Avoid the Penalties

Mechanical errors, including AP style, grammar and spelling mistakes, are five points each. The true terror are fact errors, which subtract 50 points from your grade, no questions asked. You read that correctly, my friends – if you get two fact errors, that puts your article at an unfortunate zero. While some labs allow you to drop a couple of bad grades, once again, it depends on who your lab instructor is. It’s bad practice to rely on drops, anyway. So avoid fact errors at all costs! They will mutilate your grade if you’re not careful. But don’t be too discouraged if you get one; it’s still possible to get a good grade (even an A) with a fact error or two (especially if they’re in in-class articles). Be especially careful with outside articles because those stories are worth double the points.

Carefully proofread to avoid mechanical errors.

While these penalty amounts may not surprise you, there’s something else about Reporting that’s different from Writing for Mass Communication (MMC 2100). In MMC 2100, content wasn’t as big of an issue. That class was more about learning the basics of the inverted pyramid and getting to know the grammar and AP style rules. Reporting shows no mercy in regard to your content grade. An article with content problems (including missing information or poor organization) can start you off at 75 percent, not counting any mechanical errors. So no, you can’t whip an article together with immaculate grammar and hope for the best. Many more points are taken off in Reporting for content problems, so be wary of that.

Lab instructors will also have their own individual penalties for other problems like turning in an article late. You’ll have to look at the syllabus once you get it and pay attention to the other ways you can lose points. They’ll probably hold you responsible for remembering their specific rules.