• Journalism I Course Syllabus

    Westside High School 2021-2022

    Instructor Information



    Office Location & Hours

    Dr. Clark


    Rm. 105, Tutoring: Weds. 230-330 or by appointment

    General Information


    This course is designed to study journalistic writing and yearbook production. This class will explore all aspects of journalism by concentrating on ethics, newsgathering, copywriting, photography, editing, and revision. It establishes the fundamentals of high school yearbook production through the study of photography, page design, and layout. The culminating project for the class is the planning, creation, and distribution of a school yearbook.

    Course Objectives

    • Illustrate ethical work ethic principles
    • Implement journalistic writing into all pieces
    • Demonstrate an understanding of yearbook as a business
    • Work collaboratively within time and budget constraints
    • Efficiently operate technology (Tree Ring design site, camera, editing, etc.)
    • Create, design, and disseminate a professionally theme-based yearbook

    Georgia Standards of Excellence (GSE)

    • Journalist Laws and Ethics
    • Journalistic Research and Writing
    • Technology and Visual Design
    • Publication Management and Organization (PMO)

    Expectations and Goals

    Students will be challenged with real world projects and assignments. High quality work is always expected. Students are expected to fully participate in each activity they are assigned. Students are also expected to participate in outside of class time activities and meetings. To produce a complete yearbook, students will be required to attend school activities to take photographs, perform interviews, and gather information to be used in the yearbook.

    Due to the nature of publishing deadlines, students will be expected to work periodically after school and to attend after school events to meet publishing deadlines. Excellent class attendance and a positive attitude are essential in working successfully in our team environment. If you are going to miss class or events, it is important that you communicate with me.

    Students will work with various types of technology to produce their publication. Students will apply computer skills and design principles to the production of yearbook pages. Students will learn copy writing techniques. Students will work as a team to meet deadlines.

    Professionalism: This course is unlike a typically structured content area class. You will be given freedoms in the course; thus, students will be held to high professional standards. Along with the required readings and assignments, students should make it a point to regularly log in to the Canvas course to check course announcements, posts and respond to assignments, and to communicate effectively with the class. Students are responsible for collecting information/handouts covered in class during any absence and for checking with classmates about any changes in scheduling or assignments that may have been made.

    Assignments: All assignments are expected by the class meeting time on due dates. Submission requirements will always be communicated prior. Journalistic writing is a course requirement. If the assignment has more than three grammatical/spelling errors, the assignment will need to be corrected before being graded. Points will be deducted for spelling and grammatical errors. Times New Roman font will be used and 12 pt. size. Plan for potential technical problems. If you will be absent the day an assignment is due, still plan to turn it in on time.

    Attendance Policy: As a part of your professional development, you are expected to attend (and be on time for) 100% of the class sessions.

    Richmond County approved documentation must be provided upon return to class to excuse an absence. Anything provided beyond immediate return will not be accepted. You are responsible for collecting information/handouts covered in class during any absence and for checking with classmates about any changes in scheduling or assignments that may have been made.

    In a case of inclement weather, adhere to the district schedule which can be accessed at rcboe.org.

    Course Materials

    Required Materials

    • Writing utensils (*please note that ink should be either black or blue)
    • Access to a computer
    • 2 inch 3-ring binder

    Time Requirement

    Yearbook staffers will be asked to spend extra time during lunch, before and after school, and during intersessions to help the publication meet the strict deadlines set by the publisher.

    Required Text

    There is no textbook for this course. Instead, we will use online resources and programs. In addition, Tree Ring software.

    Course evaluation

    Grading plan

    Grading in this course will be determined, in part, by the critical reading and activities regarding the course materials and contribution to class and group activities. The evaluation will focus on the ability to complete assigned pages (including photos and final copy), meeting deadlines for page submissions, and the ability to work collaboratively.

    You will earn points for the following achievements:

    Graded Item

    Percentage of Grade







    Grading scale

    A: 90 - 100

    B: 80 - 89

    C: 75 - 79

    D: 70 - 74

    F:  0 – 69

    Late work policy

    Journalism is a unique matriculation experience. Although students are collaborating to assemble one final product, they are also working with a reputable company and its deadlines. Because of this, late work is not expected.

    If work is submitted late, students will earn an “M” in the gradebook. Work will be accepted late up to two weeks past the due date. After the extension of two weeks, the highest the student can earn is a 60%.

    Additional Information and Resources

    Staff Contract


    Dr. Clark, ADVISER

    The yearbook publication is unlike any other class on campus.  Because we have the tremendous responsibility of preserving the memories of high school for every student who goes to our school, we have got to have an extraordinary team and a fair and firm set of rules.  Each staffer and his/her parents must read and sign this contract.  Staffers initial in the space provided and return it to the adviser.

    For Staff to Initial:

    _____1.  I understand the importance and cost of publication equipment and supplies and agree to use care when using all equipment.  Should I neglect or abuse equipment, I will pay for repair or replacement.

    _____2.  I understand that I will be asked to run errands, take photos, do interviews, etc. on campus during the class period assigned for yearbook, during lunch, and before and after school (*Note: Yearbook will NEVER conflict with other class meeting times).  I commit to displaying professional and ethical behavior while representing the yearbook staff.

    _____3.  I understand that I am responsible for learning all aspects of yearbook publication.  I will pay attention to instruction, take good notes, and apply what I have learned in class to my yearbook assignments.  I will get help if I am not sure what to do BEFORE I get behind.

    _____4.  I understand that my course grade will be based on the quality of my work, my participation in all yearbook activities (including outside of class) and my timeliness at meeting deadlines.

    _____5.  I understand that my attendance is vital to the work of yearbook publication.  If I must be absent, I will promptly make up any work, even if it means that I must work outside of class time.  I will also notify my team and the adviser (by email, if possible) of my absence.

    _____6.  I understand that it will be necessary for me to work outside of class time (before school, during lunch, after school) to complete yearbook production.  I will make the necessary arrangements to do so.

    _____7.  I will meet all deadlines assigned to me and will communicate immediately to the adviser and/or editors if circumstances beyond my control (i.e., inclement weather, cancellation of an event, failure of another staff member to complete his/her assignment, etc.) prevents my assignment from being completed.

    Please cut along the line below and return this signed statement on the second day of school.


    Staff/Student Signature: ___________________________________ Date: ____________________

     Parent Signature: ____________________________________            Date: ____________________ 





    Plagiarism Statement

    Research and borrowing from sources can support and add credibility to writing but take care to always give credit to all sources used or you will be guilty of plagiarism. Simply put, plagiarism is stealing. It is deliberately representing someone else's work or ideas as if they were your own. Plagiarism involves the use of another's work without giving full and proper acknowledgment.

    Plagiarism includes, but is not limited to the following examples:

    • If a student uses material or ideas or expressions from a newspaper, magazine, encyclopedia, book, movie, Cliffs Notes, book jacket, song lyrics, the Internet, computer software, another student's writing (past or present, including siblings), parents, or even notes were taken in class-this material must be acknowledged or the student is guilty of plagiarism.
    • If a student copies homework from another student (even if the copier puts the material into his or her own words), he or she is guilty of plagiarism if he or she does not provide clear, written, acknowledgment of the source of the material.
    • If a student copies or paraphrases the summer reading assignment from a present or past student, the copier is guilty of plagiarism
    • Also, any student who cooperates in plagiarism is equally guilty. If someone writes material for another student, both are guilty of plagiarism. If one student gives his work to another student to copy or put into his own words, both students are guilty of plagiarism.

    Acknowledgment means the sources of all borrowed material, expressions, and ideas must be identified. In general, it is better to say too much about your sources than too little. 

    Please cut along the line below and return this signed statement on the second day of school.


     Plagiarism Statement

    I have read the statement on plagiarism, and I understand what constitutes plagiarism.

    Staff/Student Signature: ___________________________________ Date: ____________________

    Parent Signature: ____________________________________            Date: ____________________ 








    Contact Preferences: Email (Outlook or Canvas) is my primary mode of contact. Be sure you use your student email and put the course you are taking “(i.e. Journalism.)” in the email header. Correspondences should include proper e-mail etiquette. E-mails should begin by addressing your professor by title and name “(Dr. Clark),” and end with a closing and your signature. Your message should be clear and concise so I can answer it effectively. We will meet in my room for any scheduled appointments but make sure our appointments have been confirmed.

    See the link for detailed etiquette information: https://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/professors-guide/2010/09/30/18-etiquette-tipsfor-e-mailing-your-professor (Links to an external site.)

    Tentative Course Schedule





    Week 1



    Canvas Scavenger

    Organizing workspace

    Discussing & setting schedules

    Roles & Responsibilities

    Week 2

    Journalism of Ethics

    SPJ Code of Ethics


    Understanding the “freedoms of speech”



    Code of Ethics Quiz

    Week 3

    The technology of Journalism


    Tree Ring Scavenger Hunt