Electronic News Media

 

A course taught by Borzou Daragahi

Fall 2001--Purchase College

 

About the class

This is a not a computer course. It is a rather advanced journalism writing and research class where we will use the Internet as booth a journalistic tool and a medium for publishing our work. Each student picks an international topic, gains the instructor's approval for that topic and then proceeds to research, report, write and produce a mini-website about that topic. Each student will become a veritable expert on his or her topic. Within limits and subject to my approval, you get to determine how your web section will look and read. You may also speak to me about writing extra-credit web-related articles for the Dispatch, Purchase’s campus newspaper. Student grades will be determined by the quality of work and class attendance. More than anything, however, the amount of work each student puts into his or her project will determine the grade. It meets Thursdays at 1:30 p.m. in room 1070 of the humanities building.

 

About the instructor

 

A graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New School University, I have worked as an editor and writer for daily and weekly newspapers, monthly magazines and an Internet site. I am currently a staff writer at Money magazine. This is my second year teaching at Purchase. Call me Professor or Mr. Daragahi. My email address is borzou@aol.com. Please sign your name at the end of every email message, especially if your name is not in your email address. Please get me electronic (email or disk) versions of all assignments as well as hand them in to me on paper. Especially graded assignments.

 

Grades

Grades will be determined as follows: 90 points or higher=A, 80 points=B, 70 points=C, and 60 points=D.

 

Your grades will be comprised of:

  • Attendance: 15 points (subtract 1 point for one missed class, 3 points for two missed classes, 5 points for three, 10 points for four, 15 points for five, 20 points for 6. More than 6 absences and you fail the class). Students will be responsible for finding out about and completing any work missed due to absences or tardiness. Chronically tardy students will be penalized.
  • Assignment 1/Query letter: 5 points
  • Assignment 2/Country summary: 5 points
  • Assignment 3/ Profile 10 points
  • Assignment 4/Book review: 10 points
  • Midterm: 20 points
  • Final: 35 points
  • Total: 100 points
  • Extra-credit Dispatch story: 5 points

 

Each assignment will be graded on punctuality (late assignments will be penalized), quality and neatness. But most importantly, each assignment will be graded on how much effort and thought the students put into it.

 

 

CLASS SCHEDULE

Subject to change. Visit http://www.borzou.com/en.htm for updates.

 

Class I

Thursday, Aug. 30, 2001, 1:30 p.m.

 

Discussion

  • First-person accounts of horror in far-away places: the journalist, the human rights worker and the mother.
  • Spending a semester on one project; possible topics: Civil war in Macedonia, Northern Ireland, Conflict in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Global Warming, Civil War in Sierra Leone, Tibet and the Dalai Lama, Political Strife in Indonesia, Latin American Drug War, Aboriginal Rights in Australia, Political Turmoil in Chiapas (Mexico), International Terrorism, AIDS Epidemic in Africa, India and Pakistan, Economic Collapse in Russia, etc.
  • Introductions and basic journalism concepts reviewed

Assignment

 

Class II

Thursday, Sept. 6, 2001, 1:30 p.m.

Hand in your review of websites and list of topics.

 

Discussion

  • Picking your subject and writing a query letter: the more specific the better—and easier your work will be.

Workshop

Assignment

 

Class III

Thursday, Sept. 13, 2001, 1:30 p.m.

Hand in your query letter for a grade.

 

Discussion

Assignment

  • Read my critiques of your query letters and rewrite for presentation to class next week.
  • Find and review in about a paragraph five websites about your topic.
  • Using http://www.amazon.com, other bookstore websites and Find three or four books about your topic. Pick a book.
  • Begin tracking down some experts on your topic. Make a list of some of possible experts and sources.
  • Read “The New Muckrakers,” by Vir Singh.

 

Class IV

Thursday, Sept. 20, 2001, 1:30 p.m.

Hand in your revised query letters.

Discussion

  • Meeting of the editorial board: critiquing each others’ proposals.

Workshop

  • Introduction to Microsoft’s FrontPage; the art of using tables.

Assignment

  • Find, print out and read 10 high-quality news articles about your topic.
  • Write a 500-word article summarizing current events in your topic. This will be the seed for the introduction to your website.

Begin reading your book

 

Thursday, Sept. 27, 2001 Yom Kippur

 

No class

Class V

Thursday, Oct. 4, 2001, 1:30 p.m.

Hand in assignment 2/country report for grade.

 

Discussion

  • Conducting interviews and writing a profile

Workshop

  • Tracking down people using the Internet.

Assignment

  • Come up with a list of questions for your profile candidate.
  • Initiate contact with your profile candidate.
  • Read packet of profiles.
  • Begin working on your mid-term.

 

Class VI

Thursday, Oct. 11, 2001, 1:30 p.m.

 

Discussion

  • Guest speaker: Robin Lloyd, editor at Space.com on the world of online journalism.

Workshop

  • Compiling a list of websites for your mid-term

Assignment

  • Finish your profile, a 700 to 1,000-word article
  • Read packet of “best of the web” articles

 

Class VII

Thursday, Oct. 18, 2001, 1:30 p.m.

Hand in your profile/assignment 3 for a grade

 

Discussion:

  • TBA

Workshop

  • Researching and writing your midterm.

Assignment

  • Writing your midterm: a 1,500 to 2000-word “best of the web” article chronicling some of the best online resources for following up and finding out about your topic. Write for the Internet, that is in 500 to 800-word segments. Articles can be merely a list of websites and reviews, or far more challenging, an exploration of an angle or aspect of your story through the prism of Internet coverage. Make sure to bring it on a disk as well.

 

Class VIII

Thursday, Oct. 25, 2001, 1:30 p.m.

Bring your midterm materials to class.

 

Workshop

  • Producing and polishing your midterm.

Assignment

  • Read your book and continue working on your midterm. Happy Halloween.

 

Class IX

Thursday, Nov. 1, 2001, 1:30 p.m.

Hand in your midterm assignment for a grade.

Discussion

  • Book reports vs. book reviews.

Workshop

  • Continue polishing up your best of the web package.

Assignment

  • Finish reading your book
  • Read samples of book reviews
  • Think about your final

 

Class X

Thursday, Nov. 8, 2001, 1:30 p.m.

Bring your midterm materials to class.

 

Discussion

  • Designing a website with thumbnails

Workshop

  • Writing and production: incorporating art and maps into your work

Assignment

  • Write your book review.

 

Class XI

Thursday, Nov. 15, 2001, 1:30 p.m.

Hand in your book review/assignment 4

 

Discussion

  • Guest speaker: Peter Spielmann, of the Associated Press and Columbia University; bringing international stories home.

Workshop

  • Writing and production

Assignment

  • Create a thumbnail sketch of your website, with at least half a dozen additional ideas and side stories about your topic that you could include: geography, history, the players, the factions, organizations, activists, etc. how about a movie review or an additional profile? In-person, telephone or email interviews will add to your grade.

 

Thursday, Nov. 22, 2001

Thanksgiving

 

No class

Class XII

Thursday, Nov. 29, 2001, 1:30 p.m.

Bring your finals material to class

Discussion

Workshop

  • Writing and production, creating an introductory page for your website.

Assignment

  • Get started on your final: a multidimensional 7,000 to 10,000 word multidimensional website on your topic complete with maps, photographs and art Research and report and begin producing the various additional components, which can include past assignments, as well as articles on geography, history, the players, the factions, organizations, activists, movies or books. Include a main story, interviews, profiles, anecdotes, interviews with experts. Create a navigational strategy as well as an organization. Use the thumbnails as your guide. Remember, interviews will add to your grade.

 

Class XIII

Thursday, Dec. 6, 2001, 1:30 p.m.

Bring all your work to class on disk and on paper.

 

Workshop

  • Writing and production

Assignment

  • Continue researching and writing your final.

 

Class XIV

Thursday, Dec. 13, 2001, 1:30 p.m.

Bring all your work to class on disk and on paper.

 

Workshop

  • Writing and production.

Assignment

  • Finish your final project. Bring it to me on one or more disks as well as on paper.

 

Class XV

Thursday, Dec. 20, 2001, 12 p.m.

Finals due. Projects should be nice and polished and ready to be publicized. Hand it in on disk as well as printed out on paper.

Pizza party and farewells.