Week 1 – Jan 18

In Class: Get Rolling
-Download the Online Journalism 2 syllabus (pdf) if you want a hard copy.
Course overview
Readings and 2016 Online Journalism Awards
Assignments and Grading
Class schedule
Equipment and hosting
Ethics review
-What this class is about: 1.)”The future of news is now” and 2.)“Journalists today have to be Swiss Army knives” – Advice from Texas Tribune co-founder, CEO, and editor-in-chief Evan Smith. (See About page for Texas Tribune)

-Download the Online Journalism 2 syllabus (pdf) if you want a hard copy.
-Start getting your personal equipment together.
-For Monday: Explore the entries for the 2016 OJA finalists. Browse widely. Try to spend at least 30 minutes clicking around. Get a sense of the OJA’s. Pick one entry that you really like and want to discuss.  Answer the following questions and be prepared to share them with your classmates (Orally. You do not have to write anything down.)

  • How would you describe the values/critiera of the OJAs based on the finalists and winners?
  • Briefly describe the entry/story you particularly liked? What pulled you in?
  • Tell us about the news organization that published it? What is their niche/mission?
  • Why do you think this is award-worthy? What do they do? How do they do it?

I’ll ask each of you to talk about your entry in class.

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Ethics Review – Spring 17

The basics:

  • “The criteria that professional reporters and editors use to decide what news is can be summarized in three words: Relevance, Usefulness, Interest.” – News Reporting and Writing
  • There is a saying: “A reporter is only as good as her sources.” Reporters seek the person most qualified to speak with authority and authenticity. Students are not allowed to use friends or relatives as sources for stories (because really, what’s the point?)
  • Be clear, upfront and honest about who you are and what you are doing.
  • “Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of information is not a license for arrogance.”
  • Tell everyone you interview, quote, photograph, or record that you are reporting for a public website.
  • Attribute facts and information.
  • Seek to do original reporting first. Get your own quotes, take your own photos, record your own audio, shoot your own videos.
  • Assume that anything you encounter on the Internet is copyrighted, unless it is expressly states otherwise. Students may only use third-party content (photos, music, graphics) in their course work if they obtain permission from the creator or it is licensed under Creative Commons.
  • Take responsibility for your work.

1. Code of Ethics
Students are expected to adhere to the SPJ code of ethics and Journalism Department code of ethics.

2. Academic Honesty
Students must adhere to the Rowan University policy on academic honesty.

Plagiarism and fabrication are serious offenses. Do not use words, photos, or other kinds of content without proper attribution and copyright permission. This includes copying content from the Internet. Plagiarism also includes passing off another’s work as your own or giving your work to another student. Fabrication is deliberately inventing or altering information with the intent to deceive. Anyone caught plagiarizing or fabricating could receive an F for the course.

All assignments must be completed for this class only. Submitting work from another class, in part or in full, is considered academic dishonesty.

Students may only use third-party content (photos, music, graphics) in their course work if they obtain permission from the creator or it is licensed under Creative Commons.

3. Public vs. Private Places
The First Amendment guarantees freedom of the press, but freedom of access is not protected.

In general, you do not need permission to report in public places like streets, sidewalks, beaches, parks, train stations, or university campuses.

Some restrictions may apply to airports, schools, or individual public or government buildings.

If you are on private property (medical facility, movie theater lobby, business office, restaurant, mall, store, or a private home) you need to obtain permission to report. If someone asks you to leave private property, you must leave.

4. Public vs. Private Citizens
Private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence, or attention.

5. Minors
If you are interviewing or shooting photos or video of minors (under 18 years of age), you must obtain permission from a parent or guardian. Download waiver form for minors(.doc)

6. Student reporter vs. Professional journalist
Student journalists are journalists. Own it. But also keep in mind that student reporters do not enjoy all of the legal protections of a professional journalist and they do not have a news organization with lawyers to back them up.

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Welcome to Online Journalism II – Spring 17

Online Journalism II explores how digital news stories are reported, produced and distributed on various digital platforms. Students will learn what it takes to create high-quality, innovative, multi-platform stories while adhering to the traditional standards of news judgment, accuracy, fairness and truth.

Prerequisites: News Reporting I and Online Journalism I
Recommended: Photojournalism, Publication Layout and Design, On-Camera Field Reporting, Introduction to New Media

This course builds upon the basic skills and knowledge presented in News Reporting I and Online Journalism I.

In this course, students will:

  • Study and analyze award-winning online news stories in order to gain insight into reporting and storytelling techniques.
  • Learn how to generate enterprising story ideas through original reporting.
  • Develop a “digital-first” workflow for reporting and news content creation.
  • Understanding of the unique characteristics of text, photos, audio, video and graphics and when to use each to present a story in the most compelling manner.
  • Explore innovative ways to adapt traditional news story formats for the web and mobile audiences.
  • Improve multimedia reporting and production skills.
  • Produce multimedia stories alone and as member of team.
  • Complete several portfolio-worthy or publishable news stories. In the past, student work from this course has been published in org, NJ.com, South Jersey Times and South Jersey Magazine.

This is a fast-paced, advanced level multimedia journalism workshop. There will be a lot of discussion, back-and-forth, and, as is the case in any newsroom, a fair amount of chaos. The success of the course and the finished products will depend on your energy, entrepreneurial spirit, work ethic, and ability to work together. I will conduct the course as a teacher, group facilitator and editor.

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Assignment 4 Meeting Schedule

There is no regular class this week. Instead I will meet with each of you for 30 min to discuss your Assignment 4: Profile. Bring a rough draft to the meeting in my office at 6 High Street.

Wed, April 27
11:00 – Joe
12:00 – Nery
12:30 – Tommy
1:30 – SarahJane

Thurs, April 28
11:00 – Vince
12:30- Mike

Fri, April 28
10:00 – Steve, Matt, Sam

Mon, May 2
11:30 – Kevin and Peggy

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Week 13 – April 18 and 20

In Class:
Assignment 3: Issue due Monday, 18 at beginning of class
-5 min group presentations on Assignment 3 (Worth 5 quiz points)
VR and Journalism discussion

Course evaluation
How to make your own immersive multimedia with Story Spheres
-Assignment 4: Profile pitch due
-Open Internet Quiz (worth 25 points) will cover:

-Sign up for individual Assignment 4 meeting the following week

-No regular class next week. Instead, I will meet individually with each of you in my office at 6 High Street to discuss your Assignment 4 Profile. Individual meetings will be held on April 27, 28, 29 and May 2.

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How to make immersive journalism with Story Spheres

By Mark Berkey-Gerard and Anthony Medina

For better or worse, virtual reality is being put in the hands of the masses.

Facebook is venturing into 360 video. YouTube recently unveiled live streaming 360 video. And Splash is a new mobile app that lets anyone shoot 360 photos and videos and share them via social media.

While much of this technology — and how people are using it — can be clunky (and may not even really count as virtual reality), these “plug-and-play” tools do offer a student or reporter a way to explore the potential and challenges of immersive journalism.

We have been playing around with some of these tools here at Rowan University and decided to write up this overview of Story Spheres, which adds audio clips to a 360 photo.

We liked Story Spheres because it is:

Tips for Using Story Spheres:

-Pick locations and subjects that are both visual and have good sound. You need both for an engaging Story Sphere.

-Shoot 360 photos in a smooth circular motion. Changing the height of camera or moving too fast can create gaps in your image.

-Start your photo with the main subject.

-Watch out for motion. If someone moves while you are shooting your photo, it will create a blur.

-Simple is better. Story Spheres with too many audio clips or links are confusing to users.

Story Spheres Step-by-Step:

You need a way to shoot a 360 panorama photo with a 2:1 ratio. The ideal image size is 4000 x 2000 pixels. For Android phones, go to native camera and download more modes to get the 360 camera. For iPhone, you need a 360 photo app. We liked the 360 Panorama app because it is cheap ($1.99) and works well enough.

Shoot a 360 photo.

Record audio clips with your a voice recorder or your phone.

Import your photo to a computer. If you are using 360 Panorama on an iPhone, share the photo to your camera roll. Then plug your phone into a computer with your cord. On a Mac, use Image Capture, then import.

Resize your image to 40000 x 2000. (Note: 360 Panorama images aren’t exactly 2:1, but if you can resize it to something close (ie 4000 x 1800 pixels), it will still work.

Import your audio clips to your computer via email or with your cord. They must be in .mp3 format to upload to Story Spheres, so you can use a converter like Switch to change format if needed. (Here is a video tutorial for using Switch)

Go to Story Spheres. Log in with your Gmail account.

Upload your photo to Story Spheres.

Upload your audio clips to Story Spheres. Then continue to the Studio page to position each sound file.

In the Studio page sound files have their own widgets to control their settings, volume, distance, position on the image, name and type of audio file. Ambient sounds play in the background. A click to play sound plays when the user taps or hovers over the sound in a Story Sphere.

You can also link one Story Sphere to another – so that the user can click through multiple connected scenes. This is a nice option for giving a tour of a location, going room to room or building to building.

Embed the Story Sphere through share menu. Or view it with a Google Cardboard.

Related Links:

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Virtual Reality and Journalism Discussion

Your thoughts from NYTimes VR stories:
-Which one(s) did you watch? What worked? What didn’t work?

My suggestions for how to think about VR and journalism (and every technological gadget/application to come in the future):

1. Explore and experiment
News outlets left and right (and up, down, and center) are embracing virtual reality technology (NiemanLab)

2. Learn from other reporters who are trying it
Virtual Reality: A New Way to Tell Stories (NYTimes)

3. Question the ethics
From Mike Oreskes: What We Talk About When We Talk About Virtual Reality (NPR)

4. Try it yourself — maybe even for your profile assignment
How to make your own immersive multimedia with Story Spheres

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For next week…

Send me a link to your Assignment 3 by noon on Friday. I will respond by email on Friday afternoon.

…Week 13 – April 18 and 20

Assignment 3: Issue due Monday, 18 at beginning of class
-VR and Journalism
-Things I hope you take away from the semester

-VR Journalism (cont)
-Assignment 4: Profile pitch due
-Last quiz
-Sign up for Assignment 4 meeting the following week
-Course evaluation


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Assignment 3 Group Work Today

Assignment 3: Issue rough draft is due Wed., April 13 
No class on Monday, April 11. Use the time in the best way for your group project.
Final version must be posted by 5 pm on Friday, April 15


  1. Show me what you have so far.
  2. Create a WP blog, pick a theme and get everyone on as an editor. If it is private, invite me to view it.
  3. Outline your plan going forward. Who is doing what/when?
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Week 11 – April 4 and 6

In Class:
Quick review:
Part 2: Reporting an Issue Story
Part 3: Assembling an Issue Story
Part 4: How to Post Your Issue Story

-Assignment 4: Profile overview
Elements of a great profile
-Assignment 3 group work check in on Wednesday

Assignment 3: Issue due Friday, April 15. Get rolling on Assignment 3. Communicate with your group. Follow your plan for “8. Outline a concrete plan for reporting/assembling content.” You want to have some reporting/interviews accomplished by Wed. I will check in with each group to see what you have.

-Read Tips for making storytelling portraits (NPR)
-Read A handy guide to making awesome photos (NPR)
-Read How to find great pictures for your stories (NPR)
-Read News outlets left and right (and up, down, and center) are embracing virtual reality technology (NiemanLab)
-Read Virtual Reality: A New Way to Tell Stories (NYTimes)
-Read From Mike Oreskes: What We Talk About When We Talk About Virtual Reality(NPR)

-Check out a Google cardboard from me. Download NYTimes Virtual Reality app on your phone. Watch one or more of the following:

  • Smile More
  • 10 Shots Across the Border
  • The Contenders
  • Vigils in Paris
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