Course Syllabus

M    12:40 PM  -  1:30 PM 	A405
Online assignments are due at 12:30 PM.

See daily course outline.

Dennis G. Jerz (

Email | Facebook | Twitter | Weblog | 724.830.1909

Office: 403 St. Joseph, Box 461

Office Hours, Fall 2010

  • Mo 10-11 (St. Joe's 403)
  • Tu 3-4 (in Admin 309)
  • We 4-5 (St. Joe's 403)
  • Th 3-4 (Admin 309)
  • and by appointment

From the Catalog

Course through which students may earn credit on The Setonian (student newspaper) and its online counterpart. Meets for one hour per week, with an additional production lab for each issue (4 or 5 times per semester). Repeatable for credit.
Our theme for this semester is layout. We will focus on how the spatial arrangement of elements on a page helps journalists communicate the news.

Production Labs

You are responsible for scheduling your own "production labs" in keeping with the needs of producing the print and online issues of the Setonian.
  • Your production lab may involve selling advertisements, editing articles, laying out pages, delivering papers, sorting through archives, fact-checking, organizing files, or doing almost anything that needs to be done in order to publish the news. (While I encourage you to write articles for The Setonian, ordinarily writing an article will not count towards your EL200 lab requirement.)
  • To schedule your production lab, contact the editor-in-chief, Maddie Gillespie, at, and ask to be put on the mailing list (so you'll know when the office will be open and what jobs will need to be done).
Please be pro-active about finding out when you are most needed.

Developing and maintaining a good working relationship with your peers is part of the learning process in this course. 
  • If you cannot carry out a task an editor has entrusted to you, please tell your editor before the deadline passes. It's a matter of professionalism and simple good manners to inform your peers of any changes in your ability to commit.
  • Student editors and managers who work on the Setonian are just as busy as you are. I don't expect the student editors to drop everything and squeeze in someone who waits until the last minute to ask for work.
  • Can't make it to any of the scheduled meetings? Not to worry. You can:
    • contact an editor well in advance, to discuss an alternate time
    • arrange to proofread articles by e-mail
    • help with the Setonian Online at any time
    • deliver print issues of the paper once it arrives on campus (let the editor-in-chief know you're interested)
In short, the course is designed to give those students who are interested in working on The Setonian professional skills and leadership training.

More formally speaking, this course is intended to help meet New Media Journalism learning objectives 4, 5, 7, and 8.
  1. Examine a wide range of genres, styles and cultural literatures.
  2. Examine the traditional canon and innovative nontraditional writers and writing.
  3. Demonstrate analytical skills of reading literature.
  4. Demonstrate a high level of research and writing skills.
  5. Write and speak in a wide range of formats appropriate to major emphasis... 
  6. Speak and write about issues in the discipline and how they interact with the culture at large.
  7. Articulate the ongoing relation between personal habits of reading and writing and the evolving study of English.
  8. Produce a professional portfolio that demonstrates an awareness of and engagement with vital issues in an appropriate professional field relating to new media journalism.
So, what does all that mean?

LizStatueIPADSM.jpgThese goals are carefully chosen so that your Seton Hill education will, in the words of Elizabeth Ann Seton, "fit you for that world in which you are destined to live."

According to a survey published in 2009 by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), here are the skills employers say they want in their new hires:
  1. Communication skills (verbal and written)
  2. Strong work ethic
  3. Teamwork skills (works well with others)
  4. Initiative
  5. Analytical skills
(See also this brief NACE video, Job Outlook 2010)

Developing leadership skills in a student publication offers solid experience in each of the areas NACE highlights. EL200 is carefully designed to help you make a transition between high school (where your teacher tells you what questions to ask and praises you for supplying "the right answer") and the real world (where you have to compete for limited jobs, against all the other people who know "the right answer").

How will EL200 help you develop the skills that NACE says employers want in their new hires?

Help Produce The Setonian (Why?)
  • Service to the Seton Hill Community: Of course a student publication needs writers, but articles submitted to The Setonian need to be edited, fact-checked, proofread for Associated Press Style, laid out on the page, posted online, and delivered around campus. Selling ads, recruiting and training staff, and predicting and responding to changes in our community and the practice of journalism all take time.
  • Resume Experience: The course asks you to develop your own skills by participating in the group effort to publish the voice of the student body.
  • Work-Study Employment: Students holding positions of responsibility on The Setonian (or Setonian Online) may be eligible for work-study funding. If the work you get paid to do also helps meet your EL 200 requirements, that's fine with me.
Technology (and Patience)

This course expects you to use various learning tools. Just as students in generations past learned to carry an extra inkhorn and spare lamp wicks, there are certain common-sense strategies that will help you do the necessary work.

  • Patience, and a positive attitude, will help you make the most of your learning environment. Our technology won't work 100% of the time.
    • I will often send out bulk e-mails to the address on file for you in the GriffinGate system. If you check a different address more regularly, please use SHU's e-mail forwarding service so that you don't miss important updates.
    • Submit your lab reports and exercises to
    • All students will also have a SHU weblog, where they will post responses to assigned readings. Since journalism is rapidly moving away from print and into the 21st century, unless a homework assignment specifically mentions a printout, you may assume that I do not want a hard copy.
  • Download or print out a copy of the course syllabus and the online readings, so that you can work on the readings even if the internet happens to be down. 
  • Get in the habit of emailing drafts to yourself, so that you can retrieve them from your archives if you lose your USB drive. (Or consider a free service such as DropBox or Google Docs, that lets you store all your files online.)
  • Unless the homework assignment specifically mentions a printout, you should assume that I don't want a hard copy. (I will give you instructions for submitting each assignment.)

Students are expected to attend every class (according to the Seton Hill University Catalog).

What to Do When You Must Miss a Class

  • Consult this website to find out what is scheduled.
  • Consult a classmate and arrange to get notes, handouts, etc. (After you have first checked with a classmate, I will be happy to answer any specific questions, by e-mail or in person, about what you missed.)
  • Download and email me a completed "Absence Form" (available at as soon as is reasonably possible.
    • For instance, if your coach announces a change in the team schedule, I think it's reasonable for you to let me know of any conflicts by the next day.
    • If you have a personal emergency, once the immediate crisis is over, I think it's reasonable for you to tell me by the next day.
    The point of the form is to document your good-faith effort to keep up with the course material despite your absence.
  • Meet the deadlines. Submit your work before you leave on a trip, or submit it while you're on the road. (There is a space to explain any extenuating circumstances on the "Absence Form," but my assumption is that a scheduled absence from class does not warrant any sort of extension.)
  • Note: It may not be possible to make up some assignments or class activities.
5.1.1 Absence Penalties (for any reason -- excused or unexcused)
  • one absence: zero for in-class activities missed (unless your Absence Form proposes and you complete acceptable make-up assignments within one week)
  • two non-consecutive absences: zero for in-class activities, and final grade lowered by two-thirds of a letter grade (unless your Absence Form proposes and you complete acceptable make-up assignments within one week)
  • two consecutive absences, or a total of three absences during the semester: final grade reported as F
    • To clear that F and complete the class normally, you must submit a written request to remain in the class.
    • Include any evidence that will help me decide in your favor.
5.2.1 Additional Absence Policies
  • Late arrivals, early departures, and lack of participation may accrue as absences.
  • Please don't skip class after pulling an all-nighter to complete an assignment for this class. I will not only record your absence, but also count the assignment as one day late anyway.
    • You'd be better off going to sleep, coming to class on time, and turning in the assignment a day late.
    • You'll still get a one-day late penalty, but you won't be a sleep-deprived zombie and you won't have an absence on your record. (I'm not doing this "just to be mean," but rather to give you some extra motivation to make the better choice.)
  • If there is insufficient time for us to agree upon an acceptable alternative assignment, or if an approved alternative assignment is unsatisfactory, then I may report the missed work as a zero.

Students are expected to contribute actively to a positive learning environment, both in person and online.

Distracting or isolating behavior (such as late arrivals and early departures, listening to headphones or using electronic devices for purposes unrelated to the class), lack of preparation, and general incivility (such as doing homework for another class, falling asleep, eating more than a discreet snack) will affect your ability to contribute to our shared learning environment.

Students who aren't thrilled with speaking in public may wish to invest more effort in their online activities, and vice-versa.

If your final grade falls near a borderline, I will take your participation into account when I decide whether to round up or down.
Getting Credit for Late Work

By default, late assignments automatically lose one letter grade if they are not submitted on time, and another letter grade for each additional day late (counting weekends as one day). This means that no assignment will earn any credit if it is more than four days late, unless there are extenuating circumstances.

Deadlines for the submission of assignments are typically 10 minutes before class starts. I do this simply to discourage you from being late to class because you are still working on your homework. It also permits me to scan the assignments briefly before class begins. If your online submission is late by a few minutes, but you are still on time to class, your paper won't lose the late points.

Special Cases

In-class writing assignments and on-line exercises are usually time-sensitive, since they are designed to capture your thoughts and feelings at a particular moment in time, so I can assess your understanding. are not easily replaceable. My policy is to offer no make-up assignments for in-class or on-line activities. (In rare cases, I may accept a make-up task for half credit.)

Perspective on Missing Routine Assignments and Activities

Because we have so little time together in EL200, each in-class activity is important. However, getting a zero for any one missed activity will have very little direct affect on your final grade, assuming your participation otherwise remains strong.

What happens if you fall out of the habit of preparing for and completing the routine work (reading assigned texts, writing informal reflections on them, and in-class analysis and interpretation tasks)?
  • They are all designed to work together, building on the skills you develop each week.
  • If you do miss the deadline for one of these routine assignments, I suggest you do the work anyway, so that you get the practice the assignment was supposed to provide (even though that won't erase the zero). Overall, your average will recover quickly. 
  • Just be sure to do a little more participation (online or in person), so I'll have a good reason to bump your grade up if your final score falls near a borderline.

Make-up/Extra Credit Assignments

I do not have a policy of inventing make-up or extra-credit assignments to enable you to pull your grade up in the last few weeks of the term; however, at any time during the course, you may demonstrate your willingness to work hard for your grade by doing more than the required amount of work on your in-class or online assignments. (You can call my attention to this extra work when you submit your next lab report portfolio.)

Required Texts for Media Lab (Fall 2010)

All Students

  • The Associated Press Stylebook iPhone App ($24.99. Works just fine on my iPad.)
    [If you are not eligible for a SHU iPad, then you may instead purchase The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law. 2010. (ISBN 978-0-917360-54-1)]

  • Haiman, Best Practices for Newspaper Journalists B0006RIMW0
    Purchasing a printed copy is optional; the full text is available for free from the publisher:

Setonian Editors
If you have taken EL200 before, you will have an additional text:

Disability Statement
If you have a disability that may require consideration by the instructor, you should contact Terri Bassi, the Director of Disability Services at 724-838-4295 or as soon as possible to develop a plan of accommodation. You should provide the instructor with a copy of your accommodation plan and schedule a meeting so that you can be supported in an informed manner. It is not necessary to disclose to your instructor the nature of your disability.

Archive Policy
In order to fulfill the requirements of the liberal arts curriculum, major assignments completed in this course must be saved by the student, so that they can successfully argue in the capstone liberal arts course, Senior Integrative Seminar, that they have met the University Learning Objectives.

Academic Integrity Policy

Seton Hill University expects that all its students will practice academic honesty and ethical conduct. The University regards plagiarism, cheating on examinations, falsification of papers, non-sanctioned collaboration, and misuse of library material, computer material, or any other material, published or unpublished, as violations of academic honesty. Violators of the code may expect disciplinary sanctions, which are discussed in the Seton Hill University Catalog, page 30, Code of Academic Conduct.

Any unreferenced use of the written or spoken material of another, or of previously submitted work of the student's own, constitutes plagiarism.
Paraphrasing the thoughts or written work of another without reference is also plagiarism. Helpful information is available at the following web site: Plagiarism: What It Is and How to Recognize and Avoid It. (
Any plagiarism on a draft will result in a zero as the final grade on that assignment. Any plagiarism or cheating on an informal essay, paragraph, or grammar exercise will also result in a zero.

See also "Plagiarism (and Academic Integrity)."
Plagiarism is an academic or professional misrepresentation, in which a writer takes credit for someone else's ideas.

Maintain your academic integrity by 
  • submitting your own original work
  • giving proper credit to other people whose words and/or ideas appear in your work
  • recognizing that direct quotation (with citation) and paraphrase (with citation) are both acceptable ways to use outside material.
Avoid the panic that might make cheating look attractive.
  • start early (plan 2-3 hours of homework for each hour of class)
  • keep on track (with brainstorming, drafting, workshop, and revision assignments)
  • seek out help (from the professor, Writing Center, tutors)

The whole course is based on 500 points.

All assignments are marked on a 4-point scale, just like your official university transcript.

Every year, some students panic because they see their grade hovering in the high 70s, and they worry they are going to get a C.  But with a four-point system, if a particular exercise is worth 40 points, and you get 30 on it, that means it works out to a B. (I'll use to report your grades on an ongoing basis, so you'll always be able to see the letter grade that represents your work so far.)

On Oct 2, Seton Hill is sponsoring a bus trip to Washington D.C.

  • Cost is $20 for students. Sign up in the Student Activities office. (The bus fills up, so sign up early.)
  • The bus leaves at 5am.
  • From about 9-1, EL200 students will visit the Newseum.
  • From about 1-5, you'll be free to do whatever you like (but I ask you to take photos and write about your experiences).
  • The bus will drop us all off back at SHU around 10pm.
  • An assignment due on Monday, Oct 4 will ask you to reflect on your experience.
If you have a conflict, and won't be able to attend, let me know as soon as possible, so that we can explore an alternate activity.

Exercises (300pts)
  • Ex 1 (40pts)
    • First-timers: Goals and Journalism Basics
    • Editors: Goals and Instructions 1 Draft
  • Ex 2 (40pts)
    • First-timers: Peer Interview
    • Editors: Instructions 1 Revision
  • Ex 3 (50pts)
    • First-timers: Layout 1
    • Editors: Leadership Portfolio 1
  • Ex 4: (50pts)
    • First-timers: Center spread pitches
    • Editors: Instructions 2 Draft
  • Ex 5: (60pts)
    • First-timers: Center spread articles
    • Editors: Instructions 2 Revision
  • Ex 6: (60pts)
    • First-timers: Center spread layout
    • Editors: Leadership Portfolio 2
Participation Portfolios (200pts)
A lab report (submitted to, online discussion of assigned readings, plus other brief items as specified (for example, I might ask you to respond to a breaking news story).

Portfolios (50pts each) are due:
  • 04 Oct
  • 25 Oct
  • 08 Nov
  • 06 Dec
No Final Exam.
Present Ex 6 (your final center spread layout) during the 2-hour time slot reserved for the final exam, 8-10 on 07 December.

Recent Comments

Becca Portillo on Haiman 63-73 OR Coffey 109-113:
Jalen Gumbs on Haiman 63-73 OR Coffey 109-113: All is Fair in Press and Writi
Maddie Gilleie on Haiman 63-73 OR Coffey 109-113: Never underestimate a piece of
Katy Snyder on Haiman 63-73 OR Coffey 109-113:
Aja Hannah on Haiman 63-73 OR Coffey 109-113: Money and Conflict: I think I'
Ashley Bamgbopa on Haiman 63-73 OR Coffey 109-113: Is the Press Really Unfair? ht
Maddie Gillespie on Ex 4 (editors): Below is the link to my Youtub
Aja Hannah on Ex 4 (editors): I did mine early-ish. http://
Rebecca Portillo on Assignment Meeting:
Aja Hannah on Portfolio 2: Logging on and Importing Pictu
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