ENG 399: Journalism

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)



B Grade

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




A Grade

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



Failed Contract Consequences 




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.