Fall 2013

Instructors: Professors Vicki Michaelis and Welch Suggs

Teaching assistant: Hyacinth Empinado

Class meeting: 1:25 p.m.-2:15 p.m. MWF in Journalism 241 and 242 for lab sections, Journalism 402 for lectures

Office: Michaelis, Journalism 234; Suggs, Journalism 248

Office hours: Michaelis, 3-4 p.m. MW or by appointment; Suggs, 1-5 p.m. Th


Class web site:


Our goals are to have you able to:

  • Understand basic style, form and guidelines followed in written coverage of sports events.
  • Track and interpret statistics to inform sports event coverage.
  • Identify and access sources vital to good sports reporting.
  • Conduct interviews in a variety of settings, from sidelines to press conferences to locker rooms.
  • Understand the concept of a second-day story angle and apply it to sports events and breaking news.
  • Write blog items that shed new light on a news-making topic or person in sports.
  • Cover a sports event on deadline, using multiple platforms, including social media, infographics, photos and video.
  • Produce every element of event coverage, from advances to running game stories to follows.
  • Find, report and write a timely and interesting sports profile.


Field assignments (60% of your grade, listed below): In the classroom this semester, we will cover many of the things you need to know to effectively cover sports events. But only by putting that knowledge into practice in real-world conditions will you be able to grasp more fully the skills you need to be a sports reporter. At events such as high school and UGA football games, you will keep statistics and play-by-play, Tweet and blog, conduct interviews, gather photos and video, and write and produce multimedia coverage on deadline. The class schedule contains details on the field assignments. Please carefully check your schedule against the planned events within the class schedule, and let us know ASAP about any conflicts. If you have conflicts, you are responsible for letting us know in a timely manner and for negotiating a possible make-up assignment. Please note that requests for make-up assignments might not be granted.

  • Deadline statistics exercise: 5 points
  • Advance: 5 points
  • Deadline game story: 5 points
  • Live social media coverage: 5 points
  • Photos: 2.5 points
  • Video: 2.5 points
  • Team event coverage: 10 points
  • Profile: 10 points
  • Running game story and write-through: 15 points

All field assignments except the statistics exercise, the photos and the video will be graded according to how much editing your work would need before being published by a professional media outlet, as outlined below.

  • A (90-100%): Needs only minor word usage and/or punctuation editing.
  • B (80-89%): Needs some structural editing but no additional reporting.
  • C (70-79%): Needs some structural editing and some additional reporting.
  • D (60-69%): Basic framework in place but needs significant additional reporting.
  • F: Assignment needs to be entirely redone.

Class participation (15% of your grade): We expect you to show up and be heard. Be aware that the days when we have in-class lab exercises (see schedule) are among the most critical to attend. Per the attendance policy restated below, you are allowed three excused absences for the semester. Use these as you would sick days at a job. In other words, you should save them for when you are sick. Unless you have a documented, major medical or family emergency, you will be penalized for any absences beyond three.

Homework assignments (10% of your grade): You have 10 homework assignments this semester, as detailed in the class schedule. Each is worth one point. They will be graded on a pass-fail basis. If you complete the assignment on time, you pass and receive one point toward your overall grade. If you don’t, you fail and receive zero points.

Blogs (10% of your grade): You will be assigned a beat for the duration of the semester. You must stay up-to-the-minute on breaking news, competition results and trends on your beat. When breaking news happens, be ready to discuss coverage strategy and ideas in class. Also be ready to discuss various course topics as they relate to what is happening currently on your beat. The five blogs you write for class will be items related to your beat. Each item should be at least 250 words and contain at least two hyperlinks. Other specifics about blogs will be discussed in Week 2 of the class. In addition to writing blog items, you will peer-edit the items written by your fellow beat reporters through comments posted below each item. Each blog item and each set of peer edits is worth one point. They will be graded pass-fail, as outlined in the homework section above. Your designated lab professor will schedule an appointment with you to individually critique your blog items at some point during the semester.

Quizzes (5% of your grade): We will administer five quizzes (on the days noted in the class schedule). The quizzes primarily will cover AP sports style but also might contain questions about current events in sports and/or the grammatical guidelines for sports stories, discussed in class. Each quiz is worth one point. They also will be graded pass-fail. If fewer than 75% of the students in class fail any one quiz, we will cancel the results of that quiz for everyone and administer a quiz additional to those listed in the class schedule.


AP Stylebook (which some of you will have from 3410) OR subscription to AP Stylebook online OR AP Stylebook 2012 app for iOS or Droid

A laptop computer or tablet with wi-fi access

A Twitter account solely for class use

A still/video camera and an audio recorder that meet the Grady College standards outlined below. These online digital literacy workshops will help familiarize you with how to use your camera and recorder in your reporting and storytelling.

Audio recorders must permit the student to: • Monitor sound as it is being recorded; • Manually adjust recording levels; • Connect an external microphone; • Produce WAV or MP3 file formats, • Transfer files without proprietary software. The following models are recommended: • Zoom H1 Handy Portable Digital Recorder (Approx. $100) Tascam DR-05 (Approx. $100) • Tascam DR-07MKII (Approx. $120) • Zoom H2 or H2n Handy Portable Stereo Recorder (Approx. $200) • Zoom H4n Handy Portable Digital Recorder (Approx. $300) Cameras must meet the following minimum specifications: • Minimum optical 3x zoom lens • Minimum 6 MP resolution for still images • Built-in flash that can be turned off • Storage of images in JPG file format • Compact Flash or SD media • Record video in MOV, AVI, MPEG-4 or H.264 format at a resolution of 720p The Department of Journalism does not recommend camera models for purchase. has one of the most extensive databases of cameras with features and reviews and is easily searchable. Go to: The URL presents the search function with needed options already selected.

Students are responsible for reading the manual for their cameras and understanding how their cameras operate.


We will post links to online reading assignments on the class web site. Please check for updates at the beginning of every week. The online readings are required. Unannounced reading quizzes might be given.


1. All assignments and exercises are to be turned in by the designated deadline, unless we announce otherwise.

2. We will not accept assignments turned in after deadline. If you miss deadline, you get a zero for the assignment. No exceptions, unless you provide documented proof of a major medical or other emergency. Problems with technology or other equipment do not constitute excusable emergencies. If we are working on a tight deadline, you are responsible for testing your equipment ahead of the deadline.

3. Your assignments must be written to the assigned length. We will deduct 10% from the assignment grade for stories that are more than 10% shorter or longer than the assigned length.

4. Your assignments must conform to AP style. We will deduct half a percentage point from your assignment grade for each style error.

5. You must avoid factual errors, including misspelled names. The first one you make will automatically reduce your assignment grade by half. Any others, throughout the duration of the semester, will result in a grade of zero for the assignment.

6. You must turn off your cell phones at the start of every class. Any exceptions must be approved by a professor. If your phone rings, buzzes or pings during class, it will count against your class participation grade.

7. We will be working with social media and visiting web sites as part of our class work and discussion. But if you are online for personal reasons during class, it will be assessed as an absence for that class.

8. You are allowed three unchallenged absences during the semester. Any more will count against your class participation grade. If you have a major medical or other emergency that results in more than three absences, you must provide documentation. You must notify your lab professor by e-mail, at least 10 minutes before the start of class, on days you will be absent.

9. While you are in class, and while you are representing the class, you are not a sports fan. Leave your loyalties at home. Do not wear team logos or any other sports-related clothing or other items to any event we attend or any interview you conduct for this class.

10. Be aware that any form of plagiarism will trigger harsh consequences, possibly including a failing grade for the class and expulsion from the University. If you are unclear on what constitutes plagiarism, please check with us.


1. As a University of Georgia student, you have agreed to abide by the University’s academic honesty policy, “A Culture of Honesty,” and the Student Honor Code. All academic work must meet the standards described in “A Culture of Honesty” found at: Lack of knowledge of the academic honesty policy is not a reasonable explanation for a violation. Questions related to course assignments and the academic honesty policy should be directed to the instructor.

2. The University of Georgia is committed to providing equal educational opportunities for qualified students with disabilities in accordance with state and federal laws including the American Disabilities Act. Help for disabled students is available from the Disability Resource Center. More information is available at If you have a particular issue that needs to be accommodated, please share it with the instructor as early as possible in the semester.

3. Students who train or use service animals should be aware of UGA policy. A FAQ is available at

4. The course syllabus is a general plan for the course; deviations announced to the class by the instructor may be necessary.


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