Crowdsourcing the Interactive Journalism Syllabus (Whitworth University, Spring 2012)

This coming spring, I’ll be teaching the “Interactive Journalism” course at Whitworth University. Because the nature of this course is leveraging social media in today’s news organizations, I thought it would only be appropriate to utilize social media to garner feedback for the syllabus. Thus, I’m asking for your input…and I’ll seriously take it into consideration.

Here are some questions to ask:
  • Does this cover the topic of interactive (digital, social media, etc.) news journalism today?
  • Are the assignments relevant and support the course objectives?
  • Does the course seem to be too little, too intense or just right for one semester?
  • Any miscellaneous thoughts or recommendations?

Before you dive in to the PDF of the syllabus to review it, here are the course summary and goals. You may want to read these over first, and then decide if you want to spend the time reviewing the complete syllabus.

Summary

Technology has created a paradigm shift in the way we communicate with one another. Now, people interact with one another across the globe, sharing information with complete strangers; traditional media outlets are no longer the primary source of news; and information travels instantaneously.  Thus, the journalists of today and tomorrow must know how to leverage technology to gather, develop and distribute stories, identify and engage key influencers, and participate in two-way conversations with a variety of audiences.

Goals

The objective of this course is to introduce you to online tools and resources that will help you:

  • Utilize the web to research news stories.
  • Write and edit for the web and social media.
  • Use technology to develop content, including digital photography, videos, blogs and social media.
  • Identify and engage key influencers.
  • Build and maintain the online reputation for you and your organization.

These skills will prepare you to work as an entry-level content producer at traditional and digital media outlets.

Please provide your feedback by commenting on this blog post by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, November 16. Thank you!

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2 responses to “Crowdsourcing the Interactive Journalism Syllabus (Whitworth University, Spring 2012)

  1. This is an excellent idea for a class and I do understand and like the direction it seems to be going. While there are details that will be worked out, I did have some questions that might be worth thinking about:

    – Although you will be covering citizen journalists (Apr. 26), I believe that’s a fundamental piece with which to start. Are the people in the class expecting to work for traditional news sources? Or will they be freelancing? Or will the just be citizen journalists? While there are basics of operating social media tools, there are key differences. You may want to examine the Twitter/Social Media policies of different news organizations, traditional and digital based (NYT, CSM, etc).

    – The distinction above is more apparent when discussing legal and ethical considerations of social media. This is an area which needs some explaining/discussion because media law has yet to adapt; if you retweet/blog something untrue or are accused of libel, what are your options, protections, obligations, etc? (Ethics of the “scoop”) What is copyrighted/fair use in digital news?

    – Twitter is a category in itself; from hard news, to opinion, to journalists behind the scenes, to journalist/reporter opinions, there are plenty of models to use. This is where multiple Twitter handles (NYT, NYTlite, Nicholas Kristoff, etc) should probably be discussed. If you have one account as a journo, should you only report hard news there? What if you have an opinion on the matter? Does stating opinions affect credibility or promote personality? (See Jake Tapper, Chuck Todd, Luke Russert, Major Garrett)

    – I like the idea of working with nonprofits, details unknown. Sometimes it’s best to learn both sides of the coin; how would you report on a nonprofit and how, as a nonprofit, do I talk to a journalist? (Whether that’s your intent, I do not know, but that’s how I interpreted it.)

    Great potential here; best of luck!

    • Thanks for the great comments!
      Yes, we will be covering citizen journalists and most of them are probably expecting to work for a traditional news source in the future–though because this is an undergraduate class, they need to be prepared for any environment, should their career path change. I like the idea of reviewing social media policies as well as the ethics of fair use, etc. in your second point.
      I think the question you pose about having multiple Twitter accounts (I have two myself) would make for a great discussion topic, and perhaps a blog post by the students. 🙂
      Regarding the non-profits, I thought it would be a great way for them to develop a digital news piece that also falls into Whitworth’s commitment to service. My hope is that they’ll not only learn how to put a great news piece together, but learn more about the non-profit and perhaps help the NPO get some exposure.

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