MEDPL 387 | Mobile Journalism

Course Description:  

You may have already been using your smartphones for some time to take photos and shoot video. But in today’s news environment, where most news consumers access their phones for news and information, this course will help you succeed at a professional journalism level

This is an intensive workshop-style storytelling course designed to provide students with the key mobile journalism skills to help them thrive as journalists using mobile gear.

This course covers the fundamentals of reporting and visual storytelling on current and emerging mobile platforms, and provides an understand of the broader landscape of mobile news. The class will focus on how to create quality journalism content for the web, social media and mobile platforms using best practices for reporting and producing on deadline, shooting high-quality photos and video (including virtual reality video), collecting audio, and editing and publishing in realtime via social media and other platforms — all using a mobile device.

Expected Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the term, students succeeding in the class should be able to:

  1. Use mobile devices to research and report on news developments
  2. Write compelling text elements and alerts, as well as SEO friendly headlines and descriptions, for current and emerging mobile platforms
  3. Shoot and edit photos, audio, video and VR video on a mobile device
  4. Use mobile gear and apps in the field to tell compelling visual stories
  5. Plan, cover and present news in real-time on a liveblogging platform, working in teams and using a range of mobile techniques and tools
  6. Use social media to publish and distribute your work
  7. Understand the evolving mobile news landscape, including the technology, ethical codes and legal issues involved in mobile journalism

Methods of Evaluation:

Your grade will consist of four parts — major reporting assignments, homework, exercises and participation — and will reflect all the expected learning outcomes, course requirements and material covered. All assignments must be submitted on the designated due date at the beginning of class even if you are absent. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: Accuracy is the Holy Grail of journalism. All of your work 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 and the belief that accuracy is the cornerstone of good journalism and that such errors cannot be tolerated. Students who make up sources, quotes or descriptions or plagiarize the work of others (including lifting any of those from the Internet) will fail this class (see below for more). In addition, you are not allowed to recycle stories from previous journalism courses or report the same story for two concurrent classes. Grading will be based on the following scale: 

A to A+ = publishable as is

B+ to A- = publishable with light editing

B- to B = publishable with a rewrite

C- to C+ = major problems with facts, reporting, writing

F= plagiarism, fabricated sources or fabricated quotes, missing key facts, gross misspellings

Major Assignments: 60 percent 

            You will have four major reporting assignments, all produced using your mobile devices:

  1. Audio slideshow (15 percent)
  2. Mobile video report (15 percent)
  3. VR video report (15 percent)
  4. Live mobile coverage of news/event – team project (15 percent)

For each of the first three major reporting assignments, you will submit a final version by deadline, receive edit notes from the instructor and your class peers, and then submit revision incorporating suggested changes and any additional reporting. This revision is generally due one week after instructor notes are provided, and must include a copy of the original filing for comparison. The new and the old grade will be averaged for a final grade, with attention to improvement and responsiveness to instructor and peer notes. 

Homework: 15 percent                                                   

Your homework will include a mobile site team critique, a mobile news alert critique, a narrative photo essay, an audio natsound essay/voxpop, and a video scenes/voxpop essay.

In-Class Exercises: 10 percent  

Your in-class exercises will include mobile stats research, mobile news alert writing, still image/360 image scavenger hunts, audio natsound/voxpop scavenger hunts, and video scenes/voxpop scavenger hunts.

Class Attendance & Participation: 15 percent

Attendance and on-time class arrival are expected and required. Each student will be allowed two unexcused absences for a class that meets twice a week, one unexcused absence for a class that meets once a week. 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. Each unexcused absence after the limit that will result in a 5-point deduction from your final grade. 

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. 

Given the nature of this course, no incompletes will be given. Any missed in-class exercises cannot be made up, but at least one extra credit assignment will be offered to replace your lowest quiz grade. 

Participation in class is also expected and will be graded. Our class will function as a seminar with discussion in every class period. 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 grade while a lack of participation will hurt your grade. 

By enrolling in this course and entering the classroom, each student makes the tacit commitment to participate in the class. Active class participation involves more than mere physical presence. Students are expected to be actively involved in the class. They should take the initiative in discussion and projects, ask relevant questions, and contribute to the overall learning environment of the class.

It is your responsibility:

  1. To prepare for class by having read assignments, written papers and/or prepared projects 
  2. To actively participate in class discussion and activities;
  3. To take notes on discussions, presentations, and activities conducted within the class; 
  4. To complete all course assignments, even if you are absent from a class meeting.

Deadlines & Filing Standards

Deadlines are taken seriously in journalism and this class. If you are ever absent, it’s up to you to submit the assignment by the deadline. If you don’t turn in your assignment by deadline, you will lose a half-letter grade (5 points) for every day the assignment is late. The instructor reserves the prerogative to give an “F” to any assignment not turned in within a week of the original deadline, unless an extension has been arranged prior to that first deadline. In addition, in-class exercises cannot be made up, but I offer at least one extra credit assignment to replace any one missed exercise.



  • Equipment: A smartphone that captures stills, records audio and video (see the instructor immediately if this is a problem)
  • Social Media: Be sure to have active Instagram and Twitter accounts and to follow the Hunter Journalism accounts as well.
  • Mobile News Alerts: Select a news organization as your home page and sign up for mobile alerts.


Plus, additional resources that focus on mobile journalism, to be shared during the term.


There may be required Journalism Program events or newsroom tours during the term, with dates and details to be announced. If an event or tour falls outside the regular class time and you are unable to take part, an alternate assignment will be provided.

Instagram & Twitter: 

Hunter Journalism has an Instagram account you will be required to use for various assignments (user ID: @hunterjourpgm | password: Hunter2017). In your posts, be sure to include your name after the caption.  

UPDATED: To share your content on Instagram, please post to your individual IG account and tag the post with #hunterjourpgm.

To develop good practice, you will also be required to share all your major assignments, as well as some of your other homework and exercise elements via Twitter. 

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.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a guiding principle of the Hunter College learning community because all students should have the opportunity to learn and perform on a level playing field. Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, cheating, plagiarism, obtaining an unfair advantage, and falsifying records or documents (see examples within the CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity) whether intentional or not.

Hunter College upholds the right to promote academic integrity on its campus as an educational institution of the City University of New York. The College has the responsibility to review all charges of academic dishonesty and implement sanctions, including, but not limited to, failing the course, official transcript notation, suspension or expulsion from the College when it has been determined that academic dishonesty did occur. Please click here to see a full list of disciplinary sanctions.

PLEASE NOTE: Integrity and credibility are the two pillars of journalism. Be aware of the following: 

  • 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 from a classmate will receive an F for the course. 
  • 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 without advance permission from the instructor and a 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. 
  • You may not stage events or interviews for any journalism assignment. 
  • In addition, you are not allowed to recycle stories from previous journalism courses or report the same story for two classes. 

Any student found to be fabricating events, quotes, sources, soundbites, or plagiarism will receive an F for the course and may be reported to the Office for Academic Integrity and Office of Student Conduct.


Hunter College Student Success Center:

Rockowitz Reading/Writing Center: Offers students help with their writing at every stage of the writing process. You can make an appointment at:

Dolciani Mathematics Learning Center: Tutoring services to students across disciplines seeking skill enhancement, including math concepts and statistics: 

Skirball Science Learning Center: Comprehensive assistance in all areas of the natural sciences and technology: 

(NOTE: All located in Hunter East, 7th Fl Library)

Counseling and Wellness Services:

Counseling and Wellness Services (CWS) is another campus resource and service center for all matriculated students in Room 1123, Hunter East. It offers counseling services at no cost to all Hunter students. You can make an appointment at:   

Students with disabilities should contact the Office of AccessABILITY at 1124 East Building to determine your disability status and obtain appropriate accommodations and services. For more information, go to: 


In compliance with the American Disability Act of 1990 (ADA) and with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Hunter College is committed to ensuring educational parity and accommodations for all students with documented disabilities and/or medical conditions. It is recommended that all students with documented disabilities (Emotional, Medical, Physical, and/or Learning) consult the Office of Accessibility located in Room E1124 to secure necessary academic accommodations. For further information and assistance, please call (212) 772-4857/TTY (212) 650-3230. PLEASE NOTE: If you have registered with the Office of Accessibility, please let the instructor know at the start of the term.

Hunter College Policy on Sexual Misconduct:

In compliance with the CUNY Policy on Sexual Misconduct, Hunter College reaffirms the prohibition of any sexual misconduct, which includes sexual violence, sexual harassment, and gender-based harassment retaliation against students, employees, or visitors, as well as certain intimate relationships. Students who have experienced any form of sexual violence on or off campus (including CUNY-sponsored trips and events) are entitled to the rights outlined in the Bill of Rights for Hunter College. Sexual Violence: Students are strongly encouraged to immediately report the incident by calling 911, contacting NYPD Special Victims Division Hotline (646-610-7272) or their local police precinct, or contacting the College’s Public Safety Office (212-772-4444).

All Other Forms of Sexual Misconduct: Students are also encouraged to contact the College’s Title IX Campus Coordinator, Dean John Rose ( or 212-650-3262) or Colleen Barry ( or 212-772-4534) and seek complimentary services through the Counseling and Wellness Services Office, Hunter East 1123. 


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 (Jan 28, 31)

The landscape of mobile journalism. Using mobile for research & reporting. Weekly mobile in the news. Exercise:  Mobile stats research. Survey: Please complete this survey. Reading: Scan Nieman Lab’s Mobile Majority page, select at least one piece to read and discuss in class. Homework: Mobile site team critiques (due week 2)

Week 2 (Feb 4, 7)

Consuming mobile news. Showcase: Team site critiques. Weekly mobile in the news. Exercise: Mobile news alert writing. Homework: Mobile news alert critique (due Week 3)

Week 3 (Feb 11, 14)

Mobile newsgathering, part 1: Capturing stills & 360 images. Weekly mobile in the news. Exercise: Still image/360 image scavenger hunts. In-class Exercise: 360 image (post to Blackboard by 11:59pm ET.) Homework: Narrative photo essay (deadline Feb. 21 at start of class)

Week 4 (Feb 21) (NOTE: No class Feb 18)

Mobile newsgathering, part 1: Capturing stills & 360 images. Workshop: Narrative photo essay 

Week 5 (Feb 25, 28)

Mobile newsgathering, part 2: Capturing audio. Weekly mobile in the news. Exercise: Audio natsound/voxpop scavenger hunt. Homework: Audio natsound/voxpop report. (due Week 6)

  • Homework: Audio natsound/voxpop scavenger hunt (DUE 2/28)
  • Homework: Capture audio natsound/voxpop elements for audio report (DUE Monday, March 4, start of class)

Week 6 (Mar 7)

(NOTE: March 4 session cancelled due to CUNY-wide snow closure)

  • Workshop/Lab: Peer critique of audio natsound/voxpop elements. Smartphone audio editing Assignment: Audio Report (deadline start of class Monday, March 11)

Week 7 (Mar 11, 14)

Showcase: Audio reports. Mobile editing & production, part 1: Creating audio slideshows. Weekly mobile in the news. Major assignment #1: Audio slideshow due Week 9

  • Major Assignment #1: Audio slideshow story pitch (due March 18, start of class)

Week 8 (Mar 18, 21)

Mobile editing & production, part 1 cont’d: Creating audio slideshows. Weekly mobile in the news. 

  • Major assignment #1: Audio slideshow final draft due Monday, 3/25, start of class. 

Week 9 (Mar 25, 28)

Showcase: Audio slideshow drafts. Mobile for newsgathering, part 3: Capturing video.

  • Major assignment #1: Audio slideshow revision (due Monday, due 4/1, start of class)
  • Exercise: Video scenes scavenger hunt (due Monday, due 4/1, start of class)
  • Assignment: Pitch for Mobile Video Doc (due Monday, due 4/1, start of class)

Week 10 (Apr 1, 4)

Mobile editing & production, part 2: Creating video reports. Showcase/peer critique: Student video projects. Weekly mobile in the news. Major assignment #2: Video report (due April 8)REMINDER: Sign up today for April 8 Pulitzer Center event (mandatory makeup session)

Major Assignment #2: Video Doc – ‘On the Job’

Week 11 (Apr 8, 11)

Showcase/peer critique: Student video doc drafts. Weekly mobile in the news. Mobile editing & production, part 3: 360 video reports. Major assignment #2: Video doc revision (due April 15). 

Week 12 (Apr 15, 18)

Mobile editing & production, part 3: 360 video reports. Weekly mobile in the news. Major assignment #3: 360 video report announced (due week 13). Major assignment #4: Live coverage project announced (due Weeks 14, 15).

  • Major Assignment #3: 360 video story: Working in pairs, shoot a 60-second report using the Theta 360 video camera. The video must edit together a scene and either action/reaction or a short interview with a subject related to the scene (Note: You may use either mobile or desktop editing tools for this assignment). Post the edited video, along with a short introductory text of 25-50 words, on a 360-friendly platform like YouTube or Instagram, and then share the link via Blackboard. DEADLINE: Monday, April 29, at start of class. 
    • NOTE RE EQUIPMENT: Due to restricted hours for the equipment room during the break, your team may want to take out the camera from the equipment room by Friday, April 19. The instructor will leave signed equipment loan forms either with equipment room or in my mailbox in F&M Department Conference Rm. 433.
  • Major assignment #4: Live coverage project

NOTE: No class Apr 22, 25

Week 13 (Apr 29, May 2) 

Major assignment #3: 360 video report due. Showcase/peer critique: Student VR projects. Mobile live coverage. Weekly mobile in the news. 

Week 14 (May 6, 9)

Workshop: Mobile live coverage preparation. Showcase/peer critique: Student live coverage.  Major assignment #4: Live coverage project pre-event content due.

Week 15 (May 13, 16)

Major assignment #4: Live coverage project due. Showcase/peer critique: Student live coverage. Student evaluation. Weekly mobile in the news. Class critique. Class party!