not limited to acts of plagiarism.  For more information, please consult the Student Handbook 

Course description

This course introduces tomorrow’s journalists to the fundamentals of covering and writing news. In an Internet age of instantaneous access, demand for high-quality accounts of fast-breaking news has never been greater. Nor has the temptation to cut corners and deliver something less. To resist this temptation, reporters must acquire skills to identify a story and its essential elements, gather information efficiently, place it in a meaningful context, and write concise and compelling accounts, sometimes at breathtaking speed. The readings, discussions, exercises and assignments of this course are designed to help students acquire such skills and understand how to exercise them wisely.

Course objective

To give students the skills needed to write, broadcast, photograph, blog and post video of breaking news and features in a deadline environment.

Learning objectives

  • To build an understanding of the role news plays in American democracy.
  • To discuss the basic journalistic principles of accuracy, integrity and unbiased reporting.
  • To evaluate how injecting opinion can undermine these principles.
  • To analyze what kinds of information make news and why.
  • To evaluate the elements of news by deconstructing award-winning stories.
  • To evaluate the sources and resources from which news content is drawn.
  • To analyze how information is attributed, quoted and paraphrased in news.
  • To gain competence in focusing a story’s dominant theme in a single sentence.
  • To introduce the structure, style and language of basic news writing.
  • To gain competence in reporting “hard news”, features and blogs under deadline.
  • To gain confidence and competence in shooting photographs and video.
  • To practice how to identify, background and contact appropriate sources.
  • To discuss and apply the skills needed to interview effectively.


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