policies, books, grades etc.

• texts, etc.

The most important texts in this class will be the ones you produce. Your writing will often drive discussion and analysis. So be prepared to share your writing.

Books (required):

William Blundell, The Art and Craft of Feature Writing
Rick Bragg, Somebody Told Me

These are available at the bookstore, but you can get them anywhere you like. In addition find a couple of sources of feature stories – could be newspapers, radio programs or websites – and read them regularly. Be prepared to occasionally bring stories to class with you and discuss them.

• grades

Story assignments (60 percent)
Other assignments (20 percent)
Participation (20 percent)

The participation segment of the grade includes critiques of stories we read and critiques of the work of others in the class. Often I will ask you to comment on it. Sometimes these comments will be public, such as discussion in class, and sometimes they will be more private. People can choose to participate in different ways. They key thing to remember is that we can learn from each other.

Stories will be assessed using the following scale (these assume that stories are in on time):

A – Very well-written, organized. Great quotes, great color. In short, publishable. No spelling or grammar problems.

B – A few problems in style and organization but overall very good work.Very minor spelling or grammar mistakes.

C – Needs major reorganization and/or refocusing of idea to make it less superficial. Basic grammar and spelling mistakes.

D – A lot more reporting and rewriting is required. Serious overhaul of grammar and style needed.

F – Not turned in or incomprehensibly incomplete.

• deadlines

Get stuff in on time and come to class. It’s as simple as that. Each 24-hour period, including weekends, something is late will cost you a letter grade. Extensions can be provided for documented illnesses or family emergencies. You need to notify me in advance to get an extension on a story. These will only be granted for emergency situations. Exams or assignments in other classes don’t count as emergencies. Good deals on plane tickets that take you out of town early for fall break don’t count either. Sorry.

• a not-so-sadistic attendance policy
This course depends on your participation. That means you have to do the readings, show up and talk. I am usually ambivalent about attendance policies (it’s your education; squander it as you see fit), but in this case I have no regrets informing you that there is one. You get three misses. After that you will need an excuse, which includes a death in the family, military orders, religious holidays or an excuse from your doctor, or you will lose half a letter grade for each after three.

Quoting a former professor of Russian I once had:

“The purpose of all these sadistic rules is simple: Get your stuff done on time and come to class. I will cheerfully – even gleefully – listen to all your excuses and reasons, and will probably even believe them. But they won’t matter. You see, I view taking my course as a little like catching the bus. If you’re not there when the bus goes by, you miss it. It doesn’t matter if you have a good excuse, or whether the driver ‘believes’ you. It doesn’t matter if you have your own special theory about how bus systems ought to be run. It doesn’t even matter if your whole future rests on your being on that bus. We’re all very sorry you missed the bus, but if you did, that’s that. The bus will come around again soon, and so too this course will be offered again, probably even before you plan to graduate.”

• on cell phones and civility and being a knucklehead

Please put your phones on vibrate when you come in and forget about texting until class is over.
Also, we will talk about many controversial things this semester that many of you will have strong feelings about. Please respect the opinions of others as you would like to have them respect yours. Lastly, the success of this course depends on the constructive criticism  of your classmates’ work so basically don’t be a knucklehead.

• students with special needs

For those who have or think that you may have a special need  (learning, physical or psychological), are encouraged to contact Services for Students with Disabilities, Room 113, Science Center, 610-660-1774 or 610-660-1620 as early as possible in the semester. Accommodations can only be provided to student with current (within three years) documentation.

Students are encouraged to discuss their instructional (“reasonable academic adjustments”) and accommodation needs with their professors.

All student requests for extended time to take examinations in a distraction free environment, must be discussed with the professor a minimum of one week prior to the scheduled date of the exam; the student must complete the Extended-Time Request Form and obtain the professor’s approval; and submit the form to the office – Services for Students with Disabilities a minimum of 3 days prior to the date of the scheduled exam.  Failure to follow these procedures could result in a denial of the request.

• academic dishonesty

Journalism depends fully upon honesty and a commitment to the truth. I am assuming none of you will take any unethical shortcuts in your work. In case you are unsure about what constitutes academic misconduct, here are some rough guidelines:

• All work must be your own.
• You must accurately quote and represent all sources in your stories.
• Making up quotes, presenting material as your own interview quotes when you have simply lifted it from a Web site, inventing sources are examples of serious academic dishonesty.

For more information on academic dishonesty consult the university’s policy here.

Penalties for academic honesty could include failure of the course or worse.


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