Online News Bureau Syllabus
Overview Standards Routine Grading Readings

Undergrads taking all six credits in the news bureau will be judged on their ability to handle different types of assignments, including: researching and writing interactive news quizzes; reporting and writing a variety of multimedia stories, including some with video; writing breaking news pieces and an audio/photo slide show (see below); writing headlines, captions and smart Web links; coding and packaging Web content; selecting, sizing and cropping digital photos for story pages and special reports; collecting and posting audio on the Web and digitizing and posting video on the Web.

You'll be assessed on your ability to follow Associated Press style, to follow rules of good grammar and to write accurately and fairly.

Your grade will also reflect your demonstrated news judgment--since you'll be asked to help pick stories for display on the site.

And you will be judged on your creativity in suggesting interactive projects and special reports or other features for the site. 

It is essential that you meet deadlines and complete assignments. 

In addition to the points noted above, your final grade will reflect on your work habits, time management, attendance, punctuality, attitude and demonstrated improvement.

In the bureau, you will get routine, informal feedback on your progress on particular assignments. You'll also get a brief, written mid-term evaluation, in which we will discuss your strengths and weaknesses and you will be given advice on how to improve your work. We will have one-on-one discussions about your progress throughout the semester and you will be given a midterm grade and a final grade.

Here's how your grade will be assessed, for each of the three-credit classes making up the news bureau:

JOUR 355: Online News Bureau (editing/research/production). This chiefly focuses on copy editing--including headline, caption and link writing-- research for interactive quizzes and other features, photo selection and cropping, story packaging and production, and audio and video editing.

Here are the minimum assignments that all undergraduate students will be expected to complete to earn a passing grade:

In addition, you also will be posting video every week from our TV news bureau. You will be asked to update/add to existing Special Reports on the site, to demonstrate to the class any new tools you teach yourself to use during the semester and to use your creativity to pitch ideas for new features and pages for the site. 

JOUR 353: (advanced multimedia reporting):

Here are the minimum assignments that all undergraduate students will be expected to complete to earn a passing grade:

You must research and write at least one interactive news quiz for existing or new Special Reports on the site. Topics should be cleared with me. For strong examples, see Raechal Leone's "They Said What?," Rachel Mauro's "Invisibility in Books and Films"; Lisa Tossey's "Physical Traits of Presidents"; Daina Klimanis' "The Future of Hubble" and her "Bartlett vs. Rolle, on the Issues"; Nicole Albowicz's "History of Slots in America"; Nicole Richardson's "How Well Do You Know Cole?" and Nikki Hawkins' Maryland symbols quiz.

You must produce one audio-photo slide show or gallery, produced in Soundslides (flash software) or an html template, on a newsy event or a feature topic. Please clear a topic with me before setting out on it. Your pictures, audio and captions should tell a story. For inspiration, check out Raechal Leone's "Fans Find Favorite Authors at Book Fest," Carrie Dindino's "UMD Students Help Transform a West Baltimore Neighborhood," Melissa Pachikara's essay on retiring AP reporter Tom Stuckey; Jennifer Fu's "Testudo's Troops," April Chan's "Living at the D.C. Armory" and Nikki Hawkins' "Pit Bulls in Maryland. Earlier projects - before audio was required for this assignment - included Sonia Kumar's "Panda Provisions," Kim Harris' "Sea Art in Charm City" and Amy Silva's "The End of an Era: Maryland Tobacco Auction in Photos."

You must report and write at least one light, bright feature story with audio, of 400 to 700 words. (The narrative for this will be driven more by the text, whereas the narrative for the photo essay is driven more by the photos and audio.) You must include at least two relevant Web links for the piece. You must also include at least one photo -- either one you took or one you got permission from the copyright holder to re-use -- and one audio clip from your interviews. (A short video clip could be used in lieu of the audio.) You must also write a proposed headline and caption. For strong examples, see Carrie Dindino's "Everything Must Go at the Watergate Hotel," Kelly Martini's "Ellicott City Hosts 'Haunted' History Walks"; A.J. McComb's "Ghostly Tales Offered on University Tours," Melissa Pachikara's "UMD's Turtle Sculptures Go on Auction" and Danny Conklin's "From Torts to Tarts."

You will be required to report and Web-produce at least one video-driven news or newsfeature story, using our hand-held video cams and the free software MovieMaker for editing. This can be done individually or as part of a team. For examples, see Raechel Leone's report from Annapolis on regular folks reacting to the proposed sales tax increase in Maryland, Arelis Hernandez and David Byers' report on how much that proposed sales tax hike could affect prices on big-ticket purchases; Carrie Dindino's report on a long-shot presidential candidate from Maryland; and Arelis Hernandez and David Byers' reaction story from the UMD campus on race relations following the discovery of a noose hanging near a minority student cultural center.

You must report and write at least one breaking story on a daily deadline, of 400 to 700 words. You must include at least two relevant Web links for each story. You must also write a proposed headline. Photos and audio are optional. For examples, see Arelis Hernandez and David Byers' "Dry Spell Ends With Gentle Rainfall, More Possible"; the Newsline staff's "Parade Spectators Claim Their Own Pieces of Inaugural History"; Stephen Mather's "Hundreds Remember Muppets Creator With Statue Dedication at UMD"; and Daina Klimanis' "Circus Fun Erupts When Seuss Is Honored With Reading, Stamp."

You must report and write at least one profile of up to 1,000 words of a soldier killed in Iraq or Afghanistan or an interesting or quirky person, businessman or inventor, public official or candidate for office. Multiple sources must be interviewed during the reporting phase; information must come from paper and people sources; LexisNexis should be used for backgrounding; and, preferably, some government records will be searched. Sidebar stories and boxes can be used to accompany the story, to fit in vital info that exceeds the 1,000 words in the main piece. The profile must include digital photos taken by you or archival photos retrieved and cropped by you and at least one audio or video clip collected by you and edited for the Web, which we will link from the story page. You must include subheads in the body of the text, to aid in readability. Please clear this assignment with me before beginning on it. For examples of other students' work, see Raechal Leone's "Maryland Author Turns to Family for Inspiration," April Chan's profile of a New Orleans family displaced by Hurricane Katrina; and Mike Santa Rita's profile of a Maryland soldier killed in Iraq. For samples of earlier profiles, before the audio or video complements were required, see Kim Harris' profile of a survivor of the World Trade Center attack, and Fanen Chiahemen's profile of an AIDS sufferer.

You must do all the Web production work for each of your assignments (putting photos, text and audio into the appropriate templates), and you may be asked to do some other occasional site updating.



Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, Chris Harvey. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.