Using web tools to add rich content to your site

This week, we’re going to discuss different tools you can use to add rich content to your website and aid in your reporting ability using databases, maps and timelines. One of those techniques is the use of Google Docs to create forms in your blog to gather data from your readers. Continue reading


Instructions for exporting your video

So you’ve got your video edited, polished and ready to upload to YouTube and post on your blog, right? Well, the step in between can leave some people frustrated as they figure out the steps to actually exporting that video to a format that can be uploaded. So here are some instructions to help you finish off your assignment. Remember, it’s due on Monday, Nov. 10!!!

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Video assignment directions

Your next assignment, due on Nov. 10, is to shoot and edit a video of at least 90 seconds on a subject related to your beat. We will have all of next week’s classes devoted to lab time so I can work with you on editing your video, so come to class prepared with your video interviews and B-roll ready to start editing (and if you haven’t already, be sure to read the blog post about the five basic shots that will make your B-roll impactful).  Continue reading

Five basic shots to make your B-roll impactful

This week we started talking about video and how to create visual multimedia stories that are impactful. The biggest difference between your audio assignment and your video assignment and your video assignment is the need to cover up your interview with B-roll. If you’re not familiar, B-roll is the cutaway to visuals that illustrate what the person on the video is talking about. You can expect to shoot a LOT of B-roll for this project, because one of the rules of B-roll is that each one should last no longer than three to five seconds. That means you could have 20 different B-roll shots in the 90-second video you’re going to produce.

That’s a lot of different scenes, and in most cases, people end up shooting a lot of the same stuff and creating a video that is visually boring. And that’s one of the important things to learn about B-roll: Variety of shots is key. You need to take wide shots to show the viewer what is going on, close-up shots of what the person you’re featuring is doing, shots that show what they’re looking at, and shots that provide detail to the story. And you need to place these shots in a sequence that is logical and helps tell the story. You need to keep your viewers eye entertained throughout the video so the viewer won’t lose interest. Only then might they take in the information you’re communicating. To get that variety in your video, I pass along what was the easiest, and most helpful, tip I learned about creating videos: The five basic shots to make B-roll impactful. You can use these shots in pretty much any order once you’ve established the scene to your viewer. Continue reading

Audio Project Details

You’ve got another 12 days to work on your audio project, so I want to make clear the expectations for this project since it will constitute 20 percent of your final grade. The basic requirements for this assignment is that it needs to include a recorded interview with at least one person related to your beat, it needs to be a minimum of one minute long, and it needs to be narrated by you with a script that you’ve written for the story. Beyond those basic requirements, you will be graded on the clarity of the subject being discussed, the quality of the audio (clear of background noise, interruptions, etc.) and the cleanliness of your cuts between clips (in other words, you don’t cut somebody off when they’re talking). Your story should be understandable the first time it is heard, so pay close attention to how understandable your interview subject’s answers are, and to how clear your narrative is. Keep in mind the tips we discussed in class:

  • Try to limit yourself to one thought per sentence. It will be easier to read your script, and easier for your listener to understand it.
  • In your script, say who is speaking before they start to talk. It’s more clear to the listener if they don’t have to wait to hear who is talking, or how authoritative their opinion is.
  • Don’t write a 5 W’s lede, but find an attention-grabbing hook that pulls your listener into the story.
  • Write in active voice, and in present tense.

Wednesday’s class will once again be set aside as lab time so that I can work one-on-one with you as you need it. Keep in mind that this also means I can give you feedback on what you’ve got and help you write your script, so don’t waste this opportunity if you’re not 100 percent comfortable with the audio software we’re using, or with script writing.

Revised assignment schedule

Please note the changes to the schedule for upcoming assignments. As I said earlier in the semester, since this is the first time this class has been taught, I’m going to be learning about what works and doesn’t work throughout the semester and will adjust in your best interests. As part of that, I’m going to open up some more lab time to work on your multimedia assignments, and am going to reduce the number of blog posts due in the second half of the semester to give you more time to focus on the major projects we have coming up. So please note the following changes in the assignment schedule, which are also reflected in the syllabus.


Oct. 27: Audio reporting assignment due
Oct. 27: Open blog post due
Nov. 3: Video project due
Nov. 10: Open blog post due
Nov. 24: Open blog post due
Dec. 1: Open blog post due
Dec. 15: Final Project Due