Multimedia News Bureau Syllabus
Overview Standards Routine Grading Readings

Class Overview and Goals - JOUR 655, Spring 2011

Instructor / Bureau Director: Chris Harvey; Executive Producer: Sean Mussenden
Instructor phones: 301-314-2696 (new-media lab); Harvey's office on 1st floor: 301-405-2796
Office hours: during bureau hours or by appointment.

Your bureau hours:
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for Web editing, production, reporting and multimedia writing in the new-media labs in Knight Hall, rooms 3207/3210. Most days, expect a half hour for lunch. Harvey will be in the bureau with you on Tuesdays; Wednesdays and Thursdays; Mussenden will be in on Fridays and on some mornings on other days to help with Web updates and social networking. He is also building a new site for the bureaus in Drupal, with all our help. Because the bureau starts Jan. 10, ahead of the spring semester, it officially ends Friday, April 29. You do have off the week of spring break.

Welcome to the multimedia staff of Capital News Service/ Maryland Newsline. This is a six-credit course designed to give you hands-on experience on an online newsmagazine. Our Web site name will likely be changing this year, as we move from a hand-coded /CSS site to one with an automated content management system (Drupal).

Throughout the semester, you'll be working as a multimedia producer/ news editor/ multimedia reporter and writer. You will be reporting and writing your own stories, working with text, photos, audio and video that you collect during interviews. You'll be sending out story updates, vignettes and queries on our Twitter feed and Newsline blog. You'll be building Special Reports, to package Web, print and TV stories and interactives by topic. The interactives will include polls, quizzes, maps and other graphics.

You'll also be watching the CNS wire and CNS-TV for key stories and writing concise briefs, headlines, photo captions and Web links to package or highlight some of the work of your colleagues in the other bureaus. Good news judgment is critical in story choices.

And you'll be helping to build the new site.

You'll find that we'll be in close contact with the students and bureau directors working in Annapolis and Washington and in our broadcast studio at Tawes theater on campus. Students from those three other bureaus will be rotating in to the College Park multimedia bureau to work with us on production and social media, and you will be rotating out for up to two weeks to work on breaking news and projects in either Washington or Annapolis.

It's important that you remember throughout the semester that you're helping to define a relatively new medium. Thus, while the highest standards and ethics of professional journalists should always be followed, at times we may be pushing the envelope on writing styles, forms and presentations. I'll be asking you to think beyond straight-text presentations and to consider nonlinear and multimedia writing forms - and to always use the best medium for a particular story.

You should treat your time here as you would time spent at an off-campus internship. This means calling in to alert me or Sean Mussenden if you're too sick to work, or if you've been delayed due to car trouble. It also means dressing professionally, since you may sometimes have to go out on unexpected assignments. This means no blue jeans, T-shirts or tennis shoes.

All of your work will be closely supervised by me and Mussenden. For many reasons, including the need to avoid potential libel suits, nothing will go live on our Web site, Maryland Newsline, or on CNS' auxilliary Web site, The Bay Beat, unless I or one of the other bureau directors or deans in my absence has had a chance to edit it. Likewise, none of your stories will move on the Capital News Service wire unless they've been edited by me and/or by one of the bureau editors from Annapolis or Washington.

Although you'll be tackling serious jobs, and you'll be working hard, it's important to me that we have fun while we work and learn from each other. 

Our goal will be to provide lively updates, news packages and interactive and multimedia features for our Web sites, which focus on politics and public policy in the state.

I'm hoping our news sites will be routinely read by political junkies and activists, and by some Marylanders (and college students) with more than a passing interest in government, school, technology and development news. So let's try to make it compelling and fun, so they'll want to repeatedly return.

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