J397 - Sundial Practicum
News Practicum, Monday, 9 - 11:45 a.m,, ED 1122
Melissa Lalum, Instructor/Daily Sundial Publisher
Office Hours: MZ 140, Monday, 12-1 p.m.; (818) firstname.lastname@example.org
About the class
The Daily Sundial gives students the opportunity to hone their news gathering and producing skills in a 24/7 newsroom environment. You will experience real assignments and deadlines while working at the Sundial. Your work will appear online and in print (circ. 6,000, Monday-Thursday) and it will be accessible to a diverse university community and beyond.
The mandatory classes will focus on understanding the current digital newsroom — including its challenges and areas of growth — in addition to balancing the print product. The class will concentrate on producing compelling content for dailysundial.com, social media, mobile devices and the print product. Expect to work hard as an individual and on a team -- you have an amazing opportunity to create a dynamic product.
The Daily Sundial editors are responsible for assigning content/beats (e.g., photos, stories, multimedia, etc.) and setting deadlines. Staff members are also expected to generate their own ideas for producing original content. You must spend at least two hours a week in the newsroom reporting/producing content for online and print. You will be required to sign up for a time and sign in. During this time you are available for any assignment or breaking news or updating the Web site. Remember: This is a 24/7 newscycle and dailysundial.com needs to be updated throughout the day. It should not mirror the print product. When in the newsroom, be ready to answer phones and generally help out.
Program Learning Outcomes
The Department of Journalism strives to prepare its students to become well-educated, principled citizens who are capable of initiating careers as skilled journalists, public relations practitioners and other related communication professionals. The Department will help students to achieve the following objectives by the end of their program of study:
2. Students will be able to gather and analyze information, including basic numerical concepts, using journalistic storytelling techniques, such as interviewing, observation, and researching primary and secondary sources.
3. Students will be able to think critically, creatively and independently.
4. Students will demonstrate an understanding of professional ethical principles and work ethically in pursuit of truth, accuracy, fairness, and diversity.
5. Students will apply tools and technologies appropriate for the news media professions in which they work to communicate for and with diverse audiences.
6. Students will be able to understand and apply the historical, theoretical, legal and societal contexts for producing news media for consumers, ranging from local to global.
(Lineup and elements of syllabus and class subject to change. Check the Syllabus tab often for supplemental readings and changes.)
Jan. 28: Introduction/syllabus review
• Syllabus overview slides
• Social media and finding stories
• Interview with Ira Glass on finding decent stories.
• Pew Internet and American Life Project, social networking
• Nieman Lab: Vadim Lavrusik: How journalists can make use of Facebook Pages
• Poynter: How false reports of Joe Paterno’s death were spread and debunked
• Social Media Today: OMG! Over 40 Twitter Abbreviations You Should Know
• Social storytelling: A Brother And Sister Get Married (And Later, Their Son Tweets It), NPR
• Chirp Story example
• Zombie Journalism: 10 Ways journalists can use Storify
• Social media slides
Feb. 4: Tour of CSUN PD/Common Mistakes
Meet at police station (corner of Prairie Street and Darby Avenue) at 9 a.m.
Presentation on self-editing, discuss common mistakes
Feb. 11: Visit Veterans Resource Center and Pride Center
Meet at the VRC in the University Student Union at 9 a.m.
Feb. 18: Tour of VPAC/Arts & entertainment coverage
Meet in ED 1122
• Mobile video
• "Cellphones Become the World’s Eyes and Ears on Protests," New York Times, Feb. 18, 2011
• Anderson Cooper recounts being attacked in Cairo
• Pew Internet and American Life Project, Video
Feb. 25: Tour of CSUN campus garden and sustainability issues
Meet at campus garden at 9 a.m.
March 4: Datavisualization
Meet in ED 1122
• National Geogrpahic's 7 Billion series• Wealth Inequality in America
• CSUN's Institutional Research
- Google Docs: Gadgets (charts, data visualization etc.)
- Google Maps
- Wordle.net, Tagcrowd.com, tagul.com
- Dipity (timelines)
• Sign up for time for mid-semester meeting
March 11: Mid-semester meeting
Mid-semester meeting, meet with Melissa in newsroom
March 18: Alternative storytelling
• Telling stories with sound, Elise Malmberg
• Tips on gathering audio, Mediastorm
• Radio Lab: "Animal Minds"
• "Saving Valentina"
• "Marlboro Marine" by Luis Sinco, Los Angeles Times
- L.A. Times stories, galleries, video
- NPR interview with Luis Sinco, June 2005
- Rolling Stone story, April 2008
• "Mauro's Shift," Eric Zassenhaus and Amy Jeffries
• Lecture slides
March 25: Online ethics
• SPJ Code of Ethics
• Student Press Law Center
• Electronic Frontier Foundation
• Los Angeles Times: "Daum: Online's 'nasty effect'A new study shows that comments can actually sway the perceptions and opinions of otherwise objective readers"
• Study: The “Nasty Effect:” Online Incivility and Risk Perceptions of Emerging Technologies
• New York Times: "News Sites Rethink Anonymous Online Comments"
• New York Times: "The Times to Change Policy for Comments on Web Site"
• New York Times Comment FAQ
• San Diego UT: "Anonymous comments end at U-T, SignOn"
• Orange County Register: "OC Register converts to Facebook comments"
• SPLC: "Responding to Takedown Requests"
• Interactive Resource for Journalism Ethics
• Lecture slides
April 1: NO CLASS -- Cesar Chavez holiday
April 8: NO CLASS -- Spring Break
April 15: Resumes, online portfolios
• Mashable: 5 Clever Ways to Get a Job Using Social Media
• "The future of news is going to be Awesome," Business Insider
• The Atlantic: The Future of Hiring: Human Resources, Without the Humans
• NPR: Multimedia Resumes Add Pizazz To Job Search
• Yahoo!: "Navigating the job market"
• Simple resume template
• Resume worksheet
• Resume verbs
• Lecture slides
April 22: Cover letters & interviewing
• Forbes: Ten Interview Questions Designed To Trick You
• L.A. Times: Job interviewing, to the extreme
• Lecture slides
April 29: The basics of freelancing & job resources
• Sample freelance resources: UK contract, USA contract
• Sample freelance resources: Story pitch 1, story pitch 2
May 6: LAST CLASS, mandatory -- Staff photo, staff awards - meet in newsroom; optional, work on portfolio in newsroom
May 10: Final assignments due
May 13: Portfolio due, send link to email@example.com
Reporters: Completed Journalism 310 with C or better.
Photographers: Completed J350 with C or better.
Enroll in J397B (two units) if you are taking Sundial for the first time.
Enroll in J397A (one unit) If you have already taken Sundial or another practicum (KCSN News, PR).
Students must get a permission number from Melissa Lalum to enroll in the class.
Book, materials, equipment
"Journalism Next," Mark Briggs, CQ Press, 2010. (optional)
This book details the current trends in new media and is a good resource for producing interactive content. If you don't already have it, the book will benefit you in other courses and your journalism career. It is available through Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble or other online bookstores.
Or you can download a free version that is a little older than the text listed above:
"Journalism 2.0: How to Survive and Thrive," Reported by Mark Briggs, Edited by Jan Schaffer
Download it here for FREE.
AP Stylebook. You should already own this book or as an app for your smartphone.
Other great resources for journalism and multimedia tutorials:
Knight Center for Digital Media tutorials
Lynda.com tutorials (requires your CSUN ID to log in)
Media card: In addition, if you plan on using the Sundial cameras, recorders or other equipment, you must provide your own media cards (SDHC, 4G minimum recommended) and batteries.
We have Daily Sundial equipment that students can check out. You must review the policies and procedures regarding staff gear before checking it out -- basically, if you break it or lose it you are responsible for replacing it. I follow the same policies as the department when checking out equipment. As many of you know, you can also check out a variety of equipment from our department (MZ335). Download this form for the details. Here is a reminder of a few policies:
1. Students must supply their own batteries.
2. Students must supply their own SDHC card (min. 4G recommended) for equipment.
3. Students MUST return the equipment within 24 hours unless you have prior permission.
4. Students must sign out equipment with an editor.
Attendance & deadlines
Class attendance and newsroom shifts are mandatory. Each student is responsible for signing the attendance sheet at the start of class or the shift sheet (on Melissa's window). You drop 10 points for every two unexcused absences and you drop 10 points for every two missed deadlines. If you need to reschedule a shift, talk to your editor.
Editors will set deadlines for all assignments and inform the publisher if a deadline is missed. Turn your work into the publisher (see course requirement for weekly deadlines). When in doubt, ask.
Your goal is to complete as many assignments that are publishable as possible to gain maximum experience and develop your portfolio.
J397B (2 units):
Completing and turning in assignments
Staff members must complete a minimum of 20 assignments, at least five must be specifically interactive (e.g., video, timeline, map, audio slideshow, photo gallery, etc.) for dailysundial.com. Each assignment is worth 5 points. At least one assignment is due each week. It is important that we have content throughout the semester, so finishing assignments early is not an option.
• 15 assignments = 5 points each for total of 75 points (the format of these is up to you and your editor)
NOTE: Every staff member must contribute at least one story to the Opinion section
• 5 interactive assignments for website = 5 points each for total of 25 points
- One video project (minimum 60 seconds)
- One audio project (minimum 60 seconds), this can be an audio file/podcast or audio slideshow
- One data visualization project, for instance, an interactive map or infographic, timeline, etc.
- Two projects of your choice using interactive media, this can be any of the above or slideshows, social media, etc.
Note: A story that is published both in print and online does not count as two, nor does a photo in both places. If you choose to have multiple components to a story (e.g., print story and online video or print photo and online audio slideshow on the same topic) the interactive component will count toward your interactive assignment.
If you choose to contribute to a blog or use Twitter in your coverage, this can count as an interactive/multimedia element. Every two blog posts are equivalent to one assignment. Twitter coverage must include a minimum of threeTweets for the coverage of a single event.
Example: If you cover a sports team and you write a game story for print, you can include the blog posts or Tweets as your interactive element.
At least ONE assignment is due each week (editors set the deadlines). I will not grade stories that are more than TWO weeks old and I will grade up to TWO assignments per week. The more work you do, the more I will grade so the better chance you have of improving your grade. You are all considered to be all-format journalists, so photographers will cover beats and write stories and reporters will take photos and video, etc.
Projects or longer, in-depth stories, etc., can be counted for more than one assignment. A note must accompany the assignment with an explanation of your extra effort. If you team up on an assignment, you can both get credit. Not all work will be published in print/online. You can still turn it in to the publisher for a grade as long as you make your deadline set by the editor.
How to turn in assignments
Always number each assignment. This will help you keep track of your work and always let you know where you stand with your assignments.
Print your completed assignment and drop it in the basket near Melissa's office and the newsroom printer. Each week I will do a pickup of assignments at 3 p.m. on Thursdays. Turn in the stories that have NOT been edited by the editor. I want to see the copy of the work that you turn into them. A good rule of thumb is to print out the copy you submit to Google docs, number it and put it in my basket.
Example: Attach photo with the full caption that was intended for print, include link to photo gallery online.
Example: Print your original story and include a link to the multimedia element on the Sundial's site, etc.
If you are turning in an assignment that was published online (e.g., video), just print a page with the url/Web address of where I can view the work and turn it in the basket. Include the name of the piece or the set in Flickr. In addition, email the link to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos and multimedia should be your edited work (not every clip and image from your take or shoot).
You must include what day the assignment was published in the Sundial/dailysundial.com. (See Melissa if it does not get published.) And you must include the section the assignment appeared.
EXAMPLES of how to turn in Stories, Photos and Multimedia work to be graded:
You must spend at least two hours a week in the newsroom reporting/producing content for online and print. You will be required to sign up for a time and sign in. During this time you are available for any assignment or breaking news or updating the Web site. This is counted as attendance, for every two unexcused absences (either in class or shift) you will lose 10 points.
Some staff members will be assigned a beat at the beginning of the semester. If you do not receive a beat, you will be considered a general assignment reporter..
Story ideas due every Wednesday by 4 p.m.
View the tutorial
Story ideas due every week, by Wednesday at 4 p.m.
You are to develop story ideas that can be covered by a staff member of the Daily Sundial (preferably you). For each week, the story ideas will be a local story, originating on/in or near either the CSUN campus or the San Fernando Valley. Stories can also originate with a national story that can be localized or a general problem, trend, or point of awareness. Either tip can be a hard or soft news idea. Events, features, and follow-ups are good, too. It can be told in any format for print or online. It can be for any section. Each idea will be evaluated on the validity and newsworthiness of the story, sources, comprehension of the tip, and the possibility that a staffer can cover it. News tips are due by the start of each class. Fill out this form and submit.
You will also be required to create an online resume/portfolio at the end of the semester. This will highlight your published work (and can include other publications). At the end of the semester, you will email Melissa a link to your Web site. See the demo portfolio.
Completed assignments must be submitted to the publisher at the same time they are turned in for publication or they will not be graded.
Staff members are graded on the quality of their completed assignments, coverage of their beat, ability to meet deadlines and class participation. As a general policy, gross factual errors and repeated mistakes, including a misspelling, will result in a 0.
For a breakdown of the basic elements I consider when grading, click here for a variety of rubrics for written stories, social media, photography, data visualization and multimedia assignments.
A total of 150 points are possible during the semester:
Assignments - 100 points (see above for explanation)
Story ideas - 15 points (or 1 per week) - this is credit/no credit
Portfolio - 25 points
Participation - 10 points (This is based on your level of involvement/discussion and how often you partake in activities during the class)
Attendance - Drop 10 points for every 2 missed class and/or newsroom shift
Deadlines - Drop 10 points for every 2 missed deadlines
139-150 = A
135-138 = A-
132-134 = B+
124-133 = B
109-116 = C
105-108 = C-
104 and below = D
89 and below = F
Extra credit opportunities
There will be extra credit opportunities during the semester. Pay attention during class to find out how to get extra credit.
Students must fulfill the quotas for assignments (see course requirements). Final grades depend on quality of work, meeting deadlines, attendance and participation. Doing the minimum allows you to pass — nothing more. Students who fail to complete the minimum will get an F and will have to repeat the course to fulfill the requirement.
Note: If you submit more than the minimum requirement, I will base your final grade on your best work, taking into account missed deadlines and absences. The publisher is the one who grades your papers and records missed deadlines and absences. If you have any questions about grades, deadlines or absences, ask the publisher.
Editors and senior staff positions are graded on four categories worth a total of 50 points:
Editing Effectiveness - Plan and assign all types of content (photos, stories, multimedia, etc.), work with staff members and guide them to improve; develop ability to effectively communicate with staff. Produce quality content that is error-free while upholding journalistic value and ethical standards. Set and achieve goals that improve the overall quality of the Daily Sundial. (20 points)
Enterprise - Work with staff to produce content that is unique and initiated by you or the staff member. This content is not based on press releases or news conferences. It can explore the forces shaping those events and delves into sensitive issues. It is also the ability to break out of the past mold and try new approaches to coverage, content and presentation, storytelling, etc. (10 points)
Deadlines/production - Ability to produce work for online and print in a timely manner and make deadlines. (10 points)
Participation - Attend key daily, weekly meetings, contribute to staff meetings and critiques, work newsroom shifts. (10 points)
Senior staff members are expected to contribute at least one assignment per week and a minimum of 15 assignments during the semester. The 100-point breakdown is as follows:
Assignments 5 points each, minimum 15 (75 points)
Enterprise - Produce content that is unique and initiated by you or by working with an editor. This content is not based on press releases or news conferences. It can explore the forces shaping those events and delves into sensitive issues. (15 points)
Participation - Attend key newsroom meetings, work a newsroom shift. (10 points)
Plagiarism and other forms of cheating will not be tolerated, and anyone caught cheating will be reported to the dean of students and will receive a failing grade in the course. Remember that much of the information posted on the Internet is protected by U.S. copyright law. Passing this information off as your own is a violation of CSUN’s plagiarism policy, and carries the penalties outlined above.
For a further explanation of the behavior defined as cheating, and a more detailed discussion of disciplinary procedures, consult pages 588-589 of the 2008-2010 CSUN catalog.
In addition to university policy on student conduct (pages 586-589 of the CSUN catalog), students working for the Sundial are expected to follow the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics, available at www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp Violations can result in a failing grade for the course.
In addition to adhering to the university’s nondiscrimination and sexual harassment policies (pp. 534-535 of the CSUN catalog), students in this course are strongly encouraged to make every effort, with the instructor’s help, to include people and subjects in their assignments who traditionally have been overlooked by the mainstream media. (Such people include ethnic, racial and religious minorities; the elderly, disabled and poor; gay men and lesbians; and other similar groups.) The intent is to ensure that student work reflects the diversity of the community.
Students enrolled in the Sundial practicum are considered employees for the purpose of copyright. Therefore, copyright of articles and photographs produced on behalf of the Sundial, whether published or not, are owned by the Sundial. (Contributors should sign an employment agreement.) Permission to reprint or repurpose material obtained and/or published on behalf of the Sundial must be obtained in writing from the publisher. Violations of this policy can result in failure for the course.
About the professor
Melissa Lalum joined CSUN in 2008 after 12 years at the Los Angeles Daily News, the last three as managing editor. She has worked as a reporter and editor at the Ventura County Star, Tahoe World and Santa Barbara News-Press. She also taught journalism at Moorpark College. She has a B.A. in communications from U.C. Santa Barbara.