<- Manual

Course Outline

JOUR 4857/5857 Online Workshop #2

(Jan. 5 to Feb. 13, 2015)

This is the course outline for the Online Workshop, a senior-level course in the School of Journalism at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Course instructors:


The Online Workshop gives students a toolbox of skills to create interactive news content for  audiences on multiple platforms.

Students will produce a daily news site called UNews. This publication contains a mixture of original news and feature stories that focus on Halifax’s post-secondary education community.

Students will pitch, research and produce stories that appeal to an online audience, individually and in teams.

Reporters will produce stories throughout the day. Some will work in the morning; others will work in the afternoon and evening. The goal is to produce a dynamic website that presents original content throughout the day.

Editors will work with reporters to improve the editorial workflow. In various roles, editors will track story assignments, copyedit content, assign prominence on the site, check content for technical error and promote our stories in social media. News digest editors will produce a daily summary of education news from Canada, the U.S. and the world.

Students who successfully complete the workshop will be able to:

  • Create journalism that is original, interesting, rigorous and timely
  • Pitch a story idea quickly and succinctly
  • Create text and multimedia content that appeals to online readers on desktop and mobile devices
  • Take photos that display skill in composition and technique
  • Aggregate and summarize content from other sources
  • Tag content in a way that builds site structure
  • Write effective headlines for search and social
  • Use social media to promote a story and interact with the audience
  • Update and correct content thoroughly and transparently
  • Grasp basic analytical measures of story performance

Preparatory classes will be held in the first week of the workshop. Most of the workshop, however, will be conducted in the form of a working newsroom.

How-to’s and details of editors’ assignments are in the workshop manual.


  • Canadian Press Style Guide
  • CP Caps and Spelling


An assignment not handed in gets a failing grade. If an assignment is more than one weekday late, it will lose one letter grade per day. Marks will be assigned on these tasks:

  1. Stories (80 %): 10 stories. Up to 4 can be collaborative (double-bylined). Performing an optional editor job (Assignment Editor, Managing Editor or Social Media Editor) is worth a story. Grading is based on the rubric below.
  2. Editing (20 %): News digest copyediting. Grading is based on the rubric below.

STORIES The mark for each story is determined as follows:

Excellent Passable to Good Below standards
Research (30%) Quotes, statistics, background information, and discovered facts give the story meaning and structure. (24-30%) Some statistics, background info, and discovered facts are here, but more are needed to make the story meaningful and complete. (15-23%) The piece reveals a lack of statistics, background info and discovered facts required to make the story useful to the reader. (0-14%)
Writing (25%) Writing is lively and exact, with use of strong verbs and nouns. There are only minor typos or CP Style errors. (21-25%) Word choices result in accurate but uninspiring prose. Some of the copy needs a further edit. There may be a number of typos and CP errors. (13-20%) Word choices need serious work. Also, the number of typos, CP Style errors and/or clichés hurt this story. (0-12%)
Interactive & multimedia elements (15%) The story contains links to all relevant source documents online. The reader’s understanding is increased by skillful and relevant use of a video, map, photos, timeline or chart. (12-15%) The story is missing important links and/or would benefit from a multimedia element. An existing multimedia element lacks important content or lacks relevance to the topic. (8-11%) The story contains few links. Multimedia elements are non-existent or lack meaning. (0-7%)
Headline, lede, summary, captions, sidebars & SEO (10%) The headline, summary, lede, and captions are short, lively and invite readers — and search engines. (8-10%) Some of the text in the headline, summary, lede and captions is concise and engaging. Others are weak, lack SEO elements, are not descriptive or lack keywords. (5-7%) The headline, summary, lede, captions and sidebars do not make a reader — or a search engine — want to spend time with this story. (0-4%)
Context (10%) Inclusion of background detail gives the reader a clear sense of how this story fits into past events and related developments. (8-10%) The story would benefit from additional information that would add meaning by relating the story to other events. (5-7%) The writer offers little or no evidence to show what this story means in relation to other developments. (0-4%)
Effort (10%) This story was challenging or difficult to do. The public interest value was high. The topic was sensitive, or sources were difficult to find or reluctant to talk. Reporter went the extra mile to find relevant sources (8-10%) Story was an easy or moderate “get.” Sources were appropriate but a more relevant one would have enhanced the story. The public interest or story value was moderate. (5-7%) This story had minimal public interest value and the reporter did not go far to find sources. A stronger. (0-4%)


Excellent Passable to Good Below standards
Editing choices and writing (20%) Editing choices show a solid understanding of our audience and/or highlight relevant information from other sources. Content is tightly written, and has only minor spelling or grammatical errors. (16-20%) The relevance of some content to our site’s audience is not immediately evident. Some aggregated information may fail to relate one of the five Ws or be unclear. A few spelling or grammatical errors, or CP Style errors may be present. (10-15%) Aggregated summaries are missing key information. They have  little relevance to our audience and/or contain numerous spelling, grammatical or style errors (0-9%)


Grade Grade Point Value Definition
D 1.00 50-54 Marginal Pass
F 0.00 0-49 Inadequate

A story or editing assignment not completed will receive a mark of zero. A story or editing assignment not completed in a timely manner will lose a letter grade.


Students are expected to:

  • Be on time for meetings
  • Come prepared with original story ideas at story meetings
  • Work collegially, as if our newsroom was a workplace
  • All content must be approved and edited by the course instructor
  • See an instructor if you are having problems with course material

Ethical Conduct

All students are expected to familiarize themselves with and abide by the School of Journalism Code of Ethics.


All students are expected to read the safety guidelines. To do journalism well, you must sometimes be uncomfortable. You should never be unsafe. If you run into trouble, or if you feel a situation might put your or others’ personal safety at risk, bail out and call your prof right away.

Intellectual Honesty

Plagiarism is stealing someone else’s work and presenting it as your own. It is a form of academic fraud and if you do it, you can end up in big trouble. The most common cases of plagiarism involve students who cut and paste material from the Internet or copy something without giving the original author credit. In journalism, giving credit is called attribution. Do not cut and paste. Do attribute your sources.

Plagiarism is a serious academic offence. The punishments can range from getting zero on the assignment, failing the course, being suspended or expelled from the university. So it’s in your best interest to adopt good habits when it comes to sourcing material. For more information, go to King’s homepage and under Quick Links, select Academic Calendar. If you have questions, ask.


Students may request accommodation as a result of barriers related to disability, religious obligation, or any characteristic under the human rights legislation.

Students who require academic accommodation for either classroom participation or the writing of tests and exams should make their request to the Advising and Access Services Center (AASC) prior to or at the outset of the regular academic year. Please visit Academic Support for more information and to obtain the Request for Accommodation form.

A note taker may be required as part of a student’s accommodation. There is an honorarium of $75/course/term (with some exceptions). If you are interested, please contact AASC at 494-2836 for more information or send an email.

Please note that your classroom may contain specialized accessible furniture and equipment. It is important that these items remain in the classroom, untouched, so that students who require their usage will be able to fully participate in the class.

Workshop Schedule