Category Archives: Assignments

Some updates about your final project

1. For Wednesday, please write a 200- to 300-word blog post on what your final project will be about. I think we had a great discussion today, and I was especially pleased at the help you were giving each other. In your blog post, I’d like to see a thesis sentence — that is, the argument you intend to make — as well as some specifics rather than a broad theme.

2. As we discussed, the deadline for your final project will now be Monday, June 29, at 10 a.m. This gives you four extra days, including a weekend. By the time you read this, I’ll have updated the syllabus.

3. I will be in my office on Thursday, June 25, for some drop-in help with your projects. I’m thinking about 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., but please let me know if those don’t work for you. I’m also happy to discuss your project any time by email or during office hours.

How to manage the conversation with your community

We discussed comments and online news today, and you’ve done some reading on the topic as well. Please write a short blog post on how you would manage comments if you were in charge of a news site. Issues to consider:

  • Would you require real names, or would you allow anonymous and pseudonymous contributions?
  • Would you screen all comments before allowing them to be posted, or would you simply remove offensive comments after they had been posted?
  • Would you encourage shifting the conversation to platforms you don’t control (especially Facebook), or would you try to keep it in-house?

Try to make use of some of our reading on comments by quoting and linking as appropriate.

Getting ready for your final project

This coming Monday, June 15, please be prepared to discuss your final project in class. We will go around the conference table and hear from each of you. An in-depth discussion will help you write a better project — we’ll probably let it run for an hour or more.

Let’s hear about your topic, what sources you’ve consulted, what sources you’re planning to consult and the like. And be prepared to help your classmates.

The ethics of photojournalism

Many thanks again to Mark Garfinkel of the Boston Herald for speaking with us Monday about the ethics of photojournalism. I asked you to take some notes on his talk. Please write a short (200- to 300-word) blog post about his talk before class on Wednesday. You may choose any topic he raised.

Thinking (and blogging) about the Rolling Stone debacle

Please write a 200- to 300-word blog post in the form of a memo to Jann Wenner, publisher of Rolling Stone. It might be hard to contain your thoughts, so if you go over a little bit, that’s all right.

Imagine you are an outside consultant who’s been brought in to give Wenner advice on how to prevent something like the flawed UVA rape story from being published in the future. What are your recommendations? Be as far-ranging as you like. You could recommend anything from changes in reporting and editing techniques to personnel changes.

Make sure your post is up before class on Wednesday.

Your final project

For your final project, you will write a research paper on a topic of your choosing related to ethics in journalism. Your completed paper should be 2,500 to 3,000 words long. If you were printing it out, a paper of that length would comprise eight to 10 double-spaced pages. But you will be posting it to your blog.

You may select your topic and structure your paper however you see fit. The only rules are these:

  • Find a topic that has generated plenty of news coverage. Avoid cases we have discussed extensively in class.
  • Set forth a clear and specific argument.
  • Back up your argument with examples from your research.
  • Make sure your writing is polished and accurate, and that you proofread for errors.
  • Be sure to provide proper and full attribution, linking to your source material when possible or citing it in the text if it is not online.

Choosing a topic: Start by figuring out what aspect of journalism ethics interests you. You may choose any of the areas we have explored in class or anything else that is relevant to the practice of ethical journalism. One way to get the gears moving would be to review “The Elements of Journalism.” (The full text is available in hard copy and online through Snell Library.)

From there, narrow your focus and develop a particular angle by zeroing in on a specific ethics-related theme. If you are sure whether your topic will work, please run it by me. Part of the assignment, though, is for you to define an angle. Do not expect me to hand you a topic.

Format: Posted to your blog, including relevant photos, graphics or video.

Deadline: Your paper must be posted by Thursday, June 25, sent to me by email by Monday, June 29, at 10 a.m. Once I have returned your edited, graded paper, please post it on your blog.

My attribution: This assignment, including much of the wording, is based on one developed by Professor Alan Schroeder.

Your post on the View from Nowhere

Before class on Monday, please write a 200- to 300-word blog post on the View from Nowhere, which is the phrase Jay Rosen uses to describe a certain type of mindless objectivity. (You should have read two blog posts by him on the subject. They are linked from the syllabus.)

I’d like you to find, link to and write about a story that you believe is a good illustration of the View from Nowhere. Also, do the same with a story that you would say is an example of the View from Somewhere — that is, it is not objective in the View from Nowhere meaning of the term, but it shows that the the reporter worked to get at the truth and tell us something important.