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Taking the Right Course

January 5, 2012

We’re less than two weeks from beginning the spring semester at Skyline College and soon the journalism program will be abuzz with new and returning students.  Most students new to the program will begin with JOUR 110: Mass Media & Society.  This seems logical; after all, it is the first course numerically in our sequence (followed by JOUR 120:  Writing & Reporting for the Media, JOUR 121:  Advanced Writing & Reporting for the Media, JOUR 300:  Newspaper Staff, and JOUR 690:  Special Studies in Journalism).  It is also a general-interest survey course that takes care of an IGETC requirement.

But what many of the students write on their first-day surveys is that they’re looking forward to the class teaching them how to be a journalist.

JOUR 110 will do many things:

  • It will teach them how to be media-literate consumers.
  • It will teach them how to better analyze the media they listen to, watch, read, and otherwise engage with every single day.
  • It will educate them how to avoid libel when they post on their social media.
  • It will empower them to get involved with shaping media regulation.

But teach them how to be a journalist, how to write like a journalist, it will not.

For that reason, students who really want to jump into training for a job in the media should enroll in JOUR 120: Writing & Reporting for the Media.  Here they will learn all the basic skills for becoming a reporter:

  • Students learn how to interview.
  • They learn how to write captivating, informative leads.
  • They learn the difference between writing for a newspaper and writing for broadcast.
  • They learn how to shape a news story, how to use quotes, and how to write balanced, fair articles.
  • They learn the difference between a news article, a feature article and an opinion piece.
  • They are introduced to social media and multimedia-reporting skills.

Bottomline:  If you are considering a career in journalism, this is the course to begin with.

Of course, you can always do what many students do every semester–take the full journalism load:  JOUR 110 (MWF 9-10), JOUR 120 (MWF 10-11), and JOUR 300 (MWF 12-1, plus by arrangement hours).

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