COM 329: Digital Storytelling


MWF 12-12:50 pm | LAU 111, LAU 113 & other places

Professor: Dr. Brian Carroll
Office: LAU 100
Office hours:
MWF: 1-4pm; T: 11-noon | by appointment | walk-ins are welcome
on the phone: 706.368.6944
via email: bc at
on the web:
on the blogs: Wandering Rocks
on twitter:

Looking for a job? The Berry COM Job Bank

Important documents (all downloads, except Readings):

Syllabus | Readings | Writer's Workshop Guide

class blogroll | War for Water sources doc | War for Water blog schedule for Fusion

Visualization tools |Cover It Live


Topics | Schedule | Deadlines

Week 1: Jan. 12

Course oview. Brainstorm group reporting project. Get textbook ASAP!

Week 2: Jan. 19 TBA | No class Monday (MLK, Jr. Day)
Week 3: Jan. 26  
Week 4: Feb. 2

Adapting for digital


Week 5: Feb. 9  
Week 6: Feb. 16  
Week 7: Feb. 23

Read "Web Words That Lure Readers" (NYT)

Week 8: March 2 Hurray for long-form journalism (Nieman Labs) | SEO and the end of the clever headline
Week 9: March 16  
Week 10: March 23  
Week 11: March 30  
Week 12: April 6


Week 13: April 13  
Week 14: April 20  
Week 15: April 27 Completing the final exam.

Course Description

Introduction to new media and strategies for effective communication through them. Students will analyze the technical and rhetorical possibilities of online environments, including interactivity, hyperlinking, spatial orientation and non-linear storytelling. PR-COM 301.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, my goal is for students to:

Stuff you need to know

Instructor: Dr. Brian Carroll, Laughlin 100
Office phone: 706.368.6944 (anytime)
E-mail: OR
Home page:

What you will need (required)

• The Elements of Journalism, Kovach & Rosenstiel (Three Rivers Press)
• Writing & Editing for Digital Media, Carroll (Routledge, 2014)

What you may want (recommended, not required)

• Lauren Kessler and Duncan McDonald, When Words Collide: A Journalist’s Guide to Grammar and Style (Norton)
• Steve Krug, Don’t Make Me Think (New Riders)
• Andrea Lunsford, The Everyday Writer (Bedford/St. Martin’s)
• Patrick Lynch and Sarah Horton, Web Style Guide 3 (Yale University Press)
• Robin Williams and John Tollett, The Non-Designers Web Book (Peachpit Press)

Class format

This is a seminar course, so much is expected of students. Discussion and participation are key components. Hands-on application also is an emphasis. We will learn how to create content specifically for presentation in digital environments and to publish that content to the web and for mobile.


• Attendance: Attendance is a part of your grade. Be here every day on time, just as you would for a job, surgery or a haircut. Everyone gets one unexcused absence >> no questions asked. Stuff happens. After that, unexcused absences will result in deductions from the "professionalism and participation" portion of your grade -- one point for each unexcused absence or late arrival. What is excused is at the instructor's discretion, so you are best served by discussing situations and extraordinary circumstances prior to class whenever possible.
• Distractions: This instructor is easily distracted. Ringing or vibrating cell phones, therefore, will be lobbed out of the classroom window and run over with a truck. Chatter during lecture will result in "professionalism and participation" point deductions, as will texting or other unauthorized device use during lecture or topic presentations, particularly after warnings have been issued. If you have to arrive late or leave early, clear it with the instructor beforehand whenever possible. Basic civility is what is expected. If you are at all unclear as to what “basic civility” implies, the professor would be more than happy to elaborate.
• Focus: During class and lab sessions, no device use. These activities prevent you from getting the information you need and it is distracting to your classmates and to me.
• Preparation: Complete the assignments and be ready to tackle the activities of the day. Be ready to discuss and debate ideas, approaches and opinions.

How you will be graded

Collaborative class storytelling project 65%
Blog posts, daily activities 15%
Discussion 10%
Professionalism and participation 10%

Viking Honor Code

It is not just policy. It is foundational to the academic environment we enjoy and in which scholarship thrives. It is in force in this classroom and during all lab sessions. For the complete Viking Code, please consult the student handbook. In short, each student is “expected to recognize constituted authority, to abide by the ordinary rules of good conduct, to be truthful, to respect the rights of others.” The College’s mission, in part, commits to a community of integrity and justice. During an era when ethics are sometimes suspect, there seems no higher goal toward which students ought to strive than that of personal honor.


There are no exams in this course, although students may be quizzed from time to time. These will be no pop quizzes; students will be forewarned. Deadline pressure is an important dimension to the rigor of the course. Meet the deadline or take a penalty.

Assignment rules

While working in class, these parameters apply:

• In-class/in-lab assignments: You may use any and all reliable references, including stylebooks, dictionaries and online sources. Be careful with information found on the Web. When in doubt, cross-check and verify.
• Collaboration: I support collaboration, but any graded work must be the student’s own. In some cases, I will encourage feedback sought from one another. For other assignments, I may require solitary work. Generally, students should operate under the assumption that they are accountable for their own work. When in doubt, ask.


• When an in-class/in-lab assignment is due, it is due. This reflects the reality of many mass communication professions and work environments. Late in-class assignments will not be accepted unless permission for extension had been granted prior to deadline. Turn in whatever has been done by deadline.
• If we have out-of-class assignments, they will be accepted for up to one week after deadline, but late assignments will be penalized. Remember, penalized work is not necessarily the same as 0 (zero) points. Complete out-of-class assignments and learn from them, even if they are turned in late. Partial credit can be earned. After an assignment is more than a week late, however, that work is not eligible for points.
• Please note: If a student misses a class when an assignment is due and that student has a legitimate excuse, I will accept the late assignment without penalty at my discretion. I define what constitutes a legitimate excuse and reserve the right not to grant full credit for assignments turned in under these circumstances. The same holds true for exams.

Students with special needs

If you have special needs of any kind, including learning disabilities, please let me know. Come discuss it with me. I want to make sure on the front end that we prevent any problems associated with the course. From Martha Van Cise, director of the Academic Support Center: “Students with disabilities who believe that they may need accommodation in this course are encouraged to contact the Academic Support Center in Krannert Room 301 as soon as possible to ensure that such accommodations are implemented in a timely fashion.”

Finally, I believe we are here for a good time, not a long time, so let’s have some fun.

questions or comments? bc at
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