MCom 100w

Writing Workshop

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GoodbyeI’m retiring, and so is this blog.

This blog has been my teaching companion for the past eight years — fully half of my teaching career.

Feel free to look around and make use of any of the blog posts and resources you find here. I’ll leave it up for a while.


Sked changes

As discussed in class, I’ve made a few changes to the class schedule, including moving the due dates for a few assignments. The changes are in orange.

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:

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.

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.


This Tuesday, Nov. 6, is election day (as if we could forget). If you’re a first-time voter and have questions about how to cast your vote, you can go to:

If you’re new to the area and have questions about how to find your polling place, try:

In need of help?

If any of you are struggling on how to write the final feature article or how to begin it, then feel free to check out my feature article from last semester here.

Also, don’t hesitate to contact me at with any questions.

Hope this helps.

Needing help with your grammar?

Here is a picture with some good information regarding spelling and proper use of commonly misused and confused words.

Hope it helps,


Extra Help

Scholarship opportunity

Up to $10,000 in scholarships is being offered to students interested in a career in journalism and who live in or attend school in the Bay Area. The scholarships are offered by the SF/Bay Area chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association.

The 2009 scholarship application is available at (go to the “Scholarships” tab). The application deadline is March 31.

Field trip

Students viewing the Japanese Internment Memorial, located a few blocks from campus, just outside the entrance to the Robert Peckham Federal Building in downtown San Jose.

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