Journalism 207 syllabus -- sample

Western Washington University
Instructor: Tim Pilgrim
Office: CF 265
Phone: 650-3253
WWW home page:
Office Hours: MW 8 a.m.; Tuesday 10 a.m.; or by appt.
Pilgrim's World Wide Web page
Class meets: MW 10 a.m. to 11:50 a.m. in CF 202
"Telling the story: The Convergence of Print, Broadcast and Online Media," The Missouri Group (3rd edition); "The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law" (2010 edition); "When Words Collide," Kessler and McDonald (7th edition); Webster's New World Dictionary (or equivalent); The Bellingham Herald (pick it up outside CF 255); a campus e-mail account and access to the World Wide Web; the WWU Journalism Department's master syllabus for J207; a flashdrive dedicated to Mac use for storage of written work.

Students should regularly read newspapers and magazines. The Bellingham Herald is required reading, and recommendations include The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal,, Investigate West (, The Seattle Times and Cascadia Weekly. Also, consider magazines and weeklies, such Mother Jones, Z Magazine (, The New Yorker, Harpers, Newsweek, Time and The Stranger.

Course procedure
Pilgrim welcomes students to Journalism 207! This class teaches students how to gather, process and present information for the media. During class, students will write news stories at the computer under conditions similar to those reporters face on the job. Many J207 handouts will NOT BE AVAILABLE on paper but will be available on the Web. Students will be writing in class every day. Some of the daily news writing is ungraded but will receive points for being placed in the student's file, where it may be later rewritten (points are awarded for completing each story).
Students will also research and write outside of class three stories:
(1) a descriptive feature,
(2) a profile feature and
(3) an outside-of-class news story.

Fact-checking exercises, small-group work, quizzes or in-class work over over journalistic English, the AP Stylebook, the "Telling the Story" text and The Bellingham Herald will be an ongoing, graded part of the class. The emphasis in this course is on writing (clarity, conciseness, organization, grammar, spelling, mechanics, usage, etc.) and news (leads, news judgment, accuracy, AP news style, deadlines and copy preparation).

Story preparation
All stories must be written on the computer (students must compose at the computer -- NOT write out stories longhand and then type into the system), which allows corrections and changes to be made quickly before printing a hard copy. All work should be stored in a personal folder on the "blue world" in Editpro and on a flashdrive. Further editing of any printed copy should be done in pencil. Printed stories should be double-spaced and indented, with "more" (in pencil) at the bottom of pages (if the story is continued on another page) and "30" to show the end of the story. Each page should have your last name, a slugline (one-word identification) and the page number indication in the UPPER LEFT corner. Students will be required to do some in-class and out-of-class news gathering. They should always bring a PENCIL and pad of paper to class for notes (reporter notebooks work well too). Computer devices may be used but only if students are proficient in such notetaking and if they do not use other functions such as Web browsing and communication.

Students will have an individual folder under J207 of Editpro on the "blue world"-computer-storage area. Students should find Journsys on the "blue world" to begin. They will get assignments from a J207 area called Course Material. They will place completed stories and drafts in Editpro (and back up that material on a personal flashdrive).

WWU policies
To request disability accommodation, please contact the appropriate WWU resource office at 650-3488 -- or for student assistance related to required course procedures, contact Student Life at 650-3706.

The official WWU policy concerning academic dishonesty is published in the WWU catalog in Appendix C. All students are required to abide by this and other WWU policies, also in the catalog. In addition students must know and adhere to the WWU standards for ethical computing. Documents can be found at and at
If winter storms occur, students are urged not to take risks getting to class even "university remains open." Pilgrim will arrange makeups on a case-by-case basis.

Grading is on a point basis. Attendance is mandatory -- students who miss class miss points. Graded class exercises and quizzes CANNOT be made up if the student is absent. Some in-class practice exercises will be ungraded -- usually the first time students try something new -- but points are awarded for its completion.
Because rewriting is incorporated into the class, Pilgrim does not allow extra rewrites for points, but students are encouraged to rework ungraded stories and share the revision with Pilgrim during office hours.
Three major outside-class assignments will be worth 100 points each for the final draft and will also receive points for the rough draft (see due dates in the schedule below).
All in-class writing, graded or not, will be worth points: up to 10 points for being completed and placed in a personal folder in Editpro, OR up to 50 when printed, handed in and graded. Stories written in class during Week 10 (dead week) will be worth 100 points each.
The following ranges indicate approximate grade quality on a 50-point story:
45-50 -- work is outstanding -- very few errors
40-44 -- work is competent, needing some changes and corrections
35-39 -- work is acceptable but with changes and/or additions
30-34 -- work has some fundamental problems
0-29 -- work has major flaws and usually a combination of errors
25* -- student missed class that day but gets half the points
In general for a 50-point, in-class story, errors will be assessed point deductions as follows:
ONE point for MOST punctuation errors and AP style errors;
TWO points for each grammatical error;
THREE points or more for each spelling, news angle or major grammar error (such as a run-on sentence);
FIVE points for factual errors, name errors and story omissions.
THESE DEDUCTIONS ARE DOUBLED FOR 100-POINT STORIES (and divided in half for 25-point writing).

Pilgrim gives quizzes over journalistic English basics or news in The Bellingham Herald or readings from "Telling the Story," and he requires online fact-checking, sometimes for points. The quizzes are normally AT THE BEGINNING of class.

To summarize, in Pilgrim's J207 class, students write during every class and have quizzes or exercises for points in nearly every class. In a typical quarter, around 1,100 points are available. Students can earn 330 points for stories done outside of class, 200 points for Week 10 writing, about 385 points for in-class writing and about 185 points for quizzes and exercises. Thus, to receive a superior grade, students must be prepared, attend class without absence and apply themselves to in-class tasks, which are 75% or more of all points available.

The THREE major outside writing projects must be turned in on the assigned dates (both rough draft and final draft). If late, a 100-point project loses 10 points per day (weekends count as one day). The class is a skills class and has no "exam" during final week. Pilgrim has e-mail conferences during that week. At the end of the course, points are totaled and placed on a loose curve. Also, the plus and minus grading system will be used. SEE THE WWU CATALOG FOR INFORMATION ABOUT INCOMPLETES, Z GRADES, WITHDRAWALS AND OTHER GRADING INFORMATION, along with BEHAVIOR ON CAMPUS.

Pilgrim has a hearing loss, so students are asked to refrain from talking and action that interferes with class. No cellphones, iPods or other devices are permitted during class. Students are required not to be using computers for other than note-taking when Pilgrim announces such computer-use restrictions.
Medical and university-approved absenses mean a student may make up in-class work. However, a written document is required.
Week 0 and 1 (Sept. 22, Sept. 27 and 29)
Read and apply "The AP Stylebook" and read chapters 1, 2 and 6 in "Telling the Story." Read and apply chapters 1, 2, 3 and 4 in "When Words Collide." Read daily The Bellingham Herald.

Week Two (Oct. 4 and 6)
Read chapters 3 and 4 in "Telling the Story," and continue reading and applying "Associated Press Stylebook." Also, read and apply chapters 5 and 6 in "When Words Collide." Read daily The Bellingham Herald.

Week Three (Oct. 11 and 13)
Read chapters 5 and 7 in "Telling the Story." Know and regularly apply the "AP Stylebook." Read and appy chapter 7 in "When Words Collide."
Rough draft of descriptive feature is due Oct. 11; final draft due Wed., Oct. 13.

Week Four (Oct. 18 and 20)
Read chapter 14 and 15 in "Telling the Story," and continue studying and applying "The AP Stylebook" and chapter 8 "When Words Collide." Read daily The Bellingham Herald.

Week Five (Oct. 25 and 27)
Read chapters 9 and 10 in "Telling the Story," and continue studying and applying "The AP Stylebook"and chapter 9 in "When Words Collide." Read The New York Times daily
Rough draft of profile feature is due Oct. 25; final draft due Wed., Oct. 27.

Week Six (Nov. 1 and 3)
Read chapter 7, 8 and 11 in "Telling the Story," and continue applying "The AP Stylebook" and reread chapter 9 in "When Words Collide." Read daily The Bellingham Herald; meet at 10 a.m. Wed., Nov. 3, at the Western Gallery by the Fine Arts Building to gather information on the African art show -- class resumes in CF 202 at 11 a.m.

Week Seven (Nov. 8 and 10)
Read chapter 12 and 13 in "Telling the Story," and continue studying and applying "The AP Stylebook" and "When Words Collide." Read daily The Bellingham Herald.
Rough draft of outside news story due Mon., Nov. 8; final draft due Wed., Nov. 10.

Week Eight (Nov. 15 and 17)
Continue studying and applying The AP Stylebook and "Telling the Story." Also, read and apply chapters 10 and 11 in "When Words Collide." Read daily The Bellingham Herald.

Week Nine (Nov. 22 and 24 -- Thanksgiving break begins at noon Nov. 24)
Continue applying "The AP Stylebook' and read chapter 12 "When Words Collide." Read daily The Bellingham Herald.

Week 10 (Nov. 29 and Dec. 1)
Continue applying "The AP Stylebook" and "When Words Collide." Read daily The Bellingham Herald.
In-class stories will be written this week (point value 100 each).

Week 11 (Dec. 6-10)
Final week. No final exam. Pilgrim will be available for e-mail conferences.

Special Due Dates -- outside-of-class stories (100 pts. each)
Wed., Oct. 13 -- Descriptive feature due beginning of class -- Rough draft due Mon., Oct. 11.
Wed., Oct. 27 -- Profile feature due beginning of class -- Rough draft due Mon., Oct. 25.
Wed., Nov. 10 -- News story due beginning of class -- Rough draft due Mon., Nov. 8

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Created Sept. 2010; modified Oct. 2010; corrected Dec. 2013