Syllabus

MAS 700 – Future of News and Participatory Media
Wednesdays, 1-4:00pm, E15-344 (Media Lab, 75 Amherst/20 Ames St., Cambridge, MA)

Journalism is at a crossroads. Existing business models are failing. Bloggers, Twitter users, bots, and advertisers are producing more news than ever before. Front-page editors used to curate a shared media experience; now we read the news our friends read, personalize our feeds into extreme niches, and try to crowdsource the identities of criminal suspects. A revolution in tools and techniques is changing how amateurs and professionals (and algorithms) report and share news. And yet, the public need for high-quality information about current events remains unchanged.

This class considers the news as a design and engineering challenge, including questions like:

+ Who/what delivers the news of the future?
+ How can we engineer tools for journalists to make sense of Big Data, particularly in moments of crisis with rapidly unfolding events?
+ Can we protect the anonymity of sources and security of data in investigative reporting?
+ What novel forms of cross-platform storytelling can be developed to give context to an ongoing story or engage the public in issues that matter?
+ Can you write an algorithm to detect a rumor?
+ Could someone please solve the problem of comments?

We’ll explore the systems journalists have used to report and share the news, but we’ll focus on developing our own tools and methods to address these challenges. Students will work independently or collaboratively to produce final projects. They have the option to develop their final projects in partnership with guests from the newsrooms at The Boston Globe and WBUR.

The first section of the class features weekly assignments. Completing each assignment requires authoring a news story. That story can be textual, graphical, audio, video, interactive, or any combination of these methods. At least one story must be long-form text (1000 or more words); at least one story must use a medium other than text. Creating new tools or methods to solve these weekly reporting challenges is encouraged, but not mandatory. It is mandatory for the final assignment: based on the previous week’s assignments, or based on an interesting unsolved reporting problem, you will be designing and testing a novel reporting tool or technique. You must report a story using this tool/technique, and at least one classmate must report using your tool as well (reciprocity is expected and encouraged).

Classes are structured as follows:
- 60 minutes of discussion, focused on the assigned reading
- 10 minute break
- 70 minutes discussion/critique of previous week’s assignment
- 10 minute discussion of upcoming assignment

Grades are calculated as follows:
- 25% class participation
- 50% performance on weekly assignments
- 25% final project

Weekly assignments are designed to be completed within the week or fortnight they were assigned, and posted online by midnight prior to the day of class. Extensions will be granted only in the case of illness, unavoidable travel and alien abduction (pics or it didn’t happen). Text-based assignments should be between 800–1500 words. At least one assignment must be completed in a primarily non-text format. This could include an audio or audiovisual story (aim for 5 minute pieces), a photo essay, a simulation or game. At least one assignment must be completed using text or hypertext as the primary medium. Final projects must be presented to the whole class, explaining the novelty and utility of the tools or techniques, along with the stories reported using the tools. You are strongly encouraged, though not required, to share your reporting on a personal blog, class blog or through any number of syndication and sharing methods. Similarly, commenting on other students’ blog posts is strongly encouraged and will be considered as part of class participation.


February 5: Meet and greet, Civic Media demo
Discussion of the structure of the class, conversation about the shifts in the news environment in a digital age

Assignment, due February 12: Media Diary
Maintain a media diary, tracking all media you encounter in the course of a week, where it originated, whether it was news or entertainment media. Present your diary, preferably in a way that offers summary and analysis of patterns you’ve discovered from keeping it.
Prior year examples: Adrienne’s Media Diary, Erhardt’s Media Diary, Catherine’s Media Diary, Jean’s Media Diary

Reading for February 12:


February 12: The Newsroom and Everything After
How did we end up with the news media we currently rely on? We’ll work together to identify strengths and weaknesses in existing and evolving forms of news production. We will host distinguished guests from the newsrooms at the Boston Globe & WBUR. Our guests will participate in the conversation and then pitch us specific real-world news challenges as possible final projects for the students.

Assignment, due February 19: Four Hour Challenge
Pick a story, preferably a local event, and produce a story, start to finish, within four contiguous hours. That includes the event: a lecture starting at 7pm equals a story filed by 11pm at the latest. Major props for doing this assignment in a non-text based medium.
Prior year examples: Sports match recap, Breaking news timeline, Event experience video

Reading for February 19:


February 19: Accountability journalism
What do we need to know to be effective civic actors? What’s the role of the news in exposing wrongdoing? In enabling civic participation?

Assignment, due February 26: Classmate Profile / Personal Data
You will be randomly assigned another student in the class and someone else will be assigned to you. Your job is to thoroughly research your subject online and discover as much information as possible about them on the Internet to create a detailed profile. Then you may choose to use a 30-minute interview with your subject as fact-checking. Your research and interview will be the basis for a profile of the subject. We recommend that you do not post these profiles to the class blog but rather share them in advance of the class via email.
Prior year examples: Erhardt Interviews Julia

Reading for February 26:


February 26: Facts and Fact-checking, Truth and Truthiness
One of the major functions of news media is verification—examining claims made by corporations, organizations and government officials to check their veracity. This function is complicated by the emergence of PR practices designed to disguise corporate speech, and a tendency of political rhetoric to stray beyond truth… and further complicated by human tendencies to remember untrue information when it confirms our biases. How should we verify information in this sort of environment?

Assignment, due March 5: Fact-checking
Take a look at LazyTruth by Matt Stempeck. How can we do fact-checking that is more likely to meet its mark and make a difference in persuading people that the facts are, indeed, true? Using that question as a starting point, choose a text that makes truth claims—a political speech, a position paper from an advocacy group, a corporate press release—and write a story that evaluates truth claims contained within and thinks carefully about how to leverage the facts to convince the readers of their veracity. Examples: Alistair on Climate ChangeMC annotates the Westboro Baptist Church

Reading for March 5:


March 5: Reporting via Citizen Media
Important news takes place in locales where there are few professional journalists on the ground. Increasingly, we get breaking news reports from people directly affected by events. How do we verify accounts that come from citizen sources? How to we find solutions to questions of credibility, priority and context when reporting on events we can’t witness in person? What are the strengths and limits to this model of reporting?

Assignment, due March 12: Reporting as Curation
Tell a story you can’t report on in person by curating online sources: twitter feeds, blog posts, Flickr photos, YouTube videos. The bulk of the story should be “actualities”—the words of people affected by the situation, not your analysis.
Prior year examples: In Egypt, How Free is Free?Red Sox Opening Day with Vine, Mass Transport Bill Passes House; Progressives and Michigan Fans Upset

Required reading for March 12:

Optional reading for March 12:


March 12: The Explainer
Some of the most important and influential news reporting isn’t a short update on a breaking event; it’s long-form reporting designed to explain and contextualize a story, allowing readers to understand the importance of an issue they might have otherwise neglected or ignored. What aspects of verification, contextualization and prioritization come into creating long-form news narratives, and how might new tools help us with this process?

Assignment, due March 19: Explainer
Pick a brief article from a newspaper, blog or other source that serves as an update in the arc of a longer story (Airstrikes continue in Pakistan; Fed raises interest rates). Write a companion story, create an infographic, or choose another form that provides essential background information that makes the previous story understandable to a very broad audience (i.e., non-expert, international). Remember, hypertext is your friend.
Prior year examples: Burma or Myanmar?, North Korea Missile Test FAQ

Reading for March 19:

Optional Reading for March 19:


March 19: News and Data Visualization
Catherine and Erhardt will talk about one of the promises of the era of big data—the possibility of breaking important stories through the careful analysis of data. While there’s good evidence that untold stories lurk within data sets, telling a story with data is far more complicated than just analyzing and visualizing—it requires context and human stories as well.

Assignment, due April 2: Data Story
Use publicly available data to report a story. This could include analysis of a city budget, lobbying information, or building permit data. Collecting your own data set via crowd sourcing is perfectly valid, but we’ll be brainstorming promising data sets before taking on the assignment. The full assignment will be due on April 2; your chosen dataset and proposal for how to use it will be due March 26 as a post on the blog, where we’ll provide feedback.
Prior year examples: Trayvon Martin Media Coverage, Mapping the News, Romanian Memes, Boston Restaurant Suspensions, Congressional Partisanship

Reading for April 2:


March 26: No Class
MIT Spring Break


April 2: Media and Civic Participation
Fox News’s (disingenuous) slogan, “We report, you decide” invokes a basic tenet of American journalism – the media’s role is to report news, not tell readers or viewers how they should interpret or react to them. One shift in our media landscape is an attempt to link news and action, connecting readers to organizations they might support or actions they might take in reaction to a story. This is a controversial development, leading some to criticize “advocacy journalism” and others to hope that linking news to action may preserve or expand the audience for investigative news.

Assignment, due April 9: Working from a news story that reports on a contemporary issue (domestic or international), create a companion piece that offers a reader actions they might take after reading the previous story.

Experience for April 9:
Choose at least five ways to experience the news from this document and come ready to discuss your experiences next week.

Reading for April 9:


April 9: News as Experience
We have more formats for experiencing the news than ever before, from television, radio, and newspapers to search engines, mobile apps, tweets, blogs, feeds, videos, social media shares, and the list keeps growing. At the same time, journalism is evolving to reach people in these new media through mechanisms like clickbait, listicles, push notifications, and personalization. What affordances do different formats offer? How do our cognitive experiences of the news (retention, emotional engagement, empowerment) vary with the format? How does each form address the reader/listener/viewer and what is the model of engagement? What values are embedded in different news experiences?

Assignment, due April 16: Final Project Proposal
Work on your proposal for a final project—must be in the form of both a blog post and a three minute presentation delivered in class.

Reading for April 16:

  • Investigate Encyclo, especially the sections on tech companies
  • A simple and provocative app: Timehop

April 16: Final Project Proposal Presentations
Each Final Project team will deliver a 3 minute presentation and receive feedback from the rest of the class.

Assignment, due April 30: Final Project
Continue work on the final project; be ready to talk about how a non-team member would use your tool or process.

Reading for April 30:
none


April 23: No Class
Media Lab Member Week


April 30: Final Project User Story Working Session
Catherine and Erhardt will offer a crash course in user-centered design, specifically on developing user stories and workshops to help Final Project teams with design, presentation, and the requirement that a non-team member report a story using your tool or process. We will workshop each other’s final projects.

Assignment, due May 7: Final Project
Continue work on the final project.

Reading for May 7:


May 7: Who Pays?
Business models to support long-form, investigative and international reporting are in flux. Newspapers no longer have monopoly over local advertising and many are shrinking their staff and their ambitions. While amateur forms of media production are producing strong results, there’s reasons to worry about the survival of expensive-to-produce types of news. Who pays for the news we need to function as informed and engaged citizens?

Assignment, due May 13: Final Project
Continue work on the final project.

Reading for May 13:
none


May 14: Presenting the Final Projects
With snacks, mandatory revelry and merriment
If possible, please plan to join us from 1pm into the early evening—we will spend 2.5–3 hours presenting work and will adjourn to one of Cambridge’s many bars to continue the conversation over drinks.

16 thoughts on “Syllabus

  1. Pingback: Cinco técnicas para mejorar el periodismo explicativo « Español « Languages/idiomas « LACVOX

  2. Pingback: How Not to Use Social Media Towards Civic Ends

  3. Pingback: News and Participatory Media, 2013 | News and Participatory Media

  4. Pingback: What I’m Working On

  5. I have been exploring for a bit for any high-quality articles or weblog posts in this sort
    of space . Exploring in Yahoo I eventually stumbled upon this site.
    Studying this information So i’m glad to express that I’ve a very
    good uncanny feeling I came upon just what I needed.

    I most indisputably will make certain to do not put out of your mind this site and give it a look regularly.

    my blog top eleven cheat download Without survey

  6. Hi! I’m at work surfing around yoir blog from my new iphone 3gs!

    Just wanted to say I lovee reading your blog and look forward to all your posts!
    Keep up the superb work!

    Here is my web page – homepage (Thelma)

  7. You must also ensure that your particular CCTV cameras are placed in this type of way that
    they’ll capture the entire from the property.

    Gadget shops especially those who handle security cameras sell this sort of car DVR.
    Get cctv dvr The brighter side of school life was
    that the CCTV was also viewed being an ideal resource tool
    to recognize and address students with behavioral problems.

    DVRs typically utilize a computer operating system like Windows or Linux together with video management
    System (VMS) software. It all depends on the hard disk capacity
    that’s built in to the DVR.

    Academic papers are very important to students as achieving good grades determined by the marking of such papers
    by instructors plays a part in their final grades. Hilal Technology provides many SEO and web page design services.
    Cctv dvr viewer lite been (bestrepack.net) Same everything is applicable if you need to submit the letter for the prospective employer.
    When students need something written on short notice, and
    need a vendor they can trust, such assignments often are passed on on the
    custom writing services.

  8. We have been into government jobs, recruitings across indian.
    India has tons of chances in Government Occupation Sector.
    An incredible number of vacancies are open in govt field every year.

    Security and strength is the main specialty of Sarkari Naukri.
    Being one of the greatest nation regarding people, unemployment is
    a massive challenge in discussing the country’s financial equilibrium.
    Consequently equally central and state governments are taking bold initiatives
    to boost entrepreneurship attitude among kids. A pupil’s livelihood establishes his future.
    This has much relevance whether in indian or anywhere around world.

  9. One thing that goes in complete favor of corporate apartments is that there are no hidden charges.
    The serviced apartments are generally positioned in those
    areas that are nearby to the transport facilities.

    Apart from the above described benefits, short stay apartments in Sydney provide
    several other facilities to every guest. They also feel
    that they can move more freely as if they are in their own homes while
    enjoying some of the things that only hotels usually offer.

  10. 乃木坂46がいよいよAKB48を越える 秋元康が描いた逆転劇とは
    まあ乃木坂は劇場ないし兼任でもさほどって感じなんかなぁ
     「AKB48はおかしい」「あれだけお金をつぎ込んで宣伝すれば人気が出て当然」

    You could get an increased quantity of visitors on the most relevant content.

    Emotional juxtaposition would place something emotional
    in a impassive setting or vice-versa – for instance, a hot dog vendor selling in the aisles at the funeral.
    tapzilla.com Followed from this,
    mention the date which the letter is written. This is one thing though that ought to be handled properly being the most
    important element in an affair or you’ll hold it in a half empty
    venue.

  11. With somewhat bit of research you will be able
    to compare the present laptop with RS232 serial port offers and also to choose normally the one that suits your requirements and
    your allowance most. Often, counselors can be found who
    can help your son or daughter adjust to being away at college and still provide suggestions to help alleviate the loneliness.
    Best laptops for college reviews Sony laptop in Kolkata gives
    a wide array of Laptops however the ones which have achieved immense and instant
    popularity would be the ones from your Viao series.

    Latest Laptop and wireless technologies are new feathers added to the hat of
    private computer technologies. Laptops, by nature, are portable, but that
    will not mean you are going to need to carry it around
    every day.

    In this in particular it really is very important to write
    down concisely and clearly. Perhaps the key way to earn residual income using your writing is through Google Adsense.
    ignored discounts on laptops for college students
    To read the whole chapter of Anasazi Intrigue: The Adventures of John and Julia Evans, visit my website at Make Believe:
    Good luck with writing your mystery novel. Run using your
    inspiration, in lieu of your more cynical self.

  12. This shows that if you reside inside town center
    area with many different large components
    preventing your perspective with the sky then you could possibly not be capable
    of obtain satellite television. There are endless possibilities for you and you do have a wide selection of symbols, insignia and military blazer badges that
    can match up any sort of uniform that you just have. Insignia tv lightning We hope this guide can help you
    purchase the right TV so you may enjoy your
    viewing experience.

    How often have you seen a hat or a jacket with an emblem or
    insignia coming from a military branch or a specialized unit.
    This adapter may allow you for connecting the Wii together with other devices,
    even if there exists only a bouquet of AV jacks on the LCD TV.

    There a wide range of other kinds of business letters with each possessing its own significance and
    relevance inside the association held between diverse parties.
    Article writing is a very effective marketing approach in some recoverable format.
    Insignia tv remote codes for cox members (http://www.i-am-bored.com/)
    Whenever writing the news release, this must contain the subsequent:.
    The camera work that captures a certain place can offer you perfect backdrop for the next novel.

  13. It could be put in all kinds of containers and shakers which is the most cost-effective strategy to
    go on the supplementary protein regime. The sources
    of protein in these substances are soy, whey, egg albumin, and casein. Protein powder types So if you would like build perfect abdominals, you definitely require
    best protein powder.

    You should eat protein-rich foods at all, but sometimes for breakfast, lunch after the workout and food before bedtime.
    I utilize a certain protein everyday to increase my results with my Ultimate Six Pack Abdominals Program,
    because it does three things personally, personally.

    After you have played the game, you is going to be ready to create an unbiased review based on your gameplay
    experience. Remember that uncorrected writing may prove being very detrimental in your
    final GMAT essay scores. many protein powder at
    target And as has happened before, letters such as this usually cause hurt feelings and misunderstandings
    between couples. Noting these important keywords can assist you to to pull the speech together.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>