JO304 teaching guide

JO304 C1 Online Journalism

4 Credits
Peter Smith
Master Lecturer
Office: B33
cell: 617 548 0109
Class meeting: Monday 8 – 10:45am
Office hours: Monday, 11- 1 pm, Tuesday, 1-3 pm or by appt.

Course Description

This is an intro class to Online Journalism. Students will use various storytelling platforms to produce stories online. We 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 class and online discussions, we will evaluate the effectiveness of these current technologies and methods of digital news gathering. Your best work may be submitted for publication on bunewsservice.com

Students will configure and maintain a blog to publish their work. Guest speakers who currently work on the front line of digital journalism will provide valuable insight of specialized fields.

We will use Slack as a class discussion group – I will send you all an invite.

Required reading:

Required reading:

Madison Duddy
Emma Finnerty
Christopher Larabee
Andy Picon
Rachel Sharples

Audrey Sutter
David Simon

NYTimes

NYTimes Lens Blog 

Week to Week

Week 1, September 9

Course Introduction & Overview

  • Review syllabus and course requirements.
  • Get a blog – if you do not have one for this class go to blogs.bu.edu – WP links
  • Discuss class exercises.
  • Sign up for all accounts that you may be missing and set-up blog.

Students will use Twitter and Instagram to promote their blogs.
All assignments must include at least one Instagram post during completion of the assignment with #304b1

This photo can be of your subject, a scene setter from your story location, or an interesting detail to raise interest and anticipation for your story.

In general, you will post stories to your blog and tweet the short link of your blog post with the goal of driving traffic to your blog to grow your audience.

Reading:

Please review the following before next weeks class:

The Online Journalism Handbook, Second Edition, Paul Bradshaw: Chapters 1-3

NPR: Get a Twitter Habit
Why Instagram is This Journalist’s Favorite Tool

Val Hoeppner’s Apps for Journalists 2019-2020 Edition


Week 2, September 16

Mobile Reporting – smartphone shooting and editing.

  • Review composition, background, light and moment. 
  • Learn how to edit your image on your smart phone: crop, tone, correct exposure using Adobe Lightroom Photo editor for your mobile device.
  • Shoot raw files if possible.
  • Discuss Newstrack media analysis assignment – pick your online publication.

Class exercise: 
Shoot, edit and tweet photos of Kenmore Square using a smart phone – embed in blogpost. 

Due today:
Post a feature photo of Kenmore Square.

For next week:

  • Make sure your blog is set-up. You can get a free blog from wordpress.com

Week 3, September 23

Video shooting, and editing with Adobe Adobe Rush
(see more Rush tutorials)
Setup and link Instagram and Twitter accounts to your blog.

Discuss captions: who, when and where, with a short blurb for context. Add why if possible.

Video shooting and editing workshop. Reporting with Instagram
Wordpress lab – work on populating your site with social media links, customizing your blog, embed media, use categories, tags, format and add pages.

Assignment 1 (Graded), Hub Week, Due: October 7
Email a pitch for a story out of Hub Week, (Oct. 1-3) that you can cover using only a mobile phone and the Adobe Spark Page app. (Android users, you can use the web version.) Look for a story with potential for multimedia: text, photos, video, etc. (No panel discussions or speeches unless they include interesting visuals please.)

Using the Adobe Spark Page app (iPhone) or your Android phone and the web version, cover the story that you pitched. It should include:

  • Text (400-600 words, max)
  • 8-10 photos (Properly shot and edited on your phone. No dark, fuzzy images, please. And vary your shots: Tight, medium, wide. See links below for tips on shooting and editing.) Please properly caption all photos. (See the tips for writing captions in this article.)
  • At least one video no longer than one minute in length shot in landscape (horizontal) mode. Please don’t shoot vertical video for this assignment. (You’ll need to upload this to Youtube for use in Spark.)
  • Be sure to include hashtag #jo304 in the credit of your story.

Publish your story and post a link to it on our class Slack channel.

Useful Links for this assignment:

  1. Writing Photo Captions: The Journalism Part of Photojournalism
  2. Using photography as a tool for online journalism
  3. Guide to Taking Great Video on Your Phone
  4. Adobe Spark Page makes web design easy here’s how to use it


Note: The best assignments will be submitted to BU News Service.

Week 4, September 30

Review pitches for hub week assignment

First NewsTrack blog post: Update your blog with your initial observations about the news site you’re tracking. Your post should include at least one screenshot or other visual. Send out a tweet announcing your new blog using the hashtag #jo304. 300-400 words. (Each time you blog you should promote your post via Twitter and other social media. You will be graded on this. Also share the link on the class Slack channel.)


First Newstrack Presentation 

    • Download the Adobe Spark Page app to your iPhone or iPad. If you have an Android phone open an account at spark.adobe.com. We’ll be reviewing this app this week. (Note: Use your BU Adobe Creative Cloud account to sign in. It gives you some extras because it’s a paid account.)
    • If you don’t have one already, open a YouTube account.
    • Review: Adobe Spark Post Tutorial

Review: 

Week 5, October 7

Hub week assignment due – review in class

Reporting via Mobile

You could get out a lot of high-end equipment to cover a story, but increasingly all you need is your phone. This week’s topic: Turning around stories using mobile devices. With multimedia journalists using everything from Instagram to Snapchat to cover news, how do you figure out what the must-haves are when it comes to equipment and apps? We’ll look at how and when to use mobile devices to shoot and edit news vs. breaking out the higher-end gear to produce more in-depth work. And it’s not just about the gear. What kinds of stories lend themselves to this sort of treatment? We’ll review examples.

Second Newstrack blog post and tweet/ presentations: Update your blog with your latest observations and tweet about your post.

Week 6, October 15 (Tuesday class due to holiday)

Lecture/Demo/Class Exercise
Using Adobe Premiere Pro
How to shoot and mic a visual sequence (workshop)
Audio recording basics using an audio recorder,  Zoom H5 Setup

Adjusting audio input level, mic placement
Premiere Pro Video Workshop  
Review Premiere Pro, how to sync audio + make multicam clip

Workshop: Shoot and edit a short sequence
White Balance + Camera video settings
1080px24fps, use 1/50 for shutter speed
Shoot b-roll, learn to create sequence
180 degree rule

Homework:
Shoot a short video story. Include a scene setter, action, reaction and a sequence of a process that is visual. Use lower thirds. Mic audio for high quality ‘nat’ sound. Partnering is okay.

Read Online Journalism Handbook, Chapter 9
Edit visual sequence in class
post 60 second video + 125 words to blog

Week 7, October 21

Review visual story

In Class:
Assign Twitter Story – tweet three photos and three video clips from the North End. Use up to three of your own tweets and three from your classmates to produce a story about the North End on your blog (six tweets total, three photo, three video) + 250 word story to accompany it.

News Track One Presentation
Homework: finish research for final story pitch.

Review: 

How to stand out online as a student digital journalist
An Editor’s Guide to Creating an Online Portfolio

When the web isn’t forever: how to create an offline archive of your writing portfolio


Week 8, October 28

Discuss Person-On-The-Street Topic – it’s presidential election season!
Lecture/demo/exercise – How to shoot and mic ‘person on the street’ 
Review North End (Twitter story)
News Track Two

 

Week 9, November 4

North End/ Twitter story due
Pitch final project
News Track Three

Week 10, November 11

Person on the street story due at end of class (class edit) – review (250 words)

Review Progress on Person-on-the-street video due + 250 words. Work with your partner to capture high quality video and audio interviews. Sync sound in post. Share files, produce your own story.

News Track Four

 

Week 11, November 18

Discuss final assignment – any digital story

 

Week 12, November 25

Thanksgiving story – mobile reporting exercise.

 

Week 13, December 2

Due today:

Rough draft of final assignment due end of class, 90 seconds + 250 word story

(-5 points off rough draft if not completed)

 

Week 14, December 9

Finish final draft of final assignment and upload

Review Blog + final

 

Assignment Descriptions

HUB Week,  October 7 (20 points)

Cover using only a mobile phone and the Adobe Spark Page app. (Android users, you can use the web version.) Look for a story with potential for multimedia: text, photos, video, etc. (No panel discussions or speeches unless they include interesting visuals please.)

Using the Adobe Spark Page app (iPhone) or your Android phone and the web version, cover the story that you pitched. It should include:

  • Text (400-600 words, max)
  • 8-10 photos (Properly shot and edited on your phone. No dark, fuzzy images, please. And vary your shots: Tight, medium, wide. See links below for tips on shooting and editing.) Please properly caption all photos. (See the tips for writing captions in this article.)
  • At least one video no longer than one minute in length shot in landscape (horizontal) mode. Please don’t shoot vertical video for this assignment. (You’ll need to upload this to Youtube for use in Spark.)
  • Be sure to include hashtag #jo304 in the credit of your story.

Publish your story and post a link to it on our class Slack channel.


Visual Story  (10 points) October 21

Shoot a short visual story, include a scene setter, action, reaction and a four-clip sequence of a visual process. Capture high quality ‘nat’ sound to play with clips. Edited piece should be about 60 seconds and be accompanied by caption of 125 words. This could work well as a profile of a parking-meter cop, a waitress, a printer, a barista, or of Head-of-the-Charles Regatta. Team or solo okay.

NewsTrack assignment (20 points) 

You will choose a news website that you will monitor throughout the semester. You will blog analysis and commentary about work that appears on the site. What insights of your analysis can help you to improve your blog?

Start with some background and history about the site you are tracking:

When was it launched?
Which company owns the site?
Who is its primary audience?
What’s their reputation like?
Other topics you can explore:

  • The sites design. Is it clean? Cluttered? Is it easy to tell what the big story is? How does the design match the sites mission and philosophy? Check out the navigation, that is, the ease with which you can get around the site and find whats on it
  • How well do they integrate multimedia and other features designed to attract and engage their audience? 
  • What’s their social media presence like? (Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, etc)
  • How often do they push out updates? 
  • Go beyond the homepage.  How does the site present information on secondary levels? Is the look and feel consistent?
  • How does their coverage compare to similar sites?
  • What does the site look like on mobile? Do they have a dedicated app or just web?
  • What do you like? What do you not like? Why??? Show us content and functionality.

North End/ Twitter (10 points) November 4
Find a topic to cover the North End. Tweet three photos and three videos. Use #jo305b1, #northendstory.  When you blog your story, use three of your tweets and three from classmates. You can coordinate with your partner to make sure you have six tweets that work with your story. You can also use any other tweet from the class. Intersperse the tweets within your text story of 250 words. This story is solo produced, but you can coordinate with your partner.

Person-on-the-street story November 11 (10 points) 
Combine five video street interviews with a 250 word story on a single topic. This is a team project. High quality audio will be captured by the interviewer and the videographer will frame and capture the video. Video can be captured with an iPhone or with a DSLR.  The high quality audio will be synced to the video in Premiere by creating a multi-cam clip. Intersperse video in word story and post to your blog.

Final Project (20 points)
Rough Draft December 2, Final Draft December 9

This is a team project. You must use three video sequences for this story, and use an opening and closing clip. Add an audio interview to play over part of the b-roll sequences and use ‘nat’ sound liberally, +250 words. Deduction of 5 points if rough draft deadline is missed.

Blog and participation ( 10 points) December 9
Branding, well formatted, good navigation, bio and picture. All assignments posted on your blog, appropriate use of tags and categories, accurate navigation. Pictures posted on Instagram for all assignments.

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 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.

Requirements

Read NYTimes.com daily
Links to other assigned reading and examples for discussion will be posted on online.

Required Supplies

  • Two SD cards, 16GB, Class 10 or higher for use in a camera and audio recorder. (Buy the largest capacity that your wallet can withstand.)
  • External hard drive formatted for 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 classroom or elsewhere.

Required Accounts

Please set up accounts on the following sites/services:

  • Gmail
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Vimeo
  • wordpress blog
  • Class slack group
  • Adobe Spark
  • Adobe Lightroom
  • Adobe Premiere Rush
    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 wco.bu.edu. Make sure that you have your student ID with you when you pick up gear.

Laptop and external HD:
Before you arrive to class, be sure to have a laptop that meets COM’s recommended specifications. 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.

Check out gear for class:

You will need access to the following computer applications:

  • Text Edit
  • Adobe Lightroom (or other image editing application)
  • Premiere Pro (or other video editor)
  • iMovie

We will also use a number of free or very low-cost web-based options for producing multimedia. Details to come.

General Grading Policy

A  – Excellent work that met or exceeded the requirements. Writing reflects solid research, interviewing, accuracy, attribution, conforms to AP style; multimedia elements (video, photos, audio, interactive) are sharp, focused, clear, appropriately selected, properly captioned, tagged, credited and functional. 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 (0-55) – Failure to turn in by deadline or significantly flawed work.

Percentage-based Grade Scale

A: 93-100

B+: 87-89.99

C+: 77-79.99

D: 60-69.99

F: 0-59.99

A-: 90-92.99

B: 83-86.99

C: 73- 76.99

   
 

B-: 80-82.99

C-: 70-72.99

   

GPA conversion

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Course Policies

Please restrict unrelated internet browsing, e-mailing, texting or other unassigned online activity to the break we’ll have most weeks.

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.

Spelling, style and grammar count! When you submit an assignment points will be deducted for spelling, grammatical and AP style 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 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 reading, you should read and watch “traditional” news in order to be able to discuss and analyze differences between the mediums.

Class 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 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.

Late Assignments

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.

Speakers

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.

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.

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY 

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.

 

DISABILITY SERVICES 

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.

 

STUDENT ATHLETICS 

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.

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 online discussions. Stay up to date about issues and news related to online journalism and share that knowledge. Rock Twitter, your Newstrack blog and our class Facebook page with your observations.
  • 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.

Plagiarism and Fabrication

The College of Communication rules on plagiarism is applicable to this course.

Statement:

“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.