This course is an intensive introduction to reporting, writing, producing, editing, and managing content for the web, which are essential for careers in media. You will learn how to integrate writing, photography, social media, audio, video, and blogging for both journalism and strategic communication (e.g., public relations, marketing). You will engage in original journalistic reporting using a variety of formats. The course will also focus on grammar, AP style, meeting deadlines, accuracy, news judgment, ethics, and appreciation of our diverse society.
Course Objectives & Student Learning Outcomes
Develop a Portfolio Website Using a Content Management System
- You will learn how to disseminate multimedia work to an online audience using WordPress.
- You will learn how to insert text, photos, links, audio, graphics, and video to a WordPress website.
Interviewing and Reporting
- You will learn how to select topics, conduct research, and tell journalistic stories.
- You will learn how to interview people and report on their perspectives with objectivity, respect, and open-mindedness.
- You will create content that is fact-checked, accurate, fair, thoughtful and critically/purposefully executed.
- We do not want to perpetuate stereotypes about groups of people, especially if the issue addresses sensitive, controversial, value-laden, or political topics. We want to be very mindful about how we report upon various people and issues.
- You will learn how to plan and execute the reporting and newswriting necessary for multimedia projects.
- You will learn how to write for online “reading” (i.e., online scanning because people don’t fully read things) and practice AP Style.
- You will learn how to shoot photos that tell a story, capture eyes, and evoke emotion
- You will learn to think critically about how photography can frame people and issues.
- You will learn how to conduct audio interviews and edit digital audio recordings
- You will learn the strengths and limitations of audio storytelling and how to effectively tell audio stories
- You will learn how to use social media is used in journalism and strategic communication.
- You will learn about social media data analytics and how to use various social media platforms for content promotion
- You will learn to think critically about when to use visualizations (e.g., maps, charts, graphs) to represent information.
- You will learn to brainstorm and execute a location-based story that integrates Google My Map into a WordPress blog.
- You will learn how to shoot and edit video footage and how video can be used to tell stories.
- You will learn how to prepare video for online distribution and how to promote your videos.
Specifications Grading System
We will be using a points-free, competency-based assessment system called specifications grading that differs from traditional points-based systems in some very important ways. Under this system, it’s up to you to decide how much work you want to do based on the final grade you want to earn. The course is designed this way to give you more control over your learning experience and to better reflect the real-world conditions under which journalists work
How This Course Works
I believe that using points and number values to describe the qualities of subjective, creative work is a flawed way to determine your mastery of skills in this course. Therefore, instead of grading assignments on a point system, everything will be assessed as Complete/Incomplete based on whether your work demonstrates your understanding of the course’s learning goals by fulfilling each assignment’s specifications/requirements.
If you receive an Incomplete grade on an assignment you submitted, you will have the opportunity to choose whether or not you want to revise and resubmit your work until it achieves the necessary qualities to be marked as Complete.
Receiving an Incomplete mark on an assignment you submitted does not mean “failure,” it simply means that you are not done yet. Incomplete grades are only permanent if you do not submit the assignment at all or if you choose to not revise an assignment that was marked Incomplete.
As described below, the assignments and projects in this class will be “bundled” into four tiers that reflect a hierarchy of learning goals for this course. Essentially, your final grade in the course is a function of how many of each type of assignment earns a grade of Complete. The bundles are designed such that the C bundle represents baseline competency in multimedia production.
For each assignment, you will be provided with a list of specifications, which are the criteria your work must meet in order to be marked Complete. You can think of these specifications as a checklist – if your work “checks all the boxes,” it will be marked Complete. If you fail to meet one or more of the specifications, your work will be marked Incomplete, but you will have the opportunity to revise and resubmit the assignment as many times as needed until it earns a grade of Complete.
The grading system we are using in this class provides you with a good deal of choice as to how much you wish to learn and how hard you want to work to demonstrate and apply that learning. You might decide that passing the course with a C is sufficient for your goals – it is perfectly appropriate and worthy of respect for you to make that choice, especially if it allows you to better prioritize your obligations outside of this class. If you want to get an A in the course and maximize your learning, you should know that this level of engagement requires you to work hard and challenge yourself.
The bundle you are aiming for may change as the semester progresses – this is perfectly fine. I will not be using the bundles to assign grades until the end of the semester, so it is up to you how you want to proceed. I strongly recommend keeping track of where you stand in relation to the bundle requirements throughout the semester so that you can make effective decisions about what works best for you.
“A” Bundle – Complete all the following to earn an A in this course:
- Complete the Introductory Survey
- Complete all 9 Blog Posts
- Complete at least 5 Weekly Activities, including all three Required Weekly Activity (Weekly Activities 4, 10, and 12)
“B” Bundle – Complete all the following to earn a B in this course:
- Complete the Introductory Survey
- Complete at least 8 Blog Posts
- Complete at least 4 Weekly Activities, including all three Required Weekly Activities (Weekly Activities 4, 10, and 12)
“C” Bundle – Complete all the following to earn a C in this course:
- Complete at least 7 Blog Posts
- Complete at least 3 Weekly Activities, including at least two of the Required Weekly Activities (Weekly Activities 4, 10, and 12)
“D” Bundle – Complete all of the following in order to earn a D in this course:
- Complete at least 6 Blog Posts
- Complete at least 2 Weekly Activities, including at least one of the Required Weekly Activities (Weekly Activities 4, 10, and 12)
Revise and Resubmit
This course emphasizes the value of a growth mindset, which involves learning through experimentation, risk taking, making mistakes, and revision.
In addition, because every element of the course is graded on a Complete/Incomplete basis, there needs to be a safety net in case you don’t meet the threshold specifications to earn a Complete on your initial submission of an assignment.
You can revise and resubmit your work as many times as needed to update your grade on the assignment to Complete.