JOUR 4857/5857 Digital Reporting Workshop #2

Jan. 8 to Feb. 16, 2018

Course instructor and advisers

Overview

The Digital Reporting Workshop produces The Signal, the journalism school’s news website, and simulates a digital newsroom. You draw on a toolbox of skills to create compelling content for the site and its social platforms.

The goal is to produce original journalism throughout the day, optimized for the platforms our audience is using. Students cycle through a number of roles during the six-week workshop, ranging from reporter to assignment editor. This workshop is about fast news and daily deadlines. It will help you to become a better journalist, writer and multimedia producer, even if you never plan on working as a daily news reporter.

“The ability to look for and find stories in even the most random and obscure places, and turn around a GOOD story, with solid evidence and quotes, in a timely manner is so important.”
– King’s grad 2017

“I hated that it was mandatory and it has helped me so much. I don’t think I would have gotten my newspaper job without it.”
– King’s grad 2016

Preparatory classes will be held in the first week of the workshop. Most of the workshop, however, will be conducted in the form of a working newsroom.

Students who successfully complete the workshop should be able to:

Please read this syllabus carefully. It’s your job to understand the assignments and what’s expected of you. If anything is unclear, ask your instructor.

Roles and responsibilities

Reporters research, pitch and produce stories, individually and sometimes in teams. Some start their work in the morning, while others start in the afternoon and evening.

Our story meetings are held in Lab 3 Monday through Friday, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Three times a week — Monday, Tuesday and Friday — attendance at this meeting is mandatory for a critique of stories and photos. The reporting adviser will be in class Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 9:30-11:30 a.m. The photo adviser will be in class Tuesday and Friday, 9:30-10 a.m. Guest speakers will come to class from time to time, and you will be given as much notice as possible so you can arrange to be there.

All students must sign up for one newsroom role for a week (Monday-Sunday). These include:

If we have two engagement or production editors in a week we’ll work on a day/evening shift.

Editors are expected to spend most of their time in our newsroom (Lab 3). Often they write the first version of a breaking news story until a reporter is assigned. This means you should treat your time as an editor as a full-time job for that week. While it’s possible to report while you’re engagement editor, for example, few students are able to pull this off effectively. This means you need to manage your reporting time wisely.

You’re in the reporting pool when you’re not working on the news desk. Expect to produce no fewer than three stories a week — and work weeknights, weekends and holidays. If a big story breaks, you may get redirected to cover it and have to put something less timely on hold. This is normal journalistic practice. You should be working on at least three stories at any given time. You are expected to check in with the reporting adviser at the start of every week to help prepare for assignments (e.g. going to court, identifying and chasing relevant sources).

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

Being a responsible journalist in Canada means understanding the history, diversity and rights of Indigenous peoples in this country. In Halifax, we are in Mi’kma’ki, the traditional territory of the Mi’kmaq people. You are expected to be familiar with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report and its Calls to Action, particularly No. 86.

Workflow

Your deadline will be set once your story is approved. Deadlines are set by the instructor, based on the timeliness of the story. For example, a story about an evening HRM council decision has a much faster turnaround time than a profile of a new business owner.

Send your draft (including headlines, deck and kicker, and hyperlinks) as a Word document to Terra for editing. Follow the directions for revisions as needed, then file your final version to our WordPress site — and save it as a draft — so our copy editor can review it.

The copy editor will send you an email listing all of the changes you need to make. Once you do this and the story is ready for publishing, let Terra know the story is ready for her. Only Terra publishes pieces to the site. Once your story is posted and you have a URL, you need to share it with your sources and social networks.

Protocol

This workshop is set up to help you become a professional journalist. There are certain expectations:

Texts

Equipment

Most reporters today use their smartphones as their primary tool for gathering content. After all, you want to be agile and able to file from the field. Some equipment, including DSLR cameras and tripods, is available for use on a temporary basis through the school’s equipment tech, Katrina Pyne. Plan ahead if you want to sign something out.

A few suggested apps:

Grading

Your final grade is based on the following:

See the grading rubrics below. You will receive extensive feedback on your drafts and completed stories throughout the course, but it’s your job to review those comments and ask questions to ensure you understand them.

Other important notes:

 

WEEKLY REPORTING: There are six tasks, and your work is assessed for that week overall, not per story. Generally to be considered outstanding, you should pitch well researched and developed original story ideas, produce multiple stories, meet deadlines or file early, and require just one draft. Your mark is determined as followed:

Filing task: Follow our workflow as specified. For example, make sure you add a Featured Image and photo captions. This mark is about doing your job so others can do theirs.

Deadlines task: Did you meet your deadlines this week? This includes filing your draft(s) and final copy.

Ideas task: Did you come up with your own ideas or need to be assigned? Were your pitches specific, thoughtful and well-developed? Did you consider the best treatment for the story? This mark is about the work you do BEFORE you produce a piece.

Writing task: Always check your work. This means avoiding typos and following CP style, as well as crafting headlines and leads that sparkle. This applies to drafts and final stories. If you misspell a name you will receive an F!

Reporting task: Is your draft editorially sound? Does it show that you’ve done your research and considered background and context? Did you put extra effort in to find a witness or key source? This mark is about the quality and depth of your reporting.

Multimedia task: Are your images original? Did you take any video? Did you include any relevant multimedia (e.g. chart)? Did you include any links to relevant and related online sources? This mark is about thinking beyond text.

 

WEEKLY REPORTING: Your mark is determined as follows:
Excellent (A- to A+) Passable to Good (B- to B+) Below standards (C+ to D) Fail
Filing (15%) Consistently followed workflow directions. Behaviour ensured that others could do their jobs and work kept on schedule. Followed workflow directions for the most part. Responded quickly when notified of filing problem. For the most part, behaviour ensured that others could do their jobs and work kept on schedule. Consistent problems with  following workflow directions. Slow to respond when notified of filing problem. Behaviour slowed down workflow. Behaviour stopped workflow and/or prevented others from doing their jobs. May have abandoned draft or failed to file story as directed.
Deadlines (15%) Deadline(s) met. Work of such high quality that only one draft needed so very few deadlines required. Generally, story published quickly. A story filed after 12-hour window (if time sensitive) or an hour or two beyond assigned time (if not time sensitive. Generally, story published within acceptable time frame. A story filed beyond 24-hour window (if time sensitive) or several hours beyond assigned time (if not time sensitive). Generally, story published outside of acceptable time frame. A story filed 48 hours after assigned time (if time sensitive) or 24 hours beyond assigned or expected time (if not time sensitive). Generally, story published exceedingly late or not at all.
Writing (20%) Generally clean copy in first draft. No more than a few typos or CP errors. Appropriate structure. Highly readable and easy to understand. Compelling headlines and lead. A few typos and CP style errors. Minor problems with structure. Readable. Acceptable headlines and lead. Multiple typos and CP style errors. A major problem with structure. Some problem overall with readability. Generally, means a rewrite or two. Misspelled name of person or organization, and/or major issues that affect comprehension and readability. Generally, major problems that mean multiple drafts and delays in publishing.
Ideas (15%) Pitches were specific and well-developed, showing considerable research and thought. Ideas were original or advanced previously reported work, challenging yet viable. Suggested appropriate story treatment. Some issues with pitches, such as being too broad or unclear. Came up with some original ideas, though not immediately viable and/or not all challenging. Considered story treatment, though not always ideal or appropriate. Consistent problems with pitches and/or needed to be assigned on a regular basis. May include ideas that aren’t challenging or lack depth. Little consideration to story treatment. No pitches or pitches not your own.
Reporting (20%) Drafts editorially sound, including being accurate and fair. Shows you’ve done your research and considered background and context. Went beyond minimum requirements for publishing (e.g. tracking down witnesses). Drafts generally editorially sound, though some tweaks needed. Shows some research was done, but a key piece may be missing. May lack some background and/or context. Met minimum requirements for publishing. Consistent editorial problems with drafts, leading to at least one major rewrite. This may include problems with research and/or lack of context, or ethical breach in one story. Major editorial hole or ethical breach that prevents publishing of piece.
Multimedia/interactivity (15%) Includes skillful, creative and relevant use of an original image, video, chart or interactive element. Contains hypertext links to all relevant source material. Multimedia element may lack content, technical skill or relevance. Photos mostly original, but may use a file photo or submitted image on occasion. May lack an important hyperlink. Multimedia elements are non-existent or weakly implemented (with a number of factual or technical errors). Consistently reliant on file or submitted photos. Consistently missing key hyperlinks. No attempt to create multimedia or take original photography.

 

PORTFOLIO: Your mark for your story portfolio overall is determined as follows:
Excellent (A- to A+) Passable to Good (B- to B+) Below standards (C+ to D) Fail
Quantity
(50%)
Exceeded story count. Met story count. Didn’t meet story count. Five or fewer stories.
Quality
(50%)
A mix of hard news and features, showing ability to report effectively in different scenarios. A mix of different storytelling forms and treatments, including several pieces of web multimedia and/or social multimedia where appropriate. Shows considerable original thinking and effort. Overall, portfolio shows you have considerable depth and range as a new journalist. A mix of hard news and features, but might skew a bit to one over the other. A mix of different storytelling forms and treatments, but might skew a bit to one. A couple of pieces of web multimedia and/or social multimedia where appropriate. Shows some original thinking and effort. Overall, portfolio shows you have some depth and range as a new journalist. Skews heavily to one side, such as photo essays or news conferences. Limited storytelling forms and treatments. Only one piece of web multimedia and/or social multimedia. Shows little original thinking and effort. Overall, portfolio shows you need more work to develop as a well-rounded new journalist, but you have a satisfactory start. No variety at all. Overall, portfolio shows little or no ability to meet the publishing requirements of this workshop.

 

EDITING ROLE: Refer to the guide for the breakdown of each editing role. Your mark for each one is determined as follows:
Excellent (A- to A+) Passable to Good (B- to B+) Below standards (C+ to D) Fail
Assignment editor Found numerous and relevant upcoming events for editorial calendar. Kept the editorial runsheet up to date. Kept tabs on Signal reporters’ progress and organized reporters for assignments as needed. Kept tabs on other workshops. Kept tabs on key stories by other media. Made relevant and thoughtful suggestions for possible assignment. Handover note was thoughtful and specific. New events were added to our calendar, but our newsroom failed to attend a significant newsworthy event because we didn’t know about it. Runsheet sometimes out of date and/or confusing. Didn’t always know what the other workshops were doing. Didn’t always make relevant and thoughtful suggestions for possible assignment. Handover note lacked details and/or simply listed duties, and generally wasn’t as helpful as it could be. Our newsroom failed to attend a number of newsworthy events because we didn’t know about them. Runsheet consistently out of date and/or confusing. Consistently failed to check up on the other workshops. Rarely made relevant and thoughtful suggestions for possible assignment. Handover note incomplete or off focus. Persistent problems with updating runsheet, keeping track of reporters or making suggestions even after notification from instructor.
Engagement editor Social media posts were published promptly. They were lively in tone (where appropriate), and always appropriate in tone. All included images and hashtags (where appropriate). Responded quickly and professionally to audience comments. Moderated website comments in a timely manner with regard to our audience interests and our school’s policy. Handover note was thoughtful and specific. Our social media posts were published, but not as promptly as possible. They were engaging for the most part, but at times humdrum in tone. Most included images, but some did not. Could have used hashtags more effectively. Replies to audience members were on occasion absent or curt. Comment moderation was at times slow, allowed spam or inappropriate posts. Handover note lacked details and/or simply listed duties, and generally wasn’t as helpful as it could be. Social media posts were late to appear, and were dry and unoriginal. Some posts may be inappropriate in tone. Many neglected to include images and hashtags. Consistently failed to reply to an audience member or were unprofessional. Comment moderation was ineffectual or unprofessional. Handover note incomplete or off focus. Persistent problems with posting on social media and/or audience engagement even after notification from instructor.
Production editor Story stubs had no editorial holes and had relevant headlines. Story selection on the front page was frequent, showing good news judgment. Stories were equally viewable on desktop and mobile, with full-width images and embeds. Any and all corrections/clarifications were handled promptly and professionally. Video collection was prompt and all clips prepared. Handover note was thoughtful and specific. A story stub was publishable, but may needed tweaks in writing or editorial content. The lead stories on our site went unchanged for a day, or reflected some questionable choices regarding story value. Some technical or usability errors were apparent on either desktop or mobile versions of the site. Any and all corrections/clarifications were dealt with at some point. Video was collected, but there may have been problems with labelling or preparing clips. Handover note lacked details and/or simply listed duties, and generally wasn’t as helpful as it could be. A story stub had a number of problems that prevented publishing, whether in content or writing. The lead stories on our site went unchanged for more than a day, or reflected weak judgment of news value. A number of technical or usability errors were apparent on either desktop or mobile versions of the site. A correction or clarification was not handled professionally or at all. Some video missing and/or not prepared. Handover note incomplete or off focus. Persistent problems, such as with the posting of story stubs, even after notification from instructor.

PARTICIPATION: There are two tasks and your mark is assessed at the end of the workshop, though you will be given feedback on your self-reflection notes and attendance throughout the workshop as needed. Generally to be considered outstanding, you should attend each mandatory class and show up early, and produce thoughtful self-reflection notes by deadline. Your mark is determined as followed:

Attendance taskBeing a journalist is more than meeting your deadlines; it’s about being where you’re expected. After all, you wouldn’t miss a council meeting if you were assigned to cover it! We expect you to show up for mandatory classes just as you would for a shift in a newsroom. Be in your seat and ready to go by start time. Sign the attendance sheet. If absent, email the instructor with an explanation or get the instructor’s permission ahead of time. This is really about time management and professionalism.

Self-reflection taskLearning is a process, and self-reflection is a key part of that. You must produce three self-assessment documents over the course of the workshop (DUE: Jan. 12, Feb. 2, Feb. 15 Feb. 16). Write your reflection as a Word doc and attach that in an email. There is no specific word count, but it should be no more than a page. This is about being focused, concise and specific. Filing deadline is 11 p.m. AT.

Document 1 (due Jan. 12): Answer four out of five questions:

  1. What you expect will be the biggest challenge for you in this workshop and how you plan on meeting that challenge;
  2. Identify one or two of your strengths and explain how you plan on capitalizing on that;
  3. Identify a problem in your workflow and explain how you plan on solving it (e.g. can’t keep track of deadlines);
  4. Identify a specific goal or two that you hope to meet by the end of this workshop.
  5. Other. Come up with your own question but show that it’s relevant to the workshop.

Document 2 (due Feb. 2): Answer four out of five questions:

  1. What you learned about reporting and writing through the work you’ve done so far in this workshop;
  2. What you think worked or you are getting good at;
  3. What you would’ve done differently or need to work on;
  4. How you plan to apply what you learned in the rest of the workshop;
  5. Other. Come up with your own question but show that it’s relevant to the workshop.

Document 3 (due Feb. 15 Feb. 16): Answer four out of five questions:

  1. What you learned about reporting and writing through the work you’ve done in this workshop;
  2. What you think worked or you are getting good at;
  3. What you would’ve done differently or need to work on;
  4. Did you meet the goal(s) you set in Document 1? Explain why or why not.
  5. Other. Come up with your own question but show that it’s relevant to the workshop.
PARTICIPATION: Your mark is determined as follows:
Excellent (A- to A+) Passable to Good (B- to B+) Below standards (C+ to D) Fail
Attendance
(50%)
Attended all mandatory classes, talks and workshop meetings. Never late. May have missed one or been late once but absence/tardiness was justifiable and excused. Always ready to go by start time. Attended most mandatory classes, talks and workshop meetings. Late no more than once. Absences/tardiness excusable. Mostly ready to go by start time. Missed most mandatory classes and talks and/or regularly late for class or workshop meetings. Failed to justify absences/tardiness. Failed to show up at all. Absent without permission.
Self-reflection
(50%)
Answered all questions as required. Detailed responses show deeper thinking and analysis. All deadlines met. Answered all questions but one or more responses lacks depth and/or analysis. All deadlines met. Failed to answer one or more question, or lack of details and/or shallow analysis. May have missed one deadline. Assignment was mostly incomplete or not done at all. May have missed two or more deadlines.

 

Grade Grade Point Value Definition
A+
A
A-
4.30
4.00
3.70
90-100
85-89
80-84
Excellent
B+
B
B-
3.30
3.00
2.70
77-79
73-76
70-72
Good
C+
C
C-
2.30
2.00
1.70
65-69
60-64
55-59
Satisfactory
D 1.00 50-54 Marginal Pass
F 0.00 0-49 Inadequate

 

Ethics

All students are expected to familiarize themselves with and abide by the School of Journalism’s ethics code.

Inclusive behaviour

King’s prides itself on inclusiveness and respect for others. Our classrooms and newsrooms are public spaces in which racist, sexist, homophobic or intolerant comments or humour will not be tolerated. Do not screen such videos, images or webpages on school equipment or in school facilities. Offensive behaviour is not just disrespectful to your colleagues and to your profession; it may constitute harassment under the King’s Code of Conduct.

Contacting the police

Students must talk to their instructor before they contact Halifax Regional Police or RCMP. On approval of their request, they must send the police an email from their official school account that is cc’d to their instructor.

Safety

All students are expected to read the safety guidelines. To do journalism well, you must sometimes be uncomfortable. You should never be unsafe. If you run into trouble, or if you feel a situation might put your or others’ personal safety at risk, bail out and call your instructor right away.

Intellectual honesty

Plagiarism is stealing someone else’s work and presenting it as your own. It is a form of academic fraud and if you do it, you can end up in big trouble. The most common cases of plagiarism involve students who cut and paste material from the Internet or copy something without giving the original author credit. In journalism, giving credit is called attribution. Do not cut and paste. Do attribute your sources.

Plagiarism is a serious academic offence. The punishments can range from getting zero on the assignment, failing the course, being suspended or expelled from the university. So it’s in your best interest to adopt good habits when it comes to sourcing material. For more information, go to King’s website and find the section Intellectual Honesty on page 33 of the 2016-17 academic calendar.

Accessibility

Students may request accommodation as a result of barriers related to disability, religious obligation, or any characteristic under the human rights legislation.

Students who require academic accommodation for either classroom participation or the writing of tests and exams should make their request to the Advising and Access Services Centre (AASC) prior to or at the outset of the regular academic year. Please visit Academic Support for more information and to obtain the Request for Accommodation form.

A note taker may be required as part of a student’s accommodation. There is an honorarium of $75/course/term (with some exceptions). If you are interested, please contact AASC at 494-2836 for more information.

Please note that your classroom may contain specialized accessible furniture and equipment. It is important that these items remain in the classroom, untouched, so that students who require their usage will be able to fully participate in the class.

Last Updated: February 11, 2018, 3:53 pm ADT