Final project

Your final project, which will be the key determinant of your course grade, will consist of a well-researched report and class presentation.

Your written report should be posted here, in the Responses:Project category, no later than 9 p.m. Dec. 3, the Thursday after Thanksgiving break. Each class member should then review and post insightful comments (which also will be graded) on all of the reports no later than 11 a.m., two hours before class begins Friday, Dec. 4. At that time, each student will make an approximate half-hour presentation and lead a discussion of his or her report. Attendance that day will be mandatory.

The report should be a comprehensive examination of the challenges faced by two other news organizations that are not particularly familiar to you. One should be a campus newspaper at a campus of similar size and stature to the University of Illinois and the other should be a professional newspaper with a circulation similar to that of the Daily Illini.

You should plan to interview more than one editor, more than one line-level staff member and more than one audience member for each of the newspapers after first obtaining several weeks worth of issues, both in print and online, and evaluating their content. Your evaluation of their content should lead you to specific questions you will ask of the human sources. In addition, you should ask the sources about any challenges they have faced similar to those we have discussed at the Daily Illini.

Topics may include your specific areas of responsibility at the DI but should not be limited to those areas. Broader questions about overall missions and challenges should be included. Pay particular attention to lessons, both positive and negative, that can be learned from the other publications. Don’t limit yourself to their internal operations but include evaluations of how well they serve their communities, which is why you also will be talking to typical readers as well as editors and staffers.

To give you more time to prepare your report and presentation, we will not meet as a class Friday, Nov. 20. You will be graded on the depth of your research, the value of insights you have been able to glean, and the quality of how you engage the instructor and your classmates with both your written presentation and whatever you present orally and visually in class, sharing your screen with others.

There is no formula for how to do this or magic number of words, interviews, or topics covered. Be thorough and especially insightful. Don’t be predictable, boring or formulaic. Make it clear you have learned something and prove that you know how to gather and evaluate original, unexpected information and insights useful to your own news organization as a whole as well as to you individually within that organization.

Do the same in the comments you post about your classmates’ reports.

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