JOUR277 Public Affairs Reporting

Department of Language & Literature: Journalism

I. Course Number and Title
JOUR277 Public Affairs Reporting
II. Number of Credits
3 credits
III. Number of Instructional Minutes
IV. Prerequisites
JOUR175 (C or better)
V. Other Pertinent Information

This course will be scheduled in a computer lab/classroom so that students can learn computer skills necessary for success in today's journalism field.

The Department of Language and Literature has determined that journalism courses require a 5,000 word minimum in writing assignments.

VI. Catalog Course Description
This course is an introduction to public affairs reporting, including coverage of local government, public schools, courts, crime, and social services. Students cover town government and school board meetings, trials, and the police beat. Emphasis is on students producing stories suitable for publication in the College newspaper or local media.
VII. Required Course Content and Direction
  1. Course Learning Goals

    Students will:
    1. cover various beats, including the police, courts, town government and live speaking events;
    2. demonstrate an understanding of municipal budgets, taxes, and bond issues;
    3. display an understanding of how civil and criminal cases move through the courts, how to make sense of arrest records and uniform crime statistics, and how social service agencies work;
    4. demonstrate an understanding of the press freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment as well as libel law; and
    5. maintain their own blog or website in which they archive their articles.
  2. Planned Sequence of Topics and/or Learning Activities


    Students read assigned chapters from the textbook and take quizzes based on those readings. They take weekly news quizzes and are required to read a newspaper or news website on a daily basis; they demonstrate that they understand the importance of staying abreast of current events and know where to find a variety of news outlets and sources, including online and in print. Students read documents such as municipal budgets, arrest reports, and court documents.


    Students write spot-news stories as well as longer, more in-depth "enterprise" types of articles; they write a series of news-writing exercises; in-depth articles for the class in the basic news beats including police, town government, and the courts; and articles for the College newspaper.

    Journalism Fundamentals

    Students cover events in a variety of news "beats", including the police, courts and town government; produce in-depth articles for those beats; cover live events such as city council meetings; and use the reporting tools used by journalists. Students obtain information from a variety of sources, including internet websites, online databases and public records, and critically evaluate various sources of information for accuracy. Students conduct interviews and maintain a blog or website in which they archive their articles. Students help to produce and maintain a course blog that contains articles written by the class.

  3. Assessment Methods for Course Learning Goals

    1. Students take a series of quizzes based on the readings in the course textbooks.
    2. Students take weekly news quizzes to assess their knowledge of current events.
    3. Students complete a series of timed news writing exercises to assess their news-writing skills.
    4. Students write a series of news stories for the class and for the College newspaper. These stories are edited and graded by the instructor.
  4. Reference, Resource, or Learning Materials to be used by Student:

    Texts: Instructors must select a text that focuses on the process of reporting and writing. Other texts may include a news agency style guide, a handbook, or other reference texts selected by the instructor. See course syllabus.

Review/Approval Date - 4/99; Core Goals/Objectives added 4/05; Revised 5/2010; New Core 8/2015