COM300 – A Rigorous WSU Murrow Class

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Murrow College of Communication at WSU

COM300 – A Rigorous WSU Murrow Class

PULLMAN, WASH – WSU alumnus Spencer McCarty remembers taking COM300 when he went to the university.


“It was a lot of stress and pain,” McCarty said.


He’s not alone.


“My term for it is a necessary evil,” WSU student Cameron Limes said.


“This was kind of the dreaded course of this semester,” Current COM300 student Annie Hager said.


COM300 is a core class that focuses on writing in Associated Press or AP Style. This is the format newspaper and media companies use.


“It’s a whole new type of writing, it’s a new style, a new concept. I think with most of these concepts being introduced to students for the first time, most everyone finds it challenging,” COM300 Instructor Wendy Raney said.

However, COM300 has a reputation at the school. There’s even online articles and Reddit threads about it.


“I just remember wanting to curl over and die every single time,” McCarty said.


“It definitely disheartens a lot of students,” Limes said.


It’s rigorous for a reason


“If you’re in a newsroom, you’re writing several stories a day. So having the students write one story per class is pretty reasonable,” Professor Tracy Simmons said.


“You have to focus on things like active voice, and subject-verb-object,” Professor Bill Loftus said.


However, some students have seen results from taking the class.


“Since I got a CNN internship this summer, a lot of the things I’ve learned in this class are things I’m able to apply to my interview,” Hager said.


Some even enjoyed it.


“I loved COM300. Everything I’ve learned in that class I still use today,” university student Vonnai Phair said.


While COM300 may be rigorous and beneficial, is it too hard of a class?


“I took it three times. Did not graduate as a Murrow student. My final grade in the third try was a D+,” McCarty said.


COM300 can only be taken up to 3 times, after that, students can no longer continue in the Edward R Murrow College of Communication and Spencer isn’t alone in his COM300 struggles.


“I had to take it three times, and I just barely passed the third time,” Limes said.


“We were getting up to almost 40% overall, not making it through. A’s are very rare,” Loftus said.


Almost 40%. If you were to take 35% from the Spring 2021 amount of class seats, 109, that would be 38 students out of 109 that would not pass the class.


However, faculty are making of efforts to make the class a little more accommodating.


“A comma misplaced or a misspelling of a word, may have been an F error for students and that’s not the case anymore. Now, we decided an F error is if we have to correct something, like if you would have to run a correction in a newspaper,” Simmons said.


While trying to make adjustments, staff still stand by the course.


“The famous F grade, for misspelling a person’s name or getting an address or major facts wrong. That F grade exists to reinforce how important it is to get news right,” Raney said.


Loftus said “so we put them out with a degree, and their writing won’t qualify them to get a job in the industry. Is that more fair to them?”.


And students agree too.


“You know, Murrow is Murrow because of this class. I think without it, we wouldn’t have that kind of name and reputation,” McCarty said.


“In the real world where we have professional communication jobs, they’re not going to be lenient if we misspell things or get a name wrong or something like that,” Phair said.


There’s also tips they’ve learned from the class,


“Leave all the distractions at the door. When you walk into that class, give it your full attention,” McCarty said.


“Use up the whole time you’re there,” Limes said.  


“I went to the peer mentors for a lot of the first part when I was taking the class,” Hager said.


“If you fail a paper, which everyone in COM300 does, it’s not the end of the world. You will still pass the class, but it is a learning lesson.,” Phair said.



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