M W F 12:00-12:50
This course introduces you to techniques of computer-assisted reporting. Building upon your basic reporting and critical thinking skills, the course will show you how to use the computer as a tool in news gathering and data analysis. You will learn how to find and critically evaluate information from the Internet, principally the World Wide Web. Next, you will review statistics and mathematical relationships, such percentage change, and analyze data using a spreadsheet. You will download data from the Web and analyze it. These efforts will become the basis for asking questions for stories. The data analysis is only the beginning. Anyone familiar with a computer can squeeze answers out of a computer, but it takes a competent journalist to ask the right questions. You must determine the meaning of the information and show your viewers, readers, or listeners how it affects them.
Prerequisites: (1) News Writing and Reporting I and (2) Electronic News Gathering
By the end of this course, you should be able to:
After this course is over, the data skills you learn may slip away if you don’t use them. Even if this happens, my expectation is that two things will stick with you:
Class participation and attendance (also called professionalism): 10%
Exercises, homework and quizzes: 30%
Attendance and participation are critical to your success. Another way to describe this is professionalism. Professionalism means that you’re here, ready to engage in new opportunities. You are expected to arrive on time, be prepared, actively participate, and stay for the full class period. If you miss class, you miss the chance to participate in your education and the education of others in class. If you miss class without an acceptable excuse you get a zero for that day’s participation and class work and any work that is due.
The acceptable excuses are: the death of a family member, personal illness, required attendance at an official school function, and verifiable emergency. You must notify me before you miss a class, except when an emergency happens on the way to class. If an emergency happens on the way to class, you must notify me on the same day. If I cannot be reached, leave a voice mail. My phone number is (940) 397-4375.
If you fail to notify me before missing a class you will receive a zero for work due and/or performed during that class unless it is a verifiable emergency.
Your illness must be serious to be excused. Thus, you must see a medical practitioner and get a signed note on official stationary from your doctor or the student health clinic.
For an official school function,you must present a signed note before missing class. The note must be on official school stationary, and it must be signed by the appropriate university official. If you do not have a signed note on official school stationary, you will receive a zero for the work due or that you missed.
For a death in the family, you must notify the instructor before missing class. When you return, you must give the instructor a copy of the program for the funeral. If you do not have a copy of the program, you will receive a zero for the work due or that you missed.
If you have an emergency, you must provide documentation to me, such as an accident report or towing bill. If you do not have documentation, you will receive a zero for the work due or that you missed.
When you have an acceptable excuse, you are responsible for finding out what you missed and arranging to make it up with the instructor. Missed work must be made up within one week of when your return to class, or you will receive a zero.
If you miss more than two classes, or if you are habitually late or leave early, your final grade may be lowered by 1/3 letter grade for each instance beyond two absences. If you have difficulty with the attendance and participation (professionalism) requirement, you may be dropped from the class.
I reserve the right to determine what, exactly, constitutes an excused absence or when a late arrival is excusable.
Some additional guidelines:
Federal privacy law prohibits me from releasing information about students to certain parties outside of the university without the signed consent of the student. Thus, in almost all cases I will not discuss your academic progress or other matters with your parents. Please do not have them call me. Regardless of these important legal considerations, it is my general policy to communicate with the students, not their parents, even when a student has signed a consent form. College students are adults and are expected to behave accordingly.
If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, if you have emergency medical information that needs sharing, or if you need special accommodations in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible.
Final Caveat: I reserve the right to change any part of this syllabus for any reason. This includes changing or deleting assignments. Sufficient notice will be given to you if changes to the syllabus are necessary.
By accepting this syllabus and staying enrolled in this course, you are indicating that you understand and accept the terms of this syllabus.
Thanks to Bill Dedmon, David Herzog, and Stan Ketterer who generously allowed me to use and adapt portions of their work, to Naoma Clark and Jim Sernoe who allowed me to adapt portions of their classroom policies, and to Kimberly Sultze of Saint Michael’s College for sharing her intellectual requirements.