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JOUR 309: Introduction to Online Media
Number of Units: 3
Fall 2016: Thursday, 7 to 9:40PM
Section: 21115D
Location: ANN211
Instructor: Kim Bui
Phone:  805.215.0870
Twitter: @kimbui
Office: ?
Office Hours: By appointment.

I Course Description

This class – “Introduction to Online Media” – concentrates on the journalism and critical thinking involved in Web work, and the processes involved in putting together online news and information sites. You will learn the basics of constructing online story packages: planning, reporting, editing, determining the best use of multimedia, website production, and visual presentation. You will also develop a critical vocabulary, basic understanding and solid foundation of what works well on the web and why. As a student majoring in journalism, understanding how the Internet and other digital technologies have changed the business of journalism is imperative.

After taking this class, you should have the skills to work at an online publication, as well as a portfolio of multimedia stories online. And ultimately, whether you end up working in online news or not, having that knowledge will greater prepare you for success as a modern journalist in this evolving landscape.

Although specific presentation expectations may vary somewhat for Video/Audio and for Text students, all students will be expected to produce work of publishable quality. This includes professionalism in presentation, editorial decisions, editing, spelling and grammar. Work produced for class publications and other class assignments is expected to be of the quality seen in comparable professional sites, and will be graded accordingly.

There may be guest speakers, including online journalism professionals who will provide keen insight into all aspects of online news.

Please note that specific assignments, readings and weekly subjects may be revised as the course progresses.

Every student is required to schedule at least one meeting with the instructor sometime around the semester’s mid-point. However, you should feel free to talk to your instructor at any point.

II Overall Learning Objectives and Assessment

Through this course you will acquire the skills to develop basic online story packages with multiple elements, including text, visuals (video, photos, graphics, etc.), audio, interactivity and navigation. You will learn how the Web works, via HTML/CSS/jQuery, FTP and more. You will also understand online ethics and basics of copyright law, design, typography, color and photo usage.

By the end of the semester, students will be skilled in:

§  How the web works

§  File structures

§  FTP software

§  URL basics

§  HTML/CSS Web-page creation software

§  Effectively using blog software

§  Understanding tiers for multimedia

§  Understanding web metrics

§  Optimizing photos for the Web

§  Audio production

§  Audio slideshows

§  Creating Web video

§  Web Design/Infographics

§  Social media reporting

§  Designing a graphic

  • Mobile emerging technologies

III. Description of Assignments

Students will do a series of in- and out-of-class exercises to achieve the course objectives. The underlining goal is for you to master the technical basics and editorial skills required of journalists working for online news sites such as or

You will:

  • Complete at least two online news-feature story packages (approved by the instructor before work begins; the format for story pitches will be specified for each assignment):
    • Midterm: An original online story package developed, reported, written and edited specifically for this class. It will be comprised of a text mainbar, an audio slideshow, a “Webby” element and coded onto an HTML page.
    • Final Project: An original online story package developed, reported, written and edited specifically for this class. Comprised of multiple stories in addition to employing a variety of multimedia storytelling elements. (text, audio, audio slideshow, photos, video, Web apps, etc.). Plus, layout and other tasks to get the package published onto the class site. Note: This will be presented by students during the assigned day/time during finals week (see schedule for dates).
  • Complete several smaller multimedia exercises related to photography, audio, video and online content. These may be in-class assignments, assignments with a 24-hour window or other small projects. Some may be brief; some may be complex.
  • Lead and facilitate a class discussion relating to a relevant Web journalism topic.


a. Breakdown of Grade



% of Grade
Exercises/Assignments 20 percent
In-class, online participation 10 percent
Presentations/Facilitated discussions 10 percent
Quizzes 10 percent
Midterm 20 percent
Final story package 30 percent
TOTAL 100%

b. Grading Scale

95% to 100%: A 77% to 79%: C+ 60% to 63%: D-
90% to 94%: A- 74% to 76%: C 0% to 59%: F
87% to 89%: B+ 70% to 73%: C-
84% to 86%: B 67% to 69%: D+
80% to 83%: B- 64% to 66%: D

c. Grading Standards

Projects earning an A are professional and ready to publish; they are accurate, clear and comprehensive, and include multiple online elements. Headlines and text are well written and require only minor editing for AP style, grammar/punctuation/spelling and consistency. Visual or audio elements are relevant (e.g., no video just for the sake of having video), and edited or cropped effectively and appropriately.

  • Projects earning a B require more than minor editing, and have a few style or spelling errors. There is at least one significant online element omitted.
  • Projects earning a C need considerable editing or rewriting. There are online elements missing or incomplete.
  • Projects earning a D require excessive rewriting and have numerous errors. They likely go little beyond the original print or broadcast story (if there is one), or are sloppy and/or unprofessional. They are not publishable and should not have been submitted.
  • Projects earning an F have failed to meet the major criteria of the assignment, have numerous errors or both. They may be misleading or contain content from third parties used without attribution. They are not publishable and should not have been submitted. A story that has a factual error that is material to the story merits an F.  There should be no exceptions. Excessive occurrences of misspelled proper names also merits an F.

Assignments and projects will be judged on elements including text, visuals (photos, graphics, video), interactivity, navigation and adherence to assignment specifics. Design and color decisions will be judged on appropriateness and usage of concepts discussed in class. Because the class is cumulative, students should demonstrate an understanding of all previously covered concepts in each assignment, even if the assignment does not specifically address those issues.

Assignments and projects are to be turned in on time and in a professional manner, edited to AP style, and by the assigned deadline (some projects may be time-specific).

Furthermore, major assignments will be graded on a scale of 1-100, and then translated into traditional letter grades. You can lose points for:

  • AP Style, Punctuation, minor spelling errors or coding/broken links = Two to five points each.
  • Clarity, organization = Five to seven points for short stories; seven to 10 points for longer stories.
  • Omissions = Five points.
  • Misspellings (of proper names) and/or factual errors = Automatic “F” on the assignment.

* If your stories have too many style, punctuation and/or spelling errors, you may be asked to rewrite your assignment and return it to your instructor within 24 hours, or be graded accordingly.

NOTE: As an online journalism class, the same high journalism standards from print and broadcast disciplines are expected.

V Assignment Submission Policy

Late assignments get a failing grade, but should be completed nonetheless within instructor’s time window as they may qualify for a grade up to a “C” under the rewrite policy. Students should turn in each assignment as specified – some may be sent by e-mail, some turned in as hard copy, some posted to your web space. Do not remove materials from your web space until you have received confirmation from your instructor that the material has been graded.

This class will be carried out like a professional newsroom. The instructor acts as editor and you need to be in communication during the assignments. Don’t miss deadline.

VI Required Readings and Supplementary Materials

These textbooks are not required, but recommended. They each offer different perspectives and tutorials on Web journalism.

  • Briggs, Mark (2009). “JournalismNEXT: A Practical Guide to Digital Reporting and Publishing, 3rd edition” Washington, D.C.: CQ Press.
  • Gitner, Seth (2015). “Multimedia Storytelling for Digital Communicators in a Multiplatform World,” Routledge.
  • Williams, Robin and Tolett, John (2014). “The Non-Designer’s Web Book, Fourth Edition,” Peachpit Press.


As journalists, it is imperative that you become news consumers.  You must follow the news and be familiar with what is going on around the world, the country and in Los Angeles.  You should read the Los Angeles Times EVERY DAY.   While I won’t require it, I strongly encourage you to subscribe to the newspaper rather than only reading it online.  You should also watch at least one local and one national television newscast each day (you can vary the source from day to day), and listen to NPR, either Morning Edition or All Things Considered (listen on KPCC, 89.3 FM so you will also hear the local cut-ins) and KNX 1070 (AM) Radio.  You should also develop a list of other news sources that you check daily; these could include LA Observed, The Daily News, New York Times, Washington Post, Sacramento Bee, The Huffington Post, Pro Publica, California Watch, Rough and Tumble.

Web journalism is in constant evolution. These lists of sites are additional resources to read and learn from throughout the semester.

Journalism-related sites:

American Press Institute Newsletter 
Interactive Narratives 
Nieman Lab
On the Media

Training sites:

Bento (
Codecademy (
Lynda (
W3Schools (
Webplatform (

Weekly Web journalism chats:

#WJCHAT (Wednesdays, 5PM PT)


  • AP Stylebook: Your work is expected to conform to AP style, unless otherwise noted by the instructor that another style takes precedence.
  • Blackboard: The course will use Blackboard mainly for grading and syllabus. Any emails sent via Blackboard will be sent to your USC email address, so make you check that address regularly.

To log into Blackboard:

  1. Go to:
  2. You must use your USC login and password on Blackboard
  3. Click on your section
  • Class Site: The course will use a customized site to post assignments for the course. Information about assignments THAT ARE NOT IN THE SYLLABUS will be posted on this site, as well as any supplemental readings and documents used for the course. Therefore, it is imperative that you check the site for regularly for assignments and announcements. Any emails sent via the site will be sent to your USC email address, so make you check that address regularly.
    The site URL is:
  • Recommended Hardware:

Laptop Computer

Smartphone or Digital Camera A minimum of 2 megapixels


Portable USB hard drive

  • Recommended Software:

Adobe Creative Cloud (Install Photoshop)

Audacity (
FTP program (Fetch or FileZilla

Jing or Screenomatic (

Microsoft Office or Google Docs

SoundSlides Plus Demo or Adobe Spark (;

Sublime (

VII. Laptop Policy

All undergraduate and graduate Annenberg majors and minors are required to have a PC or Apple laptop that can be used in Annenberg classes. Please refer to the Annenberg Virtual Commons for more information. To connect to USC’s Secure Wireless network, please visit USC’s Information Technology Services website.

Information communication technologies are a part of the modern education landscape. Students are welcome to use laptop computers in classroom for purposes relevant to the class lesson and furthering discussion.

However, out of consideration for the learning environment and fellow classmates, we respectfully ask that you refrain from extraneous activities such instant messaging, gaming or other online services.

On the occasions when the professor asks for laptops and devices to be put away in the classroom, please honor those requests.

VIII. Course Schedule: A Weekly Breakdown

Important note to students: Be advised that this syllabus is subject to change – and probably will change – based on the progress of the class, news events, and/or guest speaker availability. All readings and assignments are due by deadline.

Important dates:

  • September 9: Last day to register and add classes for Session 001
  • September 9: Last day to drop a class without a mark of “W,” except for Monday-only classes, and receive a refund for Session 001
  • September 13: Last day to drop a Monday-only class without a mark of “W” and receive a refund for Session 001
  • October 7: Last day to drop a course without a mark of “W” on the transcript. [Please drop any course by the end of week three (or the week three equivalent for short sessions) to avoid tuition charges.]
  • November 11: Last day to drop a class with a mark of “W” for Session 001 

Aug. 25                     Class introduction                                    Week 1
Syllabus and survey review; Class infrastructure; How Web works; Build first Web page

  • Assignment: Complete “Why I am a journalist” Web page
  • Assignment: Complete skills survey //
  • Assignment: Begin interactive HTML course //

Sept. 1             New media landscape | Multimedia tiers                Week 2
FTP/upload first HTML page; New news industry; Selecting the right medium; Multimedia tiers

  • Assignment: Deconstruct a high-level multimedia piece // Use QuickTime or Screenomatic
  • Assignment: Complete interactive HTML course //
  • Reminder: Bring digital camera/smartphone to next class

Sep. 8                     Audio: Gear, gathering and production               Week 3

Review photo assignment; Learning audio hardware; Recording, editing and producing audio (Required: Check out/bring audio equipment)

GUEST: Michelle Lanz

  • Assignment: Community beat pitches – Due Friday, Sep. 9 at noon.
  • Assignment: Audio profile from community, plus take relevant photos

Sep. 15                      Photography: Photo basics                  Week 4

Review assignment; Brainstorm class’ community Web site; What makes a good photo

  • Assignment: Community Photo Bingo, upload to class site
  • Assignment: 3- to 5-shot photo essay from community
  • Optional: Install SoundSlides for next week

Sep. 22                     Intro to Audio Slideshow                        Week 5

Review audio assignment; Assign beats; Showcase audio slideshows; create audio slideshow (Protip: Bring previous photos and audio)

  • Assignment: Audio slideshow based on your community beat

Sep. 29                     Mobile, Web Visuals and free tools                Week 6

Review assignment; Showcase Web/social videos; Tour of some free Web tools; Primer on mobile and news distribution; Review Story Package 1 specs

  • Assignment: Start working on Story Package 1
  • Assignment: Write a tip sheet on a chosen free tool, and prepare for a lightning talk.

Oct. 6                        Web video and Real-Time Reporting                   Week 7

Difference between web and broadcast video; Using social media for real-time reporting and crowdsourcing;

  • Assignment: Complete story Package 1
  • Assignment: Social media story

Oct. 13      Present Story Package 1, Verification and Distribution            Week 8

Story Package 1 due; Present packages to class; Social media verification discussion; Distribution on social and mobile

  • [Midterm point:  One-on-one check ins – sign up for appointments]

Oct. 20                      Intellectual property & ethics                         Week 10

Intellectual property, copyright law and ethics

  • Assignment: Start thinking about Final package

Oct. 27        Digital Footprint                Week 9

Managing your digital footprint

Assignment: Google a classmate and write a post on what you find

Nov. 3                       Design and typography                                Week 11

Review assignment; Fundamentals of design and wireframing

  • Assignment: Create a logo/title slide
  • Assignment: Final Package pitch

Nov. 10                     Info graphics & DataViz                               Week 12

Discussion of informational graphics; review pitches & Final Package specs

GUEST: Arjuna Soriano and Tony Wagner

  • Assignment: Create a Graphic

Nov. 17                     Setting up your blog/portfolio                      Week 13

Check in on Final packages;  How to owning your domain, server, WordPress/CMS and design it

  • Assignment: Make a portfolio site
  • Assignment: Start working on Final Package

Nov. 24                     NO CLASS – THANKSGIVING                                Week 14

Dec. 1                        Building Final Project                                  Week 15

Begin building the packages in class; address any Final questions

  • Assignment: Work on Final Package

Dec. 3-6                    Study Days

Dec. 13                     Final Project Due

Our final is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 8 class time, Present final project to class and review

  1. Policies and Procedures

Additional Policies


Writing coaches are available during office hours and by appointment.


Technical assistance is available by contacting New Media Specialist, Courtney Miller, at or 213-740-3433 to schedule an appointment. You can get advanced training on all Adobe products through the Annenberg Digital Lounge located on the third floor of ANN – courses will be posted.


USC has Libraries have 23 libraries and research centers that provide access to thousands of electronic and print resources. Make sure you become familiar with resources available to you. The librarian for the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism is Chimene Tucker, 213-740-2332 For your research needs schedule an appointment with Chimene or visit the Reference Desk in Doheny Library.


Aggregation is the term for doing on the Web what newspapers and broadcasters have done for decades — taking content from a variety of clearly labeled sources and packaging it into a unique news product. You may not be aggregating for the Web much in the text and audio-visual courses this Fall. But you never know. In any case, you will certainly be aggregating in other courses and/or Learning Labs. So here are the rules: Anything that you do not report or produce yourself must be attributed and/or linked to the original source. In an aggregated story, summarize the story in your own words, and use only a few quotes. The goal is to encourage readers to link to the full story.

Attendance is required for all classes. If you expect to miss class due to a family emergency, a medical problem, or a religious holiday, please contact your instructor beforehand (either send an e-mail or give your instructor a call). Tardiness is unacceptable. If you expect to be more than 15 minutes late to class, please stay home.

If you miss a class, please get the notes from another student. “Catch-up” sessions will not be conducted. In-class assignments cannot made-up, either. Although each JOUR 309 syllabus is similar, the classes themselves are different and move at varying paces. So you can’t make up a class by going to another one in the same sequence.


This is a professional degree program. As such, students are expected to deal with each other and with their instructors in a collegial manner. That means you should immediately talk to your instructor if you have any concerns about the course, grading, fellow students, the length of time it takes to get back graded assignments, etc.  If an issue has not been resolved, please contact Prof. Bill Celis at

For purposes of this class, you are a bona fide member of the working press.  You should expect to be treated with all of the normal courtesies and privileges afforded to the news media.  In return, you are expected to represent the profession in a dignified and appropriate manner.  If you do not take yourself seriously, be advised that no one else will.

If you want to be taken seriously in the field then you need to dress like a professional, not a college student.  Business casual is best:  women should wear skirts or dresses of an appropriate length and pants that are not jeans; men should wear button-down shirts and pants that are not jeans. No skimpy or tight clothing, shorts, wrinkled t-shirts or flip flops.  Avoid clothing with any sort of logo, including USC logos.


The value of professional internships as part of the overall educational experience of our students has long been recognized by the School of Journalism. Accordingly, while internships are not required for successful completion of this course, any student enrolled in this course that undertakes and completes an approved, non-paid internship during this semester shall earn academic extra credit herein of an amount equal to 1 percent of the total available semester points for this course. To receive instructor approval, a student must request an internship letter from the Annenberg Career Development Office and bring it to the instructor to sign by the end of the third week of classes. The student must submit the signed letter to the media organization, along with the evaluation form provided by the Career Development Office.  The form should be filled out by the intern supervisor and returned to the instructor at the end of the semester. No credit will be given if an evaluation form is not turned into the instructor by the last day of class. Note: The internship must by unpaid and can only be applied to one journalism class.

Statement on Academic Conduct and Support Systems

  1. Academic Conduct


Presenting someone else’s ideas as your own, either verbatim or recast in your own words – is a serious academic offense with serious consequences.  Please familiarize yourself with the discussion of plagiarism in SCampus in Section 11, Behavior Violating University Standards Other forms of academic dishonesty are equally unacceptable. See additional information in SCampus and university policies on scientific misconduct,

USC School of Journalism Policy on Academic Integrity

The following is the USC Annenberg School of Journalism’s policy on academic integrity and repeated in the syllabus for every course in the school:

“Since its founding, the USC School of Journalism has maintained a commitment to the highest standards of ethical conduct and academic excellence.  Any student found plagiarizing, fabricating, cheating on examinations, and/or purchasing papers or other assignments faces sanctions ranging from an ‘F’ on the assignment to dismissal from the School of Journalism. All academic integrity violations will be reported to the office of Student Judicial Affairs & Community Standards (SJACS), as per university policy, as well as journalism school administrators.”

In addition, it is assumed that the work you submit for this course is work you have produced entirely by yourself, and has not been previously produced by you for submission in another course or Learning Lab, without approval of the instructor.

  1. Support Systems

Equity and Diversity

Discrimination, sexual assault, and harassment are not tolerated by the university. You are encouraged to report any incidents to the Office of Equity and Diversity or to the Department of Public Safety This is important for the safety of the whole USC community. Another member of the university community – such as a friend, classmate, advisor, or faculty member – can help initiate the report, or can initiate the report on behalf of another person. The Center for Women and Men provides 24/7 confidential support, and the sexual assault resource center webpage describes reporting options and other resources.

Support with Scholarly Writing

A number of USC’s schools provide support for students who need help with scholarly writing. Check with your advisor or program staff to find out more. Students whose primary language is not English should check with the American Language Institute which sponsors courses and workshops specifically for international graduate students.

The Office of Disability Services and Programs provides certification for students with disabilities and helps arrange the relevant accommodations.

Students requesting test-related accommodations will need to share and discuss their DSP recommended accommodation letter/s with their faculty and/or appropriate departmental contact person at least three weeks before the date the accommodations will be needed. Additional time may be needed for final exams. Reasonable exceptions will be considered during the first three weeks of the semester as well as for temporary injuries and for students recently diagnosed. Please note that a reasonable period of time is still required for DSP to review documentation and to make a determination whether a requested accommodation will be appropriate.

Stress Management

Students are under a lot of pressure. If you start to feel overwhelmed, it is important that you reach out for help. A good place to start is the USC Student Counseling Services office at 213-740-7711. The service is confidential, and there is no charge.

Emergency Information

If an officially declared emergency makes travel to campus infeasible, USC Emergency Information will provide safety and other updates, including ways in which instruction will be continued by means of Blackboard, teleconferencing, and other technology.

About Your Instructor

Kim Bui is the deputy managing editor for, a digital media startup on the forefront of social journalism. She specializes in storytelling on the web and has spearheaded breaking news initiatives across digital, print and broadcast companies for local, national and global audiences.

Previously, she has worked on projects with Kansas City Star, APM’s Marketplace and the San Luis Obispo Tribune. In 2014, she was a part of Digital First Media’s Thunderdome, working on breaking news like the MH370 disappearance and the Ukrainian conflict. In 2014, she worked on breaking news including the MH370 disappearance and the Ukrainian conflict on Digital First Media’s groundbreaking Thunderdome team. Before that, she led mobile projects and managed social media and outreach for KPCC, a public media outlet serving Southern California.
As co-founder of #wjchat, a weekly Twitter chat for web journalists and a member of the Online News Association board of directors, Bui is a leading voice on how journalists can leverage technology to innovate. She is an adjunct instructor at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Journalism and Communication and a popular speaker at journalism conferences and workshops for journalism organizations.