News is a conversation.”

– Jeff Jarvis, print journalist, blogger, educator, media consultant (2003)

“[E]very computer desktop, and now every pocket, is a worldwide printing press, broadcasting station, place of assembly, and organizing tool…”

– Howard Rheingold, educator, author, 2008 Macarthur Scholar (2003)

More than half of blog readers say blogs influence public opinion (68%), mainstream media (56%) and public policy (54%).”

– 2005 Ipsos Survey

[J]ournalism, like everything else that used to be centralized, is in the process of being distributed. In the future, every educated person will be a journalist, as today we are all travel agents and stock brokers. The reporters have been acting as middlemen, connecting sources with readers, who in many cases are sources themselves. As with all middlemen, something is lost in translation, an inefficiency is added. So what we’re doing now, in journalism, as with all other intermediated professions, is decentralizing.”

– David Winer, father of RSS, computer scientist, research fellow at Harvard (2007)

1. Course Overview

Course Description

In this course, students explore how social technologies like blogs, and wikis and social spaces like YouTube are affecting both traditional journalism and politics. Students will learn by doing: they will create a personal blog and maintain it regularly, engage in social news spaces like Newsvine and Twitter, and collaboratively create an online project related to the 2008 election.

Students will use digital media technologies throughout the course, providing them with practical experience with the evolving tools of journalism. To apply the art of new media design, students will work in small groups to plan, design and create new media content.

The course is structured like a workshop or seminar: each class member is responsible for formally and informally contributing to discussion of readings, activities and assignments. We will also have Seattle-area journalists – traditional and citizen – as guest speakers.

Learning Outcomes

  • Students understand the roots of computer-based communication and can describe how the transition from radio to television is similar to and different from today’s digital transition

  • Students can provide two examples of how digital media technologies are impacting (a) the business of traditional journalism and (b) the business of political campaigns

  • Students can describe three social web technologies and explain how they facilitate disintermediation of news and political communication

  • Students can explain how digital technologies affect copyright and professional ethics

  • Students can critically assess a blog for conformance with genre

Skill Development

  • Use email as well as blogging and other social web technologies (such as Twitter or WetPaint) to interact with one another, the instructor and the world

  • Use an RSS reader to regularly read journalism and political blogs

  • Develop a personal voice by actively blogging throughout the quarter

  • Create a blog that conforms with genre norms, including the use of tags and categories, blogroll and RSS

  • Use a content management system like WordPress to create a collaborative, group project

Student Responsibilities

  • Be prepared for class; have reading and assignments done on time

  • Participate in active learning inside and outside of class (in other words, both on-line and face-to-face). That means asking questions, helping classmates answer questions, and working with one another to solve problems.

  • Be in class. It’s the only time we’ll have to work face-to-face.

  • Ask questions!

  • Regardless of your experience with digital technologies at the start of the class, I expect you to challenge yourself so that your skills are greater at the end of the quarter than at the start.

Complete syllabus: PDF or GoogleDoc


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8 Responses to “Syllabus”

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