JOU4341 Syllabus

(Download Syllabus)

Monday – Wednesday, 1 -2:50 p.m., AC2-129
Professors Teresa Ponte & Neil Reisner

Office hours:
Ponte: AC2, Room 314, Monday/Wednesday, 10 – 11 a.m.
Reisner: AC2, Room 313, Monday, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. or by appointment


Web Site:

PREREQUISITES: RTV3260, JOU3117, JOU3300 and VIC4001. If you have not completed all prerequisite courses, you will be administratively dropped from this course.

This capstone course covers the news in a multimedia world.  The course will begin with research on stories of local interest to be developed using storytelling skills in the three principal formats: print, video and audio/visual.

This course is the culmination of the students’ previous journalism studies.  In so doing, the student will:
•    Be able to do research, report and write stories of interest to the public, stories that are easily understood, accurate and informative.
•    Be able to use the technical skills acquired in the principles and practice of photography and videography and editing in order to enhance visual storytelling.
•    Be able to use storytelling skills while working in a multimedia format, integrating written articles with digital photography, video, audio and social media.

There are no required textbooks but students are expected to read print and online news sites, newspapers, blog sites and magazines such as, NPR, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, the principal South Florida news publications, the Huffington Post and the video work of Travis Fox in the Washington Post.

The course will consist of a combination of lectures and projects and conversations with guests.  In some projects students may work in teams of two, in those instances, students will share the grade with their partner.


Print Story 25 percent
Sound Slide Story 25 percent
Video Story 25 percent
Info Graphic 15 percent
* Classroom Participation/Attendance/Evaluations 10 percent

* Classroom participation and attendance is important and
will count toward your grade for the course.

Your work will be judged on the following criteria:
•    Story selection, that is, originality of story ideas…stories that haven’t been done or stories done from an original angle
•    Story is clear, accurate and informative:  facts are correct and communicated clearly, plus, the story has impact (gives the answer to “so what?”)
•    Reporting enterprise and depth…quality of research and use of resources
•    Journalistic principles:  the story is well-balanced
•    Quality of writing and storytelling abilities…the human interest element is a powerful storytelling technique
•    Interviewing skills
•    Overall flow:  logical composition of elements, good transitions, proper use of interviews, use of natural sound and length of shots
•    Aesthetic quality of images and video…steadiness, composition, editing etc.
You will be required to revise and re-edit your projects throughout the course to ensure they meet the highest standards.

Grades will be assigned based on the following criteria:
A/A-:    Stories that meet the criteria above and require minor tweaking to be published and/or broadcast.
B-/B/B+:    Stories that demonstrate a serious and solid effort but require more than minor tweaking to be published or broadcast.
C/C+:    Stories that require major reworking, writing is deficient and production values are substandard.
C-:    Stories that require so much reworking that only pieces of them are salvageable.
F:      Stories that are not salvageable because they do not meet most of the criteria above or have errors of fact material to the story or have been plagiarized.

The start of each term is full of promise for both sides of this learning experience.  The professors and the students embark on an adventure from which both expect an active and stimulating exchange of ideas and knowledge. We hope you will find JOU4341C intellectually challenging and that this course will be a culmination of the skills and knowledge you have acquired so far in your academic career.  To insure this, let us set forth guidelines for what we expect from you:

•    Preparation: This Senior Multimedia Project course will demand a lot of your time. This is going to be a very hectic term.  You will be required to be present in class, during lab time and to do much of your work, whether on your own or with a partner, outside of class.  All of this effort will give you the foundation to be a professional in the journalism field.  This takes work and practice.  We advise you not to take this course if you think that you will not have enough time to prepare.
•    Assignments:  This course requires original work output.  Presenting as original to this class, work used for a grade in another course is tantamount to plagiarism.
•    Attendance Policy:  Regular class attendance is essential and absences will impact your grade.  Random attendance records will be used as part of the final grade.  Students are also expected to arrive on time.  If you are absent please provide documentation of an emergency. Emergencies include illness – please bring a doctor’s note saying you could not attend class — a death in the family, car accident, etc. Examples of non-emergency absences include a family event — wedding, family trip, etc. —  a work conflict or an internship obligation.
Please contact one of us WITHIN 24 HOURS FROM THE START TIME OF THE MISSED CLASS if you encounter such a situation. It is your responsibility to communicate promptly and directly.
Let us know if you are in a category where FIU policy requires an academic accommodation.
But, if you think that you will not be able to attend class regularly and on time we advise you not to take this course.
•    Late Work:  You are entering a business were deadlines are sacred.  Get used to it.  Regular projects will be accepted after their due dates but will be assessed two (2) late points per day. You are responsible for turning in all projects on the date they are due.
•    Conduct:  Please turn off your cell phones.  If you need to have a conversation with a classmate please step outside the classroom.  I reserve the right to drop you from the course if I find your behavior to be disruptive to the class.
•    Effective Communication:  Good writing is essential.  All your work will be evaluated on content and writing (spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure and clear and effective communication).
•    Office Hours:  Our office hours are on the front page of this syllabus.  If you need to meet with us outside this time frame please make an appointment.
•    Special Needs: If you need accommodation based upon a disability under the terms of the Americans with Disabilities Act or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, please discuss your needs with us before the end of the second week of the semester.

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication commits itself to the preparation of mass media professionals and scholars. Such a mission demands the highest standards of academic honesty and integrity. Violations of academic honesty, including but not limited to plagiarism, collusion, deception, conflict of interest, and theft, are not tolerated and can lead to severe penalties. Disciplinary actions are outlined in your student handbook. We simply do not tolerate dishonesty and will seek to assess the harshest punishment available if you are caught. Written work may be subjected to

Florida International University outlines your responsibilities as follows:

Florida International University is a community dedicated to generating and imparting knowledge through excellent teaching and research, the rigorous and respectful exchange of ideas and community service. All students should respect the right of others to have an equitable opportunity to learn and honestly to demonstrate the quality of their learning. Therefore, all students are expected to adhere to a standard of academic conduct, which demonstrates respect for themselves, their fellow students, and the educational mission of the University. All students are deemed by the University to understand that if they are found responsible for academic misconduct, they will be subject to the Academic Misconduct procedures and sanctions, as outlined in the Student Handbook.
Misconduct includes: Cheating – The unauthorized use of books, notes, aids, electronic sources; or assistance from another person with respect to examinations, course assignments, field service reports, class recitations; or the unauthorized possession of examination papers or course materials, whether originally authorized or not. Plagiarism – The use and appropriation of another’s work without any indication of the source and the representation of such work as the student’s own.  Any student, who fails to give credit for ideas, expressions or materials taken from another source, including internet sources, is responsible for plagiarism.
Any student who fails to meet these expectations will receive an “F” for the course grade and will be reported to the Chair of the Department, as well as the Dean of the School.

It is your responsibility to be very cautious with the field gear and editing equipment.  When you’ve checked out the gear you have reserved, take a moment to look it over to see if anything is wrong and report it immediately.  If anything happens to the equipment while it is checked out in your name, you will be responsible for the cost of repairs or replacement.  Our technicians will check every piece of equipment when you return it for signs of misuse or damage.  Please, return every piece of equipment in the same condition as when you took it out.

When you check out equipment it must be returned no later than 10 a.m. on the second weekday following. Failure to abide by this policy will result in a loss of equipment privileges.  You and your partner will be deducted 2 points per day late from the grade for that project for equipment turned in late.


You may turn a 50-cent problem into a $500 problem.  Grades will be withheld if you damage or lose equipment and fail to pay for the repairs or replacement.