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Multimedia Journalism/the Digital Newsroom

Fall 2011


Dr. Pablo Calvi
Office: PK 255
Phone: (607) 274- 3403
Office hours:  TBA


Course catalog: This course integrates the student’s previous work into professional-quality, online news production. This class designs and produces a final multimedia project covering a variety of issues of interest to the community. Working in teams, students research, produce, and edit long-form stories and present them every week as a part of their weekly assignments and final multimedia package. The storytelling and presentation formats include text, graphics, audio, video, and interactive elements for audience participation. Prerequisites: JOUR 21200; junior standing. 4 credits. (F-S)


Course syllabus: Welcome to Multimedia Journalism/the Digital Newsroom, a close encounter with some of the most important, current and vibrant works, ideas and practices in digital journalism in the United States and the world.

During this sixteen-weeklong course we will be studying, analyzing and experiencing some of the most innovative practices, tools and ideas in multimedia/multiplatform journalism and digital storytelling available online, while testing hands on the storytelling potential of an array of new digital media formats and practices in our own publication,

Multimedia Journalism is a collaborative production course, so by the end of the semester you will have learned not only a number of technical skills that will help you produce and publish stories online. You will have also acquired a clear sense of news judgment, a sense of good newsroom etiquette, routines and, more importantly, some of the key practical skills required to work efficiently with a team of digital journalists in a newsroom.

Every Monday and Wednesday, our classroom will be turned into a digital newsroom, the best place to talk about and produce journalism of the highest quality. Of course, as in any production course, your obligations to the class will go beyond our biweekly meetings. You will be doing a lot of work in class, where close interaction with your peers and editors will help you develop your ideas and improve your journalistic skills. But you will also be expected to devote enough personal time to do extensive reporting and writing for your assignments, to work on your stories in class and to get familiar with the ideas, practices and production, publishing and editing technologies that will be introduced in class. You will also be expected to behave ethically in class and on assignment, to produce your own work, write your own copy, and contribute with your team when this is required. You will be expected to observe intellectual property and comply with copyright law, which means that you will obtain written permission to use words, images, sound or music created by others, and you will always cite your sources. You will also be expected to keep an updated calendar. Sometimes we will move faster, sometimes slower than planned, so we will all have to be flexible when it comes to a change of pace.
Multimedia Journalism/the Digital Newsroom is primarily a class on journalism and it is not intended to be highly technical. You are not supposed to be or to become a programmer during our class. However, some aspects of the course will require relative good knowledge of software, websites and blogs, so it is important to keep your mind open to technical issues. In that vein, this course will also help you develop a better understanding of the potential of social media as a tool for content distribution and production.

By the end of the semester you will have learned:

  • -How to write stories for the web.
  • -How to interact efficiently with a CMS.
  • -How to create a blog and publish posts incorporating audio and video content.
  • -How to pre-produce, produce and publish audio and video stories for the web.
  • -How to manage audio and video recorders in order to produce journalistic content.
  • -How to edit audio and video for the web.
  • -How to follow deadlines in order to produce web content as part of a web team.
  • -How to share ideas, follow editorial direction and deliver precise editorial instructions in the context of a digital newsroom.
  • -How to develop a digital portfolio with your best work online.
  • -How to pitch ideas for news articles on the web.
  • -How to apply the different journalistic narrative formats –inverted pyramid, interview, profile, narrative feature—to web journalism.
  • -How to apply AP style to web copy.
  • -A strong journalistic work ethic.
  • -A clear sense of working under strict deadlines.
  • -A strong sense of team work.


Course Objectives

It is the first goal of this course to give you access to both the technical and the conceptual skills you will require to produce and publish great quality multimedia journalism; the second goal of this course is to familiarize you with the routines of a weekly publication; finally, this course will help you understand the multiple possibilities open to online journalism and social media.

You will be able to demonstrate the acquisition of these competences on a weekly basis, through the publication of news stories that will include images, audio and video, and will run and be available on a WordPress platform.


Some software and apps you will get familiar with

  • -Photoshop.
  • -Wordpress.
  • -Soundslides.
  • -ProTools.
  • -Final Cut Pro.
  • -Dreamweaver.
  • -Flash.
  • -Prezi.
  • -Jing.



You will be graded on the basis of your performance in the following areas:

  1. Participation in class, discussion of readings and analysis of case studies (10%).
  2. Ten weekly stories for The stories will run on different media platforms aside from text and images. Some of your stories will make it to depending on their quality and appropriateness, and this will factor into your evaluation. Your stories will be also evaluated in terms of their newsability, accuracy, style, and sources, and your compliance with deadlines (45%).
  3. Teamwork skills. As an editor, a fact checker, a social media editor, or a reporter and writer, your contribution to the general project will always have an impact on your team’s performance. Consequently, a part of your grade (15%) will reflect your performance as a team member.
  4. Final group project (30%).

All assignments must be completed on the due date regardless of your attendance to class. By default, due date is Sundays at 21.00 Eastern. Since the assignments will become part of our news publication,, when an article is not available for editing and publication before or on deadline, the assignment will be graded with a zero. There are no exceptions to this policy. All assignments must be accompanied with a list of the sources consulted, their contact numbers and e-mails. Otherwise the stories will be considered incomplete.


Attendance Policy

You are expected to be in class at the exact time your class begins. On an individual level, lateness will have a negative impact on your grade. But you also need to consider that your lateness will impact your team’s overall performance and your team members’ grades too. So be polite and arrive on time.

Emergency situations must be reported to the College and the instructor immediately, and after receiving the corresponding documentation resubmission may be negotiated. Make sure that you inform me of any eventual absence in advance. Also, make sure you check the following I.C. guidelines for justified absences:

1- Students at Ithaca College are expected to attend all classes, and they are responsible for work missed during any absence from class. At the beginning of each semester, instructors must provide the students in their courses with written guidelines regarding possible grading penalties for failure to attend class. Students should notify their instructors as soon as possible of any anticipated absences. Written documentation that indicates the reason for being absent may be required. These guidelines may vary from course to course but are subject to the following restrictions:

2- In accordance with New York State law, students who miss class due to their religious beliefs shall be excused from class or examinations on that day. The faculty member is responsible for providing the student with an equivalent opportunity to make up any examination, study, or work requirement that the student may have missed. It is suggested that students notify their course instructors at least one week before any anticipated absence so that proper arrangements may be made to make up any missed work or examination. Any such work is to be completed within a reasonable time frame, as determined by the faculty member.

3- Any student who misses class due to a verifiable family or individual health emergency, or to a required appearance in a court of law, shall be excused. Students should communicate directly with the faculty member when they need to miss a class for health or family emergencies, for court appearances, etc. Faculty members who require documentation of student absences should communicate directly with their students. On-campus residents who will be away from campus for an extended period of time should notify the Office of Residential Life of their absence from campus by e-mailing and including their building and room number in that message. Students may need to consider a leave of absence, medical leave of absence, selected course withdrawals, and so on, if they have missed a significant portion of classwork.

4- A student may be excused for participation in College-authorized cocurricular and extracurricular activities if, in the instructor’s judgment, this does not impair the specific student’s or the other students’ ability to succeed in the course.

5- For all absences except those due to religious beliefs, the course instructor has the right to determine if the number of absences has been excessive in view of the nature of the class that was missed and the stated attendance policy. Depending on the individual situation, this can result in the student’s being removed from or failing the course.


Standards of academic conduct

The use of work other than your own without proper citation or credit is a serious offense. Penalties for plagiarism include: failure on the assignment and/or failure in the course and/or College academic discipline, which could mean suspension or dismissal from the College. Plagiarism can involve not only written work, but computer programs, photographs, artwork, films, videos, and audios. If you are at all unsure about what constitutes plagiarism, or how to give credit, see your instructor and consult the Student Handbook (see “plagiarism” in the index). In a collaborative project, all involved students may be held responsible for academic misconduct if they are either knowing participants in plagiarism or complicitous. Our recommended style manual is published by the American Psychological Association and is available in the bookstore.

Ithaca College Student Code of Conduct


Students with Disabilities

In compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, reasonable accommodation will be provided to students with documented disabilities on a case-by-case basis. Students must register with the Office of Academic Support Services and provide appropriate documentation to the college before any academic adjustment will be provided.  To contact that office call 274-1005, or contact Leslie Schettino, Director of Support Services for Students With Disabilities at



You must respond to and report conditions and actions that may jeopardize your safety, or that of other people and/or equipment. Report to the responsible College employee. During class sessions that person would be your instructor or lab assistant. Outside of class the person might be your instructor, lab supervisor, co-curricular manager, equipment and facilities manager, or one of the engineering support staff. You must be aware that misuse of equipment or use of damaged equipment can create the risk of serious injury, infectious contamination, and expensive damage. You may be liable for damage or injury resulting from such use. Unsupervised use of facilities puts you at risk. Failure to be alert to safety problems, or to report them, may have serious consequences for you or others.


Reference and resources



Please keep your calendars updated by reading my blog, Dates, assignments and readings are always subject to change.


Week 1          8/31: Introduction: What is this class about?


Wednesday, August 31: Introduction to the class.

What is a CMS/Exploring WordPress.

Assigning teams.

For next class:

1-Creating my personal WordPress blog. Watch’s Morten Rand-Hendriksen’s “Wordpress 3 Essential Training” tutorial sections 1 to 4. We will use it next class, to create our personal cloud-hosted blogs with at least 3 pages: About, Résumé, Work. Bring your CV in a Word document to class and we will add it to your blog.

2-Bring at least three ideas, three news articles and three possible contacts and sources to discuss and start working in class on your second assignment, a news story on education.



Week 2          9/7:  Blogs, Online Newspapers and Zines. Production routines.


Wednesday, September 7: Getting familiar with WordPress. How to post stories on our own WordPress magazine. Naming our rotating editors (chief + social media and fact checking/ assigning responsibilities). What is a beat?

Production routines, editorial meetings, collective production of news.


Set up your WordPress blog using the essential training session you watched at


Start working on your first news story, beat: education/ style: inverted pyramid. In class production/discussion with your partner, start making phone calls, making appointments, doing research or writing (story due on Sunday 9/11 at 23.59. It has to be e-mailed to your editors and I. We will choose the four best ones for publication and discuss some ideas on Monday).


Skills for next class: settings, themes and widgets in your WordPress blog. Watch Morten Rand-Hendriksen’s “Wordpress 3 Essential Training” tutorial sections 6 and 7 and Deke McClelland’s “Up and Running with Photoshop for Photography” chapter 1 section 1 (Getting Photos from your Camera) and chapters 2 and 3 in full. Take five photos to accompany your education story to work with them in class.


Week 3          9/12 & 9/14: WordPress, photo edition vs. photo retouching


Monday, September 12. Editorial meeting. Best story + 3 that will be published.

Photoshop: three ideas and five commands you need to know. Some principles behind photo editing.

Photo captions: Anchor and relay.

Working with the photos for your education piece and putting stories and photos online.

Skills for next class: Deke McClelland’s “Up and Running with Photoshop for Photography” chapters 4 and 5. Watch tutorials on how to create a slideshow (TBA).

2- Bring ideas/3 news articles/three contacts and sources to discuss and start working in class on your second piece: a news story + a slideshow on culture (txt + three photos with caption). Style, inverted pyramid.

Start producing the photos to work in class on Wednesday. Remember you will have to send both the story and the link to your slideshow to your editors on Sunday 9/18 at 23.59.


Wednesday, September 14

Photoshop: three ideas and five commands you need to know.

In class: testing Soundslides (public domain music/photos/txt) to produce the slideshow that will accompany your story.

Send the story and the link to your slideshow in an e-mail to your editors and I (due on Sunday 9/18 at 23.59).

Skills for next class, Watch David Franz’ tutorial on Pro Tools 9 “Essential Training,” chapters 1 and 2 (sub sections TBA).



Week 4          9/19 & 9/21:  Photo slideshows and inverted pyramids (new editors)


Monday, September 19: Soundslides.

Great slideshows. What is our viewer looking for? Editorial meeting.

Publishing your slideshow on our WordPress site.

Third piece: Slideshow 2. Create a slideshow (music/photos/txt). Beat: science and technology. Style, inverted pyramid. E-mail the story and the finished slideshow link to your editors (due on Sunday 9/25 at 23.59).

Skills for next class, Watch David Franz’ tutorial on Pro Tools 9 “Essential Training,” chapters 3 and 4 (sub sections TBA).

Next class: Bring what you’ve got (ideas, news articles, contacts, sources and photos) to work in class.


Wednesday, September 21: Soundslide. Adding our own audio track to a slideshow. Some basic ideas.

For next class: Watch David Franz’ tutorial on Pro Tools 9 “Essential Training,” chapters 5 (sub sections TBA). Start thinking of your third story, an audio story (plus photos to add to the web page). Beat: business.


Week 5          9/26 & 9/28: Introduction to Audio for the Web


Monday, September 26: When and how to produce a straight audio story for the web? Editorial meeting. Uploading science and technology stories to the web.

Introduction to ProTools.

Work on your fourth piece: an audio story (narration/music) + upload it to Soundcloud. Beat: Business. Style, inverted pyramid (due on Sunday 10/02 at 23.59). Produce interviews, find sources, ideas. Some photos for the website too.


Wednesday, September 28: Five tricks for a good audio story.

Working on your audio story in class w/ProTools. Adding layers, editing. Preparing some supporting text and images.

Next Class: Watch David Franz’ tutorial on Pro Tools 9 “Essential Training,” chapters 3 and 5 (sub sections TBA).



Week 6          10/03 & 10/05: The Art of the Interview (new editors)


Monday, October 3: Pre-production and production of an audio interview.

Background, redirecting the answer, follow up questions, conducting the interview (we will use your raw interviews). Editorial meeting. Uploading stories to the website.

Fifth piece: audio interview. Beat: sports. Style, Q&A. + upload it to Soundcloud (due on Sunday 10/09 at 23.59)


Wednesday, October 5: ProTools, three ideas about tracks and fades.

Editing on your interviews in class. Start preparing for your sixth assignment, a feature story on a topic of your choice.



Week 7          10/10 & 10/12:  Features


Monday, October 10: Anecdotal leads and feature stories. Basic structure. How to best use audio and photos. Upload audio stories to our website.

Sixth piece: Slideshow 3 (narration/music/txt) + Feature story and photos. Style, narrative (due on Sunday 10/16 at 23.59). Beat: you decide.


Wednesday, October 12: how to look for and where to find a good anecdotal lead? Working on your feature story in class. Soundslide, narration and editing. For next class: watch Abba Shapiro’s “Final Cut Pro X Essential Training” chapters 1, 2, 3 and 4. Start thinking about your next story, a video interview for the Society beat. Bring your pitch, your sources, and be ready to start working in class. 


Fall Break     10/14 to 10/16



Week 8          10/17 & 10/19: Video for the web (new editors)


Monday, October 17: Editorial meeting. Uploading slideshows to our Website. Intro to video storytelling. Some elements that you will need to add to your checklist. Camera use.

Seventh piece: video interview. Beat: society. Style Q&A (due on Sunday 10/30 at 23.59)

For next class: watch Abba Shapiro’s “Final Cut Pro X Essential Training” chapters 5, 6 and 7.


Wednesday, October 19: Working on your interview. Importing from the camera and editing your first clip. Introduction to FinalCut ProX.

Next class: Bring the footage of your interview to start editing in class. Also, start thinking about the final project. Bring your pitch, your sources, and be ready to start working in class.


Week 9          10/24 & 10/26: Video for the web II


10/25 Mid Term Grades Due


Monday, October 24: Editing your first video interview.

Final project discussion I. For next class: watch Todd Perkins’ “Flash Professional CS5 Essential Training” chapters 1, 2, 3 and 4. Start thinking about the final project.


Wednesday, October 26: Exporting video, creating a user and uploading to Youtube + embedding project in WordPress.

Editing your video interview in class.

For next class: watch Todd Perkins’ “Flash Professional CS5 Essential Training” chapters 5, 6, 7 and 8. Bring your pitch, your sources, and be ready to start working in class on a religion story.




Week 10        10/31 & 11/2: Video for the web III (new editors)


Monday, October 31: Final project discussion II. Uploaging videos to Youtube and posting stories on our Website.

Eighth piece: choose format + flash graph. Beat, religion. Style: feature (due on Sunday 11/06 at 23.59). Start thinking of a Flash animation for a business story (TBA).



Wednesday, November 02: Titles, lower thirds and subtitles in FinalCut.

Pitch your business story and ideas for a Flash animation. Bring info to work on it next class.



Week 11        11/7 & 11/9: Graphics, info-graphics and interactive data


Monday, November 7: Data layout.

Ninth piece: choose format. Beat, business. Style: inverted pyramid. Incorporate information in Flash (due on Sunday 11/13 at 23.59).


Wednesday, November 9: Some ideas about Flash. Working on your Flash animation and your business story. Start producing your tenth news story on culture. You choose the format.


Week 12        11/14 & 11/16: Telling stories with Flash (new editors)


Monday, November 14: Planning your Flash movie, text and graphics. Posting your stories online.

Tenth piece: choose format. Beat, culture. Style: narrative. Add audio or video (due on Friday 11/18, before Thanksgiving break, at 23.59)


Wednesday, November 16: Final project, teams, tasks, topics and media. Production meeting 1. Some ideas about Flash.



            11/19 &11/27:  Thanksgiving Break



Week 14        11/28 & 11/30: Review of the Final Project



Monday, November 28: Final project, teams, tasks, topics and media. Production work/editorial meeting.


Wednesday, November 30: Work on final project: editing, troubleshooting.




Week 15        12/5 & 12/7: Final Project, Last Touches


Monday, December 5: Work on final project: editing, troubleshooting.


Wednesday, December 7: Work on final project: editing, troubleshooting, uploading.



Week 16        FINAL EXAM WEEK


Monday, December 12: Final project, group evaluation.


Wednesday, December 14: class evaluation and wrap up.



12/16: Last Day of Classes