JEM 200 – Media writing

Jim Stovall
School of Journalism and Electronic Media
430 Communications UEB

Web site:

Fall 2015: Thursday, 5:05 to 6:20 p.m., G2 Stokely Management Center

This weekly lecture section supplements the instruction and practice in news writing that you will receive in your lab section. The lecture will give you information that you will need to be successful in your writing lab.

Unless you have had professional experience of some kind, the kind of writing that you will learn and practice in this course is different from anything that you have been asked to do before. Media writing means writing in a professional environment and with professional standards. It means writing for an audience. It means meeting deadlines. We will explain many of these requirements and concepts in the lecture, and you will be expected to apply them in your work in your writing sections.

In order to be successful in this course, you will need to have consistent online access. In addition, you should have access to a digital audio recorder and a digital camera, and you should be comfortable and confident in taking pictures from the camera and uploading them to web sites or servers.


Thirty percent of the grade for JEM200 will come from this lecture section. (The other 70 percent will come from your work in your writing section.) At some point in the lecture, you will be asked to fill out a response form, which helps us record your attendance and which will contribute to the 30 percent of your grade. There will be two exams covering the lecture and text material during the semester. Each will count about 10 percent of the grade.

You can find more on how the lecture grades are calculated on the grading page.


Students are encouraged to use Twitter to take notes, record impressions or raise questions about what they hear during the lecture. Those doing so should use the hashtag #jem200.


This course has specific attendance policies that you need to be aware of. You also need to fill out a form stating that you have read and understand these policies. You can do that at the attendance page.

Individual section instructors will set attendance policies for their labs. In general, however, they will adhere to the following principle: attendance in this course is mandatory, not optional.

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.

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).


James Glen Stovall, Writing for the Mass Media (REVEL 2015 edition), 2015.
AP Stylebook and Libel Manual

How things work

Each section of JEM 200 operates under the direction of the section instructor. Jim Stovall, the instructor for the lecture section, is the coordinator for the course. As such, he helps assure that all sections of the course are following the same track and that all students are getting basically the same experience. He is not a czar, however. Section instructors have the final word on policies and grading for their sections.

The Tennessee Journalist (

The Tennessee Journalist is the student-operated news web site of the School of Journalism and Electronic Media. It is part of the curriculum of the School, and any course in the School may use TNJN as it sees fit. Posting decisions are made by the student staff of the site.


Schedule (tentative)

We will follow the schedule below as a general outline for the course but will also remain flexible about the topics we cover. Occasionally, there will be a guest speaker who may not talk directly about the topic on the schedule. Students are responsible for lecture notes for each week. News quiz questions can usually be found at the end of each set of lecture notes.

(Spring 2016; links to lecture notes)

Media writing

Lecture 1 (Jan. 14) – Introduction
Writing for the Mass Media, chapter 1

Lecture 2 (Jan. 21) – Beginning writing: basic techniques; grammar; style and the stylebook
Writing for the Mass Media, chapters 2, 3


Reporting/writing with text

Lecture 3 (Jan. 28) – Writing in the media environment
Writing for the Mass Media, chapters 4, 5

Lecture 4 (Feb. 4) – The inverted pyramid
Writing for the Mass Media, chapters 4, 5

Lecture 5 (Feb. 11) – Sources: interviewing; on-the-scene reporting; records
Writing for the Mass Media, chapters 4, 5

Lecture 6 (Feb. 18) – Headlines, lists, links
Acceleration; Diversity and inclusion
Writing for the Mass Media, chapters 6, 7

Week 7 (Feb. 25) – Test 1

Reporting/writing with images

Lecture 8 (March 3) – Photojournalism: Basics
Writing for the Mass Media, chapter 9

Lecture 9 (March 10) – Audio slideshows
Writing for the Mass Media,
 chapter 9

Spring break, March 17


Reporting/writing with audio and video

Lecture 10 (March 24) – Writing for sound: Audio journalism
Writing for the Mass Media, chapters 8

Lecture 11 (March 31) – Writing, recording and editing sound
Writing for the Mass Media, chapters 8

Lecture 12 (April 7) – Building your audience
Writing for the Mass Media, chapter 13

Lecture 13 (April 14) –The writer and the law
Writing for the Mass Media, chapter 12

Lecture 14 (April 21)

Test 2 (April 28)



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