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JO 704 Online Journalism, A1

JO 704 Digital Toolkit, A1

Peter Smith 
Master Lecturer

Class meets 2:30 – 5:15pm

Office Hours: room B33
Tuesday: 12-1pm in-office, 2-3pm Zoom meeting
Friday: 11am-12pm in-office, 12-2pm Zoom meeting

Book here:
Cell: 617 548 0109

Grad Assistant, Mohan Ge

Mohan’s email:

Course Description

This course will introduce you to reporting, writing, editing and producing multimedia journalism for the web and other digital platforms. You will explore how online stories differ from stories produced for “legacy” media such as newspapers and broadcast television.

We’ll also look at how digital newsrooms use current technologies to engage in delivery of breaking news and features. Through in-class and online discussions we will evaluate the effectiveness of these current technologies and methods of digital news gathering.

In addition, you will gain valuable experience producing stories, interactives and multimedia for publication. Your best work will be submitted for publication on

You will be required to configure and maintain a blog that you will use to critique an assigned news organization’s web site throughout the semester, pointing to good (and bad) examples, and analyzing best and worst practices.

Guest speakers who currently work on the front lines of digital 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 and other digital platforms as a journalistic medium.  With this knowledge as a foundation, students will learn to produce content specifically for digital platforms.

Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this course you will know how to:
• Write specifically for online, including via social media.
• Think “digital first” and produce content for multiple platforms on deadline.
• Use social media tools to build a following and brand yourself as a multimedia journalist.
• Produce basic multimedia stories incorporating elements such as slideshows, audio, maps, data visualizations and video.
• Work solo or in a team environment to produce digital content.
• Curate the torrent of information online to add context to stories.
• Understand the differences between producing for the web and other digital platforms versus traditional mediums.


Web Hosting
If you do not already have access to self-hosted Wordpress (not the free, you will be required to purchase an account and install Wordpress for class assignments.
Recommended: student account, $25/yr.

Required Supplies

TWO SD cards, 16GB, Class 6, or higher for use in a camera and audio recorder. (Buy the largest capacity that your wallet can withstand.) You should also purchase a portable hard drive formatted to work on a Mac.
Tip: Put your name and contact info somewhere on your equipment so that you can be reunited in the event that you leave it in a lab or elsewhere.

Required Accounts
Please set up accounts on the following sites/services:
• Gmail
• Instagram
• Twitter
• YouTube or Vimeo
• Spark
• Adobe Portfolio
Note: We’ll be adding more throughout the semester.

Equipment Checkout:
We have an equipment depot located in the basement of the building (B-17) where you can check out cameras, audio recorders, tripods and other equipment. You can reserve equipment online at Make sure that you have your student ID with you when you pick up gear.

Download Creative Cloud
You will need to download Premiere Pro, Lightroom Classic, and Portfolio all from the Adobe Creative Cloud. You can download them once you sign up for Adobe Creative Cloud using your Kerberos username and password.

Required reading:

Two Daily News Outlets:, SouthChinaMorningPost,,


Class One
Review syllabus for class goals, policies, review of required apps, week-to-week schedule, assignments, exercises and rubrics. Guest Speaker, Saum, will talk about the experience of feature and documentary photography with a DSLR and with a smart phone – and how to photograph a stranger.

Review hardware needed for this class.
All assignments will be posted to social media (twitter, insta, etc.)

NewsTrack assignment: Follow an online news site and write media critique in third person in two installments. First story is an intro, second story is wrap-up.

Topics will include evidence of bias (be specific), ease of navigation, style and design, depth of content, links to related stories, how well are photos and video integrated with stories, is live streaming used or are other features like click bate employed to entertain or tell story. How is social media used to entice readers?
500 words, links, screen shots.

Class Two
Guest speaker Boston Globe Copy Writer Mary Crane.
Writing for online multimedia journalism,
Learn Wordpress/  student story and NewsTrack will be posted to Wordpress site.
NewsTrack presentations schedule will be announced.


Class Three
Adobe Portfolio
Create an About Page, an exercise page, add social media links to Twitter and Instagram
Write a short bio of four to five grafs. Write in first person and tell your audience who you are and where you’re from; what experience you have in journalism with writing, photography, video, data, etc.; what your aspirations are in journalism?

Add a photo to your ‘about’ page. Use one that you currently have or use a photo taken by your partner – don’t forget to add their photo credit.
Photo exercise with ProCamera app.
Photo editing workshop with Lightroom

Finish setting up your portfolio and your social media accounts. Download Adobe Premier Rush for next week.

Class Four
How to shoot video with an iPhone.
Review video settings for Pro Camera
Learn: handheld shooting, tripod shooting, 180 degree rule, a b-roll sequence, framing for variety.
How to interview your subject for strong soundbites and to create a story arc.
Use Zoom H5 or smart phone to record audio.

Class exercise: Shoot a four-clip process sequence of your subject typing or other activity, interview your partner

How to Find and Pitch a Story.

Learn how to edit video in Adobe Rush

shoot a sequence of your subject coming to campus, redo interview if necessary.
Research event to shoot for multimedia story

Class Five
10/12 (holiday schedule)
Pitch a story on an event.
Finish and publish your student video story.
Adobe Rush workshop. Upload to Smugmug and YouTube or Vimeo.
Learn Adobe Spark

Class Six
Review multimedia stories for technique and ideas.
Put student story on Wordpress site.

Shoot event. Write rough draft, organize files into photo and video folders.

Class Seven
Edit Story with Rush, Lightroom and Spark.
Due by the beginning of next class.

Homework: research final story

Class Eight
Using data visuals and Google Maps
Team story: Coffee in the time of Covid – a data story including multimedia (video, photo, words)

Homework: research final story

Class Nine
Finish editing Coffee in the Time of Covid. Publish to Wordpress. Due at the end of class.
Pitch your final project.

Class Ten
Editing workshop for final project
Second Newstrack presentations

Class Eleven
Rough draft due of final

Class Twelve
final story due

Class Thirteen
Review portfolio and final project.

Dates and weights

Student story, 10 points, Due: 10/12

Spark Event,     20 points, Due 11/01

Coffee in the Time of Covid, Data Story,  20 points  Due: 11/08

NewsTrack 1+2,  10 points Due: assigned dates

Final Project,  30 points Due: 11/29

Portfolio, 10 points Due: 12/06


To be announced…

Percentage-based Grade Scale
A: 93-100            A-: 90-92.99
B+: 87-89.99     B: 83-86.99    B-: 80-82.99
C+: 77-79.99      C: 73- 76.99   C-: 70-72.99
D: 60-69.99
F: 0-59.99

GPA conversion
A:  4.0
A-: 3.7
B+: 3.3
B: 3.0
B-: 2.7
C+: 2.3
C: 2.0
C-: 1.7
D: 1.0
F: 0


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