I'm looking forward to meeting you on Monday - Jan. 11 - and launching our 16-week journey into the world of news reporting. It is a world that I can promise you offers infinite challenges, makes huge demands on your time and energy and is never boring.
There is nothing quite like the adrenalin rush of covering that big story, getting that interview that everyone else wants and turning your copy in on deadline and then seeing your story on the front page the next day. Or getting the copy online before anyone else. And don't let's forget Twitter and Facebook, all important tools for today's journalist.
On Monday, we'll spend time getting to know each other - I've already downloaded your photos so hope to recognize some of you by name - and going over the syllabus so you have a good idea of the rules of engagement. We'll also do some writing.
This is a boots-on-the-ground class so you will be doing a lot of reporting, writing on deadline and interviewing. You'll also be expected to get stories published in Central Florida Future and have a commanding knowledge of AP Style - the golden-rule book that all journalists use when they want to know what to abbreviate, when to use numbers, how to handle measurements and dozens of other challenges that arise every time you sit down to bang out a story.
You'll find basic AP rules in your class textbook Reporting For the Media (Ninth Edition) by John R. Bender, Lucinda D. Davenport, Michael W. Drager and Fred Fedler (Published by Oxford Press). The book should be available in the campus book store.
Even better - try and get a second-hand version from a student who no longer needs the book.
Meanwhile, start thinking about possible stories you could cover. The UCF campus is a goldmine. And pickup and read those free newspapers - USA Today and Central Florida Future. If you have some spare change get the Orlando Sentinel. However, I'll bring my copies from home for you to share.