COM 329: Digital Storytelling


MWF 11-11:50 a.m. | LAU 111, LAU 113 & other places

Professor: Dr. Brian Carroll
Office: LAU 100
Office hours:
MWF 3-5pm | Thursdays 1-5pm
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 | Assignment booklet | Calendar | Readings | Writer's Workshop Guide

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

Visualization tools | Fusion Charts | Cover It Live

Course adjustments, notes, hyperlinks, etc.
Week 1: Jan. 12

Course oview, writing sample due Jan 19. Brainstorm group reporting project. Get textbook ASAP!

Week 2: Jan. 19 Writin' | TPM Internships | writer's workshop and seven exercises in Chapter 1
Week 3: Jan. 24 Setting up our blogs | Adapting our writing samples for online readership >> you'll be on Cloud 9 | Meet Friday in 113; reading quiz on chapters 1&2; bagels | Good news for long-form journalism >> eBooks
Week 4: Jan. 31 Adapting for online (cont'd), writing for the screen, credibility research; Friday: Blog post responding to readings, Vonnegut | Revising With Feedback | REVISED writing sample due Wednesday, beginning of class | Two learning style inventories: one from N.C. State and one from the University of Arizona | No Class Friday | How to add a map in Wordpress (but it doesn't work) | and word balloons (very cool)
Week 5: Feb. 7 Due Monday before class, 250 words or so reacting to the blog post on two readings, Kurt Vonnegut and "Revising With Feedback," and the textbook. Wednesday in the library seminar room. Friday also in the seminar room, for the next phase of story idea generation and deliberation. Also for Friday, Week 3 readings (all of them) and The Elements of Journalism, chapters 1 & 2.
Week 6: Feb. 14 Due Monday, website evals (The Huffington Post). Meet in the lab. Due Wednesday, comment to blog post on our reporting project, reading for quiz. Friday: meet in library seminar room; bring sourcing ideas for reporting project; meet in the library's seminar classroom.
Week 7: Feb. 21

Monday: Joe Cook, CRBI visiting with us, meet in library seminar room. Assignment due to blogs. For Wednesday read chapter 5 of the textbook. Friday: our next budget meeting to discuss content plans; meet in the library's seminar room. >> Google doc with sources for our reporting.

All is not lost for long-form journalism: from Bloomberg | Read "Web Words That Lure Readers" (NYT)

Week 8: Feb. 28 Monday: LAU 113 to discuss your submitted content plans, Ch. 6 of textbook. Wednesday: Eddie Elsberry and Christine Clolinger to meet with us in library. Friday: In the library, story assignments; probable reading quiz on Elements of Journalism, chapters 3 & 4 | Hurray for long-form journalism (Nieman Labs) | SEO and the end of the clever headline | Dr. C's and Dr. Richardson's article on credibility has been published!
Week 9: March 7 Monday: Chapter 7 of textbook, story assignents and media choices >> meet in 113. Bloggers v. Journalists: a follow | Wednesday: Eric Lindberg, Rome/FloydCo environmental services director, meet in library. No class Friday -- enjoy your break (and don't forget to liveblog! due by class time Monday, 21st)
Week 10: March 21 Monday:Andy Johns, Chattanooga Times-Free Press ( | Wednesday: Update on stories, multimedia, sourcing, interview questions; read Chapter 8 of textbook; making a timeline | Friday: meet in library, read Elements of Journalism, chapters 5 & 6
Week 11: March 28 Monday: Steven Walker helping us think Fusion. Wednesday: Blog, email, news coverage, crowdsourcing, re-thinking our name, among other things. Friday: Chapters 7 & 8 of Elements of Journalism, any loose ends from textbook
Week 12: April 4

Gathering the news, Editing our content, Formatting it for online readership
Monday in the lab: project updates, blog demo, video discussion, work distribution update, subsection meetings. Wednesday: Field work. Friday in the library: Chapters 9 & 10 of Elements.

Week 13: April 11 DEADLINE! File copy into course folder on forseti (GO >> Connect to server >> forseti >> COM 329); meet in the lab Monday. Wednesday: post-production begins. Friday: In the library for Elements, 9 & 10 and ethics.
Week 14: April 18 Monday & Wednesday: In the lab for post-production. No class Friday (Good Friday).
Week 15: April 25 Wrapping up and finishing strong, and a party of some sort; Completing the final exam. Friday: Finish Elements of Journalism, the textbook

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 for Digital Media, Carroll (Routledge)

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, and students will serve as discussion leaders. 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. This means becoming familiar with Macromedia’s Dreamweaver Web publishing program and publishing to a blog, among other things. Generally, new topics will be introduced on Mondays. Elaboration on those topics and software instruction will be on Wednesdays. Discussions on the readings will take place on Fridays (Topics – Tools – Texts, or Delving – Doing – Discussing).


• 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 cell phones, therefore, will be lobbed out of the classroom window. Chatter during lecture will result in "professionalism and participation" point deductions, as will Facebooking or other Internet 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 e-mail, Facebook, IM or Web surfing. 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

Weekly assignments 65%
Final project 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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