Class Schedule, Spring 2016, JOUR 352/652

Knight Hall, where we meet for class. Photo by Chris Harvey
The Philip Merrill College of Journalism at Knight Hall (Photo by Chris Harvey)

(The instructor reserves the right to make changes to the weekly schedule to fit the needs of the class and to accommodate guest speakers. All readings should be done before class meets, except for readings for the first class, which should be done before the second class. Please be sure to check the Web site of this syllabus every week to check for any changes to the schedule.)

Week 1:

Course overview, review of syllabus and class expectations, and introductions. Internet publishing overview and history of Internet news. An intro to multimedia storytelling and html. We'll turn to a brief history of ARPANET, the Internet and the World Wide Web, and news in a digital age. We'll talk about some of the transformations that have taken place -- especially in the last 15 - 20 years, with the advent of self-publishing platforms and the rise of social media. What has this meant to journalism? We'll also begin reviewing terminology--including hypertext markup language; cascading style sheets;  shovelware; convergence; backpack journalists; hyperlocal sites; news aggregators; pay walls.  THEN: We'll have an introduction to basic html tags. We'll work together on structural tags, used to set up all Web pages; comment tags, used to hide html coding in a browser; hyperlinks, email links and anchor (internal page) links; paragraph tags and breaks; bolding and italicizing; headline tags, bullets and image tags.

Week 1 Readings: 
GRAD STUDENTS should read "" by Chip Brown in the June 1999 issue of American Journalism Review, for an early history of news on the Internet.

Homework assignments due at the start of class Week 2: Please complete a one- to three-paragraph "About Me" bio; print it out and bring the printout to class Week 2. I'll copy edit it for use on the personal Wordpress website you will build this semester. PLUS: Complete Unit 1, Introduction to HTML:  Lessons 1 and 2 (HTML Basics, Build Your Own Web page).

Week 2:

More terminology: Internet protocol (IP) address; domain names; Content Management Systems; nonlinearity; modular content; page metrics; page views; discreet users; stickiness; click-throughs. PLUS: We'll have a review of photo sizing, cropping, compressing and color correcting (using CMD L) in Photoshop, along with a discussion of tips for  selecting strong photos -- and of a half dozen shooting pitfalls that beginners should avoid. You'll take headshots of each other (for later use on your Wordpress sites) to edit in Photoshop. We'll also discuss some of the ethical pitfalls of photo manipulation -- to keep you from being fired on your first job. (See "Distorted Picture," below, as a starting point. We'll look together at manipulated images that appeared in USA Today, National Geographic, Time Magazine and the Toledo Blade--and talk about the fallout they generated.) We'll work in Photoshop to create small, basic banners. We'll work in layers with text/drop shadows, a photo, and a background color, saving as .psd documents and then .gifs. PLUS more Web coding in class.

Readings Week 2:  "Distorted Picture," by Sherry Ricchiardi, from the August/September 2007 issue of AJR. Please also view some of the award-winning photos on this site: "NPPA's Best of Photojournalism Web Site 2015."
GRAD STUDENTS: Please also click through photos and galleries on The Digital Journalist.

Assignments for start of class Week 3: Bring a printout of your resume to the next class (Week 3), so I can copy edit it and get it back to you. Please also share it with me on Google Drive. Tips on resume writing are posted on the Merrill website. Please also complete on your own Codecademy's Unit 2: Lessons on HTML basics 2 and Social Networking Profile. Plus Unit 3: lessons on HTML Basics 3 and Clickable Photo Page.

Week 3:

We'll discuss basic online design principles and navigation issues, eye tracking studies and audience concerns in designing a site. Then we'll jump into more coding -- first practicing inline css together, using "style" attributes in html tags such as div, p, a and h1 -- and using tables for data.  Then learning how to attach external style sheets and to begin to use selectors, properties and values, practicing with div, p, a and h1 selectors to style headlines, body text and links and creating a button for a "back to top" link. Then: We'll launch your portfolio Wordpress sites. And we'll begin to explore responsive page design, using media queries. 

Readings for Week 3:  The W3Schools' explanation of CSS, and an explanation of differences between external, internal and inline CSS.

Homework due at the start of class Week 4: Codecademy Unit 4: Lessons on "CSS: An Overview" and "Design a Button for Your Website."

Week 4:

What type of multimedia are suited to telling what types of stories? When is text best for storytelling? Photos? Video? We'll look together at examples from Paul Grabowicz's "Picking the Right Media for Reporting a Story." We'll begin to talk about your story projects: Two story pitches are due (for a grade) at the start of class in Week 5. And we'll move into the basics of using Dreamweaver or another Web editing tool, as the instructor chooses -- reviewing the difference between "internal" and "inline" style and looking at shortcuts tools offer. We'll also look at a few special characters in code (such as for nonbreaking spaces and copyright symbols).

Homework due at the start of class 5: Codecademy Unit 5: lessons on "CSS Selectors" and "Sorting Your Friends." 

Additional Assignment Due at the start of class Week 5: Two story pitches for your multimedia project. The story pitches should be a strong paragraph each and should describe the multimedia/feature story you are proposing, possible sources for the stories, possible photos, possible multimedia and interactive elements, and possible links to primary documents. You should tell me how you will tell the MAIN story (with text, or video, or an audio slideshow) and why, based on our discussion last week. You will hopefully tell your main story in a format you are comfortable working in.

Week 5:

We'll begin discussing search engine optimization, or SEO, for headlines, titles, metatags and links, and page and image file names. We'll discuss how good SEO affects SERP and bounce rates. We'll discuss how Web headlines share similarities but also key differences from print ones. And we'll practice writing strong headlines and photo captions.  

We'll talk about writing nonlinear forms for the Web -- and how to hold reader interest in longer forms. I

Check out these general headline writing tips from Wayne Countryman.

Homework due by the start of class Week 6: Codecademy Unit 6: lessons on "CSS Positioning" and "Build a Resume." 

Week 6:
Wordpress as a Web editing tool and content management system: We will do setups for your sites. AND: In-class headline writing assignments. You will write headlines for news stories. If time permits: you will find a good and not-so-adept headline on one or more news Web sites, and explain why you think so on our class Elms site, under a thread I've started. Please be sure to give the full URL and headline for each. Include a sentence or two of constructive comments. Please be sure your criticism is tactful. 

Assignment Due at Start of Class Week 7: (5 percent of your grade): Web resume and About Me" pages, on your Wordpress site. See syllabus for more details.

Readings before week 7:  "This Photograph Is Not Free," by John Mueller, published Jan. 10, 2012, on PetaPixel. Plus: "My Romenesko Verdict: No Harm, No Foul," by Jack Shafer, published Nov.12, 2011, on Plus: scan social media guidelines from NPR, the Associated Press  and The Washington Post. 

Week 7:

Ethical and Legal issues in cyberspace - including copyright. Among the legal questions to consider:  Is it OK to copy source code from another site to mimic design? What can be copied from copyrighted sites under "fair use?" How should corrections be handled on sites? Links? We may look over this Digital Journalist package, "Seeing the Horror," about photo editors' considerations on whether and where disturbing images should be published-- in this case, of the towers' jumpers on 9/11. Discussion could focus on individuals' right to privacy vs. public's right to know. Plus: what rules should govern social media use? aggregation and curation?

PLUS: More with external style sheets.

Readings before Week 8:  "When to Use Maps in Data Visualisation: A Great Big Guide"; "Google Fusion Tables API," from google developers; "About Fusion Tables," from google.

Week 8:

Review for midterm. PLUS Building Google maps and Google fusion tables.

ASSIGNMENT DUE at the start of class Week 8 on your Wordpress site: "Clips" and "Contact Me" pages. See syllabus.

Week 9: 


Readings Before Week 10Using Data Visualization to Find Insights in Data, from the Data Journalism Handbook 

Week 10:

Review Answers to Part 1 of Midterms. PLUS:  We'll work with simple charts (bar and pie) and line graphs, and use free javascript tools to create a bar chart, an interactive quiz and a poll. We'll use the free tools Highcharts Cloud  or Highcharts and

ASSIGNMENT DUE at the start of class Week 10: Text for multimedia story. See syllabus for details.

Week 11:
First: We'll create an interactive timeline.

Then we'll begin to wireframe your story project -- sketching first on paper how it should display at three set points: for cell phones, tablets and desktops.Then an introduction to layout frames. Possible exercise with Skeleton Framework, working with the text of your multimedia story.

Readings before Week 12:  Twitter for Newsrooms;  "Advice for Editors on Becoming Conversational on Twitter," by Steve Buttry, published Oct. 16, 2011; and "Best Practices for Journalists on Facebook,"  "PBS, USA Today Engage With Readers Most Effectively," on the May 30, 2012,; and Steve Buttry's "How Journalists and Newsrooms Can Use Pinterest," from his May 9, 2012, Buttry Diary. Plus:  review AP's Social Media Guidelines for Employees, and social media guidelines for The Washington Post and NPR.

Week 12:
Social Networking and the Journalist: writing in very short bursts. Before class, we'll read about how social networking sites - such as Facebook and Twitter - are being used by reporters to mine sources, interact with readers, post story updates from the road and circulate those stories to a wider audience. We'll also walk through our class rules of the road for Twitter news assignments, and we'll make sure your Twitter bios and background photos have been updated. (We'll review "How to Write a Twitter Bio That Will Make You Stand Out as a Journalist.") We'll also have a live tweeting assignment, and then you will be asked to archive, or Storify, the best class tweets along with other pertinent social media. Using Storify, you can combine tweets, stories, photos and video in the public domain on social media, adding text for context and molding all into a narrative. (Here is one of my efforts.)

We'll take a quick look at how TweetDeck can help you manage your Twitter streams. (And I'd love to hear from any of you who instead use HootSuite. Perhaps a demonstration would be in order?)

And be prepared to talk about the mainstream media social media policies assigned for homework reading. Are there any points you strongly disagree with? Are there policy points that should be ADDED?

Week 13:

Professional Newsroom Tour to USA Today in McLean, Va.  You will be given assigned questions to answer about the visit.

Readings: PLEASE familiarize yourself with the USA Today site. 

WEEK 14:

Going mobile:  Each of you will demonstrate a phone app or Web tool that you use for reporting/research/design work as a journalist -- and post a supporting summary about its usefulness on our class site, under a thread I'll start. 

We will leave half of the class for work/questions on your projects.

Readings before week 15: "Post-Industrial Journalism": A New Columbia Report Examines the Disrupted Universe," by Joshua Benton, Nieman Journalism Lab, Nov. 27, 2012; The Hub's summary of an ONA 2012 tips session led by Robert Hernandez, Colleen Wilson and Jim Colgan. "Confidence Game: The limited vision of the news gurus," in the December 2011 issue of Columbia Journalism Review; and a rebuttal by Steve Buttry: "Many are Working to Secure a Healthy Future for Investigative Journalism""The New, Convoluted Life Cycle of a Newspaper Story," by Lauren Robaino, published Nov. 18, 2011, on 10,000 Words.

Week 15:

First half: We'll likely have a guest in to talk about Web analytics -- and why they're important to knowing your audience and providing pertinent content that will draw eyeballs and advertisers. Our guest may also touch a bit on revenue streams for news sites.  Second half: We'll have a class presentations/peer review of the beta versions of your multimedia story packages. I'll bring the movie candy. I'll remind you to fill out class evaluations!

ASSIGNMENT DUE at the Start of Class: Beta version of your story package due today. The home page URL for undergraduate projects will be uploaded to the college's assessment site, JPortfolio, (where it's kept for assessment purposes), after I've pushed the package live on the college server. We'll link it to the accrediting site together in class.


Final turn-in of your multimedia story packages are due during finals week, as specified in the university's finals schedule. Your story folders with all the accompanying files and images must be turned in for the last time to the staging drive. You need to check all your links and images live, which means they need to be done so I can push them to the live server. (To copy your folder to staging on the Mac side of your computer, go to Go/Connect to Server, and type smb:// to access.) IF YOU EARNED AN A OR AN A-MINUS ON YOUR BETA TURN-IN, AND YOU ARE SATISFIED WITH THAT GRADE AND YOUR PROJECT, YOU MAY OPT AGAINST DOING MORE WORK FOR THE FINAL TURN-IN; THE TEACHER WILL REPEAT YOUR BETA GRADE FOR THE FINAL. YOU MUST LET YOUR TEACHER KNOW BEFORE THE DUE DATE.

Adjunct instructors teaching 352/652 at the University of Maryland Philip College of Journalism are asked to work from this and other schedules circulated by the team.