Cell: 617 548 0109
Class meets Wednesday, 2:30 – 5:15pm
Equipment Reservations: wco.bu.edu
JO205 is a visual reporting class for all journalism students at Boston University. Through weekly class meetings that include screenings, lecture, discussion, equipment instruction, in-class workshop and feedback sessions, students will gain experience in many aspects of multimedia storytelling, including audio production, shooting and editing photos and video, producing stories and portfolio publishing. This class is essential for those who have a passion for storytelling and a curiosity to find and dig deeply into compelling visual stories.
The course has a deliberate progression to build skills through in-class exercises and assignments. While students will gain technical competency in multimedia production, the main objective is to learn and practice the fundamentals of reporting and visual storytelling. During the semester students will cover two stories in-depth, one of which is their final project. All stories must follow the rules of journalism to be truthful, fair, balanced, timely, and focused. Teamwork is an essential feature of the course. Your partner will be a valuable asset to help with classroom exercises and peer editing. Your partner will also provide a second set of hands to help with equipment and be there to help keep you safe while working in the community.
There are no prerequisites for this course. Any Boston University student may register with the permission of the instructor. This course offers an exciting opportunity for professional growth as students will acquire valuable visual storytelling skills, learn to take a creative approach to publishing original work to industry standards, to gain mastery of digital workflow and multimedia expression, and leave the course with an online portfolio.
HUB Learning Outcomes
Communication: Digital/ Multimedia Expression (one unit)
Throughout this course students will learn the fundamentals of photojournalism and video storytelling.
Students will use a scaffold approach to build storytelling skills using a digital toolkit that they will work with throughout the course. They will learn to produce and manage digital assets, shoot and edit still pictures and video, and layer audio interviews with ‘nat’ sound to create rich multimedia stories. Students will produce and publish stories online.
Students will develop skills and concepts to produce photo, video and multimedia stories in the area of their interest. Students skills will progress during the semester through class exercises, assignments and in-depth reporting.
Intellectual Toolkit: Creativity/ Innovation (one unit)
Teamwork is an important component of this course. Students will learn to work with a partner and in small teams to assign tasks, strategize, provide support through peer editing and form crews that meet media industry standards.
Students will learn to step out of their comfort zone and communicate with people of different backgrounds. Communication skills will build during the course and students will need to use a creative approach to connect with their subjects and be able to recognize what stories and issues are unique and important to their community. Students will acquire creative skills as they learn to compose a photograph, frame a video clip, layer audio, create a story arc and edit and produce a final product.
• Report, produce, and edit engaging multimedia stories
• Develop the skills to create clear, concise, and focused visual stories
• Acquire high competency for interviewing
• Shoot and edit compelling storytelling visuals
• Understand story arc and construction
• Develop skills for advanced journalism classes
• Develop editorial judgment to give and receive constructive criticism
• Work effectively alone and as part of a team
• Develop confidence to approach subjects
• Write detailed storytelling captions that include basic info such as who, when, where, and why.
• Engage with outside communities and with an audience
• Identify current and future trends in multimedia storytelling
• Students learn to cover stories in diverse and under-reported communities
• Students learn to avoid stereotypes in their storytelling
• Understand the importance of light
• Operate a DSLR camera to shoot stills and video
• Operate an audio recorder to capture high-quality interviews and natural sound
• Understand visual aesthetics of composition, color, contrast, saturation and focus
• Understand how to shoot and sequence a variety of shots
• Create and maintain a digital asset management system
• Develop high competency to shoot and edit photos, video and audio
Students in JO205 are required to read the NYTimes, including the Lens Blog, daily.
Media Storm Field Guide
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED READING
Magnum Contact Sheets, BU Library
Doing Documentary Work, Robert Coles, BU Library
Read This If You Want To Take Great Photographs, Henry Carroll
The class naming convention is always: yearmonthday_project name_yourlastname_version
END CREDIT REQUIREMENTS
College of Communication
Professor Peter Smith
Laptop and external HD:
Before you arrive to class, be sure to have a laptop that meets COM’s recommendations. This link also has a guide to help you choose an external hard drive. Make sure that your external hard drive is formatted to either Mac or Windows depending on your laptop type. Mac external hard drives should be formatted to ‘journaled.’
Adobe Creative Cloud You will need to download Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe Lightroom for this course. You can download them once you sign up for Adobe Creative Cloud using your Kerberos username and password. This must be completed at least two days before the first class meeting.
Link to check out gear: Check out
Students will also fulfill weekly in-class workshops that include pitching stories, photography, audio recording, video recording, and editing.
Portrait, learn portraiture; lighting, composition (10 points)
Depth-of-Field, learn aperture priority to control focus. (10 points)
Action, learn shutter priority to freeze action (10 points)
Multimedia Story: (20 points)
This is the beginning of your work as a journeyman/woman multimedia storyteller. Work in teams of two to pitch a compelling, visual story for the Multimedia Portrait. Portrait ideas could include a story of a shopkeeper, athlete, or invisible worker. Photograph a series of images including portraits, photo sequences, details, and scene setting images.
Demonstrate the skills we discussed in class: story, composition, exposure, focus, DoF, silhouette and motion. Organize photos, import into Lightroom, and select 15-18 images for the in-class critique. Extra points will be given for creativity and strong story ideas. Students are not allowed to shoot assignments of people they know including friends, roommates and relatives.
Record an interview and ambient sound for your Multimedia Portrait to combine with your photo series. The final Multimedia Portrait story will include a well-edited interview, ambience, strong images, and titles. You may also use music, judiciously. Include final end credits and upload to your Wordpress portfolio and the class Smugmug site.
Video Story (10 points)
Shoot a one-minute video of your subject, partner, room, relative okay. Use three at least three sound bites, include ‘nat’ sound, include at least two b-roll sequences. Once sequence must be of a process. Do not go wall to wall with sound bites. Leave space to hear ‘nat’ sound.
Final: NYT “Op Doc” Style Video, approx. 2-3 minutes (30 points)
When possible, students will work in teams of two to research, report, shoot, and edit a focused character-driven story about a timely issue. Your story must have a news peg. Focus on subjects telling stories in their own voice without narration or an on-camera reporter. The final video will include a well shot and edited interview, visual sequences, and b-roll. Include titles, graphics, and end credits. You may also use music, judiciously. Upload to Ado and the class be Portfolio and to Smugmug site. No friends, roommates or relatives for this exercise.
Abobe Portfolio (10 pts)
Include five pages which include – about, exercises, multimedia, video, and photo
DEADLINES, DELIVERABLES AND WEIGHTS
Assignment one Multimedia Story, Mar. 17 (20 pts.)
Assignment two Video Story (process film), (10 pts), April 7
Assignment three Final Story, (30 pts), April 28
Adobe Online Portfolio, (10 pts.), April 28
Jan 27, Week 1
Intro. Discuss apps and gear. Review Visual Storytelling progression.
Feb 3, Week 2
Discuss: Keeping safe while reporting
Camera set-up. Manual adjustments for focus, exposure, white balance. Review, lighting and framing concepts.
Review first exercise.
Three environmental portraits, wide-to-tight
Two tight portraits on plain background – use direct and indirect light
Feb 10, Week 3
Edit and Deliver: Portraits
Review exercise 2, Depth-of-Field
Feb 17, Week 4
Edit and Deliver: Depth-of-Field
Review exercise 3, Action
February 24, Week 5
Edit and Deliver: Action exercise
Review Mid-term requirements
March 3, Week 6
Learn sound recording and the interview. Watch Terry Gross interview
Bring in Zoom audio recorder, iPhone voice memo can work.
Intro to Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe Rush
March 10, Week 7
Assign midterm, produce two-minute multimedia story
Review: One-in-Eight Million
March 17, Week 8
Multimedia Story Due
Review video story requirements
March 24, Week 9
Review shooting and editing technique.
Review sync and non-sync video examples
Review Video Story
One Minute Movie
The Uncertainty of It All
A Vacation, Not Quarantine
March 31, Wellness Day
April 7, Week 10
Review Final Project requirements
One-Minute Video Story is due end of class
It’s all about the base
Now It’s Back to Records
Apr 14, Week 11
Rough draft of Final Project is due
Apr 21, Patriot’s Day
Apr 28, Week 12
Final Draft of Video Story due
Adobe Portfolio is due
General Grading Policy
A – Excellent work that meets or exceeds the requirements. Work reflects solid research, skilled interviews, is accurate, has proper attribution, conforms to industry standard; multimedia elements (video, photos, audio, interactive) are sharp, focused, clear, appropriately edited, properly captioned, tagged and credited. Could run as is, or with very minor edits.
B – Good work with a few errors. May contain minor problem with focus, spelling/grammar, style, balance, organization; several multimedia elements are subpar (out of focus, poor sound quality, etc.) or exhibit one or two technical glitches. Could run with some editing.
C – Average work. Failed to meet some of the requirements of the assignment. Shows lack of news judgment, accuracy, balance, etc., technical errors, subpar multimedia elements, poor selection of interactive elements. Could only run with significant editing or a complete overhaul.
D – Below average work that shows little or no understanding of the requirements of the assignment, numerous grammatical, style errors, major factual errors and failure to use assigned technology and tools properly.
F – (0-59.9) Failure to turn in by deadline or significantly flawed work.
The National Press Photographers Association: NPPA
The National Press Photographers Association, a professional society that promotes the highest standards in visual journalism, acknowledges concern for every person’s need both to be fully informed about public events and to be recognized as part of the world in which we live.
Visual journalists operate as trustees of the public. Our primary role is to report visually on the significant events and varied viewpoints in our common world. Our primary goal is the faithful and comprehensive depiction of the subject at hand. As visual journalists, we have the responsibility to document society and to preserve its history through images.
Photographic and video images can reveal great truths, expose wrongdoing and neglect, inspire hope and understanding and connect people around the globe through the language of visual understanding. Photographs can also cause great harm if they are callously intrusive or are manipulated.
This code is intended to promote the highest quality in all forms of visual journalism and to strengthen public confidence in the profession. It is also meant to serve as an educational tool both for those who practice and for those who appreciate photojournalism. To that end, The National Press Photographers Association sets forth the following.
CODE OF ETHICS
Visual journalists and those who manage visual news productions are accountable for upholding the following standards in their daily work:
- Be accurate and comprehensive in the representation of subjects.
2. Resist being manipulated by staged photo opportunities.
3. Be complete and provide context when photographing or recording subjects. Avoid stereotyping individuals and groups. Recognize and work to avoid presenting one’s own biases in the work.
4. Treat all subjects with respect and dignity. Give special consideration to vulnerable subjects and compassion to victims of crime or tragedy. Intrude on private moments of grief only when the public has an overriding and justifiable need to see.
5. While photographing subjects do not intentionally contribute to, alter, or seek to alter or influence events.
6. Editing should maintain the integrity of the photographic images’ content and context. Do not manipulate images or add or alter sound in any way that can mislead viewers or misrepresent subjects.
7. Do not pay sources or subjects or reward them materially for information or participation.
8. Do not accept gifts, favors, or compensation from those who might seek to influence coverage.
9. Do not intentionally sabotage the efforts of other journalists.
10. Do not engage in harassing behavior of colleagues, subordinates or subjects and maintain the highest standards of behavior in all professional interactions.
Ideally, visual journalists should:
- Strive to ensure that the public’s business is conducted in public. Defend the rights of access for all journalists.
2. Think proactively, as a student of psychology, sociology, politics and art to develop a unique vision and presentation. Work with a voracious appetite for current events and contemporary visual media.
3. Strive for total and unrestricted access to subjects, recommend alternatives to shallow or rushed opportunities, seek a diversity of viewpoints, and work to show unpopular or unnoticed points of view.
4. Avoid political, civic and business involvements or other employment that compromise or give the appearance of compromising one’s own journalistic independence.
5. Strive to be unobtrusive and humble in dealing with subjects.
6. Respect the integrity of the photographic moment.
7. Strive by example and influence to maintain the spirit and high standards expressed in this code. When confronted with situations in which the proper action is not clear, seek the counsel of those who exhibit the highest standards of the profession. Visual journalists should continuously study their craft and the ethics that guide it.
Percentage-based Grade Scale
C: 73- 76.99
How to Get an ‘A’ in This Course
• Be here each week, on time, ready to engage.
• Complete all reading and assignments on time.
• Exceed expectations!
• Participate in class and any online discussions.
• You get extra credit for: being enthusiastic, inquisitive, and open to learning new things.
• Think ahead. Anticipate upcoming requirements such as BU News Service assignments and the final project. Structure your time to do your best work.
Please restrict unrelated internet browsing, e-mailing, texting or other unassigned online activity during class. When we have guest speakers, please, no loud typing. Tweet, yes, but be discreet about it so as not to distract our guests and the rest of the class. Points will be deducted for spelling and grammatical errors.
Professionalism You will be called on to critique the work of your classmates and occasionally discuss ethical issues. There may be times when you disagree with another students’ comments. You will be expected to deal honestly but professionally with your classmates and the instructor of this course.
In addition to the assigned reading, you should read and watch “traditional” news in order to be able to discuss and analyze differences between the mediums.
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 BEFORE class via email (preferably) or text. If you have an illness or emergency, which can be documented, your absence will be excused. However, you will be expected to complete any assignments that you missed during your excused absence. Missed assignments are due by the next class. Multiple unexcused absences will affect your final grade.
Deadlines are a key concept in journalism. If you miss a deadline in the real world you might lose your job. Get used to filing assignments on time. Unexcused late assignments will not be accepted in this class. Grades are based on quality, content, and punctuality of work submitted. Late assignments lose one grade (A to B) for each week they are late. Assignments that are not turned in receive zero credit. The final grade is an average of all grades received during the semester. Assignments are DUE at the end of class.
We will occasionally hear from speakers who work in online media. Because they are busy professionals whose schedules change constantly I have not listed specific dates and times for their appearances (well, most of them). I will announce speakers close to their scheduled date of arrival.
BU policy on recording in classes.
Please note that classroom proceedings for this course might be recorded for purposes including, but not limited to, student illness, religious holidays, disability accommodations, or student course review. Note also that recording devices are prohibited in the classroom except with the instructor’s permission.
BU has strict guidelines on classroom behavior and practices when it comes to treatment of students and guests on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, mental or physical disability, genetic information, military service, national origin, or due to marital, parental, or veteran status. Discrimination for any of these reasons is prohibited. Please refer to the Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Policy for more details.
If you are a student with a disability or believe you might have a disability that requires accommodations, please contact the Office for Disability Services (ODS) at 617-353-3658 to coordinate any reasonable accommodation requests. ODS is located at 19 Deerfield Street, up on the second floor.
All student-athletes should be provided with a sheet from Student-Athlete Support Services regarding absences throughout the semester. These sheets should be handed in as soon as possible to avoid potential conflicts and so arrangements can be made to provide for missed lecture notes, classwork, or discussion.
Plagiarism and Fabrication
The College of Communication rules on plagiarism is applicable to this course.
“Plagiarism is the act of representing another person’s creative and/or academic work as your own, in full, or in part. It can be an act of commission, in which one intentionally appropriates the words, pictures, or ideas of another, or it can be an act of omission, in which one fails to acknowledge/document/give credit to the source, creator and/or the copyright owner of those words, pictures, or ideas. Any fabrication of materials, quotes or sources other than those created in a work of fiction is also plagiarism. Plagiarism is the most serious academic offense that you can commit and can result in probation, suspension, or expulsion.”
Academic Code of Conduct
Be sure to read and comply with Boston University’s Universal Academic Conduct Code for undergraduate students. It is available at: bu.edu/academics Recording of Classes Statement Please note that classroom proceedings for this course might be recorded for purposes including, but not limited to, student illness, religious holidays, disability accommodations, or student course review. Note also that recording devices are prohibited in the classroom except with the instructor’s permission.