Journalism 220
Tuesday 6:00—8:55 p.m.
TI 127

Instructor: Monica Wolfson
Phone: (734) 677-5009
The best way to reach me is by email.
Office hours by appointment. I am generally at the Writing Center or in class prior to class beginning.


Online Journalism, third edition, by James C. Foust
Inside Reporting, third edition, by Tim Harrower
AP Stylebook (any edition within past five years, recommended for journalism majors)

You must have the ability to take pictures and videos. A Smartphone or digital camera can do the trick.
Bring a USB drive to class to take home work-in-progress assignments.
You need the use of a computer outside of class. If you don’t have a computer, please make sure you book time at a computer lab on a regular basis.

Course Overview

Welcome to Digital Journalism! We will explore the principles and practices of news for the web.

This course is an offering of the English department, so the focus is on news writing and presentation for the web. Here is some of the work we will do:

• We will learn how to be a modern journalist writing quick-hit stories for the Internet.
• Use social media to promote stories, find sources and interact with readers.
• Create and maintain a WordPress website to publish your stories – or what is also known as having a blog.
• Take pictures, create a slideshow and videos
• Learn to write headlines, subheads and implement Search Engine Optimization techniques.
• Maintain a WordPress website, which can be a great tool to show off your work when searching for a job. It’s yours to keep.
• Peer review is an essential element of this course. I expect fairness and maturity when assessing the work done by others.  

In designing this course, I took into consideration a WCC student’s biggest challenge: finding time outside of class to do assignments and homework. I know you all have jobs and private lives.
Keeping those demands in mind, I plan for much of the work to be done in-class. You will learn concepts and then apply and practice the methods during our three-hour time together.
At times you might not be able to finish a story within our time limit and you’ll have until the end of the week to complete the project so I can give you a grade within the same week. I think immediate feedback is important for you to improve.
There is only one package that you will complete on your own time and you have all semester to put it together.

Here are the major items at a glance:

• Create and maintain a WordPress website.
• Open and maintain social media accounts like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.
• Do live reporting on events from class. We are covering two presidential primary nights, March 8 and March 15. Make it your hobby to beef up on presidential politics this winter.
• Your big project is putting together a weather package. You must have weather data from the National Weather Service, interviews with at least THREE people, a video, slideshow of photographs, and social media blurbs.
• Write a variety of stories with photos and social media blurbs during class.
Because I have to give you a grade, and that grade has to be based on something, here is a breakdown of what it will be based on:

Every class is assigned points (see syllabus). Every class has in-class work, participation and peer review. Your mark is based on your performance in these tasks.
If you miss a class, you’ll get a zero for that day. You can try and complete the assigned work done during class, but you lose marks for being absent.

All grades will be available on the course Blackboard site.

More on grading and coursework
At the end of the semester, your letter grade will be determined according to a straight scale of points earned out of points possible. Percentages and grades will be as follows:

95-100% = A 87-89% = B+ 77-79% = C+ 67-69% = D+
90-94% = A- 84-86% = B 74-76% = C 64-66% = D
80-83% = B- 70-73% = C- 60-63% = D-

Attendance and participation
This is an important part of the class. Quite frankly, I can’t stress it enough, especially since much of our course is built on peer interaction, discussion, and cooperation. On top of that, our class meets only once a week, which makes attending doubly important. So please understand that absences will negatively impact your grade as follows:

One absence = no damage
2 absences = final grade lowered by one increment (e.g., from A- to B+)
3 absences = final grade lowered by 2 increments (e.g., from A- to B)
4-5 absences = final grade lowered by 3 increments (e.g., from A- to B-)
6 or more absences = final grade of F for the course

Because we meet only once a week, half-absences (that is, leaving halfway through the class period or arriving halfway through) will be counted.

I understand that emergencies and illnesses can and do happen. That’s why you’re allowed an absence without penalty and without needing to explain it. Please don’t miss any of the first two classes because that could affect your financial aid.

Late work and missed assignments
Please try not to turn in anything late. Journalists live and die (or, more accurately, get fired) based on their ability to meet deadlines. Try not to develop any bad habits. If you chronically hand in assignments late, you will lose marks. Chronically is defined as more than twice with a poor excuse.

Course information via website
Grades are stored on Blackboard. We also have a class website, which I will use in class. Some lecture information will be available there.
I also do send out all class emails on occasion.

Academic Dishonesty
In accordance with Article 4095 of the WCC Board of Trustees Policy Manual, plagiarism, cheating, or any other form of academic dishonesty will not be tolerated in this class. Students found to have committed academic dishonesty will be subject to disciplinary action. I have an account with a copy review service and will be scanning every assignment you file.
Since we are going over how to source material found in other publications on the first day, there is no excuse for improper sourcing. Any assignment with improper sourcing will receive a failing grade.

This refers to conventions of polite behavior that may seem like common sense but that are important to a successful class for everyone. Here are a few reminders just in case you need them:

• Turn off your cell phone—and/or other electronic communication devices.
• Treat your classmates with courtesy.
• If you arrive late, take a seat quietly.
• If you leave early, do so by prearrangement.

The full policy is available at

If you have a documented disability, contact Learning Support Services as soon as possible to discuss accommodations. Learning Support Services is temporarily located in room SC 108.

Pregnant Students
The College recommends that pregnant students be proactive in communicating their situation with their instructor and WCC support offices. Pregnant students should contact the Ombudsman office ( as soon as possible if they encounter medical situations that are impacting their ability to attend classes. Options for adjustments become limited with time.

Pregnant students should contact Learning Support Services to discuss accommodations, if needed, during their pregnancy. Additional information is available at:

Lactation Room
In support of our students and employees who are nursing mothers, a lactation room is available for your use. The room offers a secure and private place for the mother to express milk for their nursing children.

Students may make arrangements to use the lactation room by contacting:
Student Resources Women’s Center (SRWC) on the second floor of the Student Center building or via phone at 734-973-5105.

Additional information is available at:

Sexual Misconduct/Title IX Disclosure
Washtenaw Community College seeks to provide an environment free of sexual misconduct. If you are, or have been, the victim of sexual misconduct on campus or within a WCC educational program or activity – contact the ombudsman office at

Information on sexual misconduct prevention, awareness, reporting methods, and victim resources are available from the WCC website at:

Safety & Security
Your safety and security is important to us. Here are some important safety tips for the upcoming semester. Also watch your WCC email for safety tips throughout the semester.
• Emergency Notification Service: We encourage you to sign up for the Emergency Notification Service in MyWCC. You will receive timely notifications if the College is closed due to weather or other emergency.
• Fire: If there is a fire or other reason a building needs to be evacuated, the fire alarm will ring. Exit the building using the nearest stairway. Do not use elevators. Make sure you stay at least 150 feet from the building until the all clear signal is given.
• Tornado: If a tornado warning is issued for the WCC campus area, the tornado siren will activate outside and an emergency message will broadcast throughout campus. Please seek shelter in the closest room/area designated as a tornado shelter. If you are unable to find a marked tornado shelter, seek shelter in an inner hallway or restroom, away from exterior windows.
• Property Security: Do not leave laptop computers, smart phones, tablets or other valuables unattended. If parking on campus, roll up your windows, lock your doors and keep personal belongings out of sight.
• Call Campus Safety (734-973-3411 or 3411 from a College house phone) to report any suspicious activity or safety concern.

Deadline to drop and get a refund: Jan. 22.
Last day to adjust schedule with Instructor permission OR change credit or audit status: Jan 25
Withdrawal deadline (NO REFUND): Mar 12

Tentative Calendar
Since a textbook was not assigned, I will supply the readings at the class before I want you to absorb the information. Readings should be completed prior to the class date indicated.

This is a general outline of activities. Unannounced work will be done in class like writing news stories based on speeches, social media blurbs and spot news.

Jan. 12 Welcome. Introduction to online news and WordPress. Write a website analysis. (25 points)

Jan. 19 Wordpress Part 2. Watch video and write story in class. (25 points)

Jan. 26 Wordpress Part 3. Introduction to Photos and Video. (25 points)

Feb. 2 Report and write a story include picture and video. Social Media part 1. Crowd sourcing. Pluses and perils. (50 points)

Feb. 9 Social Media Part 2 – Twitter, Facebook, etc. How to write, promote and interact. Ethics. Writing blurbs for your stories. (25 points)

Feb. 16 Social Media Part 3 – Find sources and information and imbedding Tweets. Write a Twitter story. (25 points)

Feb. 23 NO CLASS –WINTER BREAK (Spend the time finding sources your can interview by phone for your election nights)

March 1 Writing and updating for online. Introduction to chat room, how to make a slideshow. Peer Review of blogs. Election preview. You must have found 3 sources to use for the next week’s live reporting assignment. (25 points)

March 8 MICHIGAN PRIMARIES. Gather information, write stories, get reaction through interviews. Due at end of class. (50 points)

March 15 ELECTION NIGHT – Presidential primaries in Florida, Ohio and Missouri. Put together a package with live interviews. Due at end of class. (75 points)

March 22 Peer review of election stories. TBA in-class work. (25 points)

March 29 Historical event, research and write. (50 points)

April 5 Peer review. Practice weaknesses. TBA in-class work. (25 points)

April 12 Historical event, research and write. (50 points)

April 19 Peer review. Practice weaknesses. Weather packages due. SEO, links, keywords. (100 points)

April 26 Peer review. HTML, content management systems, Tags. (25 points)


The Washtenaw Community College course held on Tuesday nights in the winter semester of 2015.

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