JRN 323 E J

JRN 323
TIME/LOCATION : W 6-9 p.m. Bunnell 122 & 126
PREREQUISITES: JRN 202 OR permission of instructor
Lynne Snifka
Associate Professor, Bunnell 105B
Email: lmsnifka@alaska.edu
Phone: 474-6245
Office Hours: Mon. 2 – 3:30 p.m., Wed. 9- 10:30 a.m.
and by appointment
Contemporary Editing, Friend and Challenger, Third Edition
The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual
A good dictionary (dictionary.com is acceptable)
You are expected to keep abreast of current events by reading a Alaska daily newspaper such
as the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner or the Anchorage Dispatch News. You should also be
up on national news (I suggest reading the New York Times or the Washington Post). All of
these papers are available, free of charge (with the exception of the Times, but only if you
read more than 20 articles a month), on the web.
In addition, bookmark the following web pages:
Media Writer’s Handbook, George T. Arnold
The Elements of Style, Strunk and White
Get ready to learn to think like an editor. If you’re already starting to think like an editor,
you’re probably wondering about that singular “job.” There are many editing positions, and
editors’ titles (and their meanings) vary widely from publication to publication. A managing
editor at a small newspaper may do all the combined tasks of an assistant editor, senior
editor and caption writer at a national magazine. There are associate editors, field editors,
contributing editors, editors-in-chief, articles editors and more. All of them, no matter what
their duties, use the same set of skills. In this class you’ll learn the basics, as well as many
tricks of the trade.
A review of English grammar with an eye toward “trouble areas”
Overview of basic editing principles including redundancy, clarity, AP Style, tone and
Overview of page (print & web) design basics including photo captions, headlines
and layout
Review and mastery of AP style
At the completion of the course, students should:
Understand the role of editors
Be able to spot holes in stories and remedy them
Edit copy precisely and consistently, using correct grammar and eliminating libelous
passages and items in poor taste
Have a solid grounding in English grammar
Have a firm grasp of wire style
Be able to write clear and accurate headlines, decks and captions
Be able to design basic news pages
Understand ethical issues confronting editors
We will spend a fair amount of time in discussion. It’s important for you to a) be in class to
take part in these discussions, b) prepare for class by reading any assigned materials, and c)
contribute generously to discussion. Plan to attend class, arrive on time, and get
involved. A substantial portion of your grade is based on in-class exercises, quizzes and
group discussion.
Attendance in class is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for what I consider “active
participation.” I will evaluate your participation in the class using the following general
guidelines. These should help you understand my expectations.
Content, understanding: Do you follow the class discussion and build on others’ ideas?
When you don’t understand something, do you ask questions?
Creativity: Do you generate your own insights and examples and share them in class?
Curiosity and interest: Do you bring enthusiasm to the classroom? Are you in class every
week so you can be a consistent contributor? Do you share ideas or issues you’ve come
across in outside reading, current events, or through personal experience?
I also recommend that you become a regular consumer of news of all types. There will be
current events quizzes each week. My goal is not to trick you by referring to some
obscure story buried in the back of the “B” section. Rather, I want to make sure you’re
reading the news. Regular news consumption contributes to better news judgment, better
understanding of what makes a story and better editing ability.
Know it. Love it. If you took JRN202 (News Writing for the Media), you should have a
decent working knowledge of AP Style. If you haven’t taken that class, it’s no excuse. We
will discuss some common AP Style errors in class, but you should know AP Style like you
know the Pledge of Allegiance. It should be something that lounges in the back of your
brain, ready by rote whenever needed.
About 10 years ago, the morning paper in Anchorage ran the following masthead:
“Anchorage Daiy News.” Errors happen. All the time. Almost everywhere. Part of your
homework each week is to bring in an error from a newspaper, magazine or news website
(that means your favorite blog doesn’t count) before the publication runs a correction.
Errors may include: grammar, usage, spelling, AP Style or fact. This assignment doesn’t
include instances of vague writing (that would be far too easy) or sentences that “sound
weird.” You must be able to document the error. You can bring items to class or drop them
off at my office (see example for formatting, etc.). NOTE: Only the first person to find any
error will receive credit for that error, so go error hunting early and often. If you find more
than one example of a published error, you will receive one point of extra credit, up to a
total five points per week. The deadline for publication errors in a given week is the
last class of the week. The week then resets. For example, if you find an error on
Friday afternoon and bring it to my office, it counts for the FOLLOWING week.
Absence from class
If you are unable to attend class, it is your responsibility to arrange for a classmate to collect
copies of any handouts, or to provide you with information on any assignments, activities,
lecture materials, or date changes. You cannot make up any in-class exercises for the day.
Everyone gets one free pass on this. After that, you will lose five points from your
attendance/participation grade for the semester for each unexcused absence. The exception to this rule is
missing class for a valid, university-sanctioned reason (In general, an absence is considered
“official” when the student is participating in an improved field trip or other UAF activity,
has a doctor’s note, or is granted a leave of absence for UAF for reasonable cause by an
academic dean or director). Except for medical emergencies, which require documentation,
absences must be approved by the instructor prior to the class session that will be missed. If
you plan to miss class, you can let me know ahead of time in class, but you MUST ALSO
Arriving late to class is disrespectful to the instructor as well as the other students. If you are
unavoidably delayed and come in late, please take off your coat and have your papers out of
your pack or bag BEFORE entering the classroom.
Cell Phones
You can use your phone or laptop in class to look up items that are related to class. Please do
not text, Facebook or play Bejeweled Blitz in class. If I suspect that is what you’re doing, you
will be prohibited from using your electronic device in class for the rest of the semester.
All assignments, even those completed in class, should be typed, double-spaced (that’s
DOUBLE-SPACED) in an easy-to-read 12-point font, such as Times New Roman or
Helvetica. Pages should be stapled together in the upper left corner.
The top of the page should look like this:
Jack Jackson (name)
JRN 323/Snifka (class)
STORY EDIT 1 (assignment)
January 14, 2015 (date)
Deadlines are critical in journalism. Miss a deadline and you could lose your job. Therefore,
work that is turned in late (late means later than the beginning of class on the day the
assignment is due) will result in an automatic 50 percent point reduction. You will lose
additional points for incorrect answers. Keep in mind that an F of 50 points is better for
your overall grade than an F of 0 points, so it’s to your advantage to turn things in. True
emergencies that may prevent the completion of an assignment include the death of an
immediate family member or your hospitalization. In these cases I require documentation of
the catastrophe. Please, do not attempt to test me on this.
Sharing work with the class
Let me know if you are unwilling to share your work. I assume that most students want
to earn the best possible grade and are willing to devote energy and time to improving their
work. Although I offer feedback on assignments, you may still like to see examples of what I
consider high-quality work. I may, from time to time, select work to share in class or keep in
my office as examples for other students. They might help you get a better idea of
expectations associated with different assignments and what you may need to do to
strengthen your own work. I plan to cover the names on these examples, though references
during class discussion may make it obvious whose assignments I’m citing. If you’re
unwilling to have your work made available as an exemplar for other students, please let me
know early in the semester and I will exclude your assignments from consideration.
Evidence of plagiarism or fabrication in any assignment will result in a minimum penalty of
an F for the course. Further action, such as expulsion from the department and additional
academic penalties, may be taken. Plagiarism is using other people’s words or ideas as your
own without crediting the original author. Fabrication includes making up quotes, sources,
or events. To protect yourself from false accusations of plagiarism, keep all of your interview
notes, research material and rough drafts until you receive your grade for the semester. If
you are confused about what constitutes plagiarism or fabrication, please ask. If you’re
confused about these terms, it’s likely other students are too.
Current Events/AP Quizzes
Assignments (in class and take home)
Mid-term exam
Published Mistake Examples
Final exam
Attendance & participation
Total :
In this class, each student begins the semester as an “average” student; that is, at a “C” level.
If you complete all of the assignments and attend class regularly – that is, do what is
expected – you will likely earn a “C.” To get higher than a “C” you must be prepared to
work hard (i.e. really rewrite when we edit for tone and clarity, bring in extra examples of
copy editing errors, prove you’ve learned from your mistakes, etc.) and participate
Extra Credit
There will be extra credit opportunities this semester, announced as the semester goes along.
Journalism Department guidelines:
A: An honor grade that indicates originality and independent work, mastery of the subject and the
satisfactory completion of more work than is regularly required. You have turned in stories that are
more or less ready for publication.: 930-1,000 points.
A- : Almost there, but a little rough around the edges. 900-929 points
B+ : Indicates outstanding ability above the average level of performance. You edit better than the
staff of the News-Miner: 870-899 points
B: Above-average, solid work. You have participated generously, improved over the course of the
semester, and shown innovation in the “deeper” forms of editing: 830-869
B-: Still above average, but you let some details slip, or missed some deadlines. With a little hard work,
you could make it to the big leagues: 800-829
C+: Indicates a satisfactory or average level of performance. Mastery of editing basics, and moments
of insight. You got what you needed from the class: 770-799 points.
C : Indicates a satisfactory or average level of performance. You did all of the work and you did it on
time. You showed up. You know AP Style: 730-769 points
C-: Satisfactory, but just barely. 700-729 points
D: The lowest passing grade. Indicates work of below-average quality and performance: 600-699
F: Indicates failure to meet lowest standards: below 600 points.
If you have a disability and require any auxiliary aids, services or accommodations, please see
me after class, see me in my office, or call me during the first two weeks of the semester so
we can talk about your particular situation and collaborate with the Office of Disability
Services (474-5655). Early attention to specific accommodation needs provides enough time
for planning and preparation. You may also reach them at www.uaf.edu/disability