JRLN310 – Digital Journalism – Winter 2018

Note: I am told that a syllabus is like a contract between the instructor and the students. If that is the case, then be aware that I haven’t signed the contract yet. It is still a work in progress  and some things  will change as the semester goes on. 

Instructor: Steve Pepple

Time: 6:30 p.m.-9:10 p.m., Tuesdays

Location: Classroom 314, Pray-Harrold

Office hours: I will be available to meet with students on Tuesdays  from 5;30-6:25 p.m. in 307 King Hall. and by appointment. My phone number is 734-255-5762,.

How to contact me: You may email me at or at  The is the best way to reach me in a hurry or you may call me or text me at 734-255-5762.


•  Writing for the Web: Creating Compelling Web Content Using Words, Pictures, and Sound, by Lynda Felder. Available at Peachpit Press as either print book or digital book.

• The Associated Press Stylebook  (any recent edition is fine).


•  Online JournalismPrinciples and Practices of News for the Web, by James C. Foust, 3rd Edition  Optional reading

•  WordPress: Visual Quickstart Guide, 2nd Edition, by Jessica Neuman Beck and Matt Beck. Available at, Peachpit Press (, Barnes & Noble.


• THE WORD: An Associated Press Guide To Good News Writing. If you want to be a better writer, you should hunt a copy of this book down and devour it. It is a small book with a vast amount of knowledge about writing. Available used at

Focus of course 

This course will focus on the role of a modern digital journalist and cover a variety of topics, including writing for the web, headline writing, blogging, social media, photography, videography, metrics and digital journalism ethics.


Students will be required to set up their own WordPress blog and post regular blog entries. They are also required to set up a Twitter account and Tweet regularly about news events.


Your grade will be based on a combination of short assignments, exercises, articles, quizzes and participation. Here’s a tentative breakdown of how your grade will be calculated. You will be notified in advance of any changes that I may decide to make.

Set up your blog, write an about me entry –  10 points
Set up a Twitter account and tweet regularly with a combination of retweets and your own Tweets (using your own voice) 50 points possible
Four class blog assignments – possible 10 points each
Cover an event live and blog about it. Must include a photo, be written on a deadline and tweeted out. Possible 25 points
Use you Tweeter account to live blog from an event (could be a talk or a sporting event). Possible 25 points
Final exam 50 points possible
Participation: 10

NThat’s a possibility of 210 points, and grading will be based on a scale of 150-200 points, meaning you have 10 extra points to play with).
Here is the grading scale:

180-200 points A- to A
160-179 points B- to B+
140-159 points C- to C+
120-139 points D- to D+
119 and below E

Plan of action

Here is a tentative schedule of class content and assignments due each week. Please note that the schedule is subject to change as the semester progresses, but any planned changes will be announced in class and/or via email to students. I plan on bringing in several guest speakers during the semester and, if the class is open to it, we’ll spend one Tuesday at the Free Press.

Tuesday,  Jan. 9, 2018

• Introductions

• Overview of the class – what we’ll learn, expectations, grading

• Digital Journalism – what the heck is a digital journalist?

• The modern newsroom

• Why you should consider the AP Stylebook your journalistic bible

• Tools of the trade

• Assignment: Read  How BuzzFeed’s Jonah Peretti Is Building A 100-Year Media Company online at fast

Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018

• Discussion:   How BuzzFeed’s Jonah Peretti Is Building A 100-Year Media Company

• Blogging – setting up your own WordPress Blog

• Basic html

• links – what are they, when and how to use them – inline links

Tuesday, Jan 23, 2018

• Social Media

• Why Twitter is a journalist’s friend

• Set up a Twitter account,  and start using it and networking

• Discussion of local and national digital news sites and blogs

• Assignment: Read chapters 1&2 of Writing for the Web

Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018

• Writing for the web

 • Writing headlines

Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018

 • Social Media

• SEO – why is it so darn important

• Digital Journalism Ethics

–       First to publish vs. accurate story

Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018 – SPRING BREAK

Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018 

 • Introduction to photography in newsgathering

• Using your iPhone or smart phone

• Writing photo captions

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

• Introduction to metrics

–       Using metrics to make coverage decisions

• Citizen Jourmalism

• Aggregation – what is it, why is it controversial?

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

• The role of video in modern news gathering

• Facebook Live

 Tuesday, March 20, 2018

• Facebook live

 Tuesday,  March 17, 2018

• Documentaries – a different form of digital journalism

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

• Video basics

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

•  Video

Tuesday,  April 17, 2018

• Projects presentation

Tuesday, April 24, 201



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