MCom 100w

Writing Workshop

3/30 option

In response to your request that I consider a way to avoid the “March 30″ problem, I’ve worked out an alternative schedule.  Please check it out on the class blog (see the Alt Class Sked page). We’ll discuss it in class today and make a decision.

Reading in print is better

It’s not just your imagination — you do remember more of what you read when you read it in print, instead of onscreen.

And that’s why, according to a recent study reported in the Washington Post, most Millennials prefer real books to e-books.

booksWhy are real books better than digital versions? It’s because we tend to skim when we “read” online articles and digital books. We also tend to experience more distractions (social media, email, etc.).

Naomi S. Baron, an American University linguist who studies digital communication, said she found “jaw-dropping” results when she asked students whether they were more likely to multitask when reading in hard copy (1 percent), as compared to reading on-screen (90 percent). Baron also cited research showing readers spend a little more than one minute on a Web page, and only 16 percent of people read word-by-word.

Skimming, plus a lot of distractions, adds up to poor recall and low comprehension.

A similar problem crops up when students take notes on laptops. According to a 2014 article published in Scientific American, “New research by Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer demonstrates that students who write out their notes on paper actually learn more.”

Why? According to Mueller and Oppenheimer, students using laptops can take notes “in a fairly mindless, rote fashion, with little analysis or synthesis by the brain.” That does not promote understanding or retention of information.

On the other hand, when you take notes by hand, you can’t possibly take down every single word. Instead, you’re forced to listen closely, digest the information, and then summarize it in your own words. Doing that improves both your understanding and your retention of the information in question.

In another study, Mueller and Oppenheimer found that students who took notes longhand, and studied from those notes before a test, did better on the test than those who took notes on computer.

The takeaway: Read books and take longhand notes, and you’ll do better in class.

See the full articles:

SF event is hosting a free panel discussion, “Risk/Reward: How Journalists are Redefining Careers Outside Traditional Media,” in San Francisco on March 12.
The program will start at 5:45 p.m., Thursday, March 12, at NerdWallet HQ, 901 Market St., San Francisco. (NerdWallet’s HQ is located right above the Powell Street BART station — take the 5th St. exit from BART.)
The panelists will include journalists who have made bold career choices: leaving newsrooms for tech startups, transitioning into product roles, becoming entrepreneurs, etc. Attendees will have an opportunity to hear from and meet Marisa Wong of SlideShare, Todd Lappin of Facebook, and Stacey Delo, founder of

Also, NerdWallet will give away free professional head shots (on-site) for the first 30 attendees, and supply “lots of great food.”
Getting there via public transit: From SJSU, take the free DASH Shuttle (from Fourth St at Paseo de San Antonio @ 3:27 or 3:47 p.m.) to San Jose Diridon transit center. Take Caltrain (@ 3:44 or 4:05 p.m.) north to Millbrae Station; at Millbrae, switch from Caltrain to BART (leaving Millbrae @ 4:50 or 5:05), get off BART at Powell Station (arriving @ 5:31 or 5:36) in SF.
P.S. If you don’t already have a Clipper Card, remember to allow time to buy Caltrain and BART tickets.

Cool stuff

Marques MallareA seriously talented former student, Marques Mallare, just sent me a link to his latest demo reel. Check it out at

Then take a look at his martial arts/stuntman video at Prepare to be amazed.

Schedule updates

We will indeed be going to the MLK Library for a library research overview session this Wednesday, however we will be meeting in Room 213, not 125.

As noted on the class schedule, please download the Library Scavenger Hunt assignment and bring it with you (on your laptop or as a print-out) to the library session. Librarian Toby Matoush will point you to the answers for many of the questions in this assignment, which is now due Wednesday, March 4.

Also, I’ve added links to the News Story assignment on both the assignments page and the class schedule page. I’ve pushed back the due date for this assignment to Monday, March 2. Submit this assignment in class as a hard copy; do not post it on your blog.



Vargas update

vargas posterIf you were on campus last March, I hope you got to attend the West Coast debut of “Documented,” a film about US immigration by Jose Antonio Vargas, a journalist who is also an undocumented immigrant.

Vargas was awarded the School’s 2014 Hearst Foundation Award that night, and spoke to a large crowd of students, faculty and community members after the screening.

His film was broadcast nationally on CNN in June.

Now, Vargas is continuing his focus on immigration in a new venue: He is partnering with the Los Angeles Times to create a new section of the Times website devoted to race, immigration and multiculturalism. The Vargas/LA Times partnership will be called #EmergingUS.

In a recent article on CNN Money, Vargas described the new venture as “a multimedia platform that, through articles, original videos, shareable data and graphics, will focus on the intersection of race, immigration and identity and the complexities of multiculturalism.” In addition to the website, #EmergingUS will also produce videos and hold events.

Because LA Times logoVargas is not a U.S. Citizen, the LA Times could not legally hire him. So, said Austin Beutner, the publisher and CEO of the Times, the media company decided to develop a business partnership with him instead.

Writing Center

good-writing-is-hard-workIf grammar is not your game, and I’m starting to bug you about writing problems such as sentence fragments and passive voice, you might to consider visiting the SJSU Writing Center. Located in Clark Hall, the Writing Center offers one-on-one tutoring, skill-building workshops, and online writing resources. Check them out at:

If, on the other hand, writing is your game — and your writing, editing and communication skills are pretty darn stellar — you might be interested to know that the Writing Center is planning to hire some new tutors. Here’s the link to the center’s jobs page:

Missing blogs?

If you haven’t yet set up your blog for this class, and emailed your blog’s web address to me, the time to do that is NOW.

Time’s a wasting …

Typo time

On Monday I’ll review AP style and the “Copy Edit the World” assignment. To help you get your “editing chops” up to speed, here are some fun errors I spotted and photographed over winter break.

The way the Copy Edit the World assignment works is that you must identify and correct an error to get credit. In this case, I’m offering two points extra credit to the first person to add a comment to this blog that identifies and corrects an AP style error, typo or other error in any of these pics.

Ypromo typoou’ll probably notice more than one error, but please just pick one to identify and correct in your comment. That will give more of you a chance to experience some of that “extra credit love.” (Also, please first check any published comments to see which errors have already been identified and corrected.)

surfing typo  menu typo

Spring 2015 hello

Welcome to the home page for MCOM 100W, section 2. We’re scheduled to meet in DBH 222 on Mondays and Wednesdays at 3 p.m.

While you’re here, please look around the site. On this blog, you’ll find the syllabus, class schedule and descriptions of the assignments, as well as links to resources that could help you prepare for and complete the assignments.

You’ll find my contact information and office hours on the instructor page.

Since I’m also the undergraduate adviser for the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, it can be difficult to get in to see me during my regular advising hours. So I will reserve the half hour immediately after our class (M/W 4:15-4:45 p.m.) to meet with you.

I’m always happy to help, so feel free to stop by or email me if you have a question about an assignment, or whatever, or if you run into a problem.

P.S. As of today, I still have a few spaces open in this class … probably because SJSU didn’t list it in the spring class schedule, so a lot of students don’t know it’s here. I will give preference to seniors.

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