Information Gathering (fall 2017)
11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays
Known officially as jour3090, this is a Grady College class on how to find stuff out and how to verify information. In other words, this is a class on fact finding -- with an emphasis on developing in you "a document state of mind." Fake news is our enemy. Well, that and light beer. We'll cover the ethical use of interviewing, observation, documents and data to cover news stories for production across all media. Again, this is a class on reporting, not writing or producing stories. Other classes take care of that. Also, there's no textbook to buy (you're welcome), except what's avalable online and free.
Check this page for updates. Also monitor the ELC page as some readings will magically appear there, plus I reserve the right to give a pop quiz on any reading you were to have done before class. That's also where you'll upload assignments. Finally, some semesters I include pop news quizzes to ensure you're keeping up with the news. I'll let you know early on if this is one of those semesters.
The out-of-class exercises matter (see class weights above). In a typical semester there are four, perhaps more, and not turning them in on time, or in the correct format, equals a zero for that assignment. It can be the difference between an A and a B+. Do not ask to turn it in late. Most are uploaded to ELC, usually in pdf format. Waiting to the last minute to upload on deadline and the system crashing on you is not my fault, it's yours for cutting it that close.
Laptops and Mobile Devices
See below, after the class calendar, for the policy on these. Basically don't have them out once class begins. The only exception of for someone who is an official notetaker for another student via approved University guidelines.
CLASS CALENDAR (still under construction as I adapt stuff to a fall semester)
Tuesday: We meet, intro the class, go over the syllabus. and I drink coffee while amusing myself at your expense. Then we all leave.
Week 2 (8/21)
Tuesday: Law & Ethics and the tension between the two (what we legally can do, versus what we professionally should do). Open records, open meetings, the Georgia law. Also, online slides about Georgia law. A rare time when I put slides online.
Thursday: More on law and ethics and what makes journalist's tick.
Tuesday: Tentatively, we have a guest, Steve Inskeep of NPR. Will know more soon.
Thursday: More on law & ethics, catch up anything not covered last week. Reporters Committee open government guide. Maybe also the SPJ Code of Ethics. Other codes of ethics. Be ethical. It's what separates us from fake news, well that and being truthful.
Tuesday: A return to the basics: Observation, Interviewing, Documents and Data. May change. Depends on how far we got above.
Thursday: More on the basics above, including story idea generation. Backgrounding people. Your assignment, due via ELC upload to the appropriate folder, is to background a UGA professor (not me, otherwise everyone does it) using only online, digital sources. Be creative in what you find, but remember -- online only. Put the info in a single PDF (not a Word file, so remember that anything other than a PDF will not count for credit). Give me five facts you found on that prof that might be useful should that faculty member find him or herself thrust into the news. Upload to folder called Professor Backgrounder. This is due by noon Monday, 9/11. (I recommend doing it sooner as ELC can be persnickety and if it crashes as you upload at the last minute, that's your fault). The dropbox should be under "tools" on your ELC page for our class. Oh, by the way, this site has some stuff that goes beyond Googling someone. I don't if the links are live, and it's overkill for this project. Put here to help.
Week 5 (9/11)
Tuesday: Where story ideas come from. Maybe more on backgrounding people, talk about your backgrounding adventures.
Thursday: We begin with the Verification Handbook (free, online). For today, read chapters 1-5 in the basic text. Also, check out VerificationJunkie for tools. We'll talk about some of them in class as we go along. WARNING: Sometimes the handbook seems garbled on your browser. Just zoom out a bit (Cntrl-minus) and it should straighten up and read right.
Week 6 (9/18)
Thursday: Verification chapters 9-10. More stuff, just like the previous stuff, only more so. Maybe covering speeches. Also make sure you understand the difference between On The Record and Off The Record and so on.
Week 7 (9/25)
Tuesday: I am out of town this day. No class. You're welcome.
Thursday: Changing as we speak. I think we have a Googly guest this day. More to come.
Week 8 (10/2)
Tuesday: Review for first exam.
Thursday: Exam 1 (tentative, but save the date). I love lists, I love questions that ask what's not on a list. A lot of material comes from the slides shown in lecture or linked above, or stuff a guest speaker said, and a lot of stuff on this first exam comes from Georgia open records/meetings law. Bring a pencil. I'll supply scantron forms. Expect 40 or 50 questions, about half multiple choice, half true-false, and half something else.
Tuesday: Crime and Punishment week. Read this recent piece about publishing mugshots because we all love a good mugshot. ALSO, due 10/13, 5 p.m., use this site and follow the directions on ELC for Crime Exercise 1. Essentially use the map site of crimes, find the one nearest where you live, and report the info mentioned on the ELC dropbox (that's under tools on our class page, I believe). Helps if you allow the site to geolocate you. Remember this is journalism. Ya know, deadlines. No late work accepted. Must be in PDF format or it won't count.
Thursday: More cops and courts.
Week 10 (10/16)
Week 11 (10/23)
Fall Football Break is this Friday, because being UGA, we break for football.
Week 12 (10/30)
Tuesday: Local government stuff this week. I'll talk about covering meetings and such, using the ACC agenda site for examples, or the ACC overall site. ALSO ... your assignment is use the Tax Assessor site above to look up where you live (by owner, by address, whatever works, play with it until you get it right), get the owner name and current value, create a PDF and provide me with that owner, the value, and of course the actual address (no Word docs allowed, just PDF, otherwise it's marked as not done). Upload that to a dropbox folder on our ELC page called Tax Assignment or something close to that. You'll find the dropbox under "tools" on our class ELC page. If for some reason you can't find your own address (live outside Clarke, for example), you may be able to get it via the qpublic database for that county, or you can choose some other address in Clarke County like a friend's place. Do not wait until the last minute and tell me the system screwed up. Get it done early to make sure. Due by 5 p.m. Friday. As always, no late work accepted. This is journalism. We have deadlines. I shouldn't have to stress this.
Thursday: More on local government, perhaps some on covering politics and political campaigns.
I may discuss this in class. Put here so I have the link available.
Week 13 (11/6)
Tuesday: Special topics, likely to be covering non-profits, in which I'll talk a bit about the outside assignment. Due Friday at 5 p.m. via ELC to a Folder named Nonprofit Exercise. You will need to go to GuideStar, create an account (no cost, I'll walk you through this on Tuesday). Once done, I'd go to the Advanced Search. Your task, to find an interesting nonprofit in your hometown (or where you live now if you're from outside the U.S.) and as we've done in other exercises, put information and upload it in a PDF to the correct folder by deadline. What info? Find the latest 990 available and report back the name of the nonprofit (or foundation), its EIN (employer identification number), its total assets for that one year, and the top salary paid (if any) to an individual. You can also get some good non-profit stuff via ProPublica. Feel free to use it instead.
Week 14 (11/13)
Tuesday: Data journalism, writing with numbers, stuff like that.
Thursday: More math stuff.
Week 16 (11/27)
Tuesday: Review for second exam.
As far as I am concerned, Week 17 is a myth and does not exist. We're done. And for us this is true as in rare UGA form the powers that be have deemed 12/5 is a "Friday" in terms of classes, despite it being on a Tuesday.
brief trump on fake news
Case studies: print and vid of verification
Verification Checklist video, 27 minutes
Audio on documents state of mind
Stuff I may Show
FirstDraftNews (essential tools for newsgathering and verification)
Ethics and verification via YouTube, about 15 minutes long
Melissa Click's emails
Poynter videos on ethics
Seven election hoaxes, via FirstDraft
Vid on Twitter Lists
TED talk on fact vs fiction online, better later in talk.
Most Quoted Man in News video
Goats. Go here, look for 2014 tab, June 3 meeting, watch video and click on #15.
on Crime reporting talk 40 minutes long
Gizmodo on pix of cops
Good on photographing police
Golden opportunity, via Colbert
and good graph on the dangers, via Slate
maybe use this Poynter course?