The Christian Science Monitor’s digital transformation

For Friday’s class, please read this article about why The Christian Science Monitor switched from a daily-newspaper format to a digital-mostly presence with a weekly magazine. Remember, we’ll be visiting the Monitor on Tuesday.


Infographics made (almost) simple

Meg Heckman

Northeastern journalism graduate student Meg Heckman, former online editor for the Concord Monitor, demonstrates the use of, a free online tool for creating data visualizations.

Update: Please have a look at our Thanksgiving-theme infographics below.

Data-visualization assignment

On the syllabus you will see that I had originally scheduled a data-viz assignment that would be due today. Instead, we are going to do the assignment in class tomorrow, as Meg Heckman will be demonstrating a tool called I have used this, and I think you’ll enjoy it.

Here is a great example of how is being used by news organizations — in this case by New Hampshire Public Radio.

More information about your final projects

If you have done a good job of thinking through your final project and made contact with a key source or two, then I think you’ll find you have a decent amount of time over the next few weeks to produce a first-rate multimedia story.

As I have told you, your project will comprise various components, the deadlines for which I am spacing out so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. Here are the full details.

1. Your text story. You will write an 800- to 1,000-word feature story in the form of an extended blog post. I am looking for interviews with at least three people as well as at least five links. Deadline: Sent to me by email as a Word file on Tuesday, Nov. 26, at 5 p.m.

2. Your slideshow. You will put together a slideshow comprising six to 10 photos that is either directly related to your story or that functions as a sidebar. You will post your photos to your blog and create a slideshow as you did in our photo-story assignment earlier this semester. You will write a caption for each photo. Unlike your earlier assignment, you do not have to interview people for this. But aim for variety and visual interest. Please do not create a slideshow consisting of the outsides of buildings, for instance. Deadline: Tuesday, Nov. 26, at 5 p.m.

3. Your video. I have built into the schedule a full week for you to work on nothing but the video. So take a deep breath and relax. Your video can be directly related to your story, or it can function as a sidebar. The video should be two to five minutes long, with interviews with at least three named people. (No interviews with any unnamed people, please.) There should be B-roll in the form of at least three video clips and three still photos shot by you. There should be an introductory slide, and though I am not making it an absolute requirement, I think it will be better if you do a stand-up at the beginning. Other than having a friend shoot your stand-up, all shooting and editing must be done by you. The deadline is Friday, Dec. 6, at midnight (but see below). If there is demand — and by “demand,” I mean even one person — I will keep 171 Holmes open until midnight. Post it to YouTube and send me an email with the link.

Notice that with both the slideshow and the video, I’ve suggested that you can use them as sidebars to your main story. Let me give you an example of what I mean. Let’s say your beat is beer, as was the case with a student in a previous semester. You might do your project on the Beer Advocate magazine and website. You could interview your main subjects for your video, essentially producing a video version of his story — that’s not a sidebar. Or your could interview three people about where they get their information about beer. That’s a sidebar. You could shoot some sort of beer-themed event for your slideshow. That’s a sidebar, too. There are many, many ways you can approach the video and the slideshow.

4. Putting it all together. Our last class meeting is on Tuesday, Dec. 3. That will be my deadline for sending you memos about recommended revisions to your blog posts and slideshows. Your final deadline is Tuesday, Dec. 10, at 10 a.m. Post your revised story to your blog. Embed your slideshow (I’m going to figure out what you need to do to avoid re-doing it). Embed your YouTube video.

Also: Send me a brief (a paragraph or two) memo explaining how you used social media (most likely Twitter) as part of your reporting — whether it was finding sources or some other aspect. (Not for publication.) And after your post is live, use a Google map to link to it, just as we did with the dessert project. I will send you the link to the Google map.

Note: Depending on how people are progressing, I may open the lab on Monday, Dec. 9, for a full day of video work. I may also set you up in 157 Holmes, which is available for more hours during the day than 171.

Introduction to data visualization

Data visualization, often referred to as data viz, is a growing area within online journalism. Great data-viz presentations are created by programmers and designers. Most of us are neither. What matters is that we understand some of the possibilities.

On Tuesday, Meg Heckman will lead us in a hands-on data-viz exercise. Today I would like to open class with a brief demonstration of a few data-viz resources to get you thinking about the possibilities.

Extreme multimedia

We’re going to take a look at two examples of what might be called extreme multimedia to open class today — the now-classic “Snow Fall” presentation by The New York Times and a new presentation by The Guardian, heavily influenced by “Snow Fall,” titled “NSA Files: Decoded,” a long piece of explanatory journalism about the Edward Snowden revelations.

Does this immersive experience draw us more deeply into longform journalism, as some argue? Or are some of the multimedia features little more than a bells-and-whistles distraction, as others have said?

Mapping as journalism

We’re going to take a look at some maps in class on Friday to see how they can enhance journalism and whether they are journalism. You will find several examples on the syllabus under Week 9. Here are some additional examples.

In addition, here are some other examples: