COMM 3342 Journalism and Social Media

Course Description

We’ve come a long ways from spreading news by word of mouth that would take days, weeks, months, and even years to reach people across nations and continents. Now, word of mouth is a retweet, a share, a like and even a link to a blog. Journalism has changed from word of mouth, to print, broadcast, to the world wide web. The evolution of journalism in different venues all had growing pains. The digital world provides instantaneous messages that may not be the most reliable information.

We will explore:

  • Blogs
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Data Journalism (infographics)

COMM 3342 Journalism and Social Media will examine how journalists and citizens can work together to create a more powerful information system that is reliable and is one that stands with integrity. This class will examine basic journalism concepts and journalism’s use of social media and will also allow students to practice the concepts and theories they read in class. Get ready to explore Journalism 2.0.

Student Learning Objectives/Outcomes

Students who successfuly complete COMM 3342 Journalism and Social Media will:

  1. Acquire multimedia/journalistic storytelling skills
  2. Blog to a time pressed audience.
  3. Demonstrate the theories, concepts and terminology through practical exercises.
  4. Analyze effective use of social media by journalists and by citizen media.


Journalism Next
by Mark Briggs
ISBN: 978-1-60426-560-6

Other readings will be provided to you through the wiki

Suggested Books:
AP Style

A working knowledge of technology is required. We will post to the Wiki, our class blog, and sometimes elearning. Please double check all your work is posted to the right web sites. Make sure you know how to post and save your work to the appropriate web sites we use in class. Also, a working knowledge of the online library site is mandatory.

Research is an important part to this class. I expect you to familiarize yourself with our library’s databases as well as how to download and obtain scholarly articles. You MUST know how to cite sources correctly. I have a no TOLERANCE policy for plagiarism and poorly cited sources. You will be turned into Judicial Affairs. Learn to CITE your sources correctly. You will always turn in a source page of all the sources you used in your

 Note: I reserve the right to modify this syllabus at any time during the course to suit the needs of the students and the course objectives. Any modifications shall be given to you in writing. 

Graded Course Components

Graded Compenents  Points
Team Blog Stories:Six weekly written stories (40 points each)One Audio Photoslideshow story (40 points)One Photo Slideshow (40 points)One audio/radio story (40 points)Team Member Performance (40 points) 40%
Team Infographic 20%
Social Media Reporting (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) 20%
Homework Assignments 10%
Professional Communications 10%

Grading Scale

Grade Points
A+ 950-1000
A 935-949
A- 900-934
B+ 860-899
B 835-859
B- 800-834
C+ 760-799
C 735-759
C- 700-734
D+ 660-699
D 635-659
D- 600-634
F Anything below a 599


Class Blog: We will create one class blog to cover the Presidential Election this year. Our goal is to build a news oriented blog that discusses the 2012 campaign.

The class will break up into four teams of five. Each team will cover a political beat. The beats will be:

  1. Barack Obama and Joe Biden and spouses
  2. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan and spouses
  3. House of Representative Campaigns
  4. Senate Campaigns

Each team is responsible for keeping their beat current. Starting September 20 you will start posting stories to our blog. Each week your team will rotate who will act as editor. The editor is in charge of posting the best stories for the week. The editor for the week gets to take the week off from posting since they are in charge of choosing and reading the stories. Each team will have class time on Thursdays to brainstorm, go over story assignments, and choose the final blog stories. Remember we are wanting to inform the public quickly. If you and your editor for the week think a story is worthy of posting early, please do so.

Our MAIN GOAL is to be unbiased and informative. We want our blog to help citizens become informed citizens. It is not OUR job to create opinions for people, but to allow citizens to make them for themselves. We want to report the news with facts and thought provoking narratives.

Story Requirements:

  1. You can not interview each other or other EMAC students. 
  2. You must provide a source list for each story. Names, dates, phone numbers, emails
  3. I will grade on story relevance and quality.
  4. We want to provide the most original content as possible. We should localize our blog and not regurgitate the news already reported.
  5. NO horserace journalism.
  6. NO commentary or editorials.
  7. You may use original photos in every story. Be careful about borrowing from the Internet. We will always ask for permissions, give credit, and cite our sources with links.

Team Beat Information:

  1. Each team member will write a story a week.
  2. The team will create an editor schedule.
  3. The team will plan out who does what story in the group.
  4. If a team member falters the team as a whole will not be punished. 
  5. Your team members will rate your story each week.  
  6. Meet deadlines.

You will have SIX written stories to turn in (ONE a week) and then three multimedia stories. You will tell a story through a photo slide show, one with just photos and one with photos and audio. Then you will tell a story just with audio, just like a radio news package. We will discuss these types of stories later in the semester.

Editor Job:

  1. Copyedit/Proofread the story
  2. Fact check the sources/Make sure each story has a source list
  3. Post the blog stories

Team Infographic:

We will discuss Data journalism. Your goal is to dig deep and find an interesting story to tell visually about your beat.
Here is an example of an Infographic:

Social Media Reporting:

Sometimes journalists should tweet more information. Find articles, build a reputation, POWER TWEET.  We will also tweet the debates.  Remember, just the facts!

As a class we may want to create a Facebook page as well. We will discuss all of our possibilities over the semester.

Homework Assignments:

I will sometimes ask you to post assignments on the wiki. They are to help you flush out ideas and to develop your journalistic social media style.

Professional Communication:

This is the easiest grade EVER! Show up, participate, and turn in your assignments! It’s your job performance grade.

Personal Portfolio Page:

Every story you write, every Power Tweet, you will post the link to your wiki portfolio page.
Make Up Work and Late Work
 I do not accept late work. The end!

Technology problems are not an excuse. 

Extra Credit

 Extra credit is NOT an option. Do not ask if you can earn extra credit. Instead, strive for excellence in the assigned work.

If you’re having trouble with any assignments, please let me know BEFORE the end of the semester. It’s hard to help someone who does not ask.

References, Copyright, and Plagiarism

UTD has a no-tolerance policy for plagiarism. If you do not cite your sources you will be referred to the Office of Judicial Affairs for investigations. It is up to you to learn and study the APA Study Guide. I will also use This site checks for plagiarism.


 Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude. Thomas Jefferson

I make no distinction between “excused” and “unexcused” absence.

You will receive TWO absences with no penalty. Excessive absences will decrease your grade and may lead to failure. I am not interested in your excuses. For example: WORK is not an excuse. Unless you have a university issued excused absence, I’m not interested in learning why you could not attend class.
Classroom Citizenship, Technology, and Professional Communication Grade
I’m going to be cheesy and bring up Oprah here. One of my favorite quotes she shared on her show is that “YOU are responsible for the energy that you bring into this space.” My motto is that if you respect me, I will respect you.

Each student receives a Professional Communication Grade. You should prepare for class, and during class, you should cooperate, listen and respect other’s opinions. The Professional Communication Grade consists of:

  • Adding value to in class discussions
  • Professionally communicating to me in email, twitter and elearning.
  • Silence your electronic devices and do not accept calls while in class.
  • Please no cursing in class. I know an F word and it’s called FAIL! When you curse during presentations or during discussions that is laziness. An in class presentation is to practice professionalism.

You may use electronic devices in the classroom such as a laptop, tablet, cellphone, etc. Please do so discretely. I do reserve the right to ask you to leave if your technology is disrupting the class or me. I reserve the right to block you from discussions or ask you to not post if your online behavior becomes disruptive.

Email Communications
To protect your privacy rights, please use your email account when corresponding with me. I will try to answer emails within 24 hours Monday-Thursday and within 48 hours on the weekends or holidays. Email is the fastest and easiest way to contact me.
UTD Policies and Procedures

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Clinical Assistant Professor at UT-Dallas