JOURNALISM 190: BEYOND GOOGLE AND WIKIPEDIA (Professor Abah and Professor Grefe)

Winter 2020

Introduction and Schedule


Additional course materials are provided in Sakai


Class Schedule

  • January 15 – Introduction;  Google and Remembering  (Grefe)
  • January 22  – Freedom of Information (Abah)
  • January 29  – Magazine and Newspaper Databases  (Grefe)
  • February 5 – Scholarly/Academic Journal Article Databases (Grefe)
  • February 12 – Fact-Checking  (Abah)
  • February 19 --  The Universe of Books, c. 2020 (Grefe)
  • March 4  – U.S. Government Information (Grefe)
  • March 11 – 
  • April 1  –  Court Records -- Online and Offline  (Toni Locy)
  • April 8 -- Backgrounding Companies with Public Sources  (Abah) 
  • April 15-- W&L Sources for Marketing Research  (John Tombarge)
  • April 22 --  Backgrounding People with Public Sources  (Abah)



The ability to quickly locate accurate information will distinguish you in your academic and professional careers. In this one-credit course, you will explore the complex information environment in which we live. You will be introduced to credible information sources that academic researchers, journalists, and public relations professionals rely on to conduct scholarly research, to report and write news stories, and to find, analyze and present research on trends in mass communications. You will learn how algorithms and corporations influence the information you see on the Web, as well as the best search strategies for finding what you need, on and off-line.

Through weekly classes and assignments, you will strengthen your research skills by learning how knowledge is organized and how to evaluate information once you have found it.

There is no text for the course, but there will be occasional handouts. You will be introduced in every class to complex information and data sources and be expected to spend time outside of class learning how to navigate them.

Every week, you will be assigned an exercise to apply the information discussed in class. Expect to spend one or two hours on each assignment. Unless told otherwise, all assignments are due NO LATER THAN 11:45 PM on the Friday following the class meeting.  Turn them in as email attachments to Prof. Abah or Prof. Grefe. Your assignment grade will be determined by:

  • The extent to which you follow directions and exhibit mastery of the topic
  • The quality of your presentation, including spelling and grammar
  • Punctuality. Late assignments -- even a couple minutes late -- will receive a zero.
  • Missed assignments will receive a zero.

Your course grade will be the average of your assignment grades, plus class attendance. More than one unexcused absence will lower your grade. If you are unable to make a class because of illness, a death in the family, or other legitimate reason, let Prof. Abah and Prof. Grefe know before the class.

Washington and Lee University makes reasonable academic accommodations for qualified students with disabilities. All undergraduate accommodations must be approved through the Office of the Dean of the College. Students requesting accommodations for this course should present an official accommodation letter within the first two weeks of the term and schedule a meeting outside of class time to discuss accommodations. It is the student’s responsibility to present this paperwork in a timely fashion and to follow up about accommodation arrangements. Accommodations for test-taking must be arranged with the professor at least a week before the date of the test or exam, including finals.