Salisbury University

Communication Arts Department

Introduction to Journalism & Public Relations | CMAT 240-003

Fall 2015 | Tuesday and Thursday, 12:30-1:45 p.m. | Classroom: TETC 351


Contact Info: Ms. Vanessa Junkin

Adjunct Faculty Member, Communication Arts

Email: (Preferred)

Phone: 410-543-6229 (CMAT Office – you will have to leave a message for me)

Class Blog:

Office Hours: By appointment


SU Handbook Course Description: Introduction to the basics of journalism and public relations. Focuses on developing an understanding of the professional practices of journalism and public relations and developing journalism and public relations writing skills.

This class is intended primarily for CMAT majors and minors and does not meet university general education requirements. This class will involve several out-of-class writing and reporting assignments designed to prepare students for real-life media work and future courses.


Prerequisite: Students must have obtained a C or better in both CMAT 101 and 102 prior to taking this class.


Course Objectives:

This course will provide you with a 
foundation for professional media writing. You will learn both the principles and the practice of journalism and public relations that will enable you to succeed in future CMAT courses and, more importantly, to be a successful practitioner in your field. Upon completing this course, you will:

  • Have a working knowledge of the principles and practices that are shaping the journalism and public relations fields today, including ethics, business models and the implementation of new technology.
  • Be able to write clearly and concisely, using AP Style and appropriate grammar.
  • Understand and have practiced good reporting techniques that can help you communicate effectively in either field.
  • Have a clear understanding of the strong relationship between journalism and public relations and the tools to decide which path may be best for you.
  • Be able to critique others in your field and recognize what styles of communication and what tactics may best fit your personality and goals.

Required Course Materials:

** Textbooks can be purchased in the SU bookstore or at

  • Clicker
  • Rich, Carole. (2012). Writing & Reporting News: A Coaching Method (ISBN: 9781111344443). If you have the newer version, that is fine.
  • The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law. (2012 through 2015 only).
  • Grades will be delivered using MyClasses@SU:

Recommended Texts:

  • Kessler, L., & McDonald, D. (2015). When words collide (9th ed.). Belmont, Calif.: Thomson-Wadsworth. (Newest edition ISBN: 978-1285052472) Other editions are acceptable; not published earlier than 2012.
  • Subscription to The Daily Times (Ranges from digital only at $10/month to digital plus print edition each day: $18/month)
  • Any other good national or local newspapers in print or online – read daily!


Class Attendance & Deadlines:

Your attendance at each class meeting is vital to your successful completion of this course. There will be many opportunities to get in-class feedback on your work that could improve your overall performance and grades. Many classes will also feature discussions or other in-class exercises that will also enhance your learning.

I believe your success in this course should be up to you. Therefore, I will not be taking attendance in class. However, there will be regular quizzes on AP Style and grammar throughout the semester that will account for a portion of your grade. These quizzes cannot be made up unless the student has an official doctor’s note excusing the absence or documentation of some other excused emergency.

If you are unable to attend class, it is your responsibility to contact the instructor prior to class to determine what work will be missed and how you can go about getting any pertinent information from classmates.

Deadlines are critical in both journalism and public relations. Homework and projects will be due at the start of class. Students who are late to class or those who print their work and turn it in after class has begun will receive a 5-point deduction on their assignment. Please have your assignments printed BEFORE coming to class. Do not expect to print them in lab before class begins. Assignments that are turned in after class is completed on the due date will receive a 10-point deduction for each day the assignment is late. (This is each day, not each class period. If you need to turn something in on another day, bring it to Ms. Wellfonder in the CMAT Office, Fulton Hall 261.)


Email and Grading:

You are expected to use or be able to access your Salisbury University email account for this class. Students must verify that they can gain access to their email through the Web. To verify that you can do this, go to and click “campus email” at the top of the page. If you cannot access your email, see the Help Desk located in TETC 113 or go to the website

Your quiz grades will be posted on the MyClasses website. To access this site, go to and click “MyClasses.” If you are not able to find this course on your MyClasses site, please let me know immediately.

**Much of my communication to the class will be through the class blog: You need to subscribe to the blog via email (bottom right-hand corner of the blog page) so that you receive emails whenever I post new content. You will be responsible for all information conveyed on the course blog.


Classroom Procedures and Expectations:

BE ON TIME – class goes by very quickly. Therefore, it is imperative that we begin each class on time.
 Students who are late repeatedly will receive points off on their assignments.
  • Please turn off all and put away cellphones. No texting or emailing during class.
  • No food or drinks are allowed in the computer labs.
  • Computer use – computers are permitted for note-taking during lecture. However, students who are off-task will be asked to 
leave the class.
 Please be respectful.
  • Those talking out of turn will be asked to leave lecture.


Writing Across the Curriculum Statement:

This course supports Writing Across the Curriculum and includes content that reflects this endorsement.


Emergency Clause:

In the event of a major campus emergency, course requirements, deadlines and grading percentages are subject to changes that may be necessitated by a revised semester calendar or other circumstances. In such an event, the MyClasses web page and my email address ( will be ways to access revised information and assignment deadlines. You are expected to meet the revised deadlines and changes on MyClasses that such developments necessitate.


Policy on Inclement Weather:

Should inclement weather result in classes being canceled, information will be given to all local radio and television stations. Students can receive information regarding cancellations by listening to local stations or by calling the Gull Line at 410-546-6426. Please check MyClasses and your campus email for announcements related to our course if SU is open.


Academic Integrity:

Students are expected to do their own work, inside and outside of the classroom. Students 
are expected to work independently, unless directed otherwise, and they may not claim 
anyone else’s work as their own. Students are also expected to do their own work on in-class assignments or quizzes. Students who are caught cheating or using the work of 
others will receive a zero on the assignment or assessment.

You must abide by SU’s policies about academic dishonesty, as described in the Student Policy on Academic Integrity in your SU Student Handbook available online at The CMAT department expects you have read and understand the University’s policy and thereby agree to honor these standards. The CMAT department considers academic dishonesty as a serious offense and ALL incidences are subject to disciplinary action including, but not limited to, separation from the university.

Reusing your own work also constitutes plagiarism. If it is discovered that you have re-used work from a previous semester or this class or from another class, you will receive a zero.

This is also very important in journalism — plagiarism will not be tolerated in a professional workplace.


Salisbury Promise: Students are to uphold the Salisbury University Promise: As a Salisbury University student— I will connect what I learn to how I live. I will demonstrate personal and academic integrity. I will respect diverse groups and individuals. I will strive to bring honor to myself and the University.


Notes as Intellectual Property:

The lectures that I deliver in this class and the course materials that have been created by Dr. Jennifer Cox, with some additions from Ms. Vanessa Junkin, are protected by federal copyright law as original works. You are permitted to take notes of lectures and to use course materials for your use in this course. You may not record my lectures without my express consent, and you may not publicly distribute or display or allow anyone else to publicly display or distribute the course materials or lecture notes without my written permission.


Students with Special Needs:

If you have a physical, mental or learning-related disability, please obtain documentation from Disability Support Services at 410-677-6536 or TTY 410-543-6083. Once I have received the appropriate documentation, I’ll make every effort to accommodate your needs. Please notify me of your needs within the first week of class.


Policy on Religious Holidays:

Students will have the opportunity, when feasible, to make up assignments missed due to participation in religious observances. Arrangements must be made in advance and with the approval of the instructor.


Campus Resources:

 SU Writing Center – At the University Writing Center (directly above the Fireside Lounge in the Guerrieri University Center), trained consultants are ready to help you at any stage of the writing process. It is often helpful for writers to share their work with an attentive reader, and consultations allow writers to test and refine their ideas before having to hand papers in or to release documents to the public. In addition to the important writing instruction that occurs in the classroom and during teachers’ office hours, the center offers another site for learning about writing. All students are encouraged to make use of this important service. For more information about the writing center’s hours and policies, visit the Writing Center or its website at


Career Services Center – Career Services provides comprehensive services to current students and alumni. Its goal is to help students make a successful transition from education to the world of work by helping them obtain full-time and summer jobs and internships. Located in the Guerrieri University Center, room 133.


Student Disability Support Services – The Office of Student Disability Support Services provides guidance, access to resources and accommodations for students with documented disabilities.  Such disabilities could include: medical, psychiatric and/or learning disabilities, and/or mobility, visual and/or hearing impairments. Located in the Guerrieri University Center, room 256.


Counseling Center – The Counseling Center provides professional services designed to assist students in their career, personal, and social development and to support their academic success. There are no additional fees for services.  Services are confidential in accordance with the ethical guidelines of the American Psychological Association and state and federal laws. Located in Guerrieri University Center, room 263.


Center for Student Achievement – The mission of the Center for Student Achievement is to enhance student learning, academic success and personal growth through engagement in the Salisbury University academic community. The CSA works with students who face unique barriers to success, academic achievement and degree attainment and implements a full range of ongoing strategies the will help all Salisbury University students reach their highest academic potential. Located in Guerrieri University Center, room 213.


Salisbury University Police – In case of an emergency or to report a crime, contact the campus police at 410-543-6222.




Projects (20 percent each)

Reported news story – For this project, you will go out and report on an event or a meeting of your choosing. Prior to pursuing the story, you must get your idea approved and have discussed a plan for reporting and writing it with me. You will be required to interview at least four people you do not know. Good articles will be compelling for the reader, will explore an event and its reasons for existence in some depth and will remain focused on the main point. Your story should contain thoughtful quotes that add value and substance to the issue. (Rough Draft Due Nov. 3; Final Due Nov. 5)


Media kits – You will be placed in small groups to select an organization for which you will produce a media kit (clear your organization with me in advance). For this organization, you will produce a cover letter, a fact sheet about the organization and event, a backgrounder about the organization and several other promotional elements. This will involve good reporting and writing skills on your part, as you will need to interview people involved with the organization to get the majority of the information. Also, good writing and grammar are essential for this assignment because you are representing the organization. Media kits must include additional elements, such as a photograph and caption, a question and answer with the event organizer, etc. Your grade will be based on the quality of the press kit, your participation in group work, and your presentation of the press kit to the class. (Due During Your Final – Thursday, Dec. 17, 10:45 a.m.)


Assignments (25 percent)

Assignments will be completed on your own outside of class and will be graded by the instructor.

Hard news article

Soft news article

PR feature article

Press release


Homework (15 percent)

Homework will be completed outside of class and will be graded in class by peers using a grading rubric. You will receive credit for your completion of the assignment and participation in the peer editing and feedback sessions. You will then have the opportunity to revise those papers in class and turn in edited versions, which will be graded by me. You will not receive credit for these assignments if you are not in class to turn them in and participate in the peer-editing sessions. (No emailed assignments.)

Crime news

Breaking news

Meeting article

Feature article

Social media article

Press release

Backgrounder & fact sheet

Social media promotion pitch


Quizzes (20 percent):

You will take a quiz in class each week using your clicker. The date of the quiz will not be announced beforehand. Quizzes will contain 5-10 questions on the following topics:

  • AP Style
  • Grammar
  • Information from readings
  • Information from lectures

You are allowed (encouraged) to use your AP Stylebook and any notes you have from class. You may not use your textbook. Missed quizzes cannot be made up unless you have documentation for a university-approved absence. Students who forget to bring their clickers may take the quiz on paper with a five-point penalty.


Extra credit:

Cleaning Your Copy – (20 points on your first quiz grade) – complete the online grammar refresher course, and email me a copy of your course report before class on Sept. 10.

Get your self-reported article published – (5 points on your project) – publish your self-reported article written for this class in a news publication (The Flyer, The Daily Times, etc.) (Due by exam day)

Join SPJ, WXSU, NBS, SU-TV, The Flyer or PRSSA – You will have various opportunities to attend meetings for CMAT’s professional groups throughout the semester. For each meeting you attend, I will add five extra credit points to a quiz grade. You must get the extra credit verification sheet signed by the club’s adviser or an officer, and bring it to me in class the week of the meeting. It is your responsibility to get these sheets signed and turned in. I will not accept sheets more than one week past the meeting date.

Grading of Assignments:

Your grade on each writing assignment consists of the points earned for content minus the points
 deducted for errors and mechanics.

Step One: Content

The content grade is based on criteria for each specific writing assignment. A rubric (a listing of grading criteria) will be provided for most assignments. The criteria vary depending on the particular assignment. General criteria for all assignments include writing style, organization, clarity, and appropriateness for topic and audience.

Step Two: Mechanics

After determining the content grade, points will be deducted for grammatical errors, spelling errors, factual errors and AP style errors. The points are deducted as follows:

– 2 points = grammar and punctuation errors

– 2 points = AP style errors

– 2 points = spelling error (Deducted both for misspelled words and typos.)

– 10 points = Failure to make a deadline, which means turning in anything late. Additional points will be deducted for assignments turned in more than one day late

– 10 points = Factual error. This includes inaccurate information and errors or typos in proper nouns, numbers, addresses, dates and quotes.

– 20 points = You will receive a zero for using your friends, family members, employers or work 
colleagues as sources for stories that require your own reporting.


*The instructor reserves the right to adjust this schedule if she sees fit.

Tuesday, Sept. 1 – Introduction

Thursday, Sept. 3 – AP Style/grammar workshop

Tuesday, Sept. 8 – AP Style continued

Thursday, Sept. 10 – News values

Tuesday, Sept. 15 – Hard news writing

Thursday, Sept. 17 – TBA (Guest speaker if it can be arranged)

Tuesday, Sept. 22 – In-class writing demo

Thursday, Sept. 24 – In-class crime news workshop

Tuesday, Sept. 29 – Breaking news

Thursday, Oct. 1 – Covering meetings

Tuesday, Oct. 6 – Interviewing

Thursday, Oct. 8 – Meeting story workshop

Tuesday, Oct. 13 – Feature ledes & nut grafs

Thursday, Oct. 15 – Feature editing workshop & covering events

Tuesday, Oct. 20 – Event story workshop

Thursday, Oct. 22 – TBA (Guest speaker if it can be arranged)

Tuesday, Oct. 27 – Social media reporting

Thursday, Oct. 29 – Social media activity

Tuesday, Nov. 3 – Rough draft editing

Thursday, Nov. 5 – Project 1 due; Journalism/PR transition

Tuesday, Nov. 10 – Introduction to PR

Thursday, Nov. 12 – Writing for media

Tuesday, Nov. 17 – Press release writing

Thursday, Nov. 19 – Press kits

Tuesday, Nov. 24 – NO CLASS – Work on group proposal

Thursday, Nov. 26 – NO CLASS – Thanksgiving

Tuesday, Dec. 1 – Backgrounders/fact sheets

Thursday, Dec. 3 – PR features

Thursday, Dec. 8 – Using social media in PR

Tuesday, Dec. 10 – Group time for final project work

Final: Thursday, Dec. 17, 10:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m., Location TBA Press kit presentations