12 – 1 MWF in Porterfield 173
Journalism involves skills for lifelong learning. You may spend the rest of your life in newsrooms, or on the other hand, perhaps you will never venture into the profession.
Even so, journalism involves skills that are useful in many other walks of life, including the ability to locate, evaluate and verify facts; to interview sources; and to write for a variety of media.
The COMS 104 course is the beginning of a process of learning this and other skills. Other classes in the journalism training series include:
- COMS 204 — News reporting
- COMS 304 — Broadcast reporting
- COMS 404 — Digital storytelling / Specialized reporting
- COMS 481 — Journalism practicum
- COMS 498 — Internship (optional)
This first course, COMS 104, is designed to help you acquire the skills to plan and write a news article, verify facts, become familiar with media technologies and understand the profession in general.
You will be strongly encouraged to join student media on campus; for example, you will receive extra credit when news articles are published in student or professional media, and even more extra credit if the articles are entered into competitions such as the SPJ, CMA, SEJ or VPA.
Textbooks & Resources
- Associated Press Styleboook — Any recent year
- Tim Harrower’s Inside Reporting – We need the new Third Edition.
- Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press mobile app (free)
- Data Journalism (free)
- Advanced students: Roy Peter Clark Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer (any edition)
Class time and locations
Porterfield 173 mac lab 12:00 – 1:00 MWF
Instructor and Office Hours
Prof. Kovarik, PhD
Official correspondence: wkovarik at radford dot edu
Personal correspondence: bill dot kovarik at gmail dot com
ph:540 – 831-6033
Office hours as posted 704 Fairfax basement
Reporters notebooks, digital audio recorder, digital camera, laptop or iPad, mobile phone.
- Attendance policy: Attendance counts towards your final score. Missing class may also mean missing in-class quizzes. That can’t be made up.
- Late policy: Late completion of projects will result in reduction of grade by one letter grade per week. This is a very serious problem in a beginning news writing class. You will not be allowed to stay in the class if you fall too far behind.
- Disabilities policy: We are glad to work with all students to accommodate disabilities on a non-discriminatory basis. Students with special needs may be required to clear accommodations through the disabilities resource office of the university.
- Honor Code: By accepting admission to Radford University, each students makes a commitment to understand, support and abide by the University Honor Code without compromise or exception.
- Plagiarism — Students who directly copy work from anyone else will flunk the class and be reported to the Dean of Students office.
IMPORTANT: How to turn in assignments:
Turn in all assignments by posting them on your portfolio site.
Label with name, assignment info and class. (eg JeanSmith.A1-fire.104.docx) The MS Word or txt document should also have this name.assignment.class information at the top of the page with double-spaced text starting about 1/3 of the way down the page.
The COMS 104 class consists of a series of daily readings, quizzes, and writing exercises, both in and out of class.
Our learning goals for the semester include:
- A moderate level of proficiency in media equipment — cameras, voice recorders, editing software etc.
- A high level of proficiency in basic writing — spelling, punctuation, grammar, and usage.
- A moderate level of proficiency in the Associated Press style.
- An initial familiarity with the news reporting profession, including its ethical issues, its storied history and its legal framework.
Grading generally follows this emphasis in journalism classes:
- Attendance (108)
- Quizzes – 100 points
- Exercises – 100 points
- Writing assignments – 600 points
- Project – 100 – 300 points
Basic things you will learn in this class:
- the journalist’s responsibility to be objective, truthful, and fair;
- the five news reporting essentials: who, what, when, where, and why (the Five W’s);
- how to structure a story using the inverted pyramid format so the key facts come first;
- how to write a basic news lead and a variety of other kinds of leads so your opening paragraphs work in the most informative and appealing way;
- how to structure and shape the body of your story, from beginning to middle to end;
- what you need to consider when you rewrite;
- what your editor needs and wants from you;
- what it takes to meet a news deadline, and its importance;
- what the AP Style is all about, and why it is important;
- how to take notes accurately;
- introduction to news reporting;
- and many other things.