Communication 351-80, Birge

Greetings and welcome to Advanced Reporting, the online version,


I’m Prof. Birge and have taught this class many times; the only difference this semester is that I’m doing it online. In this letter I’m going to discuss a number of things that may be repeated in other documents as you start reading the material, but the most important thing for you to know is this:


Class starts on Wednesday, Sept. 1, before Labor Day.


Some students think nothing much happens the first week school and skip classes until the second week starts, the Tuesday after Labor Day.


That would be a bad idea for this class. You have a week worth of readings and assignments beginning Sept. 1 that are already available on our Blackboard site. They all have a deadline of 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 7. If the first time you bother to look at the Blackboard site in on Tuesday, Sept 7, you’ll have to complete all the work in less than a day, and that includes lectures, text readings, assignments and quiz to complete.


And if you don’t look until Sept. 8 it will be too late to hand anything in or take the quiz.


The good news is you don’t even have to wait until Sept. 1 to get started. The first week of material is available to you right now. You could actually get a jump on class and get your work done in advance, giving yourself a little breather that first week. The second week of class assignments is there as well. This will give you a chance to see what the course will be like, the kind of work that will be expected of you weekly. If you decide the class isn’t for you, you can drop it by the deadline.


            Here are the answers to questions that I think you’ll want to know now:




PROF. BIRGE (PB): The class isn’t on any particular day. I will post all new material on Wednesdays and you have until the following Tuesday at 11:58 to submit it to me. If you want to read the lectures on Thursday, read the text assignment on Friday, take care of your writing assignment on Saturday and Sunday and then take the Quiz on Monday that’s fine.


I’ve posted the first two or three weeks already so you can actually work ahead if you like. Keep in mind, however, that turning in work early doesn’t mean it will be returned early.


Please keep in mind I don’t take later papers. In fact, all portals for submitting work close at midnight so even the mechanism disappears.




 (PB): “Best Newspaper Writing,” 2008-2009 edition, edited by Tom Huang and Steve Myers. It is available in the bookstore or you can order it at Amazon. It’s about $31 on Amazon, also you need the AP Style Book, ($14 Amazon), which you should have from other classes.





(PB): All work will be submitted through Blackboard, this way I have a documented time stamp of when you turned it in and so do you. If you’ve sent the document correctly you’ll get a receipt in the e-mail you sent it from. Also, I won’t lose any papers in Blackboard the way they sometimes disappear in my work e-mail.



Q: What if I don’t know how to submit work via Blackboard; can I send it to you e-mail?


PB: No, any work sent to my e-mail won’t be accepted and a zero will be entered for the grade unless it shows up in my folder on Blackboard by the deadline. There are instructions on our Blackboard site under FAQS in the left menu for how to submit work to Blackboard.



Q: This is an online course so there’s no attendance, right?


PB: Wrong, attendance counts. Contributions, very specific contributions, on our Discussion Board count as attendance. Every student gets 2 absences (meaning you don’t post to Blackboard on two separate weeks), but after that I deduct 10 points from your final grade for any additional absences.



Q: I took a quick look at the site and there’s a lot of stuff there I don’t understand. How am I going to keep from getting lost?


PB: Under WEEK 1 there is a lecture and a Tegrity (audio/visual) explanation of how the course is organized. Read and watch both. They will explain exactly how to navigate the site so you don’t get lost. If after reading and watching everything and examining the site you’re still confused, drop me a note. Yes, you can send notes to my e-mail address with questions.



Q: So, if this is an online class then I don’t have to run around interviewing people like I do in Hobart Hall. I just sit and do the whole class in my room.


PB: That’s a very important question, and the answer is you will be required to perform in the same way a journalism student would who takes this course in a classroom. That means you’ll have assignments that will require you to interview people on and off campus, or go to a meeting on or off campus, or attend a movie/concert/theater performance (admission to which you have to cover). You can’t pass this course sitting in your room. That’s not journalism.


If you took the course because you thought it would be something you could do in your spare time from home without much effort you should drop it right away.


If you took this course because you work fulltime and figured you could do it all at night, but aren’t available during the day for events or interviews, and you’re booked on weekends because of your family obligations, you should drop the course.


I’m not trying to be mean, I’m simply trying to avoid a panicky note from one of you in October or November telling me you can’t do an assignment because you work all day or have a family obligation. My response will be to shrug my shoulders (virtually) and say there’s nothing I can do.



Q: So what, you’re all about can’t, can’t, can’t and drop, drop, drop?


PB: Not in the least. I just want everyone to understand what’s involved going in.




PB: Writing, and lots of it. Every week – small pieces, long ones, news, features, reviews, commentary. There’s a lot of news on campus and you’ll be producing pieces for the Pioneer Times. For example, we have a new president, Dr. Walden, for the first time in 25 years. And she’s a woman, the first time in the history of the university one has been appointed.


We’ll talk a lot about Social Media, in fact, you’ll watch a video about it during the first week and we’ll talk about it on Blackboard. You’ll be writing a blog beginning in the middle of the semester and perhaps covering a beat on Twitter.


You’ll be reading a lot, as well. Articles from your textbook, of course, but also articles from newspapers and magazines that I’ll post.


Once you been on our Blackboard site drop me a note and let me know how you’re doing. I’ll be looking for your posts to the first week’s discussion board.


Take care,

Prof Birge