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Entertainment Journalism

JOUR 3304.01



Instructor Information

Beth Eakman Re

English Rhetoric and Writing

Andre Hall #302


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Course Information

MW 2-3:15

Moody Hall 306


Magazine Writing, Benson *Required*

ISBN # 9780415892773

If you want to do any kind of writing for magazines, this book is essential. It is the most current book on the subject (2015), is readable, easy to use, and is written by professors who know the industry. I also use this book for my Magazine Writing course, so you get two-for-one if you take that course. 


How to Write about Music  Woodworth and Grossan (Eds) *Strongly, recommended*

ISBN # 1628920432

This is a helpful book, especially for students interested in writing about music. The paperback version is around $23 and the kindle version is about half of that. Get either. Even if you don't plan to write about music, it will help you understand the subgenres of entertainment writing and writing about the arts.

Guide to AP Style

The large majority of news publications follow Associated Press (AP) style. A few, for example, the venerable New Yorker, have their own style guides, but AP is the standard and we will be using it in this class. You may purchase the official AP Stylebook in both electronic and paper editions or use one of many free online quick reference guides. 

What is Journalism?

If you have not had any journalism courses, this (free, online, excellent) text is going to be essential to your understanding what we are doing in this course. I will assign specific sections and material will be on tests. (Published by the American Press Institute). 



This course will use for uploading final projects. Set up an account as soon as possible. It's free and you can order hard copies of your work for around $10 and the production is outstanding. Your final project will include a page design element. If you are comfortable using InDesign or other design software, you may do so. If not, (also free and easy to use) has magazine templates that you may use. 


**Additional Costs**

For this course, you will need to attend events and performances in your area of specialization (Film, Music, Theater, etc.) and some of these will probably cost money. Plan accordingly.


Course Overview


Arts and Entertainment Writing will introduce you to writing about The Arts professionally. Each student will choose an area of specialization--what journalists call a "beat"--and will spend the semester working within that genre. Choices include, but are not limited to

  • Music

  • Theater

  • Film

  • Comedy

  • Creative Writing (Poetry, Fiction, etc.)

  • Performance Art

  • Fashion

  • Visual Art

Formal Paper

This course requires one formal paper. Using this proposal template, you will research your beat, define its scope, describe the products and events that journalists might cover, list titles that publish writing on Arts and Entertainment, discuss the component parts of evaluation of products and events, present your resources, and argue that you've chosen an appropriate topic for an entire semester's worth of writing. (100 points)

Daily Work

We will do a LOT of in-class exercises, reporting, editing, and other activities. These will be graded complete or incomplete, cannot be made up, and will create content for your final portfolio. Make sure that you keep up with documentation of your daily work. 


Covering your beat, you will write each of the following articles for a specific publication, of your choice and relevant to your genre. The publication's guidelines will dictate specifications such as word count and editorial style. (100 points each)​

  1. Report Event

  2. Interview/Profile

  3. The Austin Scene

  4. Pitch and Feature

  5. Review/Eval


The final project of the semester is a collection of original and revised articles presented in magazine form using The title and design of your portfolio will be your choice, but must be rhetorically defensible and relevant to the content. In addition to the articles, this portfolio must also contain a table of contents, a letter from the editor, and a writer's biography. (100 points)


There will be a syllabus quiz (100 points) and midterm exam (100 points) over readings and class notes. The syllabus quiz will be over the syllabus contents and the midterm will include mostly definitions and concepts, with a few short essays-type questions. 



You will notice that the total number of points available from the above deliverables is 900. To determine your final grade, simply add up the points and move the decimal one place to the left. 

To be considered for an A in this class

You will notice that all of the assignment values max out at 900 (a potential 90--a low A--if everything is perfect). To be considered for an A, not guaranteed, but considered, you MUST publish at least one piece that you write for this class. You may pitch and publish your work with any reasonable publication; I recommend starting with Hilltop Views. "Budget" meetings, at which HV editors hear pitches for articles, give assignments, and discuss plans are held weekly at 5pm on Tuesday evenings in Moody Hall 209. Life and Arts editors will visit our class to help you get your work submitted. 


In an effort to give you a more realistic experience of writing for publication, half of your paper, article, and portfolio assignment grades will come from just submitting your assignments complete and on time: real publications operate on deadlines. Here's how that will work. 

  • 25 points for submitting the assignment on time

  • 25 points for submitting the assignment complete

  • 25 points (+/-) for the assignment meeting specifications

  • 25 points (+/-) for excellence



This means that the assignment is submitted on Canvas before the assignment window shuts down with no exceptions. If your computer spontaneously combusts five minutes before the deadline and you can't run across campus to the nearest computer lab to upload it, then it's zero points. Don't push your deadline and you'll get 25 easy points. 


Quantitative: This means that the submission contains all of the required components. For example, if an article calls for 500 words. It should be as close to that number as possible. It should have a clear beginning, middle, and end and no missing information. Again, easy 25 points. 

Meets Specifications

Qualitative: Each assignment has detailed specifications described in the assignment prompt. For example, the tone of a feature written for Esquire magazine will be very different from a news report in Hilltop Views. Specifications describe these qualitative features. 25 points +/-.


So, if just submitting your assignment on time and up to specifications gets you up to 75 points, what moves that number up from 75? Excellence can come in many forms and I am looking for it--usually with a highlighter in hand: perfect word choice, tight editing, thorough development, logical organization, innovative style, timeliness, thorough research, narrative technique, etc. 25 points +/-. 



This is one of those classes that you need to attend. We will do a LOT of in-class work that cannot be made up and tests will include material from class lectures and discussions that is not in the textbook. 

If you are absent, contact a classmate for class notes. I am not a reliable source for answering the question, "what did I miss?"

You get two free absences before it affects your grade. More than two absences may result in a grade deduction of up to a letter grade. I do not distinguish between types of absences, so save your free ones for times when you absolutely cannot make it due to illness or genuine emergency. I reserve the right to make (rare) exceptions for documented emergencies. Life does happen and the Office of Student Support Services is there for that reason. They are great at dealing with serious or lingering illness, family emergencies, or other obstacles. Go to them first if you find yourself facing something like this.

The good news is that perfect attendance adds three points to your final grade. 


If you need accommodations for this class, it is your responsibility to make an appointment with me as early in the semester as possible. Please come prepared to provide me with specific actions that we can take to support your learning experience. We will document any accommodations that we agree upon and consider that documentation a contract. 

Respect, Diversity, and Inclusion

St. Edward's University supports an inclusive learning environment where diversity and individual differences are understood, respected, appreciated, and recognized as a source of strength. We expect that students, faculty, administrators and staff will respect differences and demonstrate diligence in understanding how other peoples’ perspectives, behaviors, and worldviews may be different from their own. Please do not hesitate to speak to me about this topic.