Week 1 • Sept. 2


Course introduction

Assignment examples

What is Multimedia?




For Thursday, Sept. 9

Go to and start a blog. Think awhile about the name and come up with one that is reflective of you. Also, look through the various free “themes” and choose one that fits you. There are good examples here and here.

• For your first post find a multimedia piece you like, link to it from your blog and write 250 words or so about why you like it. Some places to look are here and here.

• Craft one more posts. The post must contain a link and an image, which means you will have to figure out how to place those in your blog. Don’t worry it’s not tough.

Here’s how to do a link:

And an image.

• E-mail me the url for your blog by next Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m.

• Come to class with three potential interview subjects and be prepared to talk about them.


Examples from class:

Oakland Scene. The audio/spoken word piece. This link will require you to register at PRX, which I will ask you to do at some point this semester. So now is as good a time as any.

The Ninth Floor. Photo/audio slideshow by Jessica Dimmock about the lives of three heroin addicts.

Week 2  •  Sept. 9


What makes good multimedia

What makes a good blog post?



Readings for this week:

Why I blog – Andrew Sullivan

Multimedia elements grid – Listen to all of the little talks on “Definition of Multimedia” and “Essentials of Good Multimedia”

Case – MOVE: Devestation on Osage Avenue +25

Questions to consider:

In one sentence, what is this piece trying to accomplish?

Is it successful? Why?

What are the strongest elements? (for example video, photos, stories) Why?

How would you do it differently?

Discussion leaders:




Audio recorder – Zoom H4n

Editing software – Audacity

Tasks (for the week ahead)

Two blog posts for the coming week.

Assigned post for September 16:

In the piece Occum’s Razor that is under the readings for next week the storyteller’s voice is fairly prominent in the story, both as a narrator and a character. Should it be? Why? Why not?

Week 3 • Sept. 16


More on Interviewing

When should you be part of the story?

Editing sound


Occum’s Razor – A This American Life piece. Click “stream episode” and a pop-up player will appear.

Readings for Sept. 16

Essays from Reality Radio:

Talking to Strangers – The Kitchen Sisters.

Harnessing Luck as an Industrial Product – Ira Glass

Covering HomeKatie Davis

Questions to consider:

How do the authors approach making themselves part of the story?

Audio pieces to accompany readings:

Interview with the book’s editor John Biewen.

Tupperware – The Kitchen Sisters (click on “28K” and the audio should pop up in a Real Audio player).

Basketball Diary – Katie Davis

Specific text on interviewing:

The Basics – Jay Allsion

How-to for Audacity:

Audacity FAQ

Audacity editing video (Note: The file that he uses is not available, but this video is helpful to get an idea of the basic functions of Audacity.)


Audacity – Download this to your computer. It’s free and it works for Mac or PC and the functionality for each is basically the same.

Blogging “assistant” Zemanta

Tasks (for next week)

Edit and produce your “Most embarassing moment” audio and be prepared to share with the class.

Examples from class:

The Little Mermaid

Week 4 • Sept. 23


More on interviewing

Finding stories

Cluster models


Essays from Reality Radio:

What did She Just Say? damali  ayo

Cigarettes and Dance Steps Alan Hall

Unreality Radio Natalie Kestecher

Audio piece:

William Thompson IV’s War

Help with Audacity:

Editing on Audacity – Here is a short tutorial.

And here are some explanations of the buttons.


Audacity, audacity, audacity

Audio recording equipment is available at ITDL in Barbelin 34. Just ask for the “Comm studies kit.”

Tasks (for next week)

• Assigned blog post:

Tell us about your interview subject. Who is it? Why did you choose them? Where will you interview them? What are the “Big Ideas” involved?

• Craft a second blog post on whatever you like.

• Using Audacity and the sound you gathered in class, produce your interview from class into a 5-8 minute piece.

Week 5 • Sept. 30


• Finding stories

• The power of autobiography


From Reality Radio:

Finding the Poetry Dmae Roberts

• accompanying audio: Pidgin English (This will ask you to register for PRX so please do so. You will need to at some point anyway.)

Diaries and Detritus: One Perfectionist’s Search for Imperfection Joe Richman

• accompanying audio: Choose one of the Nelson Mandela stories from this site.

Also, here are some “audio resources” from the Reality Radio website. These are mostly the homepages of some really good radio documentary sites.

Ghetto Life 101 This was produced in 1993 but I think it is still one of the most powerful audio stories around and its a consequence of having the courage to let people tell their own stories. But one could argue that there is sinister, exploitative side to this. This will open a Real Audio player. The story is about 30 minutes.


(Fairly long – 84 minutes) Piece about interviewing.

Some resources on recording and interviewing in the field.


Keep working with audacity.

Noise removal tutorial for Audacity

Tasks (for next week)

• Be prepared, as usual, to talk about your interview story.

• Blog posts

Assigned post: Are stories like Ghetto Life 101 exploitative? Some might argue that handing technology over to vulnerable (economically or socially) people and asking them to tell their own stories could be considered ethically borderline. What do you think?

Another post on a topic of your choosing.

• Audio assignment

Week 6 • Oct. 7


Your interviews





Record, edit and produce your interview

Once you have done so, put the audio up on your blog. I just signed up for SoundCloud and tested it. The site is very easy to navigate. Basically you upload your file to them. Once you do that you can “share” it with WordPress and you get something that looks like this (a story about Thelonious Monk):

Here’s a screen grab of what the page looks like after you have uploaded your file (click on it to blow it up):

You get that little “Share to WordPress” window when you click on “share” over the big orange button. Then you just copy that script and paste into your blog.

Here’s a little tutorial on that as well.

This whole process should take about 10 minutes. (Seriously, if you can use e-mail, you will have no problem with this.)

For next week:

• Find a topic for the audio story.

We will move onto the next assignment, which is the audio story. The definition of “story” is a loose one here. This could be a traditional journalistic story, such as this one about       . Or it could be a less traditional one, such as the story about the “message” bout the Little Mermaid that we listed to at the beginning of the semester. Or it could be an interesting take on a daily occurence like the Tupperware story from the Kitchen Sisters.

• Blog posts

Assigned post – Write a blog post in which you identify key elements of an audio story using one of the audio pieces for next week as example. Think about the elements of a good written story. How does these work in audio stories?

Another blog post on a topic of your choosing.

Week 7 • Oct. 14


Introduction to audio stories

The elements of a good idea


Essays from Reality Radio:

Living History – Stephen Smith

Accompanying audio – A Duty to Starve from Battles of Belief

The Voice and the Place – Sandy Tolan

Accompanying audio – The Lemon Tree

sound-in-the-story – This is a primer on audio storytelling aimed at writers and photographers who are starting to dabble in sound.

What the Hell is a Radio Documentary? – Stephen Smith


The Urban Archives (A lot of old video footage and oral history interviews that might be useful if you want to do a historical piece)

Tasks (for next week)

Assigned blog post: Do a “cluster model” (that brainstorming map thing we did in class on Thursday) for a potential story idea. Start with a big issue/topic that interests you and brainstorm it down to a manageable story. Get an image of the model (for example, take a picture of it), post it on your blog along with a 300-word-or-so explanation.

Additional blog post on a topic of your choice.

Week 8 • Oct. 21


• Remix culture

We’re going to take a slight detour from our normal format and talk a little about the pitfalls of copyright, which are many for those who tell stories online. There is a reading below. In addition, we will watch a documentary about remix and mash-up culture.

• Story ideas – Have a couple in mind that we can talk about.


Essays from Reality Radio:

Adventurers in Sound • Karen Michel

audio Driving • Amanda Martins; My Struggle with Obesity • Rocky Tayeh

Dressy Girls • Lena Eckert-Erdheim

audio: Dressy Girls

Remix culture:

Lawrence Lessig video on free culture and copyright.

The key question I hope we can get into this week is whether copyright is hampering creativity or protecting it. Should we be permitted to take old creative works and use them to make something new?


Wikimedia commons

Tasks (for next week)

Assigned blog post:

Find something interesting here (for example, Why the FBI wanted to deport John and Yoko?) and write a blog post about it.

Week 9 • Oct. 28


Story ideas • We will do some workshopping of story ideas. The goal here is to find an idea that will work in a 8-15-minute piece.

Here’s the assignment handout:

assignment 2


from Reality Radio:

Emily Botein • Salt is Flavor and Other Tips Learned While Cooking

Afterword • Listen • Jay Allison

audio – Polk Street Stories


Tasks (for next week)

Assigned blog post: A thorough vetting of your story idea. What is the subject? Who are the characters? What might the “scenes” be?

Week 10 • Nov. 4


The future of telling true stories

Multimedia stories


Case – The Great Textbook War

Multimedia memoir – The Night of the Gun

New York Observer piece on Carr



Week 11 • Nov. 11


Audio and images (a marriage made on Soundslides)



soundslides – This software is on the computers in the classroom. You can download a trial version (or pay for it) if you like, but I don’t expect it.

Tasks (for next week)

Week 12 • Nov. 18


More on combining sound and image.


• Some resources for combining audio and sound:

Soundslides manual

Media Storm – Audio and Photojournalism – Nice guide to combining pictures and sound.


• Photoshop

Tasks (for next class)

• War, Sebastian Junger – Book 1 “Fear” and Book 2 Killing”

• Submit, prior to class on Dec. 2, a story idea for the third and final project – the audio/video slideshow on your blog (ie write a blog post about it).

• Spend some time on Junger’s site and write a blog post about how the book, documentary (which we will hopefully see on the last day of class) and site work together to tell the story of these men and this place.

Week 14 • Dec. 2


Multimedia publishing

Authorship in the digital age


War • Sebastian Junger

Restrep0/War/Sebastian Junger website

Restrepo Facebook page

The original Vanity Fair article


• soundslides video conversion

Tasks (for next class)

• Project specs project3specs

• Work on audio/image slideshow (Due on your blog along with the second piece on Dec. 16). Your blog, in effect, will be your portfolio that will be turned in for assessment.


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