JEM 499 Media Business and the Future of Journalism

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Course description:

Exposes students to broad media management issues; helps students understand the importance of the business side of journalism in addition to the quality of journalism; helps students understand how to balance those two concerns. Introduces students to issues related to media management relative to jobs and careers in media companies. Provides an overview of the future of journalism and media.

Meeting time: Tuesday and Thursday, 12:40 – 1:55 p.m.
Meeting place: 321 Communications


Jim Stovall, 429 Communications


About the course

JEM 499 is the capstone course for Journalism and Electronic Media majors at the University of Tennessee. Ideally, it should be taken when a student is within a semester of graduating and after the student has completed all other required courses.

This course is divided into two parts:

Concepts. We will cover a variety of topics having to do with the business and the future of journalism. Often, we will have guest speakers, either live in class or via the magic of the Internet. Students should prepare for these conceptual sessions by completing the assigned readings before class and by attending and engaging with the speakers. One of the ways students can prove they are attending is by tweeting the lecture (see below).

Project. The overall project for the students in this course is to produce a multimedia, interactive book on some lesser known aspects of the University of Tennessee. More about the project on this page.


The major readings for this course will come from the following sources:


Jake Batsell, Engaged Journalism: Connecting with Digitally Empowered News Audiences, 2015.


Regular attendance is expected of all students. Punctuality is also expected. Students in any university course are expected to do three things: prepare, attend and engage. Those who cannot or choose not to do these things in this course will not be successful.

Attendance and punctuality are extremely important in this course casinoluck. The main reason that student fail this course is that they do not attend class. We use a Google form, located on this page, to record attendance.


Students are strongly encouraged to tweet the lecture. They should use the hashtag #jem499. The tweets from the lecture should be public. A student who does not wish to use his or her regular Twitter account should establish another account just for sending the JEM 499 tweets.

Why tweet the lecture? Take a look at this article on It’s written for instructors, but it will give you some insight as to why tweeting the lecture is a good idea.


Final grades for the course will be determined through the judgment of the instructor about your performance throughout the semester. No objective formula will be used. The following factors will be considered:

  • Attendance. Show up in class and be there on time. The same goes for team meetings. Students who do this will likely make good grades. Those who don’t, won’t.
  • Team project. The quality of what your team produces has a big impact on your grade.
  • Individual team project work. Keep up with what you do for your team project so that you can report it at the appropriate time.
  • Tests, quizzes and class participation. When you come to class, be prepared to participate. Read the material assigned so that you can ask coherent and intelligent questions.
  • Self assessment. At the end of the semester, you will be asked to complete an assessment form. This is an important part of your work in the class and can be a determining factor in your final grade.

The fact that a student plans to graduate this semester or next is NOT a factor that is considered in determining your grade.

Academic honesty

University policies regarding honesty can be found in Hilltopics, the official student handbook. You can download this handbook as a PDF file at this page. Your rights and responsibilities are explained in detail. In all JEM 200 labs plagiarism, misrepresentation or any form of cheating is a serious offense. In the lecture section, a minimum penalty would be a failing grade on a quiz. Each lab instructor will explain lab rules.

Schedule (tentative)

The first sessions of most weeks will most often be devoted to concepts, lectures, and guest speakers. The second sessions will usually be for project work. Both sessions are important, and students are expected to attend regularly.

Content, Media, Audience

Week 1 (Jan. 12)
Concept: Introduction to the course
Project: Teams formed and projects assigned.
On the Media: This is a great time to enter journalism
State of the News Media 2016 (overview)

Week 2 (Jan. 17, 19)
Concept: The Things that are the Future of Journalism: Content: Reporting, Writing, Curating, Presentation, Cultivation
Project: Teams decide on chapter projects and individual roles.

Week 3 (Jan. 24, 26)
Concept: The Book: Papyrus to Self-Publishing
Concept: Newspapers
Reading: Current trends in publishing for 2017
State of the News Media 2016: Newspapers: Fact Sheet
Ernie Pyle, A Long Thin Line of Personal Anguish

Project: Research into subjects for team projects.
Jack McElroy, editor of the Knoxville News Sentinel, will be our guest speaker on Thursday, Jan. 26.

Week 4 (Jan. 31, Feb. 2)
Concept: Writing the good story
Introduction to iBooks Author
Project: Initial work on your projects should be completed (reporting, writing, photos, audio, video). We will begin learning the iBooks Author software and exploring its possibilities.
The Hill: Media bumbling and bias. . .
Salon: Clickbait culture and groupthink mentality . . .
State of the News Media 2016: Local TV News: Fact Sheet

Dean Littleton, general manager of WATE-TV, will be our guest speaker on Thursday, Feb. 2.

Week 5 (Feb. 7, 9)
Reading, Engaged Journalism, chapter 1
Jake Batsell
, professor of journalism at Southern Methodist University and author of Engaged Journalism, will be our speaker on Thursday, Feb. 9.
Deadline: First draft of chapter text (1,000 – 1,200 words), Feb. 9

Week 6 (Feb. 14, 16)
Deadline: Sidebar material for chapter
David Mattingly, former reporter for CNN, will be our guest speaker on Tuesday, Feb. 14.

Week 7 (Feb. 21, 23)
Deadline: Audio introduction to chapter ( :45 – 1:30 minutes)
Deadline: Revised chapter text, audio, photos
Virginia Moon Switzer, managing editor of HGTV Dream Home Giveaway, will be our guest speaker on Tuesday, Feb. 21.

Week 8 (Feb. 28, March 2)
Deadline: video to be used in chapter
Melanie Faizer
, UT JEM lecturer, will be our speaker on Thursday, March 2. She will talk about entrepreneurial journalism.
Emily Bell, How Mark Zuckerberg could really fix journalism, Columbia Journalism Review
Charlie Beckett, Should Facebook subsidise journalism?, Medium

Week 9 (March 7, 9)
Ed Caudill, UT JEM faculty, will be our guest speaker on Tuesday, March 7. His topic will be “fake news.”
Deadline: Complete chapter

Spring break, March 14, 16

Week 10 (March 21, 23)
Jason Norris, creator of OntheGo.FM, a local podcasting operation, will be our guest speaker on Tuesday, March 21.
Assignment: On the Go podcast: Podcast Local, Episode 11
Ben Moser, former TNJN editor and now Strategic Content Director, TradeMark Advertising, will be our guest speaker on Thursday, March 23.

Week 11 (March 28, 30)
Rusty Brashear, retired public relations professional and former assistant press secretary to President Ronald Reagan, will be our guest speaker on Tuesday, March 28.
Vince Vawter, novelist and former newspaper publisher, will be our speaker on Thursday, March 30.

Week 12 (April 4, 6)
Rob Lundgren, president of Rivr Media, will be our guest speaker on Tuesday, April 4.
Mark McNabb, associate editor,, will be our speaker on Thursday, April 6.

Week 13 (April 11, 13)
Farima Alavi, Scripps Networks, will be our guest speaker on Tuesday, April 11.

Week 14 (April 18, 20)
Tuesday, April 18: Project presentations. Attendance mandatory
Thursday, April 20: Project presentations. Attendance mandatory

Week 15 (April 25, 27) – open


CCI Diversity Statement

(College of Communication and Information Bylaws, Section II-C)

CCI recognizes and values diversity. Exposing students to diverse people, ideas and cultures increases opportunities for intellectual inquiry, encourages critical thinking, and enhances communication and information competence. When all viewpoints are heard, thoughtfully considered, and respectfully responded to, everyone benefits. Diversity and fairness unite us with the wider professional and global community (see for CCI’s full Diversity Statement).



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