Category: J309 – Fall 2014

Courthouse field trip – Weds, Oct. 19

J309 - Fall 2014MMC 4936 - Fall 2016

Here are the details for our field trip tomorrow. We are meeting at the Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building, 1351 NW 12 Street, Miami, 33125. This is a couple minutes away from the Civic Center Metrorail station. In addition, because we’re not meeting at the downtown courthouses, parking is cheaper, but not free. 

We are meeting with Eunice Sigler. She is the main spokeswoman for the 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida, which as you remember from class, is the court that handles felony criminal cases and unlimited jurisdiction (more than $15K) civil manners.

This is a combined class with my JOU3117 and MMC4936 sections. As such, I have scheduled our meeting with Ms. Sigler at 10 am in order to make it possible for as many people as possible to attend. However, I understand many of you have classes before or afterward at the BBC campus. As such, I will available starting at 9 am for anyone that wants a tour given by me so you can leave in enough time to make it to your next class. 

Here is the timeline and breakdown. For each time period, we will be meeting in the front lobby, just past the metal detectors.  

9:15 am — I will start my tour of the courthouse with students that need to meet early

10 am — Our meeting with Ms. Sigler, which I expect to last between 60-90 minutes 

11:30 am — I will give a second tour of the courthouse with students need to meet later 

Do not be late. Text/cell service is not reliable within the courthouse building and prohibited in courtrooms. We cannot wait for you, so I ask that you be respectful of our time and plan ahead for traffic and parking. Miami’s roads are not a mystery to any of you. 

Finally, a few things you need to know: 

– Dress in business attire. Do not wear jeans, shorts or flip-flops. 

– Gum is prohibited in most courtrooms. Leave it at home. 

– Remove anything that might be considered a weapon (pepper spray, penknives, etc) at home or in your car. 

Final thoughts and requirements

J309 - Fall 2014

Below are links to the rubrics I’ll be using to grade your final, as well as a blank copy of the peer review sheet.

Rubric Template [Word]

Detailed Rubric [Excel]

Peer Review [Word]

– Remember this is intended to look like a single mega site. That is, not only our class, but all the sections of J309 this semester. That means, design wise, less is more. Though you are permitted to mess with the colors, fonts and other parts of the CSS, don’t go too far or you will look like a one-off site, something you don’t want.

– Also, as we didn’t go into CSS in this class, there is explicitly no requirement you mess with it. HOWEVER, if you do, you are strongly advised to create an overlay CSS, not replace everything. Trust me on this one. 

– Your site can either be a single page, or can function as a mini-homepage in itself. You will be graded on how well either approach works. (That is, it’s functionality, intent and logic.) 

Your headline should be “downstyle.” That is “Disney hears from Down syndrome supporters” instead of “Disney Hears From Down Syndrome Supporters.” We need to be consistent as a class. As some of your classmates didn’t do this, you’re responsible for fixing this in your teasers. 

The teasers should be summaries of the piece. Make sure there is “I wrote this because..” type stuff. If your teaser includes such language, it’s your responsibility to reach out to your classmates for a rewrite. (It’s also advised, if you were the culprit in this instance, to send out a class wide email with the rewrite.) 

– Make sure the links go to teaser links go to the right place. It should go to your classmate’s story, not the teaser photo. 

Make sure your teaser headline is the same as the one on your piece. (This is a change from what I said in class. Apparently, all sections need to do this.) 

– Remember to put in your email at the top. 

Extra credit opportunity: 

– Design a homepage for our class’ work. This will entail coming up with a way of displaying everyone’s work in a function and visually interesting way. It will require submitting a wireframe draft to me, and working with your classmates to make sure you get the assets you need to make it sing. If more than one person wants to do this, full credit will be given only to the person who’s design is chosen. Partial credit, however, may be given to the runner up(s) depending on how much work he/she/they put into it. Let me know asap. 

Volunteer request: 

Margaret, who is a student in another J309 section, needs to interview someone from our class for the mega-site “about us” page. Please contact her at as soon as you can. 

Also, Madison, another student, is making a video, also for the “about us” page. Please contact her at Thank you! 

Peer review: 

Though it is not a formal part of your grade, you will be submitting reviews of your peer’s work during our final. Details TK. 

As always, let me know if you have any questions or if I can help in any way. 

Week 13 Slides & Notes – Final Project Set Up

J309 - Fall 2014

Below are PDFs for slides from today’s class as well as a step-by-step guide for using the final template. If you’re not clear on any aspect, please ask.

As I mentioned, if you have all of your items together you will be able to put it together on our last class meeting, which is Dec. 3. Then you’ll be done. Just as a reminder, we are not meeting next week in observance of Thanksgiving. If you’re traveling, travel safe and bundle up. Everywhere else in the country is freezing. Literally. 

On Dec. 3, I will be doing a walk-through of how to set up a personally branded site on a server using the CMS. If you wish to do this, make sure you have a valid credit card. It’s not expensive, but it’s not free either.

A reminder regarding the assignment for Dec. 3: You need to put a URL in the comment section of this post with the following:

  • A 500 x 500 px image that illustrates your story. This can be a photo or a graphic, but it needs to be static. No animated gifs please!
  • A headline for your project. Stylistically, it should be different than the headline you have on your project page(s).
  • A summary of your project of no more than 30 words.

Final Project Setup [PDF]

Final Wireframe & Requirements [PDF] – READ CAREFULLY –

Week 13 Slides [PDF]

There are four components that make up your final package:

  • A minimum 700-word text mainbar
  • An “in-their-own-words” audio slideshow (two minutes long,  absolutely no narration and must have captions)
  • One Webby element (that offers a two-minute experience) coded onto the template (factoring the layout/design that
    best suits the story).

NOTE: These different storytelling elements cannot duplicate each  other… they should compliment each other and together make for a  stronger package. They all must relate to your beat and be located or  tied to our section of the map.

Week 12 slides, Tableau, Final Handout

J309 - Fall 2014

Hi all, 

Thanks for a good class today. As promised, here is a quick rundown of how we used Tableau today. I haven’t gone through every single step, but I’m happy to help if you get stuck. Additionally, there is a great tutorial available on Lynda.

Take a bit of time to play around with it. It’s a very powerful tool, and seems to be becoming the industry standard. Nothing due for next week, just continue to work on your final. 

Week 12 Slides [PDF]

Final Specs [PDF]

The brief explanation: 

Tableau Steps:

•  Clean up the data (find/replace):

East Los Angeles CDP to East Los Angeles

Los Angeles city to City of Los Angeles

• Open up Tableau, get the correct sheet

• Create the chart visualization (Sheet 1)

–       Column (Month/Date) 

–       Row (Unemployment(Sum))

–       Marks (Area) – Color labels

• Create the data visualization (Sheet 2)

–       Column (Month/Date) 

–       Row (Area)

–       Marks (Unemployment(Sum)) — Text labels

• Create the dashboard (Dashboard 1)

–       Create labels, etc.

– Save to web

• Open Up Dreamweaver

–       Put it all together

–       Dummy Latin Text Generator

–       Get rid of second “div”

–       Put in “left float”

• Open Up Fetch

–       Put it in your personal server

• Check it online 

The considerably longer explanation 

• Make sure you have clean, well-formatted data. Generally, this means manipulating the data you might get as a download from the EDD (Unemployment) or Redfin (Real Estate), deleting all columns you don’t need. It helps if you think of things like a chart. 

• Once you have the data as you want it, open up Tableau and connect to your data. (Put this data somewhere where Tableau can always find it. If you move it, it will be lost. I created a folder called “Tableau Data” where everything goes.) 

• In our graph example, we wanted to look at the change in unemployment over time. That means the date should to be in a column and the unemployment rate in a row. (You can do it the other way as well, which would flip the x/y axis.) 

• The “date” however, defaults to years, which isn’t much good to us. Change this to the “Month/Year” setting. 

• The “unemployment rate” is also a combination of both ELA and LA. To separate these out, we need to use a third setting, pulling “area” into the “Marks” part of the interface. This tells Tableau we want these two items counted separately. 

• At this point, you have two lines, but they are the same color. For the sake of clarity, let’s click on the triangle on the left of “area” in the “Marks” and click on “color.” This changes the color of the two lines. 

We can also make a second sheet pulling out the specific numbers. Do this by clicking on the icon that looks like a bar chart. This will create a second “sheet.” 

• This time we want to look at the unemployment figures over time in text format. Put the “Date” in the column and “area” in the row section. 

• Now, though, we need to let Tableau know what should go in those fields. That means “unemployment rates” should be in the “Marks” section. 

• In case, you may remember this just showed up as a series of meaningless marks. This is because we did not tell Tableau how to format the data. If you click on “Label” in the dropdown menu in “Marks” the numbers will show up. 

Now let’s put it together: 

• Click on the icon that looks like a box with lines through it. This creates a “Dashboard.” Click and drag your Sheet 1 (the chart) and Sheet 2 (the raw data) and arrange to your heart’s content. You can change the size, titles, legends and pretty much anything you want here. 

• After you’re happy with this, save it to web. (Cmd-S). This will prompt you to login to your Tableau account, and will then post that to its server. 

• Take the embed code, and embed that into your own page. To make text float around your visualization, you will need to erase the bottom “div” box and have the first div box (the big one) “float.” These controls are at the bottom right in the “Design” pane of Dreamweaver. 

Using the Personal Web Server

J309 - Fall 2014

From this point on, all assignments — many which we will start or complete in class — need to be uploaded to your personal server space. If you’ve lost track on how to do this, here’s a quick refresher. 

First, open up Fetch. 

Then enter the following information: 

Login information:


username:  <– note the

password: cRaZyraNdOm 

The username and passwords were provided to you by the university. If you’re having trouble logging in, remember that the system may see a space as a separate character, making your entered password incorrect. A way around this is to double click your password (highlighting it) and doing a copy/paste deal. That way you get what you want w/o any stray characters or marks. 

Your server space is a subdomain of That means everything in your file will look like this: 

If you’ve created a folder hierarchy, the folders would be in the forms of “/“ marks. Here’s a couple of examples from my server space: 

This html file is not in any type of folder within Fetch 

This html file, on the other hand, is contained within a folder called “danevans” 

Remember the exact pathway is important, as are spaces (don’t use them) and capitalizations. For instance, this file will not work. 

Week 11 Notes and Credit/Title Reivew

J309 - Fall 2014

Thanks for your feedback on the mid-semester evaluation. I really appreciate it, and will be taking your thoughts and suggestions to heart. A few of you asked about story pitches for the final. Looking at the syllabus, they are due by next class. They should be in same form as the pitches for your final.

Week 11 Notes [PDF]

As before, they do not need to be completely fleshed out, but you should have a good idea of where you’re headed. Be sure to be thinking about how your Soundslide will play into the piece, as well as additional infographics, maps, videos or whatever else you come up with. 

We will be going over the requirements for the final in detail next class. My J309 colleagues and I are still finalizing the rubric we’ll be using to grade the final, but as soon as that’s available, I will be sharing that with you as will.

Without further ado: here’s a brief review on how to create title and credit slides in Soundslides. 

First, make sure all of your images are the same size and orientation. That means, for example, if one is horizontal and 1280px by 853 px, all of then should be. If they’re square and 720px by 720px, they all should be, and so on. 

I prefer the 1280 pixel size, as it’s large enough to give you options in terms of the final size. (Remember, you can’t make a small picture bigger w/o loss of quality, but you can make a large picture smaller w/o problems.) 

To do this, go into iPhoto, chose your images and click Export under the File menu. In the dialogue box, choose “custom” for the file size. In that field, chose your size. Again, I’m recommending 1280. Make sure you’re exporting JPGs. 

When you hit Export, it will ask you were you want everything saved. Make a folder on your desktop, or somewhere you can find it easily. 

With that done, it’s time to make the title and credit slides. Open up Photoshop and click “New” under the File menu. You will want to set your blank file to the exact dimensions as your exported photos. If you’re not sure what those exact dimensions are, open one of your iPhoto-exported images and click on “Image Size” under the Image menu. 

In our example, my image size was 1280px by 853px, so that’s the file size I created as a blank file in Photoshop. In addition to the size, you also want to pay attention to the “Background Contents” dropdown. I suggest making your background either white or black, as other colors tend to be distracting. But feel free to play around. 

Within this blank canvas, create your title. The title can be as fancy or plain as you like. Essentially, all you need for the title is the headline, so to speak, of your piece. However, you may want to add an image, an infographic or any number of things. 

Once you’re satisfied with how the title looks, save it. Note when you save it, Photoshop defaults to a .psd file. This is a file you will want to keep, as it allows you to easily make changes without loss of quality. However, it is not a file type that Soundslides understands. As a result, you will need to save this file again, using the “Save As” command in the File menu. When you save it a second time, make sure to save it as a JPG. 

Again, to repeat: Save again, and save it as a JPG. 

To make the credit slide, repeat the process as with the title slide. The title slide, however, should include a bit more text. In particular, a summary of what we just saw and heard. For example: Photos and sound taken during at the Glendale Special Olympics during the final day of competition. You should also include your name. 

Save the credit slide as a .psd file, and then save again as a JPG. 

All of these files (your images, the title/credit JPGs and PSDs) should be in the same folder. Add your sound file (the MP3) in the folder as well. 

Open up Soundslides, and put it all together. Boom. Done. 

A few additional notes: In Soundslides, remember that there is a headline and credit field under the “Project Info” tab. The title slide generally makes the Soundslides headline unnecessary, and you should delete that field if it makes things look strange. You will, however, want to fill out the credit field, as that shows up in a more useful place. 

Also, remember to fill out the captions in the Soundslides program as well. Be as brief as possible, however. Remember, your reader is listening to the audio, taking in the image, and trying to read the caption. It’s a lot to do at once. 

Finally, if you find yourself working with a non-MP3 file (AIFF, MPa4, etc.) put the file into Audition and export it as an MP3. Remember that the only file types that Soundslides recognizes is JPGs and MP3s. 

Week 9 Slides and Tech Tools Tips

J309 - Fall 2014

Now that we’re in the home stretch, really start thinking hard about what you want to do for your final. As I mentioned in class, you can change beats if you’re not finding any good stories. However, that does mean starting over to some extent, so it’s important if you choose to do that to get started. (Frankly, even if you know you want to stick with your beat, get started!)

If you’re having trouble getting sources or ideas, please, please (please!) use me as a resource. My job as an editor, frankly, is to do pretty much that. I’m not going to hand you a fully-formed story, but I can spitball ideas with you. Happy to do it by email, phone or in person. My office is at the LAT building downtown.

Here’s the assignment:

Use Google, Bing, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr and more to find the digital footprint of your classmate. You should be only using publicly available sources as well as those provided by the USC Library. You can also call the general reference desk (a seriously underutilized resource) Doheny Library Reference Desk — General Reference: (213) 740-4039

However, if you are Facebook friends with your target you must logout before researching. However, however, publicly visible Facebook postings or photos are fair game.

Write a 400-word post on your findings. Post your piece onto our class site as a post AND add the URL/link to it in this comment thread. This is due by 9 am on Oct. 29. Can you find a home address? Phone number? Email? Who are they online, and does it match what you know?

To put your mind at ease, remember that these pieces will be posted on a secured website. They will also be deleted at the end of the semester, as will your personal server spaces. Also, if you’re concerned about that something you find is overly personal, please let me know. The point of this exercise is not to embarrass or shame.

FTP your piece to your personal web space (not the class web space) and upload it to the comment section on this post. If you’re having any issues logging in, let me know asap.

The assignments are the same as what you had for the midterm critiques. Here they are again:

Michelle: Alana
Rafael: Drennon
Rachel: Hailey
Isabella: Allison
McKenna: Fernando
Jordyn: McKenna
Fernando: Isabella
Allison: Rachel
Hailey: Rafael
Drennon: Michelle
Alana: Jordyn

Week 9 Slides [PDF]

Tech Tips Fall 2014 [PDF]

Spring 2015 Digital Classes — Check ’em out

J309 - Fall 2014

J471: Advanced Multimedia Storytelling

    Lead professor: Peggy Bustamante, originally developed by Robert Hernandez

    Offered in the Spring

    Course developed to offer more digital skills to undergrads and specialized masters students. They learn code and work on one major project for the entire semester.

J499 Special Topics: Data Viz

    Lead professor: Peggy Bustamante

    First offered second half of Spring 2015 (7 week)

    Teaches how to take a data set and, using readily available online tools, build a wide variety of data visualizations, including tables, charts and graphs, maps and interactive multimedia pieces.

J499 Special Topics: Mobile Journalism

    Lead professor: Amara Aguilar

    First offered Spring 2015 (7 week)

    Using the latest in mobile technology, the principles of making a full range of community documentation – from feature photos to general news – are covered in detail in this course. A mobile device or tablet device with a camera such as the iPhone 6 or Samsung Galaxy S6, will be used as the sole content gathering device in the class. The device, its apps (shooting, editing and special purpose) and additional equipment are also major topics addressed during the course. Social media, ethical considerations and future technical trends are components of this course as well. Topics covered include taking publishable-quality images with a mobile device as a journalist on deadline; Shooting and editing publishable-quality video with a mobile device as a journalist on deadline; Understand in depth the mobile device as a content gathering device and storytelling tool that could be utilized as a journalist on deadline; Apply knowledge of a journalistic approach to covering a story from live coverage to social media utilizing apps and emerging techniques. In addition to photo and video apps, a variety of apps will be utilized for this class (including but not limited to augmented reality, live coverage events, etc.)

J499 Special Topics: Design

    Lead professor: Amara Aguilar

    First offered Spring 2015

    Introduces students to basic concepts of interactive design for digital media with a publishing (journalistic/public relations) emphasis. Emphasis will be placed on tablet and mobile apps in publishing, however students may design interactives, graphics, animation, mobile applications, digital e-books, etc. An introduction to basic design principles, concepts of engagement and interactivity, human interaction, user interface, and presentation of journalistic content on a variety of platforms will be discussed in this hands-on course. An emphasis will be placed on accuracy, journalistic content, as well as clear and dynamic presentation.

J499 Special Topics: AR Journalism

    Lead professor: Robert Hernandez

    First offered Fall 2013, now moved to Spring 2015

    Course where students explore storytelling using augmented reality. Past projects include augmenting the downtown LA Public Library. Spring will likely focus on augmenting City Hall.

J499 Special Topics: Social Media + Digital Footprint

    Lead professor: Robert Hernandez

    First offered second half of Spring 2015 (7 week)

    This new course will teach students how to harness social media for their personal brands and help them develop their digital footprint. They will develop their own portfolio sites.

Week 8 Slides, Tip Sheet Example, Critique Assignments

J309 - Fall 2014

Here are the slides from Wed’s class as well as an example of the tip sheet I’ve asked each of you to do. Alana, you’ll have to pick a tech tool to review and explain how to use one of the tools found here: Also, Drennon, could you remind me which one you’re doing?

It can’t be a duplicate of one already chosen. Here’s the list as I have it:

Michelle – GoAnimate
Rafael – Animoto
Rachel – JuxtaposeJS
Isabella – Timeline (Knight Lab)
McKenna – ZeeMaps
Jordyn – Storify
Fernando –
Allison – Thinklink
Hailey – SoundCite
Drennon – ?
Alana – ?

Midterm critiques. Please look at the midterms of your classmates and talk about what worked, and what didn’t. Here are the critique assignments (first name is the critique-er, the second is the critique-ee)

Michelle: Alana
Rafael: Drennon
Rachel: Hailey
Isabella: Allison
McKenna: Fernando
Jordyn: McKenna
Fernando: Isabella
Allison: Rachel
Hailey: Rafael
Drennon: Michelle
Alana: Jordyn

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