Advanced Multimedia 2015-2016

J216: Advanced New Media

Richard Koci Hernandez and Jeremy Rue

Tuesdays/Thursdays 2–3:30pm

Upper Newsroom

Course Overview

This two-semester class is for students who want to do a multimedia master’s project and specialize in digital media or multimedia reporting after graduation. In the class students will:

  • Participate in critical discussions of best practices in multimedia storytelling and topics in new media publishing so students are prepared to work in and take on leadership roles at digital news organizations.
  • Get detailed critiques of their master’s project work from instructors, other students, and outside experts during regularly scheduled progress reports. Students also get regular one-on-one sessions about their master’s projects with their advisers in the class.
  • Gain some specialized skills relating specifically to the reporting and production of their master’s projects.

The topical discussions and presentations will be either group discussions of subjects presented by instructors or guest lectures by people working in digital media. By the end of the course students will master how to report and produce a sophisticated online story using a variety of different media formats and have a deep understanding of digital media so they can become leaders in the digital news industry.


Every master's project produced from this course will require the creation of a web presentation or other digital product that may utilize media forms such as video, audio, text, photographs, graphics, interactive databases, data visualizations, mobile applications, social media and/or animations.

A qualifying master’s project can be:

  1. a multimedia story that has multiple segments or elements with an intuitive navigation scheme and compelling overall design;
  2. a continuously published news site or blog featuring original and curated content,
  3. or a prototype for a new concept or innovative idea related to digital journalism, performed as a research project and submitted as a dissertation.

Restrictions and Prerequisites

This class is only for students who are doing multimedia master's projects. (No auditors will be allowed.) This class must be taken in both the Fall and Spring semesters of your second year.

Students must have taken the Online News Packages class and the Advanced Visual Journalism Class for multimedia students in the Spring of your first year. If a student did not take these courses, they will need to make them up in the spring. Students should be taking  many of the elective multimedia classes such as Coding for Journalists, Programming Workshop, After Effects MINI, Data Visualization and Data Journalism during the Fall and Spring semesters of your second year.

Consult with your master’s project adviser about whether you have the requisite skills needed to take this class.


Readings will be assigned each week for individual class sessions. All readings will be available online via the course website.


The following assignments are listed in the course schedule and will be graded as pass/fail:

  1. Critique of multimedia works from previous years (Week 1)
  2. Story pitches (Week 3)
  3. Follow the story (Week 4)
  4. Focus Group Presentation (Week 5)
  5. Mood board (Week 6)
  6. What interactives could go in your project (Week 8)
  7. Experience an immersive (Week 9)
  8. Increase your Twitter following by 5 percent (Week 10)
  9. Plan for winter break (Week 11)
  10. Contributing to the zine (Week 13)


Assignments 50% (10 assignments, 5% per assignment)
Class participation/Attendance 50% (26 classes, 2% per class)

Note: unexcused absence will drop you 2 percent of your final grade. Consistent tardiness also will lower a grade. Excused absences will only be permitted in extraordinary circumstances. Regardless of the reasons for absence or tardiness, students will be responsible for any assignments due and for learning material covered in class. According to UC Berkeley guidelines on absences:

Students are responsible for material covered during missed classes whether or not they have been formally excused; therefore it is the student’s responsibility to inform him/herself about the material is not the instructor’s or the GSI’s responsibility to tutor students in missed material. For this reason it is recommended that students absent from class for any reason make timely contact with several other students in the class to arrange for thorough briefing on the material they missed.

Instructors Contact Info & Office Hours

Richard Koci Hernandez

Jeremy Rue
Office hours: Wednesdays 10:30am–4:30pm

Class Contact List

Students can contact the instructors on Slack at any time.

Weekly Schedule


Tues Sept. 8 No Class
Thurs Sept. 10 (MEET at 6pm) LAB: Using Slack and other digital tools (David Cohn)

This will be a joint class with both sections of Advanced Multimedia to set up all of the logistical components of the class, such as using Slack for communication with professors, getting everyone setup with accounts as needed.


Tues Sept. 15 Introduction, Expectations and Examples for Inspiration.

Setup the expectations of the course and analyze examples of multimedia stories from previous years of advanced multimedia, as well as examples done by experts in the field. We will go over the workflow for how each project will come together.
Assignment 1: Students will be given a project from last year to critique. Submit your written critique to bCourses by Sept. 22. Read Chapter 2 The Evolution of the Digital News Package — Koci/Rue Principles of Multimedia Journalism. Read pages 1-16 Pressfied — Do The Work

Thurs Sept. 17 LAB: work on critiques

Setup all of the logistical components of the class, such as using Slack for communication with professors, getting everyone setup with Github and other accounts. The rest of class will be used as free lab time to work on critiques.


Tues Sept. 22 History of Multimedia

How did we get to now? This course will take us through the years to learn how multimedia storytelling evolved to become what it currently is today. Understanding the past helps to better forge the future of storytelling.
Reading: Chapter 2 — Principles of Multimedia

Thurs Sept. 24 LAB: Documentary Viewing

Students will watch an assigned documentary film on their own. (Note: this is the week the Online News Association will be held.)


Tues Sept. 29 Anatomy of a Multimedia Story

We will deconstruct the central components of a multimedia story, and all of the different factors that play a role in how to structure content for the web. We will go over both story content (lead, nut graf, pacing, exposition, anecdote) and how it translates to presentation (multimedia, interaction, discussion.)
Assignment: Prepare story pitches for the following week, and submit a summary to bCourses.

Thur Oct. 1 LAB: How to pitch stories

A short lesson on how to effectively pitch a multimedia story to an editor or other employer. You will be given time in class to work on pitches for the following week on your own.


Tues Oct. 6 Follow the Story (Guest Lecturer: Rob Gunnison)

In this class, we will have a guest speaker talk about what makes a good news story.

Thurs Oct. 8 LAB: Presentation by LA Times recruiters

Two recruiters from the LA Times will visit the class and talk a little bit about how they approach multimedia and data-driven stories at the Times.
Assignment: Prep story pitches for following week


Tues Oct. 13 Present Your Story Pitches to class

This is an important class, as each group will present their story pitch and see if there is support for other students joining them. Professors will critique each story and report if has legs to be a master’s project.

Thurs Oct. 15 LAB: Prepare story pitches for focus group based on feedback

Based on the feedback you received from instructors, you will work together on your own to pitch your stories to a focus group the following week.
Assignment: Prep story pitches for following week


Tues Oct. 20 Focus Group to Review your Story Pitches

Professors will assemble a focus group made up of journalistic field experts, undergraduate students, topic experts, and regular Joes to review and give feedback on your story pitches. While their feedback won’t be definitive in deciding the direction of your project, it will be valuable to understand what makes people tick.

Thurs Oct. 22 LAB: Follow-up on pitches, and discuss refactoring

Based on the focus group reaction, develop a plan for reporting your master’s project and begin thinking about presentation ideas.


Tues Oct. 27 Design

We will cover design principles and thinking about how to make content sing. We will go over typography, color, layout hierarchy, and how new dimensions like motion and animation now play a role in content design.
Assignment: Build a mood board for your project, due Thursday.

Thurs Oct. 29 LAB: Present mood boards, go over sketch for constructing layouts

Groups will present some of their mood boards to show off ideas for typography, color schemes, ideas and inspirations. We will go over how to use Sketch program for designing layout mockups of project.


Tues. Nov. 3 Animation for Explanatory Journalism

We will look at examples of using animation as a form of expository storytelling. Using motion graphics, we can enhance an audio narrative with visual stimuli that helps the brain to cognitively connect the dots to points in the story, and maintain interest in a distracting medium.

Thurs Nov. 5 LAB: Watch TFI Interactive video presentation

Students will assemble to watch a presentation at Tribeca Film Institute’s TFI Interactive conference. (Appox. 1.5 hours)


Tues Nov. 10 Interactives

A look at interactive elements in stories. This includes quizzes, data visualizations, searchable databases, sliders, maps or other modules that support a story. When do these components work to enhance a story? Where in the story should they appear? What is the cognitive load for a reader to encounter one of these? We discuss these questions and look at several examples.

Thurs Nov. 12 LAB: Outline some ideas for interactives in your projects

Based on the earlier lesson, brainstorm some ideas for possible interactives that could appear in your master’s projects. Sketch out the ideas on whiteboards and explore what tools you would need to learn to bring these to fruition.
Assignment: Submit a brief explanation of project interactives


Tues Nov. 17 Immersives

We take a look at immersive storytelling (sometimes described as interactive documentaries). This includes game-like environments, virtual reality, or any experience that aims to transport the viewer into an environment through audio and visual stimuli.
Assignment: Experience an immersive given in class

Thurs Nov. 19 LAB: Experience one major immersive and discuss as a class

Students will meet amongst themselves and discuss the qualities of the previous assignment. They will explore how such an experience lends itself to the power of the medium, as well as the pitfalls of the form.


Tues Nov. 24 Social Media (Guest Lecturer)

A guest speaker will go over the elements of social media for storytelling. This goes beyond just distributing content, but also building communities, interacting with audience, finding sources, and verifying content.
Assignment: The infamous Twitter follower assignment. How many can you get. What strategies would you employ to get more followers? Can you increase your following by a five percent?

Thurs Nov. 26 ThanksGiving Break


Tues Dec. 1 Innovator’s Dilemma

A discussion about the Innovator’s Dilemma and how it influences newsrooms and workflows, particularly around conception of big story packages.

Thurs Dec. 3 LAB: Planning ahead for winter break

We will set a deadline list for what will be accomplished over winter break as we tie up the final classes.


Tues Dec. 8 Let’s make an Zine

In this final class, we embark on a exercise to joggle the creative juices by making something out of paper. We’ll explain in class what this is about.

Classroom Decorum Policy

Students should turn off the ringtones on their cellphones before class begins. Students may not check e-mail, text messages, social media sites like Facebook or Twitter or other websites during the class.

Academic Dishonesty and Plagiarism

Students will abide by the Student Code of Conduct:

There is a zero-tolerance policy for work that is submitted without proper attribution or that constitutes plagiarism. If students are unsure about the expectations regarding the Student Code of Conduct, please seek advice from the instructors.