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Spring 2009 JR 408 4 Credits Friday, Noon‐3:45 p.m., Room W638
Instructor: Michelle Johnson Office #615, 120 Boylston St. 617‐824‐8964 Michelle_Johnson@emerson.edu
Office Hours: Monday, Wednesday 4‐6, Thursday 2‐4, or by appointment Course Description This course is designed to introduce students to issues related to reporting, writing and producing news for online. Students will explore how online stories differ from stories produced for other mediums and how online newsrooms use current technologies to engage in digital storytelling and delivery of breaking news. Through in‐class and online discussions the class will evaluate the effectiveness of current technologies used to produce online news. In addition, students will gain experience writing and producing stories on deadline for fast‐paced online publication. Each student will be required to configure and maintain a blog to be used for posting analysis and links to examples of best and worst practices in the industry. Students will critique news sites and packages and track an assigned news site throughout the semester. Guest speakers who currently work on the front lines of online journalism will provide valuable insight and context. Course Objectives Students will study key industry trends, technologies and multimedia reporting techniques in order to gain an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the Web as a journalistic medium. With this knowledge as a foundation, students will learn to produce content tailored for online.
Learning Objectives Upon completion of this course students will: • Be able to produce basic multimedia stories, incorporating elements such as slideshows, audio, maps and video. • Quickly turn around news stories for online. • Be prepared to work solo or in a team environment to produce stories and packages for the web. Textbooks The bulk of the reading for this course will be available online. Links to reading and examples for discussion will be posted to the class blog: blog.emerson.edu/InteractiveNews. Journalism 2.0: How to Survive and Thrive, by Mark Briggs. It’s available as a FREE download at: www.kcnn.org/resources/journalism_20_copies (Note: If you would prefer a hard copy, you’ll find a link to purchase it at the link above.) Please note that in order to keep things timely, the instructor will occasionally assign reading and assignments (via the blog) that is not listed on this syllabus. Course Requirements 1. Assignments You will complete four assignments worth 20 percent of your grade. These will require you to demonstrate key concepts learned in class. Example: Produce a video package and upload to YouTube. Additional details about these assignments will be distributed later in the semester. 2. Homework You will occasionally be required to participate in online discussions on the class web site (blog.emerson.edu/sprg09jr408), posting responses to questions posted by the instructor.
3. Blogging Project: NewsTrack In addition to blogging in response to questions posed by the instructor, students will be required to blog a minimum of once a week about an online news site that you will track throughout the semester. This “NewsTrack” project will be assigned by a drawing held on the first day of class. Students will be assigned to a news web site that they will monitor throughout the semester, posting analysis and commentary about work that appears on the site. Examples of questions to explore in your analysis: • What is this site doing right, or wrong? • How often do they launch new features? • How well do they integrate multimedia and other features designed to attract and engage their audience? The audience for your NewsTrack blog is your fellow journalism students, so point them to the most interesting, controversial, engaging content on your assigned site. NOTE: Blog posts are due by 6 p.m. on the Thursday before class. 4. Final Project You will conceptualize and map out a multi‐layered Web project and build one piece of it. This will be a semester‐long assignment, with key pieces due throughout the semester. Grading There is no midterm or final in this class. Grading will be broken down as follows: Newstrack Blog Project – 20% (weekly posts) Homework – 20% Assignments – 20% (There are four, due throughout the semester) Class participation, attendance – 10% Final Project – 30% Grading Policy A (90‐100) – Excellent work that met or exceeded the requirements of the assignment. Reflects solid research, news judgment, accuracy, attribution, critical thinking. Assignment could be published with minor editing.
B (80‐85) – Good work with one or two minor grammatical or style errors. Well‐ documented but may contain problem with news judgment, attribution, balance or organization. Assignment could be published with editing. C (65‐70) – Average work. Failed to meet most of the requirements of the assignment. Shows lack of news judgment, accuracy, balance, etc. Assignment not good enough to be published. D (55‐60), F (0‐55) – Below average work that shows little or no understanding of the requirements of the assignment, numerous grammatical, style errors, major factual errors. Course Policies • This is a long class. We will take a coffee/bathroom/email break each week. Please restrict unrelated internet browsing, e‐mailing, instant messaging or other unassigned online activity to the break. • Please turn off all mobile devices (cell phones, iPods and other MP3 players, etc.) before class. • Spelling, style and grammar count! When you submit a written assignment points will be deducted for spelling and grammatical errors. • Professionalism: You will be called on to critique the work of your classmates and debate issues. There may be times when you disagree with another student’s comments. You will be expected to deal honestly, but professionally, with your classmates and the instructor of this course. • In addition to the assigned online reading, you should read and watch “traditional” news in order to be able to discuss and analyze differences between the mediums. Attendance You are expected to be in class each week, on time. Roll will be taken. If you are ill or must miss a class for another reason please alert me as soon as possible via email or a phone call. You will be responsible for completing work assigned during your excused absence. Multiple unexcused absences will affect your final grade. If you miss more than three classes you will not receive credit for this course.
Course Schedule: Check the course web site for updates, links! Topic Assignments/Reading Jan. 23 Course Introduction In‐class: Review syllabus, course requirements, assignments. Set up blogs. Select NewsTrack sites. Jan. 30 A history, survey of the In‐class: Discuss blog posts, state of online news. current landscape in online journalism. Reading: 1. American Journalism Review, essay by Barb Palser http://www.ajr.org/Article.asp?id=2688 2. Journalism 2.0, Chapter 2 3. State of the News Media Report, http://www.stateofthenewsmedia.org/2 008/, Read the complete “Online” section. Homework: According to the State of the Media report, young Americans, 18‐29 are least likely to watch online news video. Propose some ways to attract this audience and post your assessment on the class web site. Link to good/bad examples. Due by 6 p.m., THURSDAY. NewsTrack: Update your blog with your initial observations about the news site that you’re tracking. Due by 6 p.m., THURSDAY. Feb. 6 Writing for Online, Modes In‐class: Writing discussion; Mapping workshop. of Digital Storytelling, Mapping Assignment 1 – Google map package. Reading: 1. Journalism 2.0: Chapters 5, 6 2. Multimedia Storytelling: See class web site for link. Newstrack: Blog post due. Due by 6 p.m., THURSDAY. 5
Tech Tour A look at the tools and technologies used to produce online news today.
Blogs – A Overview
Social Networking Twitter, Facebook, SEO
In‐class: Tech discussion; Multimedia “on the cheap” Workshop; overview of free online services for sharing video, photos. Reading: 1. Easy publishing tools for online journalists http://www.ojr.org/ojr/wiki/tools/ 2. Journalism 2.0: Chapters 1, 3 Assignment 2: “YouTube” Package: Produce a short multimedia feature about a Boston neighborhood that would be suitable for use as a sidebar or featured centerpiece online. Due. Feb. 20 Assignment 1 due. Newstrack: Blog post due. In‐class: Blog discussion; prep for live blogging. Reading: 1. Journalism 2.0, Chapter 5 2. Blogging breaking news (see course site for links) Homework: Take a tour of political blogs and post a critique on the class web site. Note particularly good or bad examples. YouTube Package due. Newstrack: Blog post due. In‐Class: Assignment 3 ‐ Live Blogging: You will be assigned to cover a breaking event from the field, blogging live to the course web site and promote coverage using social networking tools. Reading: See links on course web site. Newstrack: Blog post due. 6
Apr. 3 Apr. 10
In‐class: Soundslides, Web production workshop, prep for Neighborhood project. Reading: See links on course web site. Newstrack: Blog post due. Spring Break No Class Legal Issues In‐class: Work on neighborhood project. Homework: Log on to newsu.org and complete the course: Online Media Law. Send a course report to get credit for completing the course. Newstrack: Blog post due. Usability, RSS, Mobile Tech In‐class: RSS, mobile tech exercises Reading: 1. Usability 101, by Jakob Nielsen http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20030825.html 2. Top Ten Mistakes in Web Design http://www.useit.com/alertbox/9605.html Homework: Critique mobile news web sites and post analysis to your blog. Details to come. Due April 3. Neighborhood project due. Newstrack: Blog post due. Flash In‐class Exercise: Tweaking Flash Templates Newstrack: Blog post due. Podcasting Reading: 1. Journalism 2.0, Chapter 7 2. Podcasting Legal Guide (See course web site for link) Assignment 4 – Record, edit and upload your podcast. Due April 17. Newstrack: Blog post due.
Week 13 Work on Project Newstrack: Blog post due. Apr. 17 Apr. 24 Work on Project May 6 Scheduled final exam time Final project presentations (Wed) Speakers Note: We will have a number of speakers who work in online media visiting us throughout the semester. Because they are busy professionals whose schedules change constantly, I have not listed specific dates for their appearances. Plagiarism and Fabrication (Excerpted from the Academic Policy Committee and approved by the Faculty Assembly May, 1983, and updated and approved by Faculty Assembly, October 2005.) “Plagiarism is the use of the words and ideas of another as if they were one's own and without acknowledgment of their source. Plagiarism is stealing, and constitutes a serious offense against any ethical code, be it scholastic, artistic, or professional. Plagiarism can be committed intentionally, or it can happen inadvertently, due to careless note‐taking, or to a lack of knowledge of the conventions by which sources are credited, or even because of a misunderstanding on what constitutes original thinking. Plagiarism is unethical in any context.” (Excerpted from the Department of Journalism’s statement.) There is nothing more central to the credibility of journalism and to the trust of readers, listeners and viewers than the implicit promise that every journalist makes to the public that the information provided is accurate, original and truthful. Journalists who fabricate stories or portions of them, or who steal the work of others and pass it off as their own, undermine not only their careers, but the careers of other journalists, the public’s trust in the Fourth Estate and the credibility of the entire profession. This department will not tolerate plagiarism or fabrication — any student caught doing either will automatically fail and will face possible suspension from the college. Ignorance is not a defense when it comes to plagiarism, fabrication and/or cheating. If you have a question about attribution, ask. Disability Statement If you have a disability that may impact your performance in this class, please register with the Disability Services Coordinator so that you can work together to develop methods of addressing needed accommodations.
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