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JOMC 157: NEWS EDITING

Spring 2014

58 Carroll/Tuesday-Thursday 8 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.
INSTRUCTOR: Andy Bechtel

EMAIL: abechtel@email.unc.edu

OFFICE HOURS: Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m at 213 Carroll

WEB: editdesk.wordpress.com

TWITTER: www.twitter.com/andybechtel
About the course
OVERVIEW: Welcome to JOMC 157. In this course, you will learn the fundamentals of editing for print and online media. We’ll talk about the little stuff such as commas and the big stuff such headline writing for print and digital media. You will learn how to edit text, write photo captions and design news pages. You’ll become an expert in AP style and gain an appreciation for accuracy of information and fairness in language. The goal is to help you become a better communicator, for your career and for your life.
REQUIRED TEXTS: Working With Words, Eighth Edition. The Associated Press Stylebook, 2013 edition. Stylebook of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication (available online at jomc.unc.edu/stylebook).
RECOMMENDED TEXTS: Webster’s New World College Dictionary. You should also read a daily newspaper (either in print or online) such as The News & Observer, The New York Times or the Herald-Sun as well as The Daily Tar Heel.
ACADEMIC INTEGRITY: You must adhere to the University’s honor code. Some assignments will be collaborative, but in general, there should be no sharing of information while you are working on assignments.

ATTENDANCE: It’s crucial. So is punctuality. If you miss an assignment because you are late, you may not make it up. If you miss class, you may make up assignments only if you provide documentation of illness or other cause for your absence. If you cannot attend class because of a University-related trip, please let me know ahead of time so we can arrange makeup work.

ETIQUETTE: Be ready to participate in class discussions and class exercises. Please refrain from texting, checking email and looking at Facebook during class. You may leave the room to take a break at any time; as a class, we’ll also take a few minutes off midway through many class meetings.
ASSIGNMENTS: Most of the work in this class will be what you would do in a newsroom: editing stories, writing headlines, etc. You will also take a series of tests on AP style and pop quizzes on current events and names in the news. The one out-of-class assignment will be a design critique of a daily newspaper.

GRADING: Your assignments will be graded on a point system. The more important the assignment, the more it’s worth. For example, an AP style quiz is worth 50 points. The final exam will be worth 200 points. In the end, I will divide the number of points you earned by the total possible points (typically about 1,600) and use the following scale to calculate your grade:




  • A = 93-100

  • A- = 90-92

  • B+ = 87-89

  • B = 83-86

  • B- = 80-82

  • C = 70 - 79, with +/- ranges the same as for B

  • D = 60 - 69, with +/- ranges the same as for B

  • F = 0 - 59

BONUS ROUND: You can also get extra credit by bringing in an error in a publication and explaining how you would repair it. To cash in on this offer, turn in the error with a brief written explanation. Describe the mistake and how you would fix it. Examples of errors: a misspelled headline, a math error, a misplaced comma or bad word choice.

You may get extra credit for up to four such mistakes. Each one is worth five points. I may ask you to share some of your more interesting finds with the rest of the class. Professionally produced print publications such as daily newspapers, magazines, menus, textbooks and this syllabus are fair game. Student newspapers, fliers stuck on telephone poles and online media are not. I am the final arbiter of what counts and what doesn’t.
About your instructor
PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: I am a journalist with more than 10 years of newspaper experience. My first job was as copy editor and page designer at the News & Record in Greensboro. The bulk of my experience is at The News & Observer, where I worked in sports, at the paper’s Chapel Hill bureau and on the Nation & World desk. More recently, I was an “intern” in the summer of 2008, working as an editor at the website of the Los Angeles Times.
TEACHING PHILOSOPHY: My goal is to give you skills that will benefit you personally and professionally. I want to help you succeed in whatever area of journalism interests you, and I am happy to help you with career advice, internships, etc.
TENTATIVE SCHEDULE

Thursday, Jan. 9


Topic: Introductions.
Tuesday, Jan. 14

Topics: What editors do in print and online; getting down to basics.

Readings: Working with Words, Chapters 1, 2 and 9. Punctuation guide in AP Stylebook. Assignment: Punctuation exercise.

Thursday, Jan. 16

Topics: Eliminating redundancy, misspellings and other miscues.

Readings: Working with Words, Chapters 8, 10 and 12. AP Stylebook A-E.

Assignments: AP style quiz, A-E; wordiness exercise.

Thursday, Jan. 23

Topics: Editing for sense and impact; dealing with names, titles and quotes.

Readings: Working with Words, Chapters 3-7. AP Stylebook F-M.

Assignments: AP style quiz, F-M; editing exercise.



Tuesday, Jan. 28


Topic: Story editing.

Readings: Working with Words, Chapters 11, 14, 16.



Thursday, Jan. 30


Topics: Editing for accuracy; checking facts and numbers.

Readings: AP Stylebook, N-R.

Assignment: Accuracy exercise; style quiz, N-R.

Tuesday, Feb. 4


Topics: Watching out for bias and avoiding stereotypes.

Readings: Working with Words, Chapter 13.

Assignments:; settling a style question.
Thursday, Feb. 6

Topic: Media law, ethics and editing.

Reading: Briefing on media law in AP Stylebook; AP Stylebook, S-Z.

Assignments: Libel/ethics exercise; style quiz S-Z.



Tuesday, Feb. 11


Topics: Editing with InDesign/InCopy.

Readings: Blue Pages guide to InDesign/InCopy.



Thursday, Feb. 13


Topics: Bringing it all together: style, accuracy and fairness.

Readings: Local stylebook, pages 2-18.

Assignments: Quiz on local stylebook; story-editing exercise.
Tuesday, Feb. 18

Topic: Story editing for digital media.

Assignment: Editing a story and adding links using WordPress.

Thursday, Feb. 20

Topic: Headline writing for print media.

Assignment: Headline/editing exercise.


Tuesday, Feb. 25


Topic: Adding dropheads and writing multiple-line headlines.

Assignments: Headline/editing exercise.



Thursday, Feb. 27


Topic: More headlines.

Assignments: Headline blitz!


Tuesday, March 4


Topic: Twitter for editors.

Assignment: Tweeting some news stories.



Thursday, March 6


Topic: Midterm.
Tuesday, March 18

Topic: Exploring alternative story forms.



Thursday, March 20


No class; ACES conference.

Tuesday, March 25


Topic: Editing and print design.

Assignment: Newspaper critique.



Thursday, March 27


Topic: More on print layout.

Assignment: Putting together a page.


Tuesday, April 1


Topic: Working on newspaper critiques.

Assignment: Open lab.




Thursday, April 3


Topic: Working on newspaper critiques.

Assignment: Open lab.



Tuesday, April 8


Topic: Photos and captions.

Assignment: Caption exercise.


Thursday, April 10

Topic: Caption writing for online.

Assignment: Creating and editing a slide show.

Tuesday, April 15


Topic: Online headlines.

Assignment: Write headlines for digital media.



Thursday, April 17

Topic: Putting together a digital story package.

Assignment: Story editing/caption writing/headline writing in WordPress.

Tuesday, April 22

Topics: Newspaper critiques; review for exam.

Assignment: Presentation of critiques.

Deadline for extra credit.
Thursday, April 24

Assignment: Final exam.


Guidelines for grading your story editing
Point deductions


Misspelled proper name: -50

Missing first reference: -15

Other fact error: -25

Misspelled word: -10

Style error: -5

Garble: -5

Punctuation error: -3 to -5

Grammar error: -5

Redundancy: -5

Other offense: -3 to -25


Point bonuses

On some assignments, you can get points by performing heroic acts of editing. These include breaking a long sentence into two sentences, tightening wordy copy and improving the structure of a story.



Guidelines for grading your headlines and captions

Headlines and captions are worth 25 points each. Here’s how the grading works:


25: Shows unusual flair and cleverness. Represents the story or photo clearly and forcefully. A cut or head that’s truly exemplary.
23: Solid and publishable. Reflects the story or photo and attracts reader interest.
21: Usable but lacks precision and action.
18: Vague or difficult to understand, or has structural problems that hinder comprehension.

16: Contains a major flaw. Fails to use key words that reflect the news or misses the major angle of the story. Contains a punctuation error, such as use of a semicolon where a comma is needed. Has unintended double meanings.
0: Contains an obvious grammar error, such as subject-verb disagreement. Has a misspelled name or fact error.






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