Tammy L. Murray

Official Author Website

Second Year 2007-2008

Abnormal Psychology (first term course) ~ Dr. Michelle Lafrance:
Dr. Lafrance is passionate and engaging about her subject.  She challenged us to take a critical look at the social constructionism of “diagnosis” and the process of creating mental illness in the “DSM”; the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.  At one time the “DSM” included homosexuality as a mental disorder and is considering (or perhaps has included) PMS, or pre-menstrual syndrome in newer versions of the manual.  This course was fascinating and challenging and Dr. Lafrance helped put into perspective my “fear” of travelling along our moose ridden highways in the dark.  I simply had to remind myself how often moose collisions occurred in my area and how likely I was to have one! ;)   This was an excellent course that I still think about often in day to day life.

Intro to World History (full year course) ~ Dr. Rusty Bittermann:
Dr. Bittermann (or Rusty, as he prefers) is a task master if there ever was one.  However, he gives nothing less than he expects from his students.  I’m not sure why I decided on this course but I do still visit the textbook regularly.  Rusty brought everything but the kitchen sink to this course.  Every class began with music from the time and region we were covering for the lesson.  Photographs from Rusty’s many travels as well as helpful maps accompanied the classes as well.  Videos on occasion helped to bring home the message when appropriate.  I remember watching (most of) “The Atomic Cafe” in absolute horror, yet remembered watching the movie “The Day After” as a teenager, equally horrified.  This course was a lot of work, very challenging, but incredibly illuminating.  A great deal of the focus of Rusty’s teaching is from an environmental and agricultural point of view.  We began at the “cave man” and went right through into recent history.

Law, Power and Canadian Politics (first term course) ~ Dr. Amanda DiPaolo: 
If anyone had told me I would take political science in school let alone enjoy it, I would have said they were crazy!  However, the journalism department does require a Canadian political science course as part of the major.  Fortunately I chose Amanda’s course and had an absolute blast.  Had she not left St. Thomas for the University of Tennessee, I quite likely would have taken more political science courses.  Amanda brought great energy to this course and not only encouraged debate but often sparked it with outrageous comments about politics in the news and other current events.  This course taught me a lot about the importance of political procedures as well exposed me to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, an important resource for journalists. 

Research Methods (Sociology, first term course) ~ Dr. Sylvia Hale:
Knowing that one day I want to write non-fiction I recognized the need to learn how to correctly conduct research to get the most accurate information, not just information that supports a notion I already hold.  Dr. Hale did a great job of making this rather dry subject quite interesting.  After covering some theory with us, the class decided on a topic of research and then collaborated on creating a questionnaire which class members then put to the “public”.  Dr. Hale advised us that our results would be somewhat limited by our demographics… i.e. (paraphrasing here) ‘the poor fools who would become victims of university students peddling their homework’ or something to that effect.  The course was also a great experience for my journalist skills since it forced me to ask open ended questions to get as much “rich detail” as I could from my interview. 

Journalistic Writing (first term course) ~ Mark Tunney:
Right from the start, Mark got us practicing the art of writing.  A weekly “journal” entry was required in which we would write a descriptive paragraph about an incident we had witnessed during the week.  At the end of the term we were to choose our “Top 10” and submit that for marking.  There were also larger writing assignments, we did a “turning point” story, a “hard news” story and a “personal” story which reading it again now, after 3 years, still looks pretty darn good!  I have found with print journalism that aside from the obvious technical errors, an editor/professor really is viewing your work with his/her own idea of style.  It was difficult at times to know what Mark meant by “focus” or “get my attention” for it seemed at times we have very different ideas of what was attention getting.  Aside from these differences of opinion (which carried on through my two 3rd year print courses) I valued (still do) Mark’s experience, his creativity, his easy going attitude and quirky sense of humour.

SECOND TERM

Law and Media (second term course) ~ Michael Camp
This course took us deeper into the Charter of Rights and Freedoms focussing on the aspects of it pertaining to journalism as well as some rights that come up against our rights to Free Speech and Free Press.  We were sent to the court house to learn how to write court stories without violating a person’s right to a fair trial.  This is a common place where the Charter clashes with itself and an important skill journalists need to practice to make sure we’re not compromising somebody’s court proceedings.  Through PowerPoint presentations we also looked at a lot of history in journalism and specifically studied the case of Joseph Howe.  Other media legalities were covered too, such as defamation and protecting sources.  This was an interesting and useful course that I continue to apply today.

Broadcast Journalism (second term course) ~ Don Dickson and Pat Richard
This course was a whirlwind exposure to television writing, shooting and editing all in one three hour per week workshop!  Don and Pat split the class each week and for the first half of the class Don would teach his group how to write good broadcast copy and scripts to go with the scenes.  Pat would teach his group how to use the cameras and editing software.  Together they would go over the fine points of setting up shots, getting good audio and filming interesting scenes.  We were partnered up and sent out to do real interviews with real cameras about real stories.  I remember being terrified!  Don and Pat were always available to help guide a story idea, give technical feedback and bolster our confidence.  This was a very challenging class and I have great respect for any student getting through it without losing their marbles, there’s a ton of stuff to learn in a very short time.  My partner Ayat and I produced a story about the smell still coming from Fredericton’s landfill and another story about a family being fed up with winter at Easter time.  Aside from those projects, all of which was done on our own time, we wrote a number of copy exercises which are valuable to recognize how easily a meaning can be misconstrued by a word or two.  Having the CBC facilities as a classroom for this course is a fantastic resource as well.  This is an important and valuable course for the journalism program at St. Thomas.

Photojournalism (second term course) ~ Karen Ruet
I had hoped for a lot more from this course.  Perhaps those without a photographic background got more out of it than I did.  What I did get from the course were assignments which forced me to get out and use my camera more.  The textbook was very interesting and informative and I still look at it today.  Pictures are an important element in any story, especially in today’s multimedia format which is the World Wide Web.  I have incorporated photographs in every print story and many of my radio stories, creating photo slide shows to accompany the audio.

Community Journalism (second term course) ~ Jacques Poitras
A challenging writing course based on community and political events.  We covered a city council meeting and sat in on the legislature.  Jacques brought many interesting guest speakers to the class to help us understand the concept of press releases and how to investigate and write the story not included in the PR message.  We learned how to understand numbers in a report and look beyond them to what they actually mean.  Jacques is a tough but fair marker and I feel his class challenged me to be a much better writer.

Posted in Resume and STU Courses.

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