‘Traditionalist vs. innovator’, Black Panther style

As I get ready for a class on visual storytelling, where else should one look this week but to the eye-popping “Black Panther” movie?

In this New York Times video, we get a view from the director’s seat of a car-chase scene in the film.  Ryan Cogler, co-writer and director, makes a special point of identifying traditionalists versus innovators  Kinda like legacy news organizations and digital natives.

(Which, despite the NYT embed code, did not translate into a true embed in this WP blog.)

Can WordPress sub for disappearing Storify?

Yes, it can. At least, when using some social media links, such as Twitter. H/T to Alan Levine for sharing a collection of how to replace the simple, yet versatile curator Storify.

As Levine says:

WordPress has, and has had for a while, the ability to automatically embed social media content by simply putting the URL for a tweet, or the url of a youtube/vimeo video, the urls of a flickr photo, the url of a SoundCloud track as plain text on a blank line in the WordPress editor.

How does it work? Simply go to the HTML view of a blog post. Copy in the URL on one line, for example, to the tweet you want to add to your curated collection. You can also list links to YouTube and more. You can add text above and below, too, for context,as you could in storify.

Here’s an example, courtesy of some tweets by former JO304 student Alanna McDonough-Rice. Compare to an original Storify by alanna.

1.text here

2.text here

3.text here

Not bad.

Of course, you can always embed a tweet in a WordPress post. Like so — but there’s a lot more code behind the scenes:


What a ______ time it is to be a journalist

Since January 2017, I’ve asked my Multimedia Storytelling students at Boston University to begin the semester by filling in this blank:

What a _____ time it is to be a journalist.

Prompting the assignment: The start of the Trump administration and the president’s virulent attacks on the news media.  I wanted to know how future journalists felt about the profession they chose.

Here are their answers, displayed in wordclouds.  The results speak for themselves — and their commitment to the profession.

My course syllabus for Multimedia Storytelling, JO304, Spring 2018

Multimedia Storytelling, JO 304, Sec. C1, Spring 2018
Thursdays, 12:30 to 3:15 pm, in COM, Room B27

Instructor: Andrea Panciera, adjunct professor
On Twitter: @andreapanciera,  #jo304
Office: Adjunct office, COM 216B

Email anytime:  apancier@bu.edu ; apanciera45@gmail.com
Mobile: 401-451-7519 (call or text, not too late or too early, please)
Office Hours: Tuesdays, before or after class, and by appointment

Adapted from the syllabus of BU COM Prof. Michelle Johnson, who oversees the digital journalism classes, with her permission. Customized by me every semester, it serves as the foundation for the weekly class schedule. Please read thoroughly.


Course Description
This course will introduce you to reporting, writing, producing and sharing multimedia journalism and social media for a variety of digital platforms. You’ll explore how online news stories differ from stories produced for “legacy” media such as newspapers and broadcast television.

We’ll also look at how digital newsrooms use current technologies, such as social media, to engage in delivery of breaking news and features. Through in-class and online discussions we will evaluate the effectiveness of these technologies and methods of digital newsgathering.

In addition, you will gain valuable experience producing stories, interactives, social media and multimedia in a digital environment and on a 24/7 deadline. Your best work may be submitted for publication on bunewsservice.com.

Classes will feature a mix of lecture, discussion, practice and experimentation. Be prepared to participate.

You will be required to configure and maintain a blog that you will use to critique an assigned news organization’s website and other online products throughout the semester, pointing to good (and bad) examples, and analyzing best and worst practices.

You’ll also be required to report and promote your work via social media, including Facebook and Twitter.

Guest speakers who work on the front lines of digital journalism will provide valuable insight and context.

Most of all, we’ll experiment with new ways of telling stories, in class, in teams and independently. Sometimes, we’ll succeed. Sometimes, we won’t. But we will learn.  


Course Objectives
Students will study key industry trends, technologies, multimedia reporting techniques and digital business models in order to gain an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the web and other digital platforms as a journalistic medium.  With this knowledge as a foundation, students will learn to produce content specifically for a variety of digital platforms. We’ll focus on mobile creation and delivery. In other words, your smartphone will get a workout!

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this course you will know how to:

  • Write specifically for online, including via social media and using mobile applications.
  • Think “digital first” and produce content for multiple platforms on deadline, with mobile and desktop devices.
  • Use social media tools to build a following and brand yourself as a multimedia journalist.
  • Produce basic multimedia stories incorporating elements such as photo slideshows, audio, maps, data visualizations and video.
  • Work solo and in a team environment to produce digital content.
  • Curate the torrent of information online to add context to stories.
  • Understand the differences between producing for the web and other digital platforms versus traditional mediums.
  • Critique the effectiveness of multimedia storytelling and how audience plays a role
  • Stay open to changing technologies
  • Peek into the future of technology and impact on storytelling and
  • Find the heart of the story, no matter what the medium

Back to top


Textbook: Journalism Next: A Practical Guide to Digital Reporting and Publishing 3rd Edition, Kindle Edition. by Mark E. Briggs (Author)

Available in Kindle store (search Mark Briggs) $17.60

Facebook: Actively follow the class Facebook group page and the BU Department of Journalism Facebook Page.

Twitter:  Actively follow the class feed #JO304 and those of your classmates.

Email:  Check it regularly for communications from me.  

Links to other assigned reading and examples for discussion will be posted frequently.  Be prepared to follow up in class. They’ll also be used as part of the foundation for quizzes.


  1. Smartphone:  iPhone or Android, with plenty of storage space and SD card.
  2. TWO SD cards, 16GB, Class 6, or higher for possible use in a camera and audio recorder.
  3. Removable storage to transport your work between the labs and your crib and serve as a backup. Warning: Content left on lab desktops will disappear at midnight.
    Examples: A USB thumb drive OR a portable hard drive formatted to work on a Mac.
  4. Earbuds or headphones
  5. Suggested:  Small tripod, for stabilizing cellphones. Microphone, for cellphones. These may also be available for takeout from school equipment depot, but don’t count on it.

Tip: Put your name and contact info somewhere on your equipment or in a file so that you can be reunited in the event that you leave it in a lab or elsewhere.


You’ll set up accounts on the following sites/services. They will be geared toward your work as a journalist and kept separate from personal social accounts. If you have existing accounts for school/work purposes, you may build on those.  You’ll also need apps for these on your smartphone (see below).  We’ll review them in class.

  • Gmail
  • Google Drive
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • wordpress.com (blog)
  • YouTube
  • Snapchat
  • Others as needed – including video, audio apps, longform story app

Equipment Checkout
We have an equipment depot located in the basement of the building (B-17) where you can check out cameras, audio recorders, tripods and other equipment. You can, and should, reserve equipment online AND EARLY at http://www.bu.edu/comlabs/how-to-make-an-equipment-reservation/ . Make sure that you have your student ID with you when you pick up gear.


While you are not required to purchase software for this course, you will need access to a number of programs to complete homework, assignments and your final project. If you do not already own this software, you will need to structure your time so that you can work in a lab to complete these assignments. (Multimedia labs are NOT open on weekends.)

You will need access to the following computer applications:

    • Microsoft Office, including Excel
    • Google Drive, spreadsheets and forms
    • WordPress (free version)
      Adobe Photoshop (or other image editing application)
    • Final Cut Pro (or other video editor)
      Soundcloud (or other audio editor)
    • We will also use a number of free or very low-cost web-based options and mobile apps for producing multimedia. Details to come as covered in class.

      I will ask you to download a number of apps on your cell phone – iPhone or Android – to complete assignments. If you don’t own a smartphone, an alternative will be provided for your use.Tip: If you have a lot of apps on your phone, do some housecleaning now. Delete or move anything that you’re not using to make room for downloads related to this class.

      You may be required to sign into news websites, for a fee, as part of your semester-long NewsTrack assignment.  (See more below.)

Back to top


Blogging project: NewsTrack
You will be assigned to a news website that you will monitor throughout the semester. You will blog analysis and commentary about work that appears on the site. These “NewsTrack” blog sites will be assigned by random drawing.  Why a drawing? The idea is to get you out of your comfort zone. Sports fan? Maybe you’ll be following a political site. Hard news junkie? Maybe you’ll be looking at a site that relentlessly pushes out click bait. The goal? Gain a deeper understanding of the current online news landscape.

Examples of questions to explore in your analysis:

  • What is its mission?
  • Who is the audience?
  • How well do they integrate multimedia and other features designed to attract and engage their audience?
  • How often do they launch new features?
  • How does their coverage compare to other media (newspaper, TV, etc)?
  • What tools/methods are they using to drive traffic?
    What is their business model?
  • What are the differences between their websites and mobile presentations?


The audience for your NewsTrack blog is your fellow journalism students as well as the outside world because your blogs are public. So point and link to the most interesting, controversial, engaging content on your assigned site.

Blog posts are due BEFORE class meets each week.

Note: You may hear back from someone at the publication itself, or from trolls who criticize your analysis. Learning to deal with crazy comments is part of the process. If this occurs, bring it up in class for discussion.

NewsTrack Presentations

As part of the NewsTrack assignment, you’ll be required to post summaries to the class Facebook group and share blog posts via Twitter.  We’ll also do occasional “roundups” in class on certain NT assignments.  You’ll also make a final presentation about the site that you are tracking.  Guide to come.  

Facebook Group

You will be invited to join a private group for this class on Facebook. This will be a completely closed group, meaning no one outside of the class can view it or see that you belong to it. It’s our space for sharing and discussion both during and outside of class.  Participation will be part of your grade.


You are encouraged to tweet from class using the hashtag #jo304, particularly when we have guest speakers.
You’ll also be asked to tweet from your assignments for this class and others. But please, tweet like a reporter. No snarky personal comments.

Offer up information that might be of interest and/or useful to your followers. Find/use other relevant hashtags.
Participation will be part of your grade.

Final Project

To be determined.  Expect an in-depth assignment featuring a variety of multimedia apps.  It may be based on current events or a hot topic in digital journalism. Additional details about your final project will be distributed later in the semester.

Previous final project topics:
Fall 2017:   It’s 2022.  How can technology help your personal and professional lives?  Think of where you want to be in five years. Think out of the box. Identify three to five ways technology can help you reach your goals.
Spring 2017: A commentary on the state of digital journalism in the Trump era. This commentary should reflect the concepts and skills learned in this class.  It will take the form of a listicle, in the multimedia platform Shorthand Social, and include multiple media elements to support your position.
Fall 2016: A single long-form multimedia story. Your story should reflect the concepts and skills learned in this class. It must include multiple elements (text, video, audio, interactives, etc.) that are appropriate for the story and of interest to a college audience.

Publication via BU News Service

BU News Service (aka BUNS), is an award-winning website produced by students in the journalism program. Launched as a Master’s thesis project in 2012, the site is a showcase for your work and a working lab for participating graduate and undergraduate courses.

As contributors to BUNS, you will have an opportunity to produce multimedia content for a live news site, from blogging to tweeting to breaking news and events. Only assignment work that is publishable quality will be submitted, and publication is up to the discretion of the site’s editors. Your grade will be determined by completion and quality of the work, not publication.

Back to top


Several elements contribute to your grade.

Tests: There are quizzes, but no midterm test or final exam in this class.
Your final project counts as your final exam. Quizzes — scheduled and pop —  will be based on assigned reading and lecture material.
NewsTrack: NewsTrack blog reports, presentations and comments will be graded.
Class participation: This includes discussion, in-class experimentation, activity on social media, such as class Facebook page, Twitter account and on your own.  
Use of multimedia:  All your assignments must employ the most suitable multimedia and social media tools for the platform and the story.  

Being a professional: Meeting deadlines, attendance and punctuality are expected. Accuracy, in reporting and in grammar, counts. Demonstrating ethical behavior counts. Paying attention counts. Effort counts.  Quality counts.

Note: Not all assignments will be graded. Some are meant to give you practice using particular tools and techniques. You will be alerted when an assignment will be graded.

Graded assignments will be calculated as follows:

  • Story assignments, homework – 20%
  • Quizzes – 15%
  • Newstrack blog – 25%
  • Class participation (in class and online), attendance – 20%
  • Final project – 20%

General Grading Policy

A (90-100) – Excellent work that met or exceeded the requirements. Writing reflects solid research, interviewing, accuracy, attribution, conforms to AP style; multimedia elements (video, photos, audio, interactive) are sharp, focused, clear, appropriately selected, properly captioned, tagged, credited and functional. Use of social media is prominent and suits assignment well.  Could be published as is, or with very minor edits. Meets all deadlines.

B (80-89) – Good work with a few errors. May contain minor problem with focus, spelling/grammar, style, balance, organization; several multimedia elements are sub-par (out of focus, poor sound quality, etc.) or exhibit one or two technical glitches. Demonstrates grasp of social media. Could run with some editing.

C (70-79) – Average work. Failed to meet some of the requirements of the assignment. Shows lack of news judgment, accuracy, balance, etc., technical errors, sub-par multimedia elements, poor selection of interactive elements, little use of social media. Could only run with significant editing or a complete overhaul.

D (60-69) – Below average work that shows little or no understanding of the requirements of the assignment, numerous grammatical, style errors, major factual errors and failure to use assigned technology and tools properly. Often fails to meet deadlines.

F (0-59) – Failure to turn in by deadline or significantly flawed work.

How to get an A in this course 

  • Be here each week, on time, ready to engage. 
  • Complete all reading and assignments on time.
  • Participate in class and online discussions.
  • Stay up to date about issues and news related to online journalism and share that knowledge.
  • Rock Twitter, your Newstrack blog and our class Facebook page with your observations.
  • Strut your stuff. Got a specialty? Use it.  Be prepared to mentor.
  • You get extra credit for: Being enthusiastic, inquisitive, and open to learning new things.  Extra effort counts.
  • Think ahead. Anticipate upcoming requirements such as BU News Service assignments and the final project. Structure your time to do your best work. Expect some hurdles and try your best to overcome them.
  • Exceed expectations!  P.S. I expect even more from juniors and seniors.

Back to top


  • Unrelated online / smartphone activity: Please restrict unrelated internet browsing, e-mailing, texting or other unassigned online activity to the break we’ll have most weeks.  
  • Spelling, style and grammar count! When you submit an assignment, points will be deducted for spelling, grammatical and AP style errors. Spell check and proofread your work!
  • Professionalism: You will be called on to critique the work of your classmates and occasionally discuss ethical issues. There may be times when you disagree with another student’s comments. You will be expected to deal honestly, but professionally, with your classmates and the instructor of this course.
  • In addition to the assigned reading, you should read, follow and watch “traditional” news in order to be able to discuss and analyze differences between the mediums.
  • It is expected you will be keep up with the news, local, national and international, through medium of your choice.
  • When we have guest speakers, pay attention. Tweet, FB Live, take photos, etc., but be discreet so as not to distract our guests and the rest of the class. Do ask questions!

    Class Attendance
    You are expected to be in class each week, on time. Roll will be taken. If you are ill or must miss a class for another reason, please alert me as soon as possible BEFORE class via email (preferably) or text.

 If you have an illness or emergency which can be documented, your absence will be  excused.   However, you will be expected to complete any assignments that you missed  during your excused absence.  Missed assignments are due by the next class.  

Unexcused absences will affect your final grade.

Late Assignments

Deadlines are a key concept in journalism. If you miss a deadline in the real world, you might lose your job. Get used to filing assignments on time. Late assignments are subject to a reduction in grade. Unexcused late assignments will not be accepted in this class.

We will occasionally hear from speakers who work in online media. Because they are busy professionals whose schedules change constantly, specific dates and times for their appearances are not yet listed. Feel free to suggest someone!

Plagiarism and Fabrication
The College of Communication rules on plagiarism are applicable to this course.


“Plagiarism is the act of representing another person’s creative and/or academic work as your own, in full, or in part. It can be an act of commission, in which one intentionally appropriates the words, pictures, or ideas of another, or it can be an act of omission, in which one fails to acknowledge/document/give credit to the source, creator and/or the copyright owner of those words, pictures, or ideas. Any fabrication of materials, quotes or sources other than those created in a work of fiction is also plagiarism. Plagiarism is the most serious academic offense that you can commit and can result in probation, suspension, or expulsion.”

Academic Code of Conduct
Be sure to read and comply with Boston University’s Universal Academic Conduct Code for undergraduate students.  It is available at: bu.edu/academics   

Recording of Classes Statement

Please note that classroom proceedings for this course might be recorded for purposes including, but not limited to, student illness, religious holidays, disability accommodations, or student course review. Note also that recording devices are prohibited in the classroom except with the instructor’s permission.

Sexual Misconduct Statement
Boston University is committed to fostering a safe, productive learning environment. Title IX and our school policy prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, which regards sexual misconduct – including harassment, domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. We understand that sexual violence can undermine students’ academic success and we encourage students who have experienced some form of sexual misconduct to talk to someone about their experience, so they can get the support they need. Confidential support and academic advocacy resources can be found with the Center for Sexual Assault Response & Prevention (SARP) at http://www.bu.edu/safety/sexual-misconduct/.

Equal Opportunity Statement
BU has strict guidelines on classroom behavior and practices when it comes to treatment of students and guests on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, mental or physical disability, genetic information, military service, national origin, or due to marital, parental, or veteran status. Discrimination for any of these reasons is prohibited. Please refer to the Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Policy for more details.

Disability Services
If you are a student with a disability or believe you might have a disability that requires accommodations, please contact the Office for Disability Services (ODS) at 617-353-3658 to coordinate any reasonable accommodation requests. ODS is located at 19 Deerfield Street, up on the second floor.

Student Athletics Advisory
All student-athletes should be provided with a sheet from Student-Athlete Support Services regarding absences throughout the semester. These sheets should be handed in as soon as possible to avoid potential conflicts and so arrangements can be made to provide for missed lecture notes, classwork, or discussion.


It’s easy: How to embed a Twitter moment in WP Post

Yippee! You can easily embed your Twitter moment from a live-blogging assignment into your related NewsTrack post.

1. Go to the  Twitter Publish page 

2.  You’ll see a Twitter URL locator window with a drop down arrow.  Click on the dropdown to see examples of what you can do, including the Twitter moment re Michelle Obama.

Below the dropdown are the specific options for twitter embeds.

3.  in the window, paste in the URL for your live-blogging twitter moment and hit enter.   It will generate embed code.  Copy that code into the HTML (not the default visual) view in a WordPress post. (Click the tab that says HTML).

4.  Preview it — at first you’ll see just the link. Then the rest of the moment will display.

5.  here’s how the Michelle moment looks.


Tweeting out NewsTrack Roundtable 2 on breaking news techniques

For our second NewsTrack Roundtable of the semester, my #JO304 students tweeted each others’ mini-presentations on how their news organizations used alternative storytelling techniques in breaking news reports.

Here’s the roundup of the roundtable:

Taking the APME NewsTrain


I’m heading to Endicott College in Beverly, MA, Saturday, to update my multimedia skills, courtesy of Associated Press Media Editors’ NewsTrain program.

Just in time for the rest of the semester for my own multimedia storytelling class at Boston University. 

And I hope some lovely fall views from this oceanfront campus.

As requested, got my thinking cap on and ready to earn my conductor’s hat.

The conductor, aka Tom Hanks, for the Polar Express.





JO304 fall 2017: Class 1 outline, homework for Class 2

Not a fancy post, but a practical method for sharing.

Linked are copies of my CLASS 1 OUTLINE 9517 and HOMEWORK for CLASS 2 91217 

You can download them from here.  I’ve also uploaded copies to our Blackboard class content folder.

Another option, for my fall 2017 class members only: I can put everything in a Google Drive folder that I can share with you.

Your thoughts on the storage area you’d use most?



Red Sox Opening Day 2017: Testing Banjo Web Widget

Screenshot of Banjo map and social media posts at 10:45 am, 4/3/17, on Red Sox Opening Day.  Click on the map to go to the live Banjo page focusing on Fenway area.

Well, it must be spring.

It’s Red Sox Opening Day in Boston, and I’m using the occasion to test the Banjo real-time social media filter based on geographic location.

I’ve created a Web widget that circles in on social media posts re Opening Day in a region around Fenway.   Let’s see if it works in this version of WordPress.

OK, I see it here in my draft.

Now, let’s see what happens when I preview and publish.

Umm, not showing in preview except as a link.  Now I will publish.

OK, only shows as a link when I publish. and when I come BACK to this post — the image version has disappeared and I see just the link. This happened before when I did an embed.  Grrr.

Well, as a text preview, this link is bringing me to a slideshow of photos.  I’m assuming they are being uploaded in real time, tho I did start capturing them at 8 am today and will do so til 11:30 pm.   I could reset that start time and see what happens.


Also, I want to see the MAP showing where posting activity is high. And I want to see better who’s posting. So going back in to get that URL.

Here’s the MAP URL — get an overview, then click on the Fenway area to see specific Red Sox postings. Explore in detail by opening it up and/or going to column atleft of screen. You can see users, which platforms they are on, etc.



Fill in the blank: What a __ time for journalism

It's a _______time for journalism in 2017.
It’s a _______time for journalism in 2017.

Here are the choices my JO304 class in multimedia journalism at Boston University came up with in January, just before the inauguration of President Trump.

What’s your choice?

Resources for journalists in a rocky time

rocky horror picture show scene
Scene from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (Ingrid Richter, Creative Commons)

What a need for reliable journalistic resources, in light of the inauguration of a new president who — horrors — questions the validity of news as told by most media.

At the same time, innovations in communications are coming at us so fast even a robot might have trouble processing them.

Here are some reputable resources for keeping up with both. I urge you to follow, join and subscribe for the latest on trends, research, training and hot topics.

Boston University Department of Journalism Facebook group

Pew Research Center

Nieman Journalism Lab

Online News Association

The Poynter Institute
Newsletters  http://poynter.us9.list-manage1.com/subscribe?u=79fa45ed20ff84851c3b9cd63&id=5372046825
Webinars and more  http://about.poynter.org/training

Perry Hewitt’s Friday 5 email newsletter
Perry culls highlights from the week on strategy and practice for digital leadership – plus some fun stuff

Testing Storify embed in WordPress

Even tho I used the insert Url under Add Media, best i could get for Storify is a hypertext link, below.   Unlike Thinglink, which does show up as an interactive image when you add a Thinglink URL the same way.

Tips for navigating your journalistic future