Class recap: extra credit and video tips

You will receive extra credit for watching and producing a report on the award-winning video Portrait of Compassion. Deadline is start of class tomorrow. Make sure to bring hard copies of the report to class with you. There are two parts to the report:

  • Identify five examples of effective cutaways. As we discussed in class, cutaways work best when they are motivated by dialog – that is, the cutaway provides an immediate visual representation of something said by the narrator or by a character. For example, in Bringing Back Made in America, we saw the shot of a factory machine’s gears coming to a sharp halt when the character talks about the plant shutting down. Find five instances of where a cutaway directly relates to specific dialog in Portrait of Compassion
  • Identify five examples of character development. As we discussed in class, a video story is told through layers of information. Each new layer of information should somehow aid in character development. For example, in the video about Lexi (beginning at 2:21), we find out more and more about her indomitable spirit as the story unfolds – including that doctors had said she would never walk, that she overcame severe birth defects and that she uses her feet to play cards. We continue to learn something new about her until we feel we intimately know her. Find five instances of character development in Portrait of Compassion.

You should write no more than one sentence for each example you cite.

Helpful links reviewed or mentioned in class today:

Frank Fitzmaurice, Director of Technology Services at American University’s School of Communication, serves up a highly popular video tutorial on the basics of the Panasonic HMC40 video camera.

Award-winning video journalist Darren Durlach shares his “mantra” for shooting video, and we see the technique in action in this Dancing Cop video.

Class recap: photo basics, homework pending

Great start to the second week of Bootcamp. Here are some helpful links related to the photography basics we reviewed in class today:

And if you want to watch a great documentary about photography, you can’t beat Bill Cunningham New York (available through Netflix) for entertainment and edification.

I noticed some students were still finding their way around the iMac. For those who are just getting started with a Mac after living in a Windows world, check out Mac Basics.

Homework due by start of class Wednesday, Aug. 7: Upload to your WordPress blogs one photo for each of the composition/design elements in shot list that was handed out today. Put each photo on a separate blog post, along with a one-sentence description about which of the elements the photo denotes. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or need assistance. This assignment will be graded.

Tomorrow’s class will primarily focus on audio production. The schedule:

9:00–9:45 Jan Schaffer, J–Lab (meet in Wechsler Theater)
9:45–10:15 Overview of commercial & public broadcasting, Prof. Olmsted
10:15–10:45 Audio terminology & storytelling, Prof. Olmsted
11:00–12:00 Distribute & use of the Zoom H1N Digital Audio Recorder & sound into computer for digital editing with Audacity
12:00–1:00 Brown-bag lunch with Dean Jeff Rutenbeck, “Open Mic” (meet in classrom)
1:00–1:45 On Assignment: Gathering audio vox pops
1:45–3:00 Demo/assignment due (Edited vox pop with Audacity)
3:15–4:00 Instruction: Writing a “wrap”
4:00–5:00 In-class writing assignment (:40 wrap) *Graded*
Homework: Video story idea/planning

Class recap: basics of news-story writing and blogging

Homework due by start of class tomorrow:

Produce a finished version of your Bikeshare story draft, using the principles we reviewed today in our discussion of the basics of news writing and blogging best practices. Elements of the grading rubric: lead, headline, organization, detail, clarity, spelling and grammar. Make sure to do a final proofread to catch typos and grammar problems.

For Style direction, refer to the 2013 Associated Press Stylebook, available through the AU library portal for free.

Useful links:



How to get your AU student IDs

Get your AU Identification card as soon as possible. It might be best to do it in person. To go directly to the ID card location, the One Card Office is located in Anderson Hall on the south side of main campus. They are open Monday through Thursday from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm, Friday from 11:30 am to 5:00 pm, and Saturday from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm.

OR: Do it online. Doing it online means you go to the portal, click/expand the “Life @ AU” tab in the list of links on the right column and click on the “ID Card Information” link. Submit the information requested, including a photo. You must still go to the One Card Office to pick up your card.

When you’re on the website, simply upload a photo from your computer using the buttons provided, and your ID card will be ready for you at New Student Orientation (please submit 3 days before your orientation session).


  • The photo must be in color.
  • The photo must be a front view of your full face and shoulders.
  • No photos with sunglasses or hats (religious head coverings are an exception).
  • The background should be a light solid color with no people or personal items in view.
  • The photo must be in JPEG format and at least 300×375 pixels.
  • The photo file size cannot exceed 2 megabytes.

Class recap: intro to journalism, standards and WordPress

Terrific start to Boot Camp! We covered a lot of ground, from class introductions and an overview of digital technology to journalism standards and the launch of WordPress blogs.

First up tomorrow: Guest speaker John Sullivan (profile), Investigative Reporter-in-Residence at AU’s School of Communication, an investigative reporter at The Washington Post and a Senior Editor at The Investigative Reporting Workshop. We’ll meet at 9 a.m. at the Wechsler Theater – not the classroom. Please be on time.

Homework due tomorrow:

  • Your diary of today’s first class. It should include summaries of subjects covered and initial observations about the course. Post this to your blog if you can. Otherwise we’ll upload it at tomorrow’s class.
  • Personal bio, to be used in your blog’s About page. Describe in some detail your professional background, including scholastic and work experience. Note your current digital footprint (e.g., whether you have a blog; use Twitter, Facebook or other social media) and your writing and multimedia skills (e.g., whether you’re adept at photography, video, audio or data visualization). The bio should have a professional tone. But it should be conversational, with some highlights about yourself personally. Text should be accompanied by a photo. Post this to your blog if you can. Otherwise we’ll upload it at tomorrow’s class.

Useful links for things we covered today:




Over an intensive three-week period you will be writing, reporting and producing for a variety of media platforms – print, online, radio and television. In “Boot Camp” and in the M.A. program, we will stress the importance of convergence training along with the fundamentals of critical thinking, news judgment, interviewing, ethics and fact checking – all against a backdrop of a changing media, whether you are working for a traditional brand or a newcomer to the industry. Yes, many traditional distribution methods have changed. But don’t worry. It is still journalism after all.

Syllabus: Comm-624 Boot Camp for Journalists 2013  (PDF document)