SPRING 2016: CMAT 240-002 – Introduction to Journalism and Public Relations
Tues/Thurs, 12:30PM-1.45PM (TETC 110A)
Twitter handle: @vinitaagarwal | Website: www.drvinitaagarwal.com
Office: FH 272
Phone: 70083 (office)
Office Hours: T/TR, 11:00AM—12:15PM; 2:00PM—3:15PM and by appointment
CMAT 240: Introduction to Journalism and Public Relations is the gateway course to other
JPR track classes. This course does not meet university general education requirements;
therefore you are most likely a CMAT major or minor, and the class will be taught accordingly.
Proficiency in critically analyzing events and constructing clear and concise written arguments is
an essential skill for any academic or professional career path you may follow.
The major objective of this course is to teach you the principles, role, and practice of journalism
and public relations historically and in today’s society and to demonstrate how that knowledge
can be applied in the practice journalism and management of public relations programs. Students
who complete this course will be able to:
1. Understand the principles, practice, and contribution of journalism historically and in today’s
2. Identify what constitutes news and learn how to write a compelling news story by:
a. Effectively using different types of leads to create an accurate, interesting
b. Effectively using quotes, attribution, transitions, and avoiding editorializing in
c. Covering different categories of news beats and different journalistic forms
3. Understand the legal and ethical issues as they influence the practice of journalism
4. Define public relations and understand its historical development
5. Identify examples of public relations
6. Understand the theories and principles involved in communicating strategically on behalf of
an organization to relevant stakeholders
7. Understand public relations practice as ethical management function that applies
communication and organizational theory to the research, planning and evaluation of the
communication programs in a range of contexts from nonprofits to community relations
Lattimore, D., Baskin, O., Heiman, S. T., & Toth, E. L. (2008). Public relations: The profession
and the practice, 3rd
Ed. McGraw Hill.
Rich, C. (2010). Writing and reporting news: A coaching method, 7th
Ed. McGraw Hill.
Goldstein, N. (Ed.). (2015). The Associated Press stylebook and briefing on media law. Fully
revised and updated Ed. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books.
Any good dictionary (or familiarity with an online dictionary such as www.m-w.com)
Read a national, local, and regional daily (e.g., Washington Post, NY Times, Delmarva Times).
Additional readings as distributed by the instructor.
Class Attendance and Deadlines
Your attendance at each class meeting is vital to your successful completion of this course. Most
of our classes will involve in-class exercises that reinforce and review the concepts we have
covered. These exercises are very important and fundamental to learning the practice of
journalism and public relations. These will comprise a 20% of your overall course grade., which
means you can earn a good grade by attending class regularly and participating in these in-class
activities. Your completion of the in-class exercises constitutes your attendance and in-class
credit points for the day and hence cannot be made up—you must be present in class to earn the
points. It is your responsibility to check the Canvas website to make sure your in-class exercise
grades have been recorded. Please note: If you have a question/ concern about a daily
assignment grade, you have 1 week after the grade has been assigned to appeal. The
assignments will be discarded 1 week after they have been returned in class.
I expect you will come to class having read and thought about the readings. More importantly, as
students of the JPR core course and hopefully future journalists or PR practitioners, I expect you
to read a local paper and a national paper daily (print or online) and will often request you to
bring clippings/printouts of examples that illustrate our class material to share. Also in this spirit,
your final PR project will involve working in groups to simulate real world teamwork. Note that
in order to participate in class, you will need to use Canvas. Discussion threads, assignments,
supplemental readings, resources may be posted and/or completed there.
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 Canvas web page and my email address
(firstname.lastname@example.org) will be ways to access revised information and assignment
deadlines. You are expected to meet the revised deadlines and changes on Canvas that such
You are expected to use or be able to access your 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 www.salisbury.edu 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
Professional In-Class Ethics
Your positive contribution is pivotal to the success of this course. You will forfeit your in-class
participation points if you engage in disruptive, distracting, or discourteous behavior that
hampers class learning objectives, especially if these behaviors are repeated despite gentle
reminders. In general, those who excel in my course are well-prepared, proactive learners. This
means they come to class prepared with the material, their questions and examples, and are ready
to listen attentively. Therefore, in keeping the interests of those engaged in learning, whispering,
texting, using FB, Tweeting, or using other social media websites or completing work on other
class material will be treated as serious disruptions to a positive class environment on your
behalf. Do not start packing your books or leaving until I have dismissed the class for the day.
Leave your radios, tablets, cell phones, and other recreational media at home. If you are late, you
will not be given the opportunity to make up a missed quiz, participation assignment, or
attendance points. Class participation and professionalism will matter in your overall grades.
Habitual tardiness (missing attendance more than 4 times in the semester) will result in loss of
class participation points for all other times you are tardy.
CMAT 240 assignments provide a microcosm of a professional environment. In this spirit, all
your major assignments will be completed in pairs or groups. You will have the opportunity to
choose your own partner or group. Each group as a whole will be responsible for completing the
assignment. Each group member will share the same grade. In exceptional cases, individual
grading options may be discussed with me with prior notification on a per assignment basis.
CMAT 240 is a core JPR course. It provides the foundations to your advanced learning and thus
you are required to earn at least a “C” in order to move ahead with the curriculum. Keeping this
in mind, I expect your focus will be to lay a solid base to your learning and be a proactive
learning participant in class.
Toward this end, my goal as your professor for the semester is to provide the best possible
learning environment for our learning goals. I am available during my office hours and class time
to assist with your questions and learning objectives. My goal is to provide excellent resources to
those who want to excel as well as guidance to those who would like to clarify and understand
challenging material. As engaged learners, I expect everyone to come prepared to contribute
positively and productively to your learning process. I expect a sense of professionalism,
impeccable work ethics, a commitment to contribute to an exciting learning environment for
your classmates. Any accommodations made for a class member will be weighed against the
principle of fairness and justice to our overall learning objectives.
Deadlines, Late Policy, and Make-Ups
Deadlines are critical in journalism and public relations. It is good practice to save copies of your
work on your thumb drive and/or email it to yourself as a backup in case any system is down.
Remember that all students have access to a p drive to store your work on campus computers.
You may also use the labs in the TETC for storing drafts of your work. Hard copies of
assignments are due at the beginning of class. Assignments turned in after attendance is taken
will count as late. Late assignments will be penalized by a 50% deduction if turned in within 24
hours and will not be accepted after that. It is your responsibility to complete the exam on the
scheduled day. There will be no make-up assignments unless you can show legitimate cause
(medical) and inform me via email prior to the examination. Class participation and quizzes
cannot be made up. You are responsible for monitoring your grades. Please do so consistently
through the semester to be aware of your performance. All grade assignments will be taken as
final ONE WEEK (i.e. within the T/R week of our class meeting times) after the graded
assignment has been returned to the class. No grade change requests will be permitted after this
period. I will not discuss grades over email or in class. I will not grade assignments received via
email or Canvas or any other medium. You are responsible for making up any missed work or
content. Please be aware that each point earned makes a difference and will count greatly to your
overall grade in the semester. Understand that in-class participation points are just that: points for
in-class participation—and cannot be made up if you are not in-class.
Students with Special Needs
In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, students with bona fide disabilities will
be afforded reasonable accommodation. If you have a specific disability that qualifies you for
academic accommodations, please notify the instructor within the first week of class.
You are responsible to 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
www.salisbury.edu/Students/handbook/welcome.html. 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.
Policy on Inclement Weather
Should inclement weather result in classes being cancelled, 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 Canvas for
announcements related to our course if SU is open.
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.
For more information about the Writing Center’s hours and policies, visit the Writing Center or
its website at www.salisbury.edu/uwc .
Writing Across the Curriculum Statement
This course meets the goals of the “Writing Across the Curriculum” program.
Besides the in-class exercises, quizzes, Tweets, and participation points, you will take two exams
during the course. These may be multiple-choice and may also have open-ended questions.
Detailed breakup of these and the assignments below will be provided at appropriate times
during the semester. You also have the option of completing group projects for individual grades.
You must discuss with your group and notify me in advance if you are opting for individual
grading. Most assignments will require out of class work—meeting with your group, covering
the assignment, gathering material and quotes, meeting with the clients, and so on. A brief
description of the assignments you will complete is as follows:
In-class exercises, quizzes, Tweets, and participation points: In-class participation points can be
earned in four ways.
1. First, almost every class we will do an in-class exercise on the material covered in class.
This exercise will typically be discussed at the end of class and points are allotted for
completing it, i.e., as this is your first stab at the concepts, it will be a learning tool for
feedback. This will constitutes part of your participation points, as your presence in class and
completion of the learning exercise is an important component of your class participation.
2. Similarly, specified days, we have in-class quizzes on the AP Stylebook material. So, second,
whenever these are given, the quizzes will also be a part of your in-class participation points.
3. Third, we will gain some familiarity with Tweeting as a journalistic and public relations tool.
Your Tweet must connect with the content covered in our lecture, readings, or class
discussion and as related to a current news/public relations event in the media. Tweets are
submitted each week before Sunday, midnight. Each missing Tweet entry (i.e., not made by
its due date/time-stamp every week) will result in a 5-point deletion from the overall
participation points that you have earned at the end of the semester.
4. Fourth, your positive contribution to class discussions through sharing examples,
illustrations, and thoughts will always be a plus. If you are sick or miss a class, the in-class
participation points earned cannot be made up.
Media and PR Report: Starting around the 5-7th
week or so, each group will make a short
presentation of about 2—3 min. on a current event or PR artifact that has been in the news that
week. You will discuss the event/PR artifact, what makes it a well written journalistic piece/good
example or PR or a poorly written journalistic piece/bad example of PR. Specific critiques
illustrating both good or bad criteria are required.
Outside reporting assignment: This reporting assignment will require you to cover write a hard
news story on a topic and beat of your choice. You will write a story for a fictitious campus
newspaper, The Gulls Weekly Courier and Post. Fieldwork, interviewing, and independent
research will be required.
Mini-media kit: As part of the course, you will also learn to write the press release, a fact sheet,
and a backgrounder. While you will be given a topic to write the press release, you will be
required to do the research and field work necessary for writing a good release.
Nonprofit project proposal and presentations: Along with your group, you will conduct online
research (formative research and situational analysis) on a nonprofit organization. From the gaps
and need identified through your analysis, you will propose relevant tactics based on
theoretically informed and well-researched strategies to address the issue. A final report of your
theoretical foundations, formative research, situational analysis, and tactics proposed in a group
proposal will be submitted to me. A summary report will be presented to us as a class.
In-class exercises/Quizzes/Twitter/Participation 20%
Media and PR Report (20 pts.) 15%
Outside reporting assignment (35 pts.) 15%
Exam I & 2 (25 points each) 20%
Mini-media kit (50 pts.) 10%
Nonprofit Project Proposals and Presentation (50) 20%
A = 90.0% and above
B = 80.0% -- 89.9%
C = 70.0% -- 79.9%
D = 60.0% -- 69.9%
F = 59.9% and below.
Tentative Course Schedule
Spelling, Grammar, and Professionalism Always Counts!
(T): Introductions; Syllabus
(TR): Basic News Story (Ch. 2 |R); Leads and Nut Graphs (Ch. 7 | R) (Assign outside
(T): Leads and Nut Graphs (Ch. 7 | R); (AP stylebook)
(TR): Interviewing Techniques (Ch. 6 | R); Sources and Online Research (Ch. 5 | R);
Story Organization (Ch. 8 | R); (AP stylebook)
(T): Story Organization (Ch. 8 | R); (AP stylebook)
(TR): Crime and Punishment (Ch. 20 | R); (AP stylebook) [First Tweet due: Feb 13]
(T): Story Forms (Ch. 9 | R); Storytelling and Feature Techniques (Ch. 10 | R); (AP
(TR): Outside news story—In-class feedback on 1st
drafts. (AP Stylebook)
(T): Speeches, News Conferences, and Meetings (Ch. 18 | R)
(TR): Class Feedback/Critique of outside reporting assignment
(T): The Nature of Public Relations (Ch. 1 | L et al.); A Theoretical basis for Public
Relations (Ch. 3 | L et al.) (Outside reporting assignment due)
(TR): Media Relations (Ch. 9 | L et al.). Start Media Kit (Assign mini-media kit
(T): Mini-Media kit—Workshop
(TR): Mini-Media kit—Workshop
(T): Spring Break, No Class! J
(TR): Spring Break, No Class! J
(T): Mini-Media kit—Workshop
(TR): Research: Understanding Public Opinion (Ch. 5 | L et al.) (Mini-Media Kit Due)
(T): Exam 1 (Ch. 1, 3, 5, 9, L et al.)
(TR): Strategic Planning for PR Effectiveness (Ch. 6 | L et al.); Assign nonprofit
(T): Strategic Planning for PR Effectiveness (Ch. 6 | L et al.)
(TR): Community Relations (Ch. 11 | L et al.)
(T): Nonprofit Assignment Work Day
(TR): Evaluating Public Relations Effectiveness (Ch. 8 | L et al.)
(T): Evaluating Public Relations Effectiveness (Ch. 8 | L et al.)
(TR): Employee Communication (Ch. 10 | L et al.)
(T): Nonprofit Proposal Workshop
(TR): Nonprofit Proposal’s due and project presentations
(T): Nonprofit Proposal’s due and project presentations
(TR): Nonprofit Proposal’s due and project presentations [last Tweet due 8th
(T): Exam II (Ch. 6, 8, 10, 11, L et al.)
Final Exam Week: Tuesday, May 17th
, 2016, 10:45AM—1:15PM; Tweets Due
v Important Semester Dates: Jan 25th
: Session dates | Jan 25th
: First day of classes|
: Add/drop| Mar 14th
– Mar 18th
: Spring Break | Apr 1st
: Last day to
Withdraw with a grade of (W)| May 10th
: Last day of classes| May 11th
: Reading day| May
: Finals week| May 18th
Due Dates: At-A-Glance
§ AP Quiz: Feb 2, Feb 4, Feb 9, Feb 11, Feb 16, & Feb 18
§ Media and PR report: Per dates assigned to individual groups in class
§ Outside reporting assignment: Mar 1
§ Exam 1: Mar 29 | Exam 2: May 10
§ Mini-media kit: Mar 24
§ Nonprofit proposals and presentation: Apr 28—May 5
§ Tweets due (hardcopy): May 17