Academics / Multimedia Course

Multimedia course syllabus update for Spring 2009

Andrew Dunn notes that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is getting with the program and requiring a multimedia course for all journalism students as part of their new curriculum. Glad to know they’ve joined us in the future!

In the meantime, I’ve been updating my syllabus for the multimedia course here at EIU based on a semester’s worth of experience in the field. Below the fold is the new version of the syllabus/schedule with a few explanatory notes.

(Background: Previous Syllabus version; FAQ; mojo kit [will be revised soon])

Most of the syllabus is the same as it was during the last semester, however, I’m spending much more time on audio and video, with lots of repetition and building upon core concepts. The students will be doing at least three audio projects and three video projects before they get to their big semester-end project. These will be smaller projects (example: collecting five nat sounds and editing them into a 25-second audio clip) that will build to the larger projects.

Also, I should note that we’re using Final Cut Express this semester instead of iMovie. I’m done with iMovie until it is more stable and edits audio easier.


An Introduction to basic elements of multimedia journalistic storytelling, including audio, video, slideshows, and online journalism formats.


Students will be able to:

  • identify elements of multiple media used in journalistic storytelling.
  • critically evaluate professional journalistic multimedia packages.
  • produce audio story packages.
  • produce video story packages.
  • combine audio and still photographs to produce audio slideshows.
  • demonstrate understanding of characteristics of online journalistic storytelling.
  • produce stories for online news site.

Grading: Grades for the course will be determined by examination and quality of student-produced projects using a standard grading rubric.
Audio Package: 20%; Video Package: 20%; Weblog critiques: 10%; Exams: 15%; Final Multimedia Project: 30%; Attendance: 5%
In other words:

Audio Pkg 1: 50 pts.

Audio Pkg 2: 75 pts.

Audio Pkg 3: 75 pts.

Video Pkg 1: 50 pts.

Video Pkg 2: 75 pts.

Video Pkg 3: 75 pts.

Weblog entries: 100 pts.

Exams: 150 pts.

Final Multimedia Project: 300 pts.

Attendance: 50 pts.

Total Points: 1000

A: 1000-920 pts.

B: 919-820 pts.

C: 819-720 pts.

D: 719-600 pts.

F: 599-below


Deadlines are crucial. Assignments are due on the day listed in WebCT. NO EXCEPTIONS! Late assignments will receive a grade of 20%. If you are late with an assignment, you may turn it in after the deadline and throw yourself at the mercy of the professor and hope for a higher grade. However, there are no guarantees that you will receive mercy. My recomendation would be to turn in the assignment no matter how late it is.
Academic Dishonesty:
You are responsible for knowing and following the Academic Integrity Standards as published in the EIU Course Catalog.  In short, no act(s) of cheating, plagiarism or other academic dishonesty will be tolerated.  Any such act will be met with the maximum penalty the university allows. Regarding assignments, this means that assignments you produce for class may be submitted to student media after they are turned in. However, you may not turn in assignments for class that you are currently working on as an assignment for student media.

Be on time. The only acceptable absences in this class are those excused as an OFFICIAL University activity, or with a written medical excuse from a medical doctor. Quizzes given during absence cannot be made up. After the second unexcused absence your final grade will drop one full letter grade. Attendance is taken at the beginning of class.

The instructor reserves the right to modify the requirements of this class as necessary to achieve the objectives of this class during the term.
Course Outline

Week 1: Introduction and Overview: What is multimedia journalism? Definition of terms, history of multimedia storytelling and how the Internet has changed journalism, challenges and opportunities, and the development of multimedia journalism within media industry

Weblogs: What is a weblog; weblogging conventions ‚- blogrolls, posts, permalinks, traffic, conversation; setting up your own weblog. Implications of weblog use for journalists: Are weblogs journalism? Examples of professional journalists who blog; weblogs as watchdogs.

Week 2: Weblogs continued.

Writing for the Web: How web stories differ from print; How web readers/viewers read stories; what is SEO and why it matters in headline writing. Hyperlinks: What are they? Why are they important? How to make them? What to link to?

Week 3: Equipment use and technical specifications: How to use a digital audio recorder; microphone basics; terminology.  Basic audio storytelling techniques: What makes for good audio; definitions; examples of effective audio usage online.

Week 4: Audio Continued: Nat Sound exercises, Scripting

Week 5: Audio Continued: Editing, Interviews

Week 6: Audio (cont.): Importing and editing audio with computer software: options available, including Garageband, Audacity, and others; basic inferface conventions; basic editing; terminology; exporting.

Week 7: Audio Slideshows: Combining audio and still photographs; planning the story; examples from industry; using Soundslides software package.
Best practices for audio slideshows: Do’s and don’ts; thinking about the viewer; captioning and titling.

Week 8: Podcasting: easily distributing audio content online; definitions; how to set up a podcast; best practices; industry use and the future of podcasting.

Week 9: Basic online video storytelling techniques: What makes for good video; definitions; examples of effective online video.
Quantity vs. quality: the newspaper online video debate, making the case for quality; making the case for quantity.

Week 10: Video equipment: what to use and when to use it: Camera basics; purchasing a camera – what to look for; microphone usage; tripods; video recording formats.

Week 11: Video editing for online journalism: Importing video to a computer; using Final Cut Express as a basic video editor; discussion of higher-end editing software; basic editing techniques; do’s and don’ts; exporting a final video project.

Conceptualizing multimedia stories: How to plan a story to incorporate several media in ways that are effective.
Storyboard development: Planning a multimedia project through the use of storyboarding – laying the story out visually

Week 12: Flash video encoding and embedding explained: What is Flash and why is it important for video? How to encode video using Flash software; How to embed a video onto a web page; best practices.

Legal concerns in multimedia journalism: Copyright and ownership; release forms and when to use them; slander.

Week 13: Ethical concerns in multimedia journalism: Privacy; Manipulation of digital images, audio and video – what’s right and what’s wrong with this picture?

Week 14: Usability: Making multimedia content easy to find on your news web site for the present and for the future; helping readers navigate a multimedia package once they find it.

Week 15: Packaging the multimedia story: Putting all the pieces together in one package; how to bundle story pieces effectively; Testing a package before launch; Revising a site once it’s launched.