CMM 360

The Basics:

Instructor: David Swartzlander

Class location: 130 Gaylord Hall

Instructor’s Office: 105 Gaylord Hall

Office phone: 402.826.8269

Cell phone: 402.643.5135

Instructor’s e-mail address:

Online course address:

Office Hours:

MW: 9:30–11 a.m., 2:30–3:30 p.m.

TTh: 9:30–11 a.m.

Or by appointment

Recommended supplies:

AP Stylebook



Audio recorder

Digital camera or cell phone that can take photos and/or video

USB flash drive

Headphones or ear buds

A dictionary and thesaurus

A grammar style guide. I recommend “A Writer’s Resource,” by Elaine P. Maimon, Janice H. Peritz and Kathleen Blake Yancey, McGraw Hill, third edition, 2012.

Online course:

Please become familiar with the online course by visiting the site and touring it. There you will find daily lesson plans. To find your grades, check Blackboard. The syllabus for this class is included in the online course.

Course goals:

This course prepares students to work as journalists in today’s newsrooms where the online and digital platforms are at least as important as the traditional print or broadcast platforms. It is not a web design course, though we will learn some coding basics and I will give you the site for a tutorial to learn HTML coding. This course provides an introduction to basic elements of multimedia journalistic storytelling, including audio, video, slideshows and other online journalism and media formats. Students in this course learn how to use digital tools to report and provide content for Internet news sites. The focus is on using the tools to tell stories — and on how to plan and execute the storytelling for each medium. Students are expected to want to provide content and to be conscientious about accuracy.

The class also attempts to instruct you on the tools and techniques of mobile technologies and their leveraging through social media platforms. This will be a course of critical importance to students in Communication majors. It will prepare Media Communication majors to tackle the Capstone course.

We’ll use computers, podcasts, videos, readings, discussions and hands-on experience to learn about online news publishing and online storytelling. The class will include learning how to report, produce and edit online packages using blogs, audio, video and photos together with text to tell stories. We will also discuss emerging media themes, including the ethical and legal implications of publishing online.

A core portion of the class will include hands-on assignments, allowing students to produce content and edit stories using audio, video, photos, graphics and other digital material. We will experiment with a variety of different storytelling methods, including podcasting, Twitter and other social media.

Staying on top of the news is an integral part of this course. I expect you to be registered on multiple news web sites as well as industry news sites.


At the completion of this class, students will be able to accomplish a variety of tasks, including but not limited to:

· Building your own website, a website for a news or other organization or one for a cause. The goal is that you will build sites at which you’ll function as journalists and strategic communicators now and continue to maintain them as your careers develop.

· Creating professional Facebook pages and populating them with content related to news coverage, niches, interests, organizations or causes.

· Living, eating and breathing Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube as tools for gathering information, distribution, promotion and curation. You will use all of these platforms to cover complete news stories, promote causes or organizations or engage audiences with what’s interesting to them.

· Identifying elements of multiple media used in online storytelling.

· Creating story pitches.

· Learning to write for the web.

· Producing online audio stories and podcasts.

· Producing online video stories.

· Combining audio and still photographs to produce audio slideshows as a storytelling technique.

· Learning how to package different platforms into a cohesive storytelling unit.

· Producing stories for the online news site.

· Coding

· Shooting photographs

Minimum Course Requirements:

As class members, you will be required to produce content for Doaneline, the student news web site.

This class contains no textbook to read, tests or exams. The class involves discussion and hands-on experience.

To receive a passing grade in this class, you must:

· Build a professional-looking website.

· Create a professional Facebook page and routinely add content to it.

· Use social media to report and distribute content.

· Write at least one news story with links and/or other multimedia or interactive tools for use by Doaneline.

· Create and provide content for a blog, updated at least three times a week. You can choose the blog content, but I will require certain elements you’ll need to include.

· Build a map or other graphic to accompany any story.

· Using just your cell phone or tablet, create a multiplatform story that contains at least three platforms (print/audio/video/graphics/ etc.).

· Work collaboratively to create at least three professional-looking multimedia packages:

1. Include at least three of the five media formats (written story or blog, photographs or graphics, audio, audio slideshow and video).

2. Encompass at least four of the five media formats

3. Showcase five media formats and delve in depth into a subject of your choosing. It should be of sufficient quality that the story could be broadcast, published on Doaneline and/or printed in The Doane Owl. This, on a smaller scale, will replicate and prepare you for the capstone course.

· Report weekly about campus events, through social media, Doaneline stories and blogs.

· Complete a coding assignment.

· Post stories to Doaneline.

· Attend and participate in a weekly news planning session.

· Cover all events using Twitter or other appropriate social media. Use Twitter to break news.

· Assemble an online portfolio of your work.

Students also are expected to complete any assigned homework.

Story Submission:

All stories will be submitted to Doaneline for possible publication. We will review stories in class. You may post them on your own websites as well.


Deadlines are crucial and must be met. Deadline is as news breaks. For example, if a shooting happens on campus, we should post news as it is happening. Deadline happens 24/7. If covering an event, the complete story, no matter the form, must be submitted within three hours of the event. If it’s breaking news, briefs updating people on the story must be submitted occasionally as you prepare the main story. Get used to being constantly on deadline. Late assignments will receive a grade of 0. I determine what’s late.

Grading Policy:

Students in this class begin with an A. If you fail to complete work or fail to make deadline, your grade will suffer.

Assignments must be:

· Accurate — Misspelled names and factual errors will result in a letter-grade deduction. Video and audio that give an inaccurate sense of time and place will also be downgraded.

· Substantive — each piece of a package must be able to stand on its own — whether text, photos, audio or video. Each piece should complement the other.

· Organized — Regardless of the format, stories should be organized coherently.

· Creative — It’s welcome, but it has to work. Multimedia content is exciting because it offers so many opportunities for experimentation. But, remember, communicating the content is the primary objective.

· Well Reported — The more reporting you do the better your projects will be.

· Well Written — Good writing, including grammar and style, drives all.

Multimedia packages take time. Plan accordingly. For every one hour of video shot, you should allow for three hours of editing time. Plan ahead of time who is going to do what and when. And, make sure you have a backup plan. Interviews fall through.


Professional website = 100 points

Facebook page = 100 points

Using various social media = 100 points

Text news story = 50 points

Blog = 100 points

Map/Graphic = 50 points

Cellphone/tablet story = 100 points

Multimedia package I = 50 points

Multimedia package II = 100 points

Multimedia package III = 150 points

Portfolio = 100 points

Total = 1,000 points

A = 900–1,000 points

B = 800–899

C = 700–799

D = 600–699

F = 599 or less


Attendance is mandatory in class and at the weekly news planning session. If you miss a class or a planning session, you should e-mail me why you were absent. You will be responsible for any missed classes or assignments. Students are expected to show respect for one another and for the instructor. Attendance and arriving on time for class are necessary. Give your full and undivided attention to anyone who is speaking in class, including your fellow students.


Journalists have only one thing to offer: credibility. Making things up — quotes, people in stories, facts — and stealing the words of another writer or failing to give proper attribution to information obtained from other sources are deadly sins in journalism. If you engage in academic dishonesty — including plagiarism, fabrication and cheating — you will fail this course and I will report you to the college.


Students with disabilities substantially limiting a major life activity are eligible for reasonable accommodations in college programs, including this course. Accommodations provide equal opportunity to obtain the same level of achievement while maintaining the standards of excellence of the college. If you have a disability that may interfere with your participation or performance in this course, please meet with me to discuss disability-related accommodations and other special learning needs.


The Writing Center is a resource available to all Crete campus Doane University students. I recommend visits to all writers. All writers can benefit from a conversation with a reader. Located in the Learning Commons in the Communications Building, the center provides an opportunity for any student — at any stage of the writing process — to have an open conversation with a writing consultant. Consultants are students from different disciplines and backgrounds. They are ready to hear your questions and concerns about your writing, to read your writing, and to ask you questions that could help you discover your opportunities and voice as a writer. To get started:

· Stop by the space in the Learning Commons: walk-ins are always welcomed.

· Visit to create a profile, view the schedule and book and manage appointments.

· Follow the center on Twitter @DWritingCenter or Facebook @DoaneUniversityWritingCenter.


Extra credit work will not be a substitute for completing the required work. You must complete all course requirements to receive extra credit.

Here’s how you get extra credit:

1. Complete extra stories or story packages. You can earn a maximum of 200 extra credit points.

2. Get your work published online on a commercial news Web site. I’ll decide whether the Web site is legitimate. Maximum extra credit: 100 points.