Laney College

Class Outline and Syllabus

Class Outline and Syllabus

You can read the Journalism 65 class outline and course syllabus below or download a copy here: Syllabus Social Media for Journalists F14



Laney College   Fall 2014  Lec 42908   3 Units

Instructors: Scott Strain/Jeffrey Heyman

Phone: 510-464-3459/510-466-7369

Email: sastrain@peralta.edu/jheyman@peralta.edu

Wednesday 1:00PM – 3:50PM

Laney College, Room F-170D Office hours: TBA

Class Website: http://laney.edu/jeffrey-heyman/



Analysis and use of current and emerging social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, Reddit and other platforms for journalists (and others).  0602.00



At the conclusion of this course, students will demonstrate that they can:

  • Identify major social media platforms and the role each play;
  • Devise strategies for producing relevant content for specifically determined audiences;
  • How social media can be used as a journalistic tool, how it directly affects news gathering and distribution;
  • Separate fact from opinion and develop critical thinking skills; and
  • Use social media to build networks and enhance job prospects.




During the course, students will:

  • Develop a blog/stream and contribute posts as assigned;
  • Become regular readers and commenters on blogs/streams as assigned;
  • Participate in class and social media discussions and produce material as assigned; and
  • Develop a Twitter feed and LinkedIn profile




  • Attendance/participation                50%
  • Assignments                                                25%
  • Final                                                   25%




  • All assignments must be filed electronically (as explained in class) and are due by 9:00 p.m., the day before class.
  • Students must also be prepared to present their assignments in class.
  • Written assignments, such as essays, critiques and reviews, are 250 words, unless otherwise noted.


COURSE OUTLINE: 17 Weeks (Subject to change)


Week 1:  Introductions, objectives, social media survey. (Assignment 1: Choose a social media site to showcase next week, demonstrating what you like or dislike about it.)


Week 2: Social media history and basics, the origins and the tools: Hashtags, bit.ly, G-mail, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Reddit, LinkedIn, Podcasts, YouTube, MySpace (Assignment 2: Create a unique Twitter feed and set up g-mail account for class use, be prepared to demonstrate your sites in class next week).


Week 3: Blogging: What is it and is it different from other social media or Web sites? News aggregators and what are fact and what is opinion and why it matters. (Assignment 3: Pick an issue or topic on a blog to follow and tweet about it three (3) times to #journalism65.  Include hashtags about the subject, twitter handles (“@”) and the Website URLs (shortened in bit.ly) in your posts.)


Week 4: Guest Lecture on the changing role of a reporter: It’s not just the stand up that counts any more. (Assignment 4: Detail in three paragraphs what is involved in being a TV/print reporter and how you would use social media as a reporter, post for discussion in class next week.)


Week 5: Guest Lecture: Local, Micro-reporting and the use of social media, digital arts in an urban setting. (Assignment 5: Identify a local story and detail the number of social media platforms on which it appears, post for discussion in class next week.)


Week 6: User agreements, Facebook and privacy: TBA


Week 7:  News organizations: How they transformed from “old media” to “new media.” Cases studies: PBS NewsHour, The New York Times, National Public Radio, et al. (Assignment 7: Read PBS NewsHour stories and view videos on Class Links and outline how it transformed, successfully or not, and how it uses social media, post for discussion in class next week.)


Week 8: Online-only news organizations: How they changed the journalistic environment. Cases studies: Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, California Watch, Oakland Local, et al. (Assignment 8: Choose an online news organization and critique its coverage of a specific news topic and the way it uses social media, post for discussion in class next week.)


Week 9: Copyright and other legal issues facing social media users. Ethics, FOIA, privacy laws and other factors impacting social media. Discussion of the role of social media in the Boston bombing case. (Assignment 9: Read New York Times Magazine article on Boston bombing and write a 250-word review of the article, post for discussion in class next week.)


Week 10: Guest Lecture: Investigative reporting and the use of social media. Review the Center for Investigative Reporting’s website and social media presence.  (Assignment 10: Review and critique the CIR Web page, specifically the coverage of and the backlash to the Richard Aoki story and list as many online cites as you can find, post for discussion in class next week. The student with the most verified cites gets extra credit.)


Week 11: Guest Lecture: Covering international stories via social media verses covering international stories in mainstream media. Review the background of Samantha Power, US Ambassador to the United Nations, who started as a freelance report in former Yugoslavia, and other foreign correspondents.) (Assignment 11: Review coverage of the Arab Spring, or another international event, and detail how social media was used in communicating the event and coverage of it, post for discussion in class next week.)


Week 12: Using social media within a news organization and developing content. In class assignment: Write a 350-word news story and develop a social media plan to disseminate the story as widely as possible. (Assignment 12: Develop a social media plan to disseminate a story, then write a one paragraph word story on a topic of your choice. Execute your plan using your Twitter feed, LinkedIn and other social media, as outlined in class.)


Week 13: The use of YouTube in Social Media and journalism. In class work on short-form video production for social media using techniques to make and post a video to accompany a social media post. In class preparation of script and use of video and audio production techniques (Assignment 13: Produce a short video on a topic of interest, post for discussion in class next week.)


Week 14: Guest Lecture on audio streaming, Internet radio and related social media networks. (Assignment 14: Select an Internet radio stream that you found through social media, write an essay on how you found it, why you selected it and how it is promoted using social media, post for discussion in class next week.)


Week 15: Guest Lecture on the use of social media in photojournalism, trends and pitfalls.

(Assignment 15: Choose an object or subject to photograph that illustrates a topic of interest to you and use social media and your Twitter feed to gain attention to your photograph, post for discussion in class next week.)


Week 16: LinkedIn: LinkedIn: How to develop a profile and form a professional network to assist your work as a journalist. (Assignment 16: Develop your LinkedIn profile, connect with other students in the class and be prepared to present your profile in class next week.) Last Class before finals: Course review, overview, assessment of what was learned and how it can be used. Review of assignments and grades to date and how the final exam will be held.


Week 17: Final exam.