CA317 Feature Writing

for SP 2008

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CA 317 Feature Writing


SP 2008 HO


Lofflin, John


Professor of journalism



Office Location

Copley 2 South

Office Hours


Daytime Phone



Class Days


Class Time

1:50 - 3:05 PM

Credit Hours




·         "The Last American Hero Is Junior Johnson, Yes?" by Tom Wolfe, Esquire Magazine, July 1965 (provided)
·         Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon

Additional Resources:

·         America's Best Newspaper Writing by Clark and Scanlan

·         The Literature of Journalism: Text and Context by R. Thomas Berner

·         Selected articles from current magazines and newspapers

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Course Description:
This course provides an opportunity to develop writing skills in the gathering and creation of in-depth magazine and news features. Primarily focused on writing, it aims to develop the students' voice and style in print. This course will satisfy the EN306 requirement for Communication Arts/Journalism majors. 3:0:3

Educational Philosophy:

Engagement with the ideas of the course is the essential prerequisite for higher level learning. The teacher serves as a guide to the construction of meaning, the development of skills and dispositions, the recognition of what constitutes excellence, and the consideration of ethical issues. Reading and writing are essential tools to achieve depth of understanding and criticism.

Learning Outcomes:
  Core Learning Outcomes

  1. The student will...
  2. conceptualize at least three doable journalistic features stories -- one newspaper length (about 1,000 words) and two magazine lengths (about 3,000 words).
  3. obtain solid interviews for these stories.
  4. write appropriate, vivid, thought-provoking leads for these stories aimed at the needs of specific publishers
  5. add appropriate research to make the stories substantial.
  6. weave stories that are compelling, thoughtful, and elegant from the voices and the material.
  7. polish these stories for economy and power minimizing mechanical mistakes in final drafts.

Core Assessment:

Class Assessment:

We will work by establishing a schedule for each story and by producing drafts. The instructor will comment on drafts if they are turned in on time. Major stories in final form will be due around four weeks and 12 weeks. Papers turned in on time may be recast for higher grades. Late papers may not be rewritten. Grades will be lowered one letter each week a final paper is late. Of course, this will not happen.

Feature writing is designed as a mastery course. The idea is to write a good first draft then spend plenty of time revising until the final draft is perfect. A student may rewrite as many times as she wants, seeking mastery. Mere rewriting, however, does not ensure a higher evaluation -- some rewrites are simply not successful. But most are. Take advantage of this rare opportunity of spirit and time to do something of which you are proud.


The instructor will choose one of your two stories as the core assessment.


Each manuscript will be weighted equally.

Late Submission of Course Materials:

Grades will be lowered one letter each week a final draft is late. This policy is more merciful than the policies followed by most editors and managers in the commercial world.

Classroom Rules of Conduct:

If problems arise with cell phones or laptops, they will be banned.
If you use your laptop during class to take notes, the instructor will, on occasion, ask for copies of those notes at the end of the session. Web surfing, Facebooking, Myspacing, and e-mailing are not permitted during class. The instructor does not have as much faith in multi-tasking as you probably do.

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

·         Week 1 Drawing with words -- family portrait

·         Week 2 Conceptualization and interviewing / Conceptualize newspaper length feature

·         Week 3 The lead revisited 

·         Week 4 Organization / Newspaper length feature ROUGH DRAFT due

·         Week 5 Editing the first story / editing for Associated Press style. FINAL DRAFT due Friday.

·         Week 6 Conceptualize magazine length feature Reconsidering the lead /the organization

·         Week 7 Clearing away the dead wood / Adding research

·         Week 8 Reading aloud to clarify, simplify and smooth language / ROUGH DRAFT due

·         Weeks 9 - 14 will roughly follow the scheme above, with surprises – FINAL DRAFT magazine length feature probably due at 12 weeks

Academic Honesty:
Academic integrity is the foundation of the academic community. Because each student has the primary responsibility for being academically honest, students are advised to read and understand all sections of this policy relating to standards of conduct and academic life.   Park University 2007-2008 Undergraduate Catalog Page 85-86

Plagiarism involves the use of quotations without quotation marks, the use of quotations without indication of the source, the use of another's idea without acknowledging the source, the submission of a paper, laboratory report, project, or class assignment (any portion of such) prepared by another person, or incorrect paraphrasing. Park University 2007-2008 Undergraduate Catalog Page 85

Attendance Policy:
Instructors are required to maintain attendance records and to report absences via the online attendance reporting system.

  1. The instructor may excuse absences for valid reasons, but missed work must be made up within the semester/term of enrollment.
  2. Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the semester/term of enrollment.
  3. Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the semester/term of enrollment, but unexcused absences may carry further penalties.
  4. In the event of two consecutive weeks of unexcused absences in a semester/term of enrollment, the student will be administratively withdrawn, resulting in a grade of "F".
  5. A "Contract for Incomplete" will not be issued to a student who has unexcused or excessive absences recorded for a course.
  6. Students receiving Military Tuition Assistance or Veterans Administration educational benefits must not exceed three unexcused absences in the semester/term of enrollment. Excessive absences will be reported to the appropriate agency and may result in a monetary penalty to the student.
  7. Report of a "F" grade (attendance or academic) resulting from excessive absence for those students who are receiving financial assistance from agencies not mentioned in item 5 above will be reported to the appropriate agency.

Park University 2007-2008 Undergraduate Catalog Page 87-88

Disability Guidelines:
Park University is committed to meeting the needs of all students that meet the criteria for special assistance. These guidelines are designed to supply directions to students concerning the information necessary to accomplish this goal. It is Park University's policy to comply fully with federal and state law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, regarding students with disabilities. In the case of any inconsistency between these guidelines and federal and/or state law, the provisions of the law will apply. Additional information concerning Park University's policies and procedures related to disability can be found on the Park University web page: .

Additional Information:


This course is an upper division excursion in writing the major print feature, or, with approval, producing the major broadcast feature. It seeks to improve your writing skills. You will develop criteria for excellence in the field. The course will improve your interviewing skills. The course will help clarify your sense of purpose in the profession. The course will call on your analytic skills in fact-gathering and focus extensively on conceptualization -- a key skill for happy journalism.

The course no longer satisfies the requirements for En 306, Writing in the Discipline.




The communication arts graduate in journalism is a thinking

journalist capable of adapting to change and creating change in the profession,

open-minded, committed to truth and the empowerment of all citizens through the

arts of journalism. The graduate recognizes excellence and strives

to produce it. The graduate’s professional and personal ethics are in harmony,

motivated by a sense of purpose for good in the community. The graduate

celebrates individuality and respects differences while searching

 for the common good.

     “...the purpose of media education is to produce well-rounded graduates who have critical thinking skills as well as practical skills, and who have an understanding of the philosophy of the media and a dedication to the public service role that the media have in our society.”

-- Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication

Curriculum Task Force, 1996, p. 106


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Last Updated:1/13/2008 10:09:24 PM