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ENG 399: Journalism

Page history last edited by Alex Reid 13 years, 1 month ago

Course Calendar


Course Description

Newsgames and Social Media Journalism


As we all know, the practice of journalism has shifted radically in the last decade as emerging technologies have not only changed the media by which we receive our news but also opened opportunities for citizens to participate as producers of journalism. While we will address the economic problems these changes are causing for newspapers, our primary focus will be on these new practices themselves. We will explore and experiment with social media platforms such as blogging and Twitter, as well as the development of newsgames. We will investigate changing journalistic practices and discuss new ethical issues that arise in digital contexts. We will follow journalists with Twitter accounts, read news blogs, play newsgames, and practice our own social media journalism. We will also read two books, Newsgames by Ian Bogost, Simon Ferrari, and Bobby Schweizer and Mediactive by Dan Gillmor. Students will participate in regular, online discussion and complete a social media journalism project.


Required Texts


Newsgames by Ian Bogost, Simon Ferrari, and Bobby Schweizer (Amazon)

Mediactive by Dan Gillmor (Amazon) (Free web version)


Technological Requirements


As described above, this course focuses on social media and games. We will not only study these matters; we will also practice them. You will see that the course requires you to participate in a number of social media spaces and gives you the option of working in even more. Our class will take place on this wiki, on our course blog, on your individual blogs, on twitter, in Google reader, and in Google docs. These are all relatively simply applications to employ and are used by millions of people around the world.




The grading in this course follows a known but perhaps uncommon practice in your experience called "contract grading." In this approach I describe some minimal activities that are necessary to receive a C. Beyond a C grade however, you have a choice of whether you wish to pursue a B grade or an A grade by selecting among the activities that I describe below. I reserve the "+" and "-" distinctions as an evaluation of performance. Hence, someone who chooses a "B" contract and does excellent work can receive a B+ but not an A. 


You must inform me via email of the grade contract you wish to pursue by June 1st.


C Grade (minimal requirements)


  • Write 15 100-word+ posts/comments on the course blog in response to course readings or discussions, at least two per week.
  • Write 15 100-word+ posts on your personal blog in relation to course topics, at least two per week. 
  • Make 10 contributions to the course wiki, at least one per week.
  • Post 100 tweets with the #UB399 hashtag (more on this later)
  • Research and write a 1500-2000 word feature article on social media or gaming
  • Participate in group workshops related to article writing


B Grade

complete the C grade requirements, plus do two of the following:


  • Create a five minute slidecast describing a particular social media technology and its current use in social media.
  • Live blogging: find a local newsworthy event (sports, entertainment, public meetings, etc.) and post a live account to your blog and twitter feed. 
  • Lead a course discussion. Choose one of the assigned course readings (or propose something else you think is important) and lead our discussion by posting an opening message that asks questions and the responding at least twice more in the discussion thread. 
  • Serve as an editor for our course webzine. This means providing additional feedback for student articles, final proofreading, and assisting with layout. 
  • Digital media provider. Produce 10 images, graphics, or audio pieces, at the request of the editors, to meet with our webzines requirements. Pieces may be borrowed from elsewhere, as long as the borrowing does not violate copyright (i.e. as long as you have permission; some media is released on Creative Commons licenses). 



A Grade

complete the C & B grade requirements, plus do one of the following:


  • Produce a 3-5 minute video discussing a social media issue (n.b. only select this option if you have the technology and some previous experience).
  • Write a proposal for a newsgame (minimum 1000 words). 
  • Social media promoters. Volunteer to promote our webzine through social media. Promoters will meet (virtually), create a promotion plan (which I will approve), and then carry out the promotion. 


Failed Contract Consequences 


  •  If you do not meet the minimal requirements for a C grade, then the highest grade you can receive is a C-, regardless of any other work you do for the course. You must do this work!! IF YOU DO NOT MEET THE MINIMAL REQUIREMENTS YOU MIGHT FAIL THE COURSE.
  • If you select an A or B contract and meet the C requirements but not meet the B requirements, the highest grade you can receive is a B- (e.g., if you do one of the two options).
  • If you select an A contract and complete the B requirements, but not the A requirement, the highest grade you can receive is a B+. 



Required Work


Course Blog


The course blog is analogous to in-class discussions. We will use the blog to discuss the class readings and then later our plans for the publication of our articles. It is a place to connect the readings with current events and to discuss your own research in relation to the class.


Personal Blog

The personal blog will be course-related but will give you more freedom on topic than the course blog. Here you will write individual responses to the readings, report on your research, and make connections between the work of the course and your other intersets.



We will use Twitter to share comments and discoveries in real time. As you are researching, you should be using twitter. As you are reading, you should be using Twitter. In addition to following one another, we will also follow professional journalists in Twitter to see how they use it.



As you can see from exploring this site, students in my classes create pages they hope will be of use to future students. You will create pages based on the readings (e.g. summaries of chapters) and your research. In the spring 2012 semester, I will be teaching 380 New Media. I will also be teaching a graduate course on digital humanities. Much of what you will write this summer will be useful to those students.



As this is a journalism class, it makes sense that you would write an article that explores some aspect of the courses focus on gaming and social media. Clearly there are many angles to take: business, education, politics, law, art, etc. You might uncover some local issue to address or you might take up some national or international concern. Your article will be 1500-2000 words, so it will not be straightforward reporting.





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