J335: Intermediate Reporting

Spring 2018, Tuesday & Thursday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

Vilas Hall 2111

Mike Wagner                                                                                        Office Hours
Associate Professor, SJMC                                                             Thursday: 12:30-1:30 p.m.
5164 Vilas Hall                                                                                     Rathskeller Hours; @prowag                                                Friday: 1:30-2:30 p.m.
608-263-3392 (office)                                                                        Also by appointment
 Jesse Benn, TA. 5161 Vilas. Office Hours: Thursday, 2:40-3:40 p.m.

Congratulations on making it through J202 and welcome to J335! This is an intensive reporting class that provides strong foundations for reporting and writing across topics within multiple platforms.
In J335, you will learn:

  • How to identify what is newsworthy
  • How to thoroughly and accurately report a story
  • How to clearly and accurately write a story
  • How to present different kinds of stories across multiple platforms
  • How to pitch stories and respond to editorial feedback for the purposes of publishing

J335 is demanding. In addition to our regular class meetings, in-class exercises, and readings, you will do plenty of outside reporting and a voracious amount of reading of contemporary news coverage at the local and national levels.

This semester, we will be thematic in your J335 section. Our attention to these themes will overlap each other due to scheduling constraints and because it is good practice for what life is like in real newsrooms.

Our themes include data visualization, government reporting, community reporting,  feature writing, multimedia reporting and breaking news coverage.

The final third of class  will consist of producing a class-wide final project. We will collaborate with the other section of J335 to choose a topic for our final project. It is my expectation that the final project will produce the best work you have done to this point in your lives.


  • Quizzes: 5%
  • Professionalism: (Participation, Preparedness): 10%
  • Government Reporting: (Mayor Neighborhood, Budget, Statehouse, Local Gov’t): 20%
  • Feature Reporting (Observation, Neighborhood, Open): 15%
  • Multimedia Reporting (ASF, Budget Viz, Audio): 15%
  • Breaking News (Guest Ledes, Ethics Night, Press Conference): 10%
  • Final Project: 25%
  • Grades are calculated as follows:

A               93-100             publishable in current form with few revisions
AB            88-92               close to publishable with minimal work
B               80-87               strong story, needs rewriting to be publishable
BC            75-79               mix of strengths and flaws, needs work
C               67-74               major flaws, needs major work
D               59-66               critically damaging flaws, needs overhaul
F                0-58                 work not done

Late Work is accepted at a penalty of 15 points per 24 hours the assignment is late.


Treat J335 as you would treat a job in a professional newsroom. You must show up on time to every class period. You must be prepared. You must have your work done. You are under no obligation to wait until the last minute to complete an assignment. If something goes wrong, technology-wise, 15 minutes before a story is due, that is your fault. If your source wouldn’t get back to you, find another one.

Yes, life happens to all of us and there may be a good reason that you have to miss class on occasion (personal travel is not a good reason). If you have to miss class, get ahold of me before class. You have at least five ways to get ahold of me (email, Twitter, Facebook, phone, office). Do so before class and we can work something out. Do so after class and we can’t.

Plagiarism and Fabrication

Integrity is very important. Please take note of the university’s policy on academic misconduct: If you have questions about how to properly cite a source, the quality of a particular source, and the like, I will help you with gusto and vigor.

You should all know what plagiarism is — using someone else’s work in your own stories. This includes cutting and pasting material that was written by others, as well as patch writing, when you change a word or two but keep an original source’s general meaning.
Fabrication is making up a source, pretending a source is something that he or she isn’t, or creating information that you report as true. Your work should only include your own writing, paraphrased material or direct quotes from sources. Again, if you have questions about plagiarism and fabrication, or wonder whether what you’re doing is wrong, please ask. You will not be punished for asking, but you will be disciplined for plagiarism.

Like many instructors in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, I reserve the right to use Turnitin to maintain academic integrity. This means your work may be uploaded to to be compared with material submitted by other students, as well as information from websites, publications and other sources. If we review your assignment this way, we will receive a report with a “similarity score” and details about possible matches between the assignment and other sources. After reviewing that report, I — not the software — will evaluate and decide whether or not there has been plagiarism or other academic misconduct. Your assignments will be kept in the global Turnitin database, but I am the only one who is permitted to view your assignment there.
If I determine there has been academic misconduct, punishment will include an “F” for the assignment. Depending upon my opinion of the severity of the infraction, punishment may also include an “F” for the course. I will report all instances of academic misconduct to the Dean of Students. Do not try me.


There are no anonymous or confidential sources allowed in J335.

J335 is a four credit course. Three credits are earned via regular class meetings. The fourth credit is earned outside of class during the five hour press conference assignment, the two hour ethics night assignment, and outside reading, reporting and writing.

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