jour 5300
Public Affairs Reporting

Dr. Barry Hollander
barry@uga.edu

 

What's public affairs? Affairs that happen in the public? And if so, is there video? No, though that'd make for a helluva good story. This class is about holding accountable such major institutions as government and business, and covering stuff that affects people's lives.

Because it's my class, we'll focus on documents and, in particular, data journalism. Also, math and good writing. Expect a lot of projects, a lot of work outside of class. This ain't 3410.

We'll learn several online tools along the way, just because. As there's only a small writing paperback as a text, I'll spend some days lecturing on stuff that, yes, you'll be tested on -- how government works, etc.

At the moment, I see Tuesdays focused on writing and my lectures on government stuff. Thursdays will focus on tools. This may all go out the window.



Texts

Writing Tools by Clark, a great little writing book, and cheap. You're welcome. There will be lots of readings from (free) sites instead of a traditional textbook. I assume you still have your AP Stylebook.

You will also need (free):

* A Google account for accessing documents and Fusion Tables.

* A Wordpress account, because you may need it.

* A Twitter account, set to public viewing, to practice tweets and see how journalism orgs use it.

* A bit.ly account to practice tweets and by using shortened URLs.

* And just for the hell of it, a Storify account.

* Others, as I invent them.

Grades

We will have a number of major and minor assignments throughout the semester. More to come, but here's a warning of some of the things we may be doing:

Tests. As I said above, I'll lecture about aspects of covering "public affairs" and you'll dutifully write these down in a notebook, memorize them, and spew them back on a few small tests.

Who Owns Downtown? A major data project in which you will investigate who owns properties downtown, who owns the businesses on those properties. The idea is to build a database and perhaps a map of this. Indeed, we'll probably pluck out some good ones and look at how they've changed hands over time. You may create a timeline using something like

Neighborhood Immersion. You'll be assigned, possibly as teams, a neighborhood to adopt. This is an example of bottom-up reporting. You'll meet actual living breathing people. Knock on doors. Do stories that matter to them. Create stories and multimedia project to put online, probably on Blogger or Wordpress.

Meetings. Yes, you'll attend two public meetings and do stories. More later. ACC, probably.

Dossier. You'll stalk, via public records, a public official. You'll create a dossier on that individual based on available records. More later.

Data out the Wazoo. You're going to learn how to analyze data via spreadsheets and we'll do some mapping, probably via Google Fusion Tables.

Aggregation. Pick a topic you love (please, not UGA sports). Create a blog that focuses on it. Feed it daily. In other words, you're going to aggregate what other people are doing and saying on the topic, adding your own info. I'll show you how later. My favorite big one is The Wire. Note how their writers sprinkle into their narrative various links, but add their own voices to the story.

Attendance

Required. There are no excused or unexcused absences. You get three freebies. On the fourth absence you're dropped one letter grade, meaning the best you can do is a B. Next miss, a C is the best you can do, and if you're less than perfect that C is probably lower. We can keep going to Z-.

 

When are Meetings?

ACC Government | Meeting stuff
ACC Schools | Board Meetings

University Council

Apps We'll
Play With

TimelineJS
Excel
Google Fusion Tables
more to come

 

Class Schedule

Check often because I add links for you to read as the week progresses. I'm cruel that way. No excuses for walking in and not having checked the web page for some late-breaking assignment.

Early in the semester we'll zoom through the writing text by Clark and I'll do a bunch of lecture stuff about covering government. Yes, there'll be a test on the lecture stuff. And just about every week there will be a day you are expected to bring in a story that illustrates something from the chapters of the writing text. More on this in class.

Again, watch this calendar carefully. A lot of small projects will be assigned throughout the semester, such as covering a meeting by a certain date, or doing a small project involving some online tool.

Week 1
8/18
 

Intro class. See what you remember from 3410, with writing in class and out. Keep in mind the dates to the left are the MONDAY of the week, but we meet Tuesdays/Thursdays. Also note the various accounts you are to create. Get it done.

Send that fact-sheet-based story to my email (barry <at> uga <dot> edu). Due by 9 p.m. Tuesday, 8/19. Best if pasted into body of email, but attachment is okay too.

 

Week 2
8/25
 

More 3410/writing remedial stuff all week, if needed. Also:

Tuesday: Read Tools 1-5. Bring in a news story (not an essay, not an editorial, but hard news story) for discussion that uses, or fails to use, one or more of the tools. Hard copy -- NOT printed off in lab at the last minute. Be prepared to discuss it in class.

Thursday: By now have all of the accounts set up listed to the left (Twitter, bit.ly, etc.). Yes, I'll be asking.

Week 3
9/1

 

Tuesday: Read Tools 6-10. Bring in article as before. On all Tool readings below, you are expected to bring in an article. Save me typing it over and over.

Thursday:

Week 4
9/8
 

Tuesday: Tools 11-20

Thursday:

Week 5
9/15
 

Tuesday: Tools 21-30.

Thursday:

Week 6
9/22
 

Tuesday: Tools 31-40.

Thursday: No class.

Week 7
9/29
 

Tuesday: Tools 41-50. Finishing up Tools.

Thursday:

Week 8
10/6
 

Tuesday: Tools no more, but we'll talk about lessons learned from the writing tools text. Write a one-page, single-spaced 200-word piece on what tools worked best for you and why. Bring to class Tuesday. Be prepared to discuss.

Thursday:

 

Week 9
10/13
   
Week 10
10/20
   
Week 11
10/27
   
Week 12
11/3
   
Week 14
11/10
   
Week 15    
11/17    
Week 16
11/24
  Thanksgiving Break. Go break a turkey.
Week 17
12/1
   
Week 18
12/8
  No class for us. Tuesday is a Friday in UGA's grand yet confusing scheme of the academic universe.

Other Stuff

* All academic work must meet the standards contained in  "A Culture of Honesty." Each student is responsible for reading these lengthy, verbose, carefully crafted standards. Basically, know the rules and follow them -- or else.

* The syllabus is a general plan for the course; deviations announced to the class by the instructor may be necessary, which is a fancy way of saying the instructor reserves the right to change things whenever he damn well pleases. He's that kind of guy. The web page trumps the syllabus, either in a game of Spades, Rook, or in real life. Check here often. Make it your home page. Tell your friends.

* Cheating may be harmful to your health. Hollander ignores the official university process for cheaters and dreams up his own awful things to do to those he catches. Do not tempt his imagination. He is a sick man. Plus he was a cop reporter for years. He knows people who will kill people. For $20, or even a cheap bottle of wine.

* Any cell phones or laptops being used during class will be confiscated and Hollander will do terrible things with them behind the podium. Do you really want to touch it afterward? No, I didn't think so.

* Don't break the rules because we write them. You can't win. We own you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
  Math Test for Journalists    
       
       
       

STDs in Georgia (sometimes this works, sometimes not).
Did it in a hurry Wednesday morning. Click a county to see stats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

using photos

 

 

 

 

 

How to really search via google

 

 

 

 

Fusion map examples

redistricting

floods

evac zones

gay couples

$ by zipcode

pop change

how voted

deep sea vents

Examples Gallery

grafs in a map

find geocode of any address

 

 

Good How to on maps

another good how to

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then there's this bit of wisdom I'll discuss briefly in class -- words journalists use, but people don't.

 

why we like lists