For my second A-option assignment, I chose to do the writing assignment collection. My first order of business was to search the internet for examples of writing assignments in upper-level journalism courses. Surprisingly, a simple search provided me with many different examples from different nationwide colleges and universities. The first resource I found was on Penn State University’s website. Here, they listed several writing assignments in order of when they are due throughout the semester. The assignments start with a simple observation assignment, where students must pick an unknowing person to observe while they work in a public place, then write a 500-word story about said observations. Other interesting assignments include an interview, where students are simply required to interview someone whose work they find interesting or important. Further assignments involve observing local happenings and reporting on them. These include attending a public speech, interviewing either a firefighter or local police officer about the operation of their unit, attending and covering a local court hearing, and covering a meeting of a local or state government body or agency. All of these assignments have roughly the same requirements, as far as length in both words and pages, and are meant to help students see and practice real-world application of their skills.
Another resource I discovered was actually a WordPress account, run by a professor of journalism at San Jose State University. This particular blog was for the Print, Online, and Magazine Writing course at the university. Through some investigation, I found several assignments that were unique to this particular course. First of which was a short news story; students were given a specific topic in class, then prompted to write 300 to 350 words on that given topic. The second assignment was quite similar to the previous interview assignment, however, students are prompted to interview someone, then write a profile of that person, which would include a description of them as well as direct quotes. A third assignment, which I also found quite interesting, was a column commentary assignment. In this assignment, students are asked to create their own topical commentary, personal meditation, or slice of life column of 200 to 250 words. This assignment, as it’s stated, is meant to be one in which to express yourself.
In addition to discovering these insightful websites, I was also able to ask Dr. Camille Broadway about some of her own writing assignments during my interview with her a few weeks ago. Dr. Broadway was happy to share some of these topics with me, which were quite similar to the topics I found in my internet search. She first gave some examples of prompts for the writing and reporting classes. Of many, she explained that common topics are covering a speech or government meeting, looking through internet databases to find information related to the local community, and non-writing based assignments like producing stories, blogs, and running a Twitter site. The thinking skills side had much fewer, with Dr. Broadway giving one example: finding a mass communication issue and then applying a radical viewpoint to it. In addition to these writing assignment topics, Dr. Broadway also gave me a copy of one of her rubrics, a rubric she explains is used for almost all of her writing assignments. The most important item on this rubric: fact errors, which amount to a 35 point deduction each.
Overall, this research showed me many things about the writing that will occur in this discipline. First, I now know that most of the assignments are field-based, which is good considering the nature of the field. I also learned a lot from the grading rubric given to me by Dr. Broadway. She may only be one professor, but the rubric gives a good idea of what most journalism professors are going to look for in student’s assignments.