MEDPL 294 | Magazine Writing


Assistant Professor Gregg Morris

The Class

This is an introduction to magazine writing and also an introduction to the basics and fundamentals of the magazine business. Most magazine/zine writers are freelancers, some with contracts, some without. This will be discussed more in class.

Hopefully, students can learn enough to avoid the following description of the state of journalism today.

The basis of journalism as the fourth estate and a watchdog for corruption and injustice brings an unequivocal responsibility for journalists to be equally skilled and hard-working as they are virtuous and ethical. However, it could be argued that the digital world we live in today, with its instantaneous access to information, click-bait culture and citizen journalism, has seriously impeded the prevalence of quality journalists.

Top 12 Most Influential Journalists Of Today

MEDP 294 is an advanced news writing class, and students are required to write, copyedit and proof their articles before publication in the WORD, In-depth writing assignments require students to do more than stenographic interviewing of human sources for articles. So, students will receive an introduction to the tools and practices that savvy journalists use to supplement their interviewing of human sources, such as incorporating public records, other news articles, archival material and detailed descriptions.

A tailored, Publish-Or-Perish imperative for undergraduate news writing courses can enhance student writing and performance as well as preparation for internship, employment and grad school applications. Examples of In-depth/feature articles can be found in the Blackboard page for this class.
The class draws on the principles of writing workshops and production classes as well as the lecture-discussion format, though there is not much lecturing in this class. It is distinctly different from other journalism writing classes in this department because its students are required to rewrite articles and submit articles for publication.
The class will also review the fundamentals of libel and ethics. This class can help students develop portfolios. Those considering journalism as a career need a portfolio of published articles in order to compete for the best internships, scholarships and part-time and full-time positions not only for print and internet news media but broadcast/cable as well.

Portfolios of published works are also very good for other media-related employment opportunities.


There are two texts for this class. You can get them at Shakespeare or check the Internet for other sellers.
– 1) Handbook of Magazine Article Writing, Second Edition, by Michelle Ruberg, ISBN: 13: 978-1-58297-334-0, paperback
– 2) The Citizen Journalist’s Photography Handbook 1st Edition by Carlos Miller, ISBN-13: 978-1285859026

Supplies/Related Matters

– There will be supplementary readings and references provided on the class Blackboard page. – Students need at least one cross-platform USB flash drive or other device dedicated to this class. Instructor will not accept CDs.
– Students are required to have two stenographic notebooks to record interview notes. The notebooks are important in helping the instructor to help students with their articles as well as to verify the veracity of their accounts. The notebooks also are important in the event students’ stories are challenged or complaints are alleged regarding the veracity and accuracy of articles. Penalties are severe for spurious notes for articles as well as for news shorts and briefs. The penalties can range from F on assignments to F for the class. The penalty for using notebooks or material other than stenographic notebooks: The final grade will be reduced by a grade.

Everyone is required to provide a contact email to the instructor ASAP; included in the email should be full name of student and the class. On the article assignments, students also must include email addresses that will be published with their bylines; this might require students to have two email addresses for this class, that is, one for normal communications between instructor and student and one that is listed under a student’s byline.


There are four required articles. Each requires one draft and two rewrites/revisions.
– The first has to be at least 500 words, have a minimum of three interviews and the final draft has to include two pictures. Topic: Interviews of students for first week or first few weeks of the fall semester. This one is due September 19, a Tuesday running on a Monday schedule. See Schedules Assignment for specific details for the remaining articles, slightly described below.

– The second has to be at least 500 words; three interviews required, at least two pictures. See Schedule Assignments for more details and date.
– The third has to be at least 700 words, with a minimum of four interviews, two pictures. See Schedule Assignments for more details and date.
– The fourth has to be at least 700 words, with a minimum of four interviews. two pictures.

Four required article assignments with interviews: 70 percent of final grade. Short, in-class writing assignments, class participation, miscellaneous exercises, field interviews, quizzes: 30 percent.

There will be occasions in the course of the semester when the instructor will schedule reviews of students notes/stenos. Usually, the reviews are scheduled but sometimes they aren’t (sort of like pop-quizzes). Failure to provide the instructor notes/stenos when requested can result in an F in the course and referral to the College’s Faculty-Student Disciplinary Board. There will be at least on student-instructor conference.


Attendance is required. Three unexcused absences can result in grades lower than a B. Four unexcused absences are especially serious and the instructor will notify students that they are in danger of flunking the class. And five absences: F for the class. Students chronically late 20 minutes or more will be marked absent after an initial warning.
Students are expected to pay attention in class. Those who do work in class unrelated to the course, such as, engaging in cyber chats, emailing, surfing the internet or reading outside texts, will be penalize. Penalties: After an initial warning, the first penalty is an F in class participation; the next penalty is F for the course. This also applies to incidents requiring the instructor to give the student a verbal warning. Regarding text messaging and cell phoning after class begins and before it ends: One warning and after that it can be F for the class. Penalties for ignoring the written rules and guidelines of this class can result in penalties ranging from F on assignments to F for the course.

Student Recommendations

This instructor will consider writing internship recommendations for students who have taken at least one class with him and earned at least a B. Regarding grad school and job recommendations: Instructor will consider writing recommendations for students who have taken at least two classes with him and earned at least a cumulative B+.

Weekly schedule

28, Monday, First Day of Class, Introduction.
31, Thursday, Wrapping up introduction, more details about completing assignments.

7, Thursday
11, Monday, Reading,
14, Thursday, Reading, First 3 chapters of Carlos Miller.
18, Monday, Reading, Miller 4, 5.
19, Tuesday running on a Monday schedule. First Draft of First Article. If there is time instructor will do wrap-up of readings.
21, Thursday, No Class
25, Monday, Reading, Miller C6.
28, Thursday, Reading, Writer’s Digest, C5, C6.

2, Monday, Library Research class, Room 404 of the library. The Librarian is Prof. Tony Doyle.
5, Thursday, TBA.
12, Thursday, Writer’s Digest, C7,8,9
16, Monday, Wrapping up 7,8,9.
19, Thursday, First Draft of Second Article
23, Monday, TBA
26, Thursday, TBA
30, Monday, Student Conferences

2, Thursday, Student Conferences, if necessary
6, Monday, Handbook, C2,3,5
9, Thursday, Wrapping up C2,3,5
13, Monday, TBA
16. Thursday, TBA
20, Monday, First Draft of Third Article
23, Thursday, Thanksgiving
27, Monday, TBA
30, Thursday, TBA

4, Monday, Reading, Writer’s Digest, C11
7, Thursday, Instructor wrapping up semester
11, Monday, Last Day of Class, Instructor wrapping up semester.
18, First Draft of Fourth Article, One draft only.

Final Exams, December 14 to December 20, Thursday to Wednesday. There are no final exams in this class.