This blog captures some of the ideas generated from a graduate seminar in interactive publishing taught at the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno by Donica Mensing.

Assignments included:



(1) Proposal
Due on WebCT on Sept. 23, worth 50 points

On the first day of class we discussed networked journalism and how it differs from traditional journalism. The example of the photographer embedded in Afghanistan, who created a set of ‘information products’ for families at home – including an online dashboard, multimedia stories, website and Facebook page – exemplified some aspects of network journalism.

The overall journalistic question we are experimenting with this semester has to do with how to practice networked journalism. In essence, we are conducting experiments to find out:

How does ‘networked journalism’ differ from traditional journalism when covering a significant long-term public issue that doesn’t ordinarily capture much public interest? How might networked journalists serve ‘attentive publics’ in a way that is inclusive and effective?

Each of you are creating specific projects as a way to experiment with networked journalism. Your first step is to write a proposal that describes the networked journalism problem as you see it and the project you’ve proposing to carry out.

Your proposal should include the following:

The Networked Journalism Question 
Introduce your proposal by describing the networked journalism question in a way that makes the most sense to your group.

Issue / Content area
Describe the issue you’ve selected to experiment with (climate change or homelessness). Explain why you chose the issue, a bit about the scope of the issue and why it matters. Give some background about the situation in northern Nevada. Summarize any research you’ve conducted to learn about the issue and identify the centers of expertise. Have you located any issue experts on campus? In government agencies? Elsewhere?

Identify the ‘attentive publics’ you’re targeting 
Who do you think might care or be affected by the issue you’ve identified? How many of them live in our region? Describe them by demographic, location, interests, etc. Identify their networks – what groups do they belong to? Who are the active leaders? Since you chose this group for your project, you must have some indication that they are interested in your issue. What is your evidence that they have an interest? Are there existing websites, reports, conversations that link this group to your content area?

Identify how you plan to listen to the publics you’ve identified
Describe the type of person you think would be able to best tell you about the information needs of the public you’ve identified. You may have names at this point, or you may not. The primary point of this section is to identify the type of people you’d like to interview and how you plan to find them.

Identify Questions
Describe the goal of your interviews. What information do you need to learn from your interviews? What are some sample questions your group has drafted? After one or two interviews, you should revisit this list and make adjustments where necessary. Keeping the interviews consistent will help with interpretation and editing.

Include a bibliography of sources you used in producing this statement. You can use Chicago, APA or MLA style.
The proposals will be assessed based on how well you addressed each of these areas and the quality of research you demonstrate in your statement. Writing mechanics and professionalism of presentation will count for 10% of the grade.

Please include a short statement identifying what each person in the group contributed to the paper.

(2) In-depth interviews, with transcripts and video
Progress report due Sept. 29
Completed interviews due Oct. 13, when you will have an in-class presentation of your work
(worth 150 points)

The goal for the interviews is to give you the ideas you need to design the best information products (websites/apps/dashboards/social media/organized meetings/printed material., etc.) suitable for meeting the needs of your identified publics.

Since your class groups are of varying sizes, I decided to alter the interview assignment slightly. Every student is responsible for conducting three depth interviews. You can do them in pairs or in any way you’d like, as long as each person takes the lead on locating, interviewing and summarizing interviews with three relevant people.

If it all possible videotape your interviews. This makes the best record for later brainstorming and reflecting on what your interviewees said. If this is not possible, then take as complete notes as possible, or audiotape the interview and provide a transcript.

Ideally, each group will produce an edited video that includes the most insightful comments from each interview about the issue and about the type of information/interaction the subject believes would be most useful.

If you’re not able to do this, then develop an alternative way to present the most useful information from your interviews.

I plan to invite the other graduate faculty and our interim dean to this class period to watch your presentations and contribute to our brainstorming about what products each of your groups might prototype in response to what you’ve learned in your audience research phase.

(3) Secondary audience research product
Due Oct. 6 (worth 100 points)

In addition to interviewing key members of your targeted group, you’ll want to learn about them in other ways as well. Has anyone else studied or described this group through surveys, polls or interviews? Do you have access to relevant research about similar groups in other areas? Can you conduct any simple polls or surveys yourself? Perhaps you know someone on a listserv, or a Facebook group or a central Twitterer who would be willing to send out short questions you may want to know about your group.

In addition to learning more about your identified ‘attentive public’ you will also want to learn more from your issue experts. You may wish to interview experts on campus or in social service or government agencies. They may be able to teach you a lot about your issue and your targeted audience. You should also locate articles in the media about this group or issue that are relevant to your project.

This report should summarize all the relevant research you were able to locate or generate. I would anticipate that you should be able to find a number of relevant sources to research and summarize for this paper. If you are not able to do this, let me know and we can look or brainstorm together.

As with the proposal, this paper will be assessed on completeness, quality of research and quality of writing and presentation. Please include a short statement on what each group member contributed.


Assignments for phase II of the design process.

Remaining assignments in Jour 723

LocalFourthReport-V2.0 from Northwestern

syllabus_723_s11 for Journalism 723, Fall 2011


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