Life Magazine 1952 cover

The Essentials

Instructor: Michael O’Donnell, Associate Professor
Office: 468 OEC
Phone: 651-962-5281
E-mail: mjodonnell@stthomas.edu
Office hours: Noon - 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday
Class time: 5:30 p.m. - 7:15 p.m. Monday and Wednesday
Classroom: OEC 303

LEARNING ACTIVITIES | GENERAL SCHEDULE | TEXT | GRADING | 
HOW TO SUBMIT YOUR WORK | CLASS POLICIES | PDF SYLLABUS

ABOUT THIS CLASS

Nonfiction magazine writing is much like other journalistic writing, only more so. It requires more care in selecting a subject, more reporting, more attention to story structure and more independence in your working habits. Our goal is to learn a process for writing and selling these kinds of articles. It isn’t the only process you could use, but assuming that you are new to magazine writing, it’s a process you will be expected to follow closely, step by step.

We will learn by doing. We’ll look at magazines and the articles in them. We’ll come up with story ideas. We’ll research and report, and we’ll write a few magazine articles. A final goal is for each student to produce one magazine story worthy of publication.

This is a writing-intensive class! Occasionally I’ll have a student who tells me he really doesn’t like to write. I once had a student tell me he didn’t read books. If you are either of these students, this class is not for you.

Learning activities

Most of what you learn will not come during your class periods. You will hear a lot and see some things in class, but 90 percent of your learning will come from the activities you perform outside of class. Our principal learning activities will be:

  1. Read and study the assigned materials.
  2. Be prepared to take the assigned quizzes.
  3. Be attentive in class. Come prepared to contribute to the discussion, then join in without being asked.
  4. Fulfill the writing projects to the best of your ability.
  5. Attend coaching sessions with the instructor. Listen to what he has to say cheerfully and with a minimum of argument.
  6. Discuss the writing projects with your colleagues and with the whole class.
  7. When asked to edit what a classmate has written, be thorough and offer constructive advice.
  8. Do not take criticism personally.

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General schedule

The general outline will be lecture and discussion on Mondays to introduce the principal themes, with Wednesdays to work with me on your projects, take quizzes, and review and evaluate your work. On some weeks, we will meet individually rather than hold formal class sessions.

This class requires responsibility and initiative on your part, just as magazine writing takes in the real world. What you do outside of class, working on your own to gather information and write your stories, will determine how well you do.

TEXT

Guide to Writing Magazine Nonfiction

We have one required text for this class:

YOU DO NOT NEED A KINDLE TO BUY AND READ THIS BOOK! Amazon offers free downloads that allow you to read Kindle books on your PC, Mac or smart phone.

RECOMMENDED BOOKS

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Grading

Your performance will be measured by these activities:

See the assignments page for detailed instructions.

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HOW TO SUBMIT YOUR WORK

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CLASS POLICIES: READ THIS TWICE

Arthur Miller

“My conception of the audience is of a public each member of which is carrying about with him what he thinks is an anxiety, or a hope, or a preoccupation which is his alone and isolates him from mankind.”

— Arthur Miller

PDF SYLLABUS

You can view an electronic syllabus in Portable Document Format (PDF).

Any time you see the “.pdf” suffix on a file, you’ll need Acrobat to read that file. If you need Acrobat for your own computer, go to www.adobe.com to download it for free.

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COMMUNICATION AND JOURNALISM 350 | UNIVERSITY OF ST. THOMAS | © 2010
INSTRUCTOR: Michael O’Donnell | mjodonnell@stthomas.edu | 651-962-5281