This course will build on the skills learned in MEDPL 201 and reflect the multimedia nature of the journalism industry by introducing the audio and visual storytelling skills you’ll need to report, write and produce stories for TV, radio and social media. You will be covering a beat of your choosing for your assignments and telling fresh and new stories rather than recycling news from other media. You will be learning how to use a Zoom to record audio and your smartphone to both record and edit video. Each of you will further develop your own online domain and set up social media accounts that you don’t have already to establish a digital identity and a personal cyber-infrastructure where you will publish your work, preparing you for responsible digital citizenship using best practices for digital publication. In addition, we will use the Journalism Program’s Twitter and Instagram hashtags and its YouTube channel, which will help turn this course into an open, networked community. Although all the assignments include multimedia digital elements, we will still be focusing on bedrock journalism skills including researching and reporting an issue in-depth, analyzing data, developing sources, interviewing, covering beats, and improving your writing and storytelling skills across all media platforms.
By the end of the semester, you should be able to:
- Write in a clear and concise style using appropriate AP conventions for both text and broadcast writing
- Prepare a beat memo for multi-platform stories
- Pitch, research, report and write three multimedia stories: a longer form text story that includes some type of data and multiple multimedia elements, an audio report and a visual story
- Use Instagram to tell a social media story from your beat
- Conduct audio interviews using a Zoom recorder
- Report, write and edit a radio news story using Audacity or Adobe Audition
- Shoot, edit and post a visual story using only your smartphone
- Use social media to research, report and promote stories
- Manage your own digital identity through a personal website where you publish your multimedia work
(Optional) Broadcast News Writing Stylebook, Robert Papper, 6th edition
The New York Times: You will be responsible for reading the top stories of The New York Times every day and keeping up with the news in general. Hunter students are eligible for a free mobile and digital New York Times subscription. Please sign up ASAP! http://library.hunter.cuny.edu/news/new-york-times-online-access
The Wall Street Journal is also available for free to Hunter students at https://partner.wsj.com/en/register/?mod=wsj_hunter1
The Skimm: http://www.theskimm.com/?r=f016dda7
NPR: You should listen to NPR on a daily basis, paying special attention to stories by reporters in the field. This is the style we will be using in our audio stories.
News Alerts: You should select a news organization as your home page and sign up for mobile alerts.
A smartphone that records audio and video (see the instructor if this is a problem)
This course will be taught as an interactive workshop with an emphasis on class participation and good writing, including a refresher on proper AP style and inverted pyramid style stories as well as an introduction to broadcast writing, shooting and editing video and social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. You will pick a beat, prepare a beat memo describing in detail potential stories you want to pursue this semester and pitch them to our class during story workshops where you will brainstorm with classmates to sharpen your story’s focus. You will deconstruct both good and bad writing and multimedia content by critiquing each other’s work in class. You will share your insights and news about your beat with the class via our social media accounts.
You will also focus on how to tell compelling stories and research stories in depth. You will continue to become even more critical consumers of all media and are expected to read, watch and listen to as much news as possible. You must keep up with current events in the community and the world to provide the necessary context in your own reporting. All students will be required to read The New York Times, listen to NPR daily and subscribe to at least one news organization’s Twitter feed or news alerts. You will be responsible for knowing key details about the top stories for pop news quizzes.
This course will demand a lot from you. Please come to class prepared each day. Complete reading assignments in advance, turn in stories on time, be ready for story workshops, know what is happening in the news and be prepared to participate in class discussions. This class is a major time commitment, so you will need to make it a priority.
Assignments will include a beat memo, reporting and writing one longer form text story with a companion Instagram story, one audio news story, a two-minute visual story using your smartphone, and multiple posts on our social media accounts throughout the semester.
All assignments must be published on your domain. The text story must demonstrate best practices for digital publishing, including at least three different multimedia elements. The story must be submitted via Blackboard as a Word or Google doc, double-spaced with a slug that includes your name, date and assignment heading as well as a separate source sheet with contact info. Stories will be turned in before or at the beginning of class on the due date. If you miss class, it’s your responsibility to contact me, turn in your work that’s due that day before class, make up the work missed and hand in the next homework assignment on time.
You will do a first draft of all assignments and then revise after a peer review, incorporating those comments as well as my suggestions. You will have one week to make these changes, repost your story on your domain and turn in the new versions to be graded again.
Homework/Quizzes 20 percent
Text Assignment 15 percent
Audio News Assignment 15 percent
Video Assignment 15 percent
Midterm 10 percent
AP Style Take Home Test 5 percent
Beat Memo 5 percent
Instagram Assignment 5 percent
Portfolio Website 5 percent
Participation 5 percent
Total 100 percent
Deadlines are taken seriously in journalism and this class. If you are ever absent, it’s up to you to post to Blackboard the assignment due that day by the start of class. If you don’t turn in your assignment at the start of class, you will lose 5 points for every day the assignment is late. You are a day late if you turn in your assignment after the start of class on the day it is due, even if you turn it in later the same day, two days late on the following day, etc. After seven days, you’ll receive an F on the assignment.
You are required to have a professional Instagram and Twitter account for social media assignments. You are required to post at least one post on each platform for every assignment that is to be posted on your website, in order to promote your story with a link to your personal website. You will also tag Hunter Journalism by using the hashtag #hunterjourn on Twitter and #hunterjourpgm on Instagram, and posting your video to the Hunter Journalism YouTube channel. Unless instructed otherwise, to get credit for your social media posts, plan to share a screen grab of any Instagram or Twitter posts with your professor on Blackboard.
Participation in class is expected. Our class will function as a seminar with discussion in every class period. While regular attendance in class is required, your presence in the classroom is not an end in itself. Students should be in class not only to benefit from the lecture but to interact with fellow students as a community. Exceptional engagement and participation will improve your final grade while a lack of participation will hurt your final grade.
Attendance and on-time class arrival are expected and required. Each student will be allowed one unexcused absences for a class that meets once a week. Each unexcused absence after that will result in a 5-point deduction from your final grade. Only legitimate and documented emergencies and serious illnesses will be considered for an excused absence. Official documentation must be presented the day you return to class.
On-time arrival to every class is also expected, and habitual tardiness will lower your grade. Two unexcused late arrivals (after attendance has been taken) will equal one unexcused absence, i.e. 5 points off your final grade. Given the nature of this course, no incompletes will be given. Any in-class assignment including news quizzes cannot be made up, but I offer at least one extra credit assignment to replace your lowest quiz grade.
Accuracy and Academic Integrity
Accuracy is the Holy Grail of journalism. All of your writing will be judged for factual accuracy as well as correctness in numbers and math, spelling, grammar, punctuation, word usage and AP style. Your grade will reflect your command of these basics. This policy reflects the belief that accuracy is the cornerstone of good journalism and that such errors cannot be tolerated.
Hunter College regards acts of academic dishonesty (e.g., plagiarism, cheating on examinations, obtaining an unfair advantage, and falsification of records and official documents) as serious offenses against the values of intellectual honesty. The College is committed to enforcing the CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity and will pursue cases of academic dishonesty according to the Hunter College Academic Integrity Procedure.
Please read this carefully: Integrity and credibility are the two pillars of journalism. All work submitted in this class must be your original work. Any student presenting the work of someone else, whether off the Internet or from another publication or a classmate will receive an F for the course. Copying and pasting from the internet without identifying the source is plagiarism even if it’s unintentional. For MEDPL classes, all sources and quotes must be authentic and reported by you alone. You will be required to turn in a contact sheet for all assignments and sources and quotes will be spot-checked. You may not interview friends or family except in rare circumstances and only with advance permission and notation of this in your story. You also may not tell sources what to say or ask them to read or reread a quote for a soundbite even if it’s their own words from a previous interview. In addition, you are not allowed to recycle stories from previous journalism courses or report the same story for two classes. You may not stage events or interviews for any journalism assignment. Any student suspected of fabricating events, quotes, sources, soundbites, or plagiarism will receive an F for the course and will be reported to the Office for Academic Integrity.
This is an intense class. Very few journalism programs in the country are offering this type of multimedia instruction that teaches students to how to build their own domain and report across multiple platforms in one course. Given the nature of the technology you will be using, many events may occur that cannot be predicted. This will require flexibility and a sense of adventure. Remember not to let the technology overwhelm you — it is just a tool to help you as a journalist and storyteller. Also, remember the greater purpose of all journalism: to serve our community with news that is important, relevant and engaging.
Please be advised that the schedule below is subject to change. You are responsible for checking this syllabus and Blackboard for any changes to our schedule.
Week 1 (Aug. 27): Introductions & orientation. Reporting and Writing Basics Review. AP style review.
Class introductions. Class orientation, review of syllabus and academic integrity policy. Reporting and writing review. AP Style review.
Homework: Select one report from the latest The State of the News Media (reports listed below) and write a 300-word hard news story, plus two distinct social media posts related directly to your news story with at least one containing with a graphic element (due Sept. 3).
Homework: Team Exercise: RW2 – Fall 2019- Assignment: Multimedia Critique (due Sept. 3)
Homework: AP Style Test – take home/open-book (due Sept. 17).
Homework: Revise/update basic portfolio website (due Sept. 17).
Week 2 (Sept. 3): In-class Deadline Writing. Post-mortem: Inverted Pyramid Style Writing
News quiz #1. Inverted pyramid homework due. In-class deadline writing exercise. Post-mortem on State of the Media stories and deadline writing exercise.
Homework: Read “Beat Reporting Reading” (20pp handout posted on Blackboard)
Homework: Choose a beat and begin researching stories. Prepare a beat memo due Sept. 10.
Homework: Read “Broadcast Stylebook” (chapters 2 & 6-9, posted on Blackboard). Be prepared to discuss and do group exercises in Sept. 10 class.
Week 3 (Sept. 10): Finding and Cultivating Sources, Attribution. Broadcast basics
News quiz #2. Beat Memo due. Finding and cultivating sources, attribution. Broadcast basics, including types of ledes. Readers and stories with SOTS.
Homework: Lede exercise.
Homework: Broadcast stories.
Plus: Sign up for beat memo one-on-one Week 4.
Week 4 (Sept. 17): Library Research Workshop. Beat Memo One-on-Ones
News quiz #3. Take-home AP Style test due. Portfolio website due. Library research workshop on digging for data for your story, with media librarian Tony Doyle in E404. First (text + multimedia) assignment announced (due Oct. 22).
Homework: Prepare a story pitch for first story, due Sept. 24.
Beat memo one-on-ones (throughout week)
Week 5 (Sept. 24): Writing for Multimedia, Cont’d. Pitchfest & Story Workshop
News quiz #4. Story workshop for text assignment/Instagram story.
Homework: Broadcast style stories with SOTs
Week 6 (Oct. 15): Story Structure & Quotes. Equipment Demo. Working with Bites, Actualities, NatSounds
News quiz #5. Story structure: text vs. audio. Picking good quotes: print vs. broadcast.Equipment Demo. Working with Bites, Actualities, NatSounds. In-class exercise: Pick two good text quotes and two audio quotes to share with class.
Homework: Read handout on interviewing for feature stories (available on Blackboard). Read handout on voice and delivery (available on Blackboard).
Homework: More broadcast style stories with SOTs
Week 7 (Oct. 22): Voice and Delivery Workshop
News quiz #6. Text/Instagram story due. Voice, diction and delivery workshop. Second (audio) assignment announced (due Nov. 12).
Homework: Prepare story pitch for audio assignment (due Oct 29).
Homework: Prepare a peer review of your partner’s text and Instagram story (due Oct. 29).
Week 8 (Oct. 29): Story Workshop. Critic’s Corner. In-class Deadline Writing for Multimedia. Midterm review. Audio Editing & Natsound Workshop
News quiz #7. In-class review of first assignment – rewrite (tenta. due Nov. 19 ). Story workshop on audio story. Midterm review. In-class Deadline Writing for Multimedia. Audio Editing & Natsound Workshop (with in-class editing exercise)
Week 9 (Nov. 5): Midterm. Audio Editing Workshop.
Midterm. Audio editing workshop.
Week 10 (Nov. 12): Visual Storytelling Basics
News quiz #8. Audio story due. Midterm post mortem. Visual storytelling basics. Third assignment (visual news story) announced (due Nov. 26).
Homework: Prepare story pitch for visual news story assignment (due Nov. 19).
Homework: Prepare a peer review of your partner’s audio news story(due Nov. 19).
Week 11 (Nov. 19): Story Workshop. Guest Speaker on Visual Storytelling and Smartphone Shooting and Editing Workshop
News quiz #9. Re-do of text story due. Critic’s corner of audio news story assignment (Revisions tenta. due Dec. 10). Story workshop on visual news story. Smartphone shooting and editing workshop. Guest speaker on shooting and editing on a smartphone: TBD
Week 12 (Nov. 26): Newsroom Tour TBD
Visual news story due.
Homework: Prepare a peer review of your partner’s visual news story (due Dec. 10).
Week 13 (Dec. 3): Critic’s Corner.
Audio news story re-do due. In-class peer review of visual news stories (revisions due Dec. 17).
Week 14 (Dec. 10): Newsroom Tour TBD
Week 15 (Dec. 17): Domain Presentations and Class Reflections.
News quiz #10. Visual news story revisions due. Domain presentations and class reflections.