Monday, September 12, 2011

Week 2 Homework Assignment

There are two things I've asked you to do this week before Friday:

One is the audio assignment, for which I have asked you to interview two people using your audio recorders — one you know, one you do not know — about their memories of 9/11. We will be using these interviews to learn about audio editing on Friday. Each raw interview should be 5-15 minutes long. You will be graded on the sound quality of your interviews (microphone placement, clarity) and whether or not you were mindful of letting your subjects finish their thoughts before you interrupt or interject. As we discussed in class, this is very important when working with audio. If you do not have your interviews in class on Friday, you will not have anything to work with when we learn to edit.

The second part of your assignment is to find a piece of multimedia journalism online — either a video, audio/slideshow or photo slideshow — and write up a one-page critique of the piece.
Talk about what works and what doesn’t. Please do not select something of mine to critique. Think about these questions when writing your critique:

1. What is the story?
2. How do they use the medium (video/photo-audio/photo) to enhance the story?
3. Do you think the medium they selected was the most effective for telling the story?
4. What works in this piece?
5. What do you think does not work in this piece? What, if anything, would improve it? Would the story be better suited for another medium?

The point of this assignment (and future assignments like it) is to get you to look at good and bad multimedia journalism. We will talk about these things more, but you will soon be able to distinguish what works and what doesn't.

Please write a one-page critique and either email it to me before 12 p.m. (noon) or hand it to me at the start of class on Friday. Remember that my deadlines are strict and late assignments will receive a lower grade. Let me know if you have any questions.

Enjoy your week.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Welcome to Intro to Multimedia Journalism

Welcome to Journalism 203, introduction to multimedia reporting. My name is Jon Sham and I will be your instructor this semester. Due to a last-minute staffing change, I was just asked to teach this course yesterday, so I am still working out the syllabus and assignments for the course.

About the course: In a 21st century newsroom, it is a great benefit for reporters to be well versed in multimedia storytelling. Whether through photography, audio, video, or a combination of these, the ability to tell stories across platforms is both a valuable and marketable skill.

The course will serve as an introduction to still photography, audio and video, including the fundamentals of capturing interviews and natural sound. Instructors will combine traditional journalism approaches with ones that are relevant to online audiences. Each section will include instruction in proper field techniques, shooting, capturing and editing, and finally, posting assignments online. Students will also learn the ethics, history and latest trends in each medium.

A little about me:

I currently work at The Daily Record newspaper in Baltimore as a web reporter. I shoot and edit video for our website,, take photos for the paper and online, help produce the website and our social media pages, create Flash-based interactive content, among other duties. (Whatever comes up, really.)
Before that, I was a web producer at WAVY TV-10 in Norfolk, Va.

And just before that, I graduated from the Philip Merrill College of Journalism with a master's degree in online journalism. I was, unfortunately, a member of the last master's class to never set foot in the new building.

This week:

Now, due to the late notice of teaching the class and a prior reporting assignment (covering the Baltimore Grand Prix!), we will not be having class this Friday, Sept. 2. We will meet next week, Friday, Sept. 9. In the meantime, I'd like you all to do a few things to get ready for next week.

1. Since most of our assignments will be online, you will be using a class blog to turn them in when they are due. The class blog for this semester is: Please sign up for an account on (you can use your Gmail account if you have one). I have added all of your email addresses to the list of permitted authors to the blog, and you should have received an invitation. Before next Friday, I'd like you all to create a profile — with a picture of you — and post a short bio about yourself to the blog and why you're interested in multimedia journalism. You may reply to this post with your bios.

2. You will need to either buy our borrow some equipment for the course. An audio recorder, digital camera with a zoom lens and a video camera are all required. There are audio recorders, Flip cameras and Mini DV cameras available to check out from the Tawes equipment room. We will be working with audio first, so please have a working recorder and the appropriate cables for connecting/downloading when you come to class next week. You may use a cell phone ONLY for the audio portion of the course. You may not use a cell phone for photography or video (even if you have a fancy smartphone that takes HD video). Please take a minute to test out the audio recorder and the process of transferring it to a computer; I'd hate to have you record a great interview and not be able to download it for editing. Also, you must have at least a 2GB flash drive and headphones.

3. One more thing for next week: I'd like you all to watch the following videos from radio personality/journalist Ira Glass. There are four parts in which he discusses some of the fundamentals of storytelling.

Part 1 -

Part 2 -

Part 3 -

Part 4 -

Write a few paragraphs to a page highlighting the main points Glass makes about what makes a good story. It doesn't have to be too in depth or involved; I just want to know you took the time to watch them. Glass can be a little irritating to listen to, but the guy knows his stuff. You may email this to me or turn it in on the first day of class next Friday.

If you have any questions about the course, please feel free to email me at I am really excited to be teaching you all this semester and I know we're going to have a lot of fun. I will be completing a course syllabus this weekend and will send it to you all early next week. Enjoy having tomorrow off, and the holiday weekend.