Professor: Larry Atkins

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Spring 2014

Course number/section and title: Journalism 1196, Section 003
Professor: Larry Atkins
Mondays 10 a.m. to 11:50 a.m. and Wednesdays 10 a.m. to 10:50 a.m.
Room: AH 310

Course Prerequisites: None

Number of Credits: 3
Office Hours: Before and After Class
Last Day to Drop Class:
Last Day to Withdraw from Course:
Phone: (215) 802-1536
Home E-mail:
Temple E-mail:
(Please send emails to both of my addresses)


This course is designed to provide experience and develop your skills in
writing articles and to give you insight into the field of journalism. In
this class, you will learn to write and critique many types of articles. In
addition, students will learn about the practical, historical, and ethical
aspects of journalism and what is involved in working for a newspaper and other media


Larry Atkins is a journalist and a lawyer. He has written over 400 Op-Eds, articles, and essays for many publications, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Baltimore Sun, B'nai Brith Jewish Monthly, Chicago Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, Cleveland Plain Dealer,, Dallas Morning News, Detroit News, Hartford Courant, Huffington Post, Indianapolis Star, Jewish Exponent, Kansas City Star, Los Angeles Daily News, MetroKids Magazine, Morning Call (Allentown), National Public Radio (commentaries for the national versions of Morning Edition and Only a Game), NCAA News, Newark Star Ledger, Newsday, Online Journalism Review,, Orange County Register, Pennsylvania Magazine, Philadelphia City Paper, Philadelphia Daily News, Philadelphia Inquirer and Inquirer Sunday Magazine, Philadelphia Magazine (, Philadelphia Metro, Philadelphia Weekly, Practical Lawyer Magazine, Quill Magazine, Referee Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SuperLawyers Magazine, University Alumni Magazines (Arcadia University, Lafayette University, La Salle University, and Temple University), U.S. Catholic Magazine, The Writer Magazine, and Z Magazine. He is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and he wrote a chapter on Op-Eds and personal essays for The ASJA Guide to Freelance Writing (St. Martin's Press). He teaches editorial writing, news writing, and public affairs journalism at Temple University, and he teaches journalism at Arcadia University. He is the author of "Larry the Liberal Lawyer Lashes Out". His website is

(This is the most important paragraph in the syllabus. Please read carefully)

In-class participation will account for 10% of the final grade. Class attendance is mandatory and you are expected to attend every class. I expect everyone to be present when class begins. Attendance will count as 10% of the final grade. Habitual absence or lateness will result in a lowered final grade. Five or more absences will result in a substantial deduction in your final grade (Example: B gets reduced to C plus). Eight or more absences will result in automatic failure of the course. This includes illnesses and family emergencies. If you are more than five minutes late to class or leave more than five minutes before the end of class, that will count as half an absence. It’s a generous policy, so I interpret it strictly and do not excuse any absences. Writing assignments will count as 65% of the final grade. There will be eight writing assignments, and students can drop the lowest graded assignment so that seven assignments will count towards the final grade. Note that the final feature article assignment cannot be dropped as the lowest graded assignment. In order to drop the lowest graded assignment, students must complete all of the assignments (you cannot elect to skip one assignment and have that count as the lowest grade—you must complete the assignment). You can't drop a paper handed in late as the lowest graded assignment. There will also be an AP Stylebook Quiz worth 5% of the final grade. There will be final exam that will count as 10% of the final grade. The final will consist of a short answer test that will reflect information from the textbook and lectures. During the semester, there will be a series of current events quizzes, which will result in extra credit for the winning team. In order to improve your writing and communication skills, it is imperative that you attend class regularly, participate in discussions and other in-class work, and serve as a responsive audience for your classmates. The assignment weighting is approximate; the need for syllabus revisions might require readjustments. Writing assignments will be judged on the following:

1. Grammar, spelling, punctuation, technical errors, and appropriate style.

2. Structure or format

3. Organization, presentation, continuity, and logic

4. Clarity of expression

5. Conciseness

6. Completeness and thoroughness of information

7. Accuracy

8. Proper use of quotes and attributions

9. Leads and conclusions

10. Creativity/imagination


11. Content quality

12. Overall effectiveness


Extra credit will be awarded for any student who has an article
published in a local, city-wide or national publication, including, but not
limited to The Temple News, Times-Chronicle, Northeast Times,
and other local community newspapers, Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia
Daily News, Metro, City Paper, Philadelphia Weekly, New York Times,
Washington Post, USA Today, etc. There is a limit of three extra credit articles. Extra

credit means that the grade for one assignment would be raised from a B

to a B plus, for example. To get extra credit for a Temple News article, you

need to write a different article than the ones you write for class.


The mandatory textbooks for the class are:

1. Writing and Reporting News, A Coaching Method, by Carole Rich (Fifth Edition)

2. The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law.

These books are available at the University bookstore.

Students should also read newspaper articles from various sources, including the Philadelphia Inquirer (primarily), Philadelphia Daily News, New York Times, Washington Post, and local newspapers such as the Times Chronicle, Glenside News, Northeast Times, etc. You should also have a dictionary and thesaurus.

Recommended reading:

William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction. Harper Reference, sixth edition.

Strunk and White, The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition, Allyn and Bacon.


No student's work will be judged on the basis of whether anyone,
including the instructor, agrees with it or not. While we will not avoid
controversial issues, students are expected to remain sensitive to individual
differences. The diversity of a multicultural society requires that we discuss differences
with no anger or personal attacks, and without perpetuating stereotypes about
gender, age, race, religious affiliation, sexual preference, national origin,
dialect, or disability.
It is Temple University's policy to provide reasonable accommodations
to students with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act
(ADA). At the beginning of each semester, any student with a disability should
inform the course instructor if instructional accommodations or academic adjustments
will be needed.
Students with disabilities (learning or otherwise) can contact the Office of Disability Resources and Services (DRS), Room 100, Ritter Hall Annex, 215-204-1280. For more information please review the website at


Class sessions will involve lectures, class discussion on assigned
readings, issues pertaining to journalism, research,
analysis and discussion of current events and issues, in and out-of-class writing
assignments, and in-class group editing and critiquing sessions.



Late work is highly discouraged. I will deduct points for assignments that are handed in late. There will be a full grade deduction for each day the assignment is late.


There will be an AP Stylebook quiz, several current events quizzes, and a final exam focusing on course content..


Feel free to talk to me any time you have a question or concern. My
contact information is on page one of the syllabus. The best way to reach

me is before or after class or by email.




Ethics and honesty are valued qualities of mass communication professionals and essential to credible, respected, and successful journalism. Plagiarism is a serious offense that can arise either intentionally or through carelessness in students’ work. Cheating and plagiarism on any examination or assignment will result in automatic failure of the course and recommendation to the University Disciplinary Committee for further disciplinary action. UDC rules allow a fine or suspension for a given period and even permanent expulsion from the university. Plagiarism includes made up quotes or sources, as well as work copied from others. Make sure you understand how to attribute work from printed and online sources.

Cheating-using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, or study aids in any paper, article, or assignment.

Plagiarism-representing the words, ideas, or data of another as one's
own in any paper, article, or assignment.
Fabrication-unauthorized falsification or invention of any information
or citation in any paper, article, or assignment.

See Temple's Policy on Academic Dishonesty.


Get in the habit of reading daily newspapers. If you have time to read
only one newspaper. I suggest the Philadelphia Inquirer.


Here is a tentative schedule of this semester's class. This schedule is subject to change.
The bulk of the course work will be concerned with teaching writing techniques through in-class and at-home written assignments, lectures, and discussions. Students will write several articles during this course. I will assign some topics, but students will have room to write about issues that move
them. For some assignments, I will want you to include multimedia suggestions for your articles, including photos, videos, charts, sidebars, and maps. On the day an assignment is due, students will divide up into groups of 3 to read their writing assignments and critique the others in the group. During the next class, the entire class will critique three students' writing assignments. During most classes,

I will discuss a current issue or event related to journalism. If you have suggestions as to

what other topics you would like me to cover, please e-mail your suggestions to me and I will consider adding them.

Wednesday, January 22: Class introduction and housekeeping. Introduction to the print

and broadcast media. Syllabus review. FOR NEXT CLASS: Read newspaper articles and bring one basic news article and one feature storytelling article to the next class and give a very brief summary of them. For class on Monday, Read chapter 1 of the Rich book and read the current events article that I will email to you.


Monday, January 27: Where do you get your news? What traits and characteristics do journalists need? Career opportunities for journalists. Website, Internship, Network, Clips, Multimedia, Going Outside Comfort Zone. Give brief oral summaries of the two articles. I will go around the room and have each student speak for a minute or two. Discuss current events article.


Wednesday, January 29. Convergence. Writing for Temple News.


Monday, February 3:

Current events quiz. Writing the basic news story. Importance of rules of writing.
Writing for an audience. Leads, conclusions, format, style,
inverted pyramid, story development and structure. Who, what, why, when, where.
Give out First writing assignment: Basic News Article. Due Monday, February 17. Reading assignment-Rich, Chapters 6 and 14.


Wednesday, February 5:

Discuss progress of first writing assignment. Grammar and usage. Diverse sentence length. Simplicity, transitions, attributions. AP Stylebook. Fact checking for accuracy. Revising and editing your writing--wordiness, repetition, clichés, redundancy. Hand out AP Stylebook Quiz, due Monday, February 17.
FOR NEXT CLASS: Reading Assignment—Rich, Chapters 3 and 4.


Monday, February 10:

Current events quiz. Media Ethics. Being a professional. Accuracy and credibility. Curiosity and Story Ideas. Exercise.


Wednesday, February 12. News culture and judgment.

FOR NEXT CLASS: Reading Assignment—Rich, Chapters 5 and 22.


Monday, February 17. Assignment 1 is due. Critique Assignment 1 in small groups. AP Stylebook Quiz is due. Interviewing techniques. Writing profiles. Give out Second writing assignment: Write a profile of an interesting person. Due date is Monday, March 10. Reading Assignment, Rich, Chapters 7 and 8.


Wednesday, February 19. Critique Assignment 1 as an entire class. Discuss progress of second writing assignment. FOR NEXT CLASS: Reading Assignment, Rich, Chapters 17 and 18.


Monday, February 24. Current events quiz. Sources and Online Research. Researching facts and issues of the day. Reporting that supports your articles. Finding reliable sources. Reliability of the Internet. Providing data, quotes, and statistics to bolster your articles.


Wednesday, February 26. Leads and Nut Graphs. Updating stories. Advance articles. Photojournalism.


Monday, March 3 and March 5, Spring break, no class:

Monday, March 10:

Assignment 2 is due. Critique Assignment 2 in small groups. Global Journalism. Current events quiz. Observation. Covering meetings, events, news conferences, lectures, and speeches.

Give out Assignment 3: Cover a meeting, lecture, speech, or press conference. Due Monday, March 24.

FOR NEXT CLASS: Reading Assignment–Rich, Chapters 9 and 10.


Wednesday, March 12:

Critique Assignment 2 as an entire class.


Monday, March 17:

Current events quiz. Multicultural sensitivity. Give assignment 4, Corner/Research Assignment (Multiple parts), due Monday, April 14. At home oral assignment on objectivity and bias, due Monday, April 7.



Wednesday, March 19:

Broadcast writing


Monday, March 24:

Web Journalism. Using Social Media as Journalists. Assignment 3 is due, critique in small groups. Editorial/Op-Ed writing and marketing. Give out Fifth Writing Assignment: Write an editorial/Op-Ed. Due next Monday, March 31.



Wednesday, March 26
Using Social Media as Journalists: Facebook, Twitter. Critique Assignment 3 as an entire class



Monday, March 31:

Op-Ed assignment is due. Critique Op-Eds in small groups. Give out Assignment 6: Write a movie, music, or restaurant review. Due next Monday, April 7


Wednesday, April 2.

Critique Op-Eds as an entire class.



Monday, April 7:

Assignment 6 is due, critique in small groups. Beat reporting. Public Affairs Journalism.

At home oral assignment on objectivity is due. Objectivity and bias. Handout Assignment 7: Participatory or How-To article. Due Monday, April 28

FOR NEXT CLASS: Reading Assignment–Rich, Chapter 19 and 20.


Wednesday, April 9:

Critique Assignment 6 as an entire class.


Monday, April 14:

Current events quiz. Corner Assignment is due. Government and statistical stories. Handout assignment 8, Feature article. Due on Monday, May 5.


Wednesday, April 16:

Education. Sports writing

FOR NEXT CLASS: Reading Assignment—Rich, Chapter 13, AP Stylebook section on Media Law.


Monday, April 21:

Current events quiz. Accuracy and Media Law. Defamation, invasion of privacy, copyright, trademark, First Amendment. Reading Assignment, Rich, Chapters 17 and 19.

Wednesday, April 23:

Disasters, Weather, and Tragedies.

Reading Assignment, Rich, Chapter 21.


Monday, April 28:

Assignment 7 is due, critique in small groups. Discuss progress of Assignment 8. Magazine writing.
Reading assignment: Rich, Reread Chapters 7, 8, and 9.
FOR NEXT CLASS: Reading Assignment-Rich, Chapter 23.


Wednesday, April 30

Travel writing. Critique Assignment 7 as an entire class.


Monday, May 5:

Feature Article is due. Critique in small groups. Law and judiciary articles. Police and fire articles. Media Jobs and Internships. Make up missed topics. Hand out final questions. The exam is not open book.

Final exam date and time to be announced pursuant to Temple’s Matrix. Not even Neo or Morpheus can change the date and time announced by the Matrix, so I can’t give the exam on other dates and times.

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