General Course Policies

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Journalists have fun. They aren’t chained to desks. They don’t wear ties. They don’t, unless lightning strikes, go to meetings. Journalists enjoy almost unparalleled professional freedom. With that freedom comes responsibility. We must speak truth to power. We must take extra care with the powerless. We must get the facts straight and nuance and tone right every time we publish. I am here to teach you the skills you will need to write and report like pros. You will be cross-trained, taking courses designed to prepare you for today’s digital newsrooms. You will also become discerning news consumers as you learn about the history of journalism in the U.S. and the challenges facing so many professional and citizen journalists around the world. Those of you who do well will secure internships at Hilltop Views and in newsrooms off-campus. If you excel and choose to pursue journalism professionally, you will have my help as you apply to graduate programs and work to secure full-time positions.

How to achieve these goals? I’ve got one word for you: Discipline.

Journalists show up – on time. They turn in work produced at the highest standards – on time. They grumble about their editors, but the best journalists figure out who can teach them what they need to know and they listen hard to that person. The best way to start learning what you need to know is to adhere to the course policies listed here:

Show Up

  • Come to class on time. You have a five-minute grace period regardless of the class you’re taking. After that, I mark you absent.
  • Sign in. If you fail to sign in on the sign-in sheet, I will mark you absent. If I find you’ve had a classmate sign you in, I will mark you absent.
  • You have three absences all semester. Each absence after that costs you two points off your final grade (possibly more, depending on the course so read the syllabus carefully).
  • Read the syllabus for each course and follow all instructions to the letter. Remember that assignments and policies may be amended, so listen in class and watch your particular course site for any updates/changes.
  • Ask questions! I don’t read minds. If you’ve got something you’re wondering about, please ask. I am here to help.

Work Hard

  • I do not accept late work. Let me be clear: I do not accept late work.
  • You will have plenty of opportunity to revise major assignments. In fact, you will have at least two deadlines – one for your first draft and one for your final assignment. You must meet the first draft deadline or you will earn a zero for the entire assignment.
  • Unless stated in the syllabus, I do not offer extra credit. If the syllabus does not specify an extra credit opportunity, please don’t ask for one.
  • In courses where I do accept extra credit, it is granted only for work published in Hilltop Views. Please note: If you are an editor or an intern at Hilltop Views while you’re taking such a course, your work can’t overlap. In other words, you must produce additional work for HV to earn extra credit in class. Please be sure to discuss any plans to ask for extra credit with me before you take additional HV assignments.
  • If you have a 504, I am more than willing to discuss accommodations that will help you be successful and also honor the central values of Journalism: Showing up/bearing witness and getting work done on time/meeting deadline. Be sure you have both presented your letter to me and that we have discussed and agreed upon your accommodations. Remember that 504 letters are not retroactive so please present the letter to me as early as you can after our semester begins.

Be Sensitive

  • What happens in my classes stays in my classes. What do I mean by this? We will read and assess one another’s work in the open, bullpen spirit of a professional newsroom. When we do so we will offer honest, specific criticism in a manner and tone designed to help the writer improve, not rip her ego to shreds.

Be Honest

  • If you plagiarize (present another person’s work as your own), I will pursue the full weight of penalties available to me at St. Edward’s, including assigning an F for the class.

Be Alert

  • I’m an enthusiastic user of social media and so I will put any student who shows a similar love of their phone or device during my class to work demonstrating her skills for us all. Behaving in a distracting way during class (chatting with your neighbor; burying yourself in your phone) slows us all down. Please don’t do it.
  • Pay attention to Canvas. Weekly readings and assignments are posted in Modules. I grade all assignments as soon as they are turned in and I post the grades right away. Take ownership of your progress!

Stay Connected

  • If you’d like to follow, Friend, or otherwise connect with me after you graduate, go for it. I enjoy keeping in touch with my students, but my policy is not to muddy the waters with a virtual friendship while I’m potentially still grading you. I will connect with you on LinkedIn after you’ve graduated and have some professional experience under your belts. Students are always welcome to follow me on Twitter @JenaHeathprof



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