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Special Topic Classes

College of Journalism & Mass Communications Special Topics Classes

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Special topic courses are new or emerging classes offered for three credit hours during a regular academic session - fall, spring or summer semesters.

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Spring 2021

JOMC 491.002 | 3 credit hours | TR 11:30-12:45 p.m. Advanced Sports Data Analysis

There have been major advances in machine learning in the last few years that have made those tools more accessible to newcomers. Sports is awash in challenges of classification -- Who is the greatest? Which teams are the best? Who is going to get drafted? Is this game a good bet? These are questions built for machine learning. This course will walk students through the problems of classification, the issues involved and the steps to apply machine learning to the problem. We'll focus on problems that can create content, and we'll work on a predictive algorithm for gambling on college basketball (if it's happening). You don't have to know the math behind it, you just have to be curious enough to try and understand what is happening. And employers are looking for people who can implement machine learning in their organizations, from analytics firms to teams to leagues to betting houses.

Preferred pre-requisites: Having taken SPMC350 or JOUR307 is highly, highly encouraged. 

Faculty: Matt Waite

JOUR 491/891.002 | 3 credit hours | Tuesdays 6-9 p.m.Columns and Editorials

Anyone can have an opinion. But writing that opinion in a way that makes others care about it - that's an art. And in the world of journalism, columns and editorials are an art that can get you published and paid while writing about things you care about. This course will cover all aspects of opinion writing, from understanding the form to generating ideas to writing pieces to pitching publications. You'll finish the semester with polished works ready to send into the world.

Faculty: Anna Sims

ADPR 491/891.971| 3 credit hours |Online Jan. 11-Mar. 5Data Analysis for Media Professionals

This course introduces you to the many types of decisions that data analysis involves and the tools that are appropriate for addressing a variety of research questions. It emphasizes application of statistic tools to answer questions in journalism, advertising and public relations. It provides a broad examination of everything from setting up the data file, deciding the appropriate analysis strategy, interpreting results, and presenting them in the text of a paper. It accommodates students with varying interests: those who wish to conduct empirical studies, as well as those who will work in media or other organizations that create reports and stories about research.

Faculty: Changmin Yan

ADPR 291.001 | 3 credit hours | TR 9:30-10:45 a.m.Keeping up with the Kardashian Brand

In our ever-connected society, you couldn't escape the Kardashians if you tried. Their photos overload our newsfeeds, products fill our online shopping carts, and behavior dominates our conversations. This course will take a deep dive into the Kardashian culture that has dazzled the U.S. and globe for nearly two decades. We will explore how this powerhouse family has built an empire on celebrity, materialism, sexuality and aspiration through mastering branding, influence and social media. Digging deeper, we will seek to understand how the family's media and financial success leaps across verticals, thriving amidst consumerism, appropriation and authenticity criticisms. We will consider and evaluate the Kardashian personal and branded social media successes and missteps that illuminate best practices for brands.

Faculty: Kelli Britten

JOUR 491.003 | 3 credit hours | TR 1:30-3:30 p.m.Being Black in Lincoln

More than 150 years after America’s slaves were freed and Nebraska gave birth to its capital, this class will examine the question: What’s It Like to Be Black in Lincoln in 2021? It will display the complex range of answers to that question in a variety of ways – in print, on video, via a class website and through community-wide public discussions. In the end, 15 students will be chosen to write major profiles of 12 Black residents of Lincoln. Those 12 residents will represent a diverse cross-section of Lincoln’s Black community – from politicians, preachers, teachers and athletes to businessmen and women, students, BLM leaders and single mothers raising young children with few resources. The stories will be scrupulously researched, written and edited and will appear in the Lincoln Journal Star on 12 consecutive weeks – a weekly mirror for Lincoln residents to peer into and see an aspect of the community largely hidden from their view.

Faculty: Joe Starita, an award-winning journalist and author who has overseen numerous depth-reporting projects – one of which won the prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Humanities Foundation Grand Prize. A two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee, Starita spent 15 years as an investigative reporter in New York and Miami and is the Pike Professor of Journalism.

Apply by Oct. 30

JOMC 491.003 | 3 credit hours | MW 1:30-3:20 p.m.Climate Change Magazine Production

We're going to convert a year's worth of deep-dive reporting and transform it into an elegant page-turning Climate Change Magazine that will be found everywhere -- from Nebraska coffee tables to dental offices to high school science classrooms. We will take 20 art-savvy students from across campus to have a hand in laying out the first-ever journalistic magazine focused on the problems and solutions to Nebraska climate change and establishing a new creative dynamic for Nebraska's K-12 public school science curriculum.

Faculty: Jenn Sheppard

Apply by Oct. 30

ADPR 491/891.792 | 3 credit hours Strategic Health Communication during COVID-19

This course provides an overview of the interdisciplinary field of strategic health communication and contextualizes the current COVID-19 pandemic through past lessons. Students will learn how to design, communicate and evaluate effective health promotion messages and strategic health campaigns for the purpose of exploring COVID-19 related communicative and behavioral problems and solutions.

Preferred pre-requisites: Students will be required to critically, think, analyze and write at an advanced level so at least a writing or upper-level course is recommended, for example: ADPR 491, ADPR 221, ADPR 283, JOUR 200A or JOUR 200B. 

JOMC 491.004 | 3 credit hours | TR 9:30-10:45 p.mSport in American Culture

Sport has been an important part of the American cultural landscape since before the founding of the Republic, from the very popular blood sports of the 18th century, through the development of the boxing and horse racing industries in the 19th century and the explosion of baseball, football and basketball in the 20th century and eSports in the 21st century. Few, if any places, in our society do we see the confluence of income, class, race, gender, identity, and celebrity as we do in the world of sports. This course examines the role of sport in our society, and how the media have been both partners and observers.

Faculty: John Shrader

JOMC 491/891.791 | 3 credit hours | Online Mar. 15 - May 7Social Media and the Digital Landscape

A million new social media users are born every day and on average, people around the world spend 15 hours a week on social media. This course will introduce you to the idea of social influence and how social media trends are changing the way information flows into our society. Throughout the course of the semester, students will analyze influencer culture, mental health, social movements and hashtag activism, and political social campaigns.

Preferred pre-requisites: Students will be required to critically, think, analyze and write at an advanced level so at least an introductory writing course is recommended, for example: English 150/151, ADPR 221, JOUR 200A or JOUR 200B. 

Faculty: Jemalyn Griffin

BRDC 491 | 3 credit hours Racial Stereotypes in Entertainment

This course is designed to examine how racial stereotypes in media considered ‘entertainment’ affect society as a whole, as well as those groups being portrayed in stereotypical ways. Those fully engaged in this class will be able to understand the correlation between Hollywood and societies perceptions of people of color. With its long held racial and gender practices where white people, mostly men are mainly cast as heroes, while all other races are assigned to those roles considered less desirable, like the villain, the unattractive friend, or as the sexual object. We’ll study the impact stereotypical racial images promoted as entertainment has on the general population and how such images can skew the way viewers understand and learn to categorize people.

Faculty: Trina Creighton

Grad Only Spring 2021

JOMC 891.791 | 3 credit hours | Online Mar. 15 - May 7Solutions Journalism

Explore the concept and practice of solutions journalism, an emerging journalism model. Students will learn about the origins of this model, the reporting and writing strategies necessary to achieve it and its impact. Underlying our study will be this integrating question: What is the role of journalism and the journalist in a democratic society?

Faculty: Michelle Carr Hassler
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