Course Syllabus

profile.jpgTues & Thurs, 2:00-3:15 pm, Rm 380 BRMB

Instructor: Dr. Dale Cressman

Office Hours: Tues & Thurs, 9:30-11:00 am or by arrangement

Phone: 801-422-1686 | Email: 

Office:  BRMB 310


Course Overview

Welcome! You will be introduced to the foundations of journalism, including effective writing, history of journalism, an appreciation of news organizations' role and value in societies they serve, and diversity in journalism.

Course Learning Outcomes

Journalism Fundamentals Students will be able to define the characteristics, purposes, problems, and potential of journalism.

Historical context and role Students will understand the historical context of journalism's evolution and how that history has shaped contemporary practice and the role it plays in a democracy.

Writing Students will be introduced to news writing styles so that they might build upon these skills in Comms 321 or Comms 325.

Diversity Students will understand how diversity, inclusion and justice--whether based on race, gender, or sexual orientation--contributes to more complete and accurate reportage.


Course Requirements

  • The course grade will be based on the following elements: Attendance & participation in class learning activities; required readings and associated assignments; class discussions, whether in person or on discussion boards; short essays; peer reviews. We will watch a number of videos and movies, which I hope will be both enjoyable and educational.
  •  All students in the School of Communications are required to have a computer. You should consult guidance on the School of Communications website for details.
  • Review University and School policies here 

Learning Community

We come together at an uncertain and stressful time. My hope is to make this class as enjoyable and stress-free as possible. I will always try to error on the side of generosity, giving the benefit of the doubt to students. I hope you do the same for me. While I hope this will alleviate any anxieties, my expectation is that students will also recognize this comes with a responsibility: to attend and fully participate in learning activities (whether they be in-class learning activities, readings, or assignments). In essence, I hope we are able to come together as a learning community, that we will work together and learn together. This will require each of us to perform acts of generosity. What I mean by that is, we must be willing to both contribute to and learn from our shared experience. As a community, learning should be the primary goal. This means the class is not intended to be a transactional activity in which you do what I ask and, in return, you get a grade. Obviously, a final grade must be earned and, at the end of the semester, designated. However, my invitation to you is that you trust me enough to put your learning first. Be curious. Be inquisitive. Be open. However, also be willing to fail, then learn from any failures. If you are present for our learning activities, and earnestly striving to learn, not only will you be more likely to find the experience more enjoyable, but you will also be more likely to be pleased with your final grade. 

Although typically a part of my syllabi, I want to particularly stress mental health this semester, as many among us are struggling during difficult times. Please do let me know if you are having difficulty. Please, please, don't just disappear on me; if you are unable to come to class, please let me know. As one personally experienced with mental health challenges, I promise you are safe in making any disclosures to me. I am here to help you the best I can. 

Another aspect of contributing to a learning community is being responsible for the well-being of your colleagues and instructor. By this, I mean, behaving responsibly for the health of all members of our community. The Delta variant of Covid is highly transmissible and virulent, especially for those who are unvaccinated. Please follow the admonitions of the First Presidency and President Worthen to be vaccinated and to wear masks in the classroom, and practice social distancing. If you do not feel well, or have been exposed to, or been tested positive for Covid, please stay home (and let me know). Please think of these requests in terms of the generosity alluded to above.

Normally, I lean heavily into small group discussions. However, given the unpredictability of conditions this semester, I have tried to design (and am prepared to revise) learning activities that do not require physical proximity. We will begin by meeting in the classroom, however, there may be times we meet virtually instead.

About your professor

Before becoming a professor I worked as a journalist, mostly in television news, although I began in print journalism. I had marvelous experiences as a student with the Daily Universe and KBYU-TV and KBYU-FM. When I graduated, I had offers from both the Deseret News and WSBT-TV in South Bend, Indiana. For some reason, I went the television route, and went to South Bend. If you're interested, you can find out more about me in my bio.

Course outline

Week 1: Course overview & Evolution of the American Press

Week 2: Evolution of the American Press

Week 3: Newswriting

Week 4: Newswriting

Week 5: Diversity and Civil Rights Coverage

Week 6: Diversity and Civil Rights Coverage

Week 7: The Business Imperative--News as Entertainment

Week 8: Pivotal Moments in Journalism History

Week 9: Broadcast Journalism History

Week 10: Monitoring Power

Week 11: The Pentagon Papers

Week 12: Punditry

Week 13: News Literacy

Week 14: Watergate

Week 15: Conclusion: What is Journalism For?

Course Summary:

Date Details Due