The English 307 class focuses on basic journalism skills from how to write a professional email to journalism ledes, quotes and nut grafs. Students write a variety of stories: weather, speech, breaking news and event coverage.
For the breaking news assignment, there is a surprise “attack” during class where a former student comes in screaming about a bad grade and hits me with a lightsaber, followed by a press conference with the “police chief,”and a student witness. They must turn in a short story by the end of class, and then turn
in a longer story, interviewing other students as witnesses, by the next class.
I also introduce very basic multimedia, social media and video skills. They typically live Tweet an event with photos. Last semester, the class put together a Storify about their trip to
the 2017 Philadelphia Flower Show.
It’s a fast-paced, intensive class. We use Justin Bieber’s Miami Beach arrest records to learn about public documents and breaking news. We practice Tweeting using Shaquille O’Neal’s retirement speech. I bring in random objects from my office and, in small groups, they must come up with 10 story ideas in 15 minutes. Then they pick the best one and find experts to interview on that subject.