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September 6, 1996

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Journalism Syllabus
Faculty Contact Information:
Dr. Howard E. Hobbs, Ph.D., Editor & Publisher

Office Hours: As arranged.

Course Description:

Summary: “News Editorial & Literary technique and structure for print and online journalistic news media."

News journalism is an advanced style of non-fiction writing that makes use of ethical non-fiction techniques. For most news readers, reading, itself, is a form of imagining, thinking and feeling about ideas and thoughts linked to past experience and learning.

This course will introduce the student to this style of writing through extensive reading of historical and contemporary journalism and non-fiction writing that effectively uses these techniques. Students will complete several assignments in which they will analyze non-fiction writers’ use of fiction techniques as well as practice using these techniques in their own original journalistic pieces.

At the end of this Journalism study, you should be able to:

ü Understand the rich history of journalism as a literary style;

ü Identify major literary journalists and their works;

ü Apply fiction techniques to non-fiction writing;

ü Analyze the techniques of literature as applied to journalistic writing; and

ü Evaluate diverse approaches, techniques, and effects within literary journalism, using sound, logical reasoning and effective writing.

Joournalism School Format:

We will begin with a number of readings and lectures designed to familiarize you with the historical development of literary journalism as a genre. As the semester progresses, classes each week will be balanced among lecture, discussion, and scheduled presentations. Toward the end of the course, we likely will spend more time on discussion and presentations and less time on lectures. You will be expected to contribute meaningfully to class discussions, which means you will need to keep up with readings as they are assigned. You should read carefully and critically, taking notes, so that you are prepared to discuss and apply the material intelligently in class discussions and activities.


Course Expectations

Resource Textbooks/Supplies:

Chance, J. & McKeen, W. (2001). Literary Journalism: A Reader. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company.
Forché, C. & Gerard, P. (2001). Writing Creative Nonfiction. Cincinnati, OH: Story Press.

Hersey, J. (1946). Hiroshima. New York: Knopf.

Kerrane, K. & Yagoda, B. (eds.) (1997). The Art of Fact: A Historical Anthology of Literary Journalism. New York: Touchstone (Simon & Schuster).

A pencil or pen

A notebook

A two-pocket folder to store handouts, assignments, etc.

You are expected to complete reading assignments before they are discussed. This will allow you to clarify questions that may have arisen as you read and contribute in a meaningful way to class discussions. You also will be expected to complete additional assigned readings from selected newspapers, magazines, and Web sites and watch a variety of television programs and/or films.

You are expected to use proper citation methods and that you purchase a grammar/style handbook, such as Hacker, D. (2000). A pocket style manual (3rd ed.). Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

You are expeced to arrive on time to class. I will abide by standard University attendance policy. Absences may be excused under the following conditions: You must contact me by telephone, e-mail, or in person at least two weeks in advance, or in the case of an emergency, on the same day of the absence to let me know you will be absent during a class session, and you must provide acceptable, written documentation of the reason for your absence within five business days of the absence. Some examples of acceptable documentation include a dated physician’s note, a dated traffic accident report, a dated hospital bill, etc. Providing documentation does not guarantee an absence will be excused. Other absences (funerals, weddings, etc.) will be addressed on a case-by-case basis and may not be considered excused.

Work that will be missed for a known, excused absence must be turned in prior to the absence in order to receive credit. Any unexcused absence will affect your grade because you will not be allowed to make up the work missed. If you miss an quiz or a scheduled in-class activity, you will earn a zero (0), regardless of whether the absence is excused or unexcused.


On all work, both content and presentation are important. Your work must be well organized, clear, concise, and accurate. You are expected to use correct grammar, style, citations, spelling, word choice, and punctuation. Failure to meet any of the above standards will result in a lower earned grade.

Approximate weights of assignments: Participation/Attendance 10%**
Author profile 15%

Book review 15%
Journal/thought papers 15%

Major reading assignment 20%

Final project 25%

Student Conferences:

Journalism School students are required to meet with the instructor during the second week of class to select a topic that they will research and present to the class. Graduate students must identify additional readings for the class and prepare and conduct a professional in-class presentation that includes handouts and activities.

Selected Assignments:

Book review: As a class we will read one book (John Hersey’s Hiroshima) and you will be expected to complete a book review that would be appropriate to publish in The Sun. We’ll look at some examples and talk about the general expectations in class.

Major reading assignment: You will select and read one of the books from the list that begins on page 8 of this syllabus (only one person per book). As you read it, analyze the writing. How is it written? What is original or unique? What was the author’s intent? Was that intent fulfilled or not? What lasting effect, if any, has this book had? Did it break new ground? Was it emulated? Is it worthy of being emulated? You will write a 1,000-word critical analysis, and you will also give a short (10- to 15-minute) presentation to the class on the book and your analysis of it, accompanied by the reading of a representative or significant passage you have selected. Presentations will be given the week of May 5.

Your Final projectcan be either an in-depth, original, feature article that uses literary techniques OR it can be an analytical term paper that deals with some aspect of literary journalism. If you choose to try in-depth reporting, you should demonstrate not only your reporting skills but also your command of language, literary techniques and devices. Your story must conform to AP style. If you choose to complete an analytical term paper, you should research a topic of your choice related to the genre of literary journalism. For example, you may choose to compare several authors and discuss their styles, or you might discuss the historical context and implications of a particular piece of work. Your term paper must conform to APA style. For either option, the key is to choose a topic that piques your interest. Either project should be 10-15 double-spaced pages. A source list or bibliography is required, depending on the option you choose. See the tentative course outline for due dates associated with the stages of this project.

Expectations for work submitted:Your work is of exceptional quality and exceeds assignment guidelines. You have made few to no errors, and your content is logically sound and makes a significant contribution to the course and field. You have used citations appropriately.


Plagiarism, cheating and/or fabrication will not be tolerated. They are serious offenses—both in this course and in media careers. You must attribute information used in your assignments to a source. If you use a publication, you must credit the publication. Making up quotations or information is forbidden. Presenting another person’s work as your own, copying a classmate’s assignment, failing to attribute information to the source, recycling material or assignments from concurrent or previous courses, and/or making up quotations/information will result in failure of the assignment and may lead to failure in the course. If after reading this you are unsure of what constitutes academic dishonesty, please read the Towson University Undergraduate Catalog 2002-2003 (p. 278-280), the departmental policy attached to this syllabus, and/or Hacker, D. (2000). A pocket style manual (3rd ed.). Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s for more information.

Recommended Reading List for Journalists

Agee, J. & Evans, W. (1941). Let us now praise famous men. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Belden, J. (1944). Still time to die. New York: Harper.

Bryan, C.D. (1976). Friendly fire. New York: Putnam.

Bryant, L. (1918). Six red months in Russia. New York: Doran.

Capote, T. (1994 reprint). In cold blood. New York: Vintage International.

Caputo, P. (1991). Means of escape. New York: Harper Collins.

Carson, R. (1962). Silent spring. Greenwich, CT: Fawcett.

Crouse, T. (1973). Boys on the bus. New York: Random House.

Didion, J. (1968). Slouching towards Bethlehem. New York: Dell.

Dillard, A. (1974). Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. New York: Harper’s Magazine Press.

Dorris, M. (1989). The broken cord. New York: Harper and Row.

Ehrenreich, B. (2001). Nickel and dimed: On (not) getting by in America. New York: Henry Holt and Company.

Emerson, G. (1976). Winners and losers. New York: Random House.

Fadiman, A. (1997). The spirit catches you and you fall down. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux.

Fadiman, A. (2000). Ex libris: Confessions of a common reader. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux.

Fisher, M.F.K. (1942). How to cook a wolf. New York: North Point Press.

Frazier, I. (1989). Great Plains. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux.

Friedan, B. (1913). The feminine mystique. New York: Dell.

Gaines, P. (1994). Laughing in the dark: From colored girl to woman of color. New York: Crown.

Goodman, E. (1979). Turning points. New York: Doubleday.

Goodman, E. (1981). Close to home. Greenwich, CT: Fawcett.

Harr, J. (1996). A civil action. New York: Random House.

Hobbs, H. E. (1981)The Moral Domain, dissertation, USC

Hobbs, H. E. (1973) Reading Process Affect, thesis Fresno State College

Hunter-Gault, C. (1992). In my place. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux.

Lewis, A. (1964). Gideon’s trumpet. New York: Random House.

Liebling, A.J. (1961). The earl of Louisiana. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Liebling, A.J. (1947). The wayward pressman. New York: Doubleday.

McGinniss, J. (1989). Blind faith. New York: Putnam.

McGinniss, J. (1983). Fatal vision. New York: Putnam.

McPhee, J. (1975). Pieces of the frame. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux.

Moore, M. (1993). A woman at war: Storming Kuwait with the U.S. Marines. New York: Scribner’s.

Orwell, F. (1952). Homage to Catalonia. New York: Harcourt Brace.

Plimpton, G. (1966). Paper lion. New York: Harper and Row.

Pyle, E. (1943). Here is your war. New York: Henry Holt and Company.

Rhodes, R. (1995 reprint). The making of the atomic bomb. New York: Touchstone.

Robertson, N. (1992). The girls in the balcony. New York: Random House.

Ross, L. (1964). Reporting. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Shilts, R. (1987). And the band played on: Politics, people and the AIDS epidemic. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Talese, G. (1993 reprint). Fame and obscurity. New York: Ivy Books (Random House).

Talese, G. (1992 reprint). Honor thy father. New York: Ivy Books (Random House).

Talese, G. (1995). Unto the sons. New York: Ballantine (Random House).

Thompson, H. (1971). Fear and loathing in Las Vegas: A savage journey to the heart of the American dream. New York: Vintage.

Thompson, H. (1966). Hell’s angels: A strange and terrible saga. New York: Ballantine.

Walker, A. (1988). Living by the word. San Diego: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich.

Wambaugh, J. (1984). Lines and shadows. New York: Morrow.

Wambaugh, J. (1974). The onion field. New York: Dell.

Wolfe, T. (1968). The electric Kool-Aid acid test. New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux.

Wolfe, T. (2001). Hooking up. New York: Picador (St. Martin’s Press).

Wolfe, T. (1979). The right stuff. New York: Bantam.

Woodward, B. (2002). The commanders. New York: Touchstone.

Woodward, B. (2002). Bush at war. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Woodward, B. (2000). Shadow: Five presidents and the legacy of Watergate. New York: Touchstone.

Woodward, B. & Armstrong, S. (1979). The brethren: Inside the Supreme Court. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Woodward, B. & Bernstein, C. (1974). All the president’s men. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Woodward, B. & Bernstein, C. (1994, second edition). The final days: The classic, behind-the-scenes account of Richard Nixon's dramatic last days in the White House. New York: Touchstone.


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