Textbooks and Resources:
There are two textbooks for this course:
We the media: grassroots journalism by the people for the people by Dan Gillmor. Ist edition, July 2004.
We’ve got blog: how weblogs are changing our culture. Perseus publishing
Please note that as an emerging and constantly evolving area of research, many readings for these topics are available online. I will assume that you all have access to Internet connections, either at home or at school. All additional readings outside the two main books are contained in the detailed course syllabus (attached) and available as hyperlinks on the course Web site.
The course will be taught through a series of interactive lectures, discussions, guest lectures, and presentations. You will be exposed to both the theoretical side of this area, as well as the practice/skills of blogging (text, audio, video, and photo). There are no initial technical skill requirements; just willingness to learn, a ‘thick skin’ to withstand the disappointments/frustrations when the technology fails, and an enthusiasm for learning about new things. Knowledge of Web publishing is helpful, but not a requirement since basic HTML will be part of the skill set you will be exposed to.
Class will be held from 9 to 10:30 am each Monday and Wednesday for the semester period January 17 to May 3 in the lab CMA A4.316. There will be no class during the Spring Break period from March 13 to March 18.
Attendance and Preparation
Class will begin promptly at 9 am. A sign in sheet will be passed around at the beginning of each class session. You are allowed to miss TWO class sessions without penalty. You are also allowed TWO late sessions without penalty. You will automatically lose 5% for each session missed/late attendance in the class after you have used up your two sessions respectively. If you miss more than 30% of class sessions, you will automatically be given a failing grade in the course.
You will need to come to each class with the reading done and sufficiently digested to enable active participation in the class discussion. Your grade will depend on whether you do the readings, participate in discussing them, have opinions and thoughts about the readings, and communicated all that to the instructor.
See the grade and assignments section of this syllabus for more detailed information.
Based on your journalism track and your interest, you will be assigned to lead class discussion once for the semester. Leading class discussion involves interactively engaging the class in a discussion of the class readings for that day and ensuring to elicit participation from the class members through questions, in-class activities, etc. Part of the grade for class participation will be determined by how much you as a class member participate in class discussions per week.
Weekly Blog Entries
Students are required to create a blog and post comments to their blog at least two times per week. Your posts will be brief (100 to 300 words) and be in the form of opinion pieces or critical reflections on relevant material from other blogs, or analysis of the class readings for the week. You will be provided with some blogs to monitor through a blog reader, though you are also free to use other public blogs and media content (citizen journalism or traditional media) once the content is relevant to the class material under consideration. Unless there are no URLs, blog comments must also be accompanied by URLs or hyperlinks to provide transparency and source referencing.
At minimum, at least two entries per week must be made before class on the next week.
Each student is required to produce a story for our class citizen journalism publication. Stories will be posted to a group wiki. You will be asked to produce a story on a local happening in Austin/UT campus, using one of the following forms, in addition to text: podcast, video blog entry, photo, or moblogging/mobcasting. Students are encouraged to utilize their area of journalism expertise to produce this story, and it is hoped that through producing this story, students can learn how citizen journalists can improve the practice of mainstream journalism through reporting on stories that are personally engaging and meaningful. This assignment is also aimed at helping you to practice the different forms of blogging.
Your blog story is due by March 15.
Final Term Paper
You will be asked to write one final term paper on one of several assigned topics that relate to class content. The paper must be at minimum 15 pages long, exclusive of footnotes/endnotes and bibliography, and must engage critically with the readings, discussions, and class lectures. You will be required to turn in a first draft of the paper for grade, and use the comments from that paper to revise your final paper submission. The due dates for the draft and final paper are as follows:
Paper Draft: 04/12
Final Paper: 05/03
Grades will be determined in the following manner:
Attendance and Participation in Class- 15%
Leading Class Discussion: 10%
Podcast/VideoBlog/Photo Entry: 15%
Term Paper First Draft: 10%
Term Paper Final Draft: 25%
Plagiarism and Acceptable Use Policy
Students are required to produce original work without resorting to plagiarism from prior scholarly publications or previously published work. Wherever necessary, please cite all references and sources–a honor code of the blogosphere where giving attribution to the source is essential to the growth and development of influence. You are free to use work licensed under the creative commons or free software and wherever necessary, please ensure that you read the terms and conditions for redistribution before using other material licensed or released under conditions in the public domain.
As it relates to P2P networks, please avoid downloading music illegally when creating our blog entries or stories. For some of our assignments, you may find it necessary to use audio; however, in these cases, please refer to the material covered in class on the correct protocol to adopt in situations where digital rights management apply. Copyright is an increasing debate in peer to peer and blogging networks, and respecting specified rights are part and parcel of creating work that is shared by others.
Finally, please think about how you want to treat the work produced in this class. You might find that original or creative works can also be licensed, with your authority, under a creative commons license. You will be given lots of creative freedom in your projects to explore original journalism, and it would be great if you want to contribute to an expanding public domain.
Students with Disabilities
If you have a disability, please see the instructor to see after class to see if reasonable accommodations can be made for you. Every attempt will be made, wherever possible, to make accommodations,.
You cannot be in the lab unless the lab is open and supervised by a teaching assistant. The lab will be opened between 7:30 and 8 am on class days. There are other labs on campus that you can use to edit your video clips or produce your audio files for your blogs. If you need access to a video camera, please let the instructor know ahead of time. You are not allowed to download software to the computer labs.
See the college of communication lab information page at
for more information on lab schedules.
For this class, there are no official office hours. If you need to see me, I will be in the lab on class days from 8:30 to 10:30 am (30 minutes before official class time). You can also email me to set up an appointment if you need to discuss anything outside of class hours.
Please note that I will be using the class blog and email to communicate with you. You are required to monitor the blog regularly (you will learn easy ways in class). You are responsible for also checking your email regularly.