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COM 300 - Writing in Communication (3 CREDITS) Spring 2016 Office Hours: By appointment Email: rkrichardson@wsu.edu MATERIALS & ...

Thursday, January 7, 2016


COM 300 - Writing in Communication (3 CREDITS)

Spring 2016
Office Hours: By appointment
Email: rkrichardson@wsu.edu


Welcome to your first professional writing course in The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication! The course will provide you with the training and discipline necessary to succeed as a communication practitioner. It will also familiarize you with writing for a variety of communication professions, including advertising, broadcasting, print journalism, organization communication/business and public relations.

You will learn that accuracy and clarity are the hallmarks of good writing in any communication profession. Further, you will hone your ability to recognize the difference between image and reality and to develop a sound information sense. Such skills will make you more competitive for internships and jobs.

By the end of the semester, you will know how to select appropriate information, knit that information into relevant assignments, write with deadline pressure, utilize outside resources, conduct interviews and edit your work. 

It is hoped that this course will enable you to become an astute media consumer, as well as a critical contributor. Remember: College is your current job. You are developing attitudes and habits that will carry over to your professional life. At the end of the semester, evaluate yourself. Would an employer want to hire you as an intern?

My teaching mission is to share and propagate the standards and ethics held by this school’s namesake – Edward R. Murrow. It is my goal to help instill a set of core values, ethics and skills that will help to immunize content creators against the inevitable temptations present in this industry. In this industry, credibility is earned. One poor choice can destroy an entire career. For this reason, you will need to operate at the highest standards of truth, fairness, balance and accuracy.

You may be asked to rewrite an assignment for practice. Failure to rewrite assigned stories by the deadline may result in an F grade for that assignment.


  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of appropriate communication industry principles, issues, social responsibilities, and objectives.
    • Specifics: Public perception and factual reality, basics of communication law and ethics; learn to engage specific audiences for specific purposes.
  • Develop the ability to evaluate information and issues.
    • Specifics: Use of news characteristics to determine news values; learn how these characteristics also influence public relations; learn to determine marketing challenges and unique selling propositions for advertising campaigns; learn to determine appropriate material for business letters.
  • Create communication print and broadcast products in appropriate communication industry and business formats.
    • Specifics:  Write news in print and broadcast formats; write press releases and public service announcements; develop advertising campaigns; write a business memo.



Copyright (2016) Robert Richardson.

This syllabus and all course-related materials, presentations, lectures, etc. are my intellectual property and may be protected by copyright. Selling class notes through commercial note taking services, without my written advance permission, could be viewed as copyright infringement and/or an academic integrity violation, WAC 504-26-010 (3)(a,b,c,i). Further, the use of University electronic resources (e.g., Blackboard) for commercial purposes, including advertising to other students to buy notes, is a violation of WSU’s computer abuses and theft policy (WAC 504-26-218), a violation of WSU’s Electronic Communication policy (EP 4), and also violates the terms of use for the Blackboard software program.

Discriminatory Conduct Statement

Discrimination, including discriminatory harassment, sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct (including stalking, intimate partner violence, and sexual violence) is prohibited at WSU (See WSU Policy Prohibiting Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct (Executive Policy 15) and WSU Standards of Conduct for Students).

If you feel you have experienced or have witnessed discriminatory conduct, you can contact the WSU Office for Equal Opportunity (OEO) and/or the WSU Title IX Coordinator at 509-335-8288 to discuss resources, including confidential resources, and reporting options. (Visit oeo.wsu.edu for more information).

Most WSU employees, including faculty, who have information regarding sexual harassment or sexual misconduct are required to report the information to OEO or a designated Title IX Coordinator or Liaison.  (Visit oeo.wsu.edu/reporting-requirements for more info).

Academic Integrity Statement

Washington State University, a community dedicated to the advancement of knowledge, expects all Academic integrity will be strongly enforced in this course. Cheating is defined in the Standards for Student Conduct WAC 504-26-010(3). It is strongly recommended that you read and understand these definitions:  http://apps.leg.wa.gov/wac/default.aspx?cite=504-26-010.

Violation of academic integrity on any assignment will involve (i) an academic penalty ranging from a minimum of both a zero on that assignment and the reduction of a full letter grade on your final grade to failure of the entire course, (ii) filing of case with the Office of Student Conduct, and per university regulations, (iii) inability to withdraw from the course.

More information regarding WSU policies can be found at: http://academicintegrity.wsu.edu/

Reasonable Accommodation Syllabus Statement

Reasonable accommodations are available for students with a documented disability. If you have a disability and need accommodations to fully participate in this class, please either visit or call the Access Center (Washington Building 217; 509-335-3417) to schedule an appointment with an Access Advisor. All accommodations MUST be approved through the Access Center.

Pullman, Everett or WSU Online: 509-335-3417  http://accesscenter.wsu.edu, Access.Center@wsu.edu
Spokane: http://spokane.wsu.edu/students/current/studentaffairs/disability/
Tri-Cities: http://www.tricity.wsu.edu/disability/
Vancouver: 360-546-9138 http://studentaffairs.vancouver.wsu.edu/student-resource-center/disability-services

Campus and Classroom Safety Statement

Classroom and campus safety are of paramount importance at Washington State University, and are the shared responsibility of the entire campus population.  WSU urges students to follow the “Alert, Assess, Act” protocol for all types of emergencies and the “Run, Hide, Fight” response for an active shooter incident. Remain ALERT (through direct observation or emergency notification), ASSESS your specific situation, and ACT in the most appropriate way to assure your own safety (and the safety of others if you are able).

Please sign up for emergency alerts on your account at MyWSU. For more information on this subject, campus safety, and related topics, please view the FBI’s Run, Hide, Fight video and visit the WSU safety portal.

For the Everett campus, all students should also be enrolled in the local RAVE Emergency Alert system. If you are not already registered, please do so at: https://www.getrave.com/login/everettcc. You can also find Everett-specific emergency information at https://www.everettcc.edu/emergency/

First Week Class Attendance (Rule 72)

Students who do not attend class during the first week of the semester will likely be dropped from the course. Students with extenuating circumstances should notify the Office of Student Affairs.   Valid reasons for missing class do not relieve the student of their responsibility for that missed work.

Academic Regulations, Rule 34a

Students may only repeat a course graded C- or below one time at WSU during fall or spring semesters.  Additional repeats are allowed from another institution or at WSU during summer terms or by special permission of the academic unit offering the course.


Incomplete Policy:
A grade of Incomplete WILL NOT be given without proof of extenuating circumstances. See Academic Regulations, 90h. Please consult with the instructor when difficulties arise. REMEMBER: Any story containing a misspelled name or other major error of fact may receive an AUTOMATIC F grade. Repeated errors drastically reduce your grade.

I expect a professional attitude. Attendance and promptness are mandatory, as they will be in the "real world." Tardiness of 10 minutes of more may be considered an absence. There are NO automatic extensions or makeups. If a family emergency or illness occur, notify me IN ADVANCE or no makeup. One is the limit, and it must be done during class. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Please keep your phones in your backpack during class time. Although we have access to computers in the classroom, please refrain from web browsing unless prompted by the instructor and/or it is related  to research for an assignment.

In-Class Video & Audio Recording Policy:

Students should not record audio or video of the instructor or other students in the classroom without first procuring permission or consent from all recorded subjects. Washington state is a "two-party consent" state that requires the consent of every party to a phone call or conversation in order to make the recording lawful. For more information on the legality of recording in the classroom, see: "Is it legal to record your teachers or professors?"

Course Assignments & Evaluation Criteria:

Written Assignment #1 1515
Written Assignment #2 1515
Written Assignment #3 1515
Written Assignment #4 1515
Written Assignment #5 1515
Written Assignment #6 1515

A93 - 100%C73 - <77% (or below 77%)
A-90 - <93% (or below 93%)C-70 - <73% (or below 73%)
B+87 - <90% (or below 90%)D+67 - <70% (or below 70%)
B83 - <87% (or below 87%)D60 - <67% (or below 67%)
B-80 - <83% (or below 83%)F0 - <60% (or below 60%)
C+77 - <80% (or below 80%)


A, A - = The copy is EXCEPTIONALLY well-written, thorough and is FREE OF ERRORS in style and grammar. The lead is clear and concise. The copy is well-organized and contains effective transitions, quotations and descriptions. The copy is ready for publication or broadcast.

B+, B, B- = The copy is WELL-WRITTEN but may contain MINOR ERRORS in style and grammar. The lead is solid and summarizes the copy. Most of the information is presented clearly and according to proper writing style. It requires minimal editing for publication or broadcast.

C+, C, C- = The copy is POORLY WRITTEN and shows a lack of organization. The copy may have a rambling, vague lead and a poorly-constructed, awkward body. There may be an excess of style and grammar errors. The copy requires a good deal of editing.

D+, D = The copy shows very little organization or purpose. It contains many of the necessary facts, but they are so ineffectively presented that a major rewriting effort is needed to make the copy cohesive and meaningful. The copy has TOO MANY STYLE AND GRAMMAR ERRORS. It can be published or aired only after extensive editing and rewriting.

F = The copy is LIBELOUS, INCOMPLETE, CONFUSING OR HAS FACTUAL ERRORS. Style and grammar errors are found throughout. Correct writing is either missing or lost completely. It cannot be published or aired.

Note: A C grade (not C-) is necessary to pass each assignment and this course.