COM 329: Digital Storytelling


MWF 12-12:50 pm | LAU 111, LAU 113 & other places

Professor: Dr. Brian Carroll
Office: LAU 100
Office hours:
MWF: 1-4pm; T: 11-noon | by appointment | walk-ins are welcome
on the phone: 706.368.6944
via email: bc at
on the web:
on the blogs: Wandering Rocks
on twitter:

Looking for a job? The Berry COM Job Bank

Syllabus | Worlds Apart Google doc | Umbrella story Google doc


Topics | Schedule | Deadlines

Week 1: Jan. 12

Course oview. Brainstorm group reporting project. Get textbook ASAP!

Friday: Where are we as a field? Jay Rosen speaks | Don't listen to Jay Rosen | Deciding a story theme/topic

Week 2: Jan. 19

TBA | No class Monday (MLK, Jr. Day) |

Wednesday: Great journalism: "The Case for Reparations" from The Atlantic | The end of the newspaper: The Last Call by Clay Shirky | Discussing story ideas (

Friday: WEDM, chapters 1 & 2 | Print v. Digital | Discussing story ideas, cont'd

Resources: from Advameg | Tax Policy Center (thank you, Ryder!) | Pew data - national (thank you, Grace!) | Times story on middle class, with interactive graphics/databases

Week 3: Jan. 26

Reading for Monday: Nicholas Kristof on race in America, a five-part series. Here's the launch page.

DUE Monday: First writing assignment, from Ch. 1 WEDM (typed up, double-spaced, printed out)

Wednesday: WEDM, chapter 3, meet in the lab

Friday: Sensitizing to race (Treat me the same, but respect my difference). Story assignments.

For funsies: Immersive, 3D "news" (NYT) | Nicholas Kristof yesterday

Week 4: Feb. 2

Monday: Going Deep in reporting | What do you stand for? What do we stand for? DEADLINE: Specific story ideas for our project -- in our Google doc.

Wednesday: Special guest, Billy Moore (come up with three questions to ask Billy, from your project story ideas); DEADLINE: Revisions of your op-ed pieces.

READ: Redlining in America | Gaps in Affordable Care Act insurance coverage for the poor | Obama's budget proposal and the low and middle classes

Friday: Finish "Going Deep" | Story assignments | Source identification

Week 5: Feb. 9

Friday: Elements of Journalism, chapters 1-3 (maybe Billy Moore guesting; I don't know)

Wednesday: Finding and communicating voice | Breaking down the two Monday night events | story assignments/source sharing

Friday: Work session in the lab; HIT the Googledoc | DEADLINE: op-ed second revisions

Week 6: Feb. 16

Monday: Meet in the Sandbox over in the library -- planning our work and determining our media

Wednesday: Layering our stories; read WEDM, chapter 4 (quiz possible) | In-class scrimmage

Friday: The medium IS the message. Read: A Mile Wide, an Inch Deep (Ev Williams) | On Smarm (Gawker) | Message Machine (NYTimes) | The Pressure to be the News Leader Tarnishes a Big Brand (NYTimes)

VIEW: The Nightly Show on black fatherhood in America

Week 7: Feb. 23

Monday: In the lab, working on our stories & content

Wednesday: Social mediating: Endless Argument (Hazlitt) | Court of Public Opinion (The New Inquiry) | Twitter & journalism (Slate) | Bearing Witness (NYTimes)

NO CLASS on Friday: BC at a conference on media law

Week 8: March 2

NO CLASS on Monday: BC in Vermont

Wednesday: DEADLINE-- first drafts of stories (all stories); layering of op-ed on blog should be finished and ready for all to see (Meet in the LAB) | Appalachian State & race (student journalism)

Friday: Revisions in the lab, looking at your op-ed layering, finishing our budget update meeting

How not to do a survey | Ferguson police guilty of racism

Week 9: March 16

Monday: Authentic Voice, part II; looking at your layered blog posts that were due March 4

Wednesday: Read ch. 7 of WEDM, Writing for Blogs (reading quiz definite); What is a good story?

Friday: Collaborating in the Mac lab; bring work you'd like help with.

Week 10: March 23

Monday: No class, BC in Vermont (hopefully); WORK ON YOUR STORIES

Wednesday: Elements of Journalism, chapters 4-6 (the discipline of verification), reading quiz probable; updates on story projects

Friday: Chapter 8 of WEDM (Saving the Whale), reading quiz definite | Hurray for long-form journalism (Nieman Labs)

Week 11: March 30

Monday: Working together in the lab, so bring work you need help with -- any medium, at any stage.

Wednesday: Paul O'Mara visits -- help with sources. Setting deadlines. Adding a NWGa Housing Authority story to our mix

No class Friday: Good Friday

Week 12: April 6

Monday: Read "Web Words That Lure Readers" (NYT) | SEO and the end of the clever headline | Scan (don't have to read word for word) a 12,000-word article on A Rod with no quotes | Ch. 8 of WEDM (that we didn't get to 10 days ago)

Wednesday: Elements of Journalism 7-9 | Boston Marathon case study (WEDM Ch. 8) | Overcoming "confirmation bias" (H1N1 virus scare case study)

Friday deadlines: Let's meet in the lab and see where we are; updates and groupthink

Week 13: April 13

Monday: Billy Moore in the house

Wednesday: Budget meeting | Elements of Journalism 10 & 11

Friday: Lab work/production/post-production

Week 14: April 20

Monday: Lab work/figuring out where we are/hooking it all together

Wednesday: Maybe WEDM Chapter 9: Social Media; Wednesday: Native content: Journalism, Independent or Not | Gigaom's Sponsored Content | The Atlantic's Scientology Problem | Inside the Buzz-Fueled Media Startups Battling for Your Attention (Wired)

No class Friday

Week 15: April 27 Last production day
  Final exam period, if needed: 8-10am, Tuesday, May 5

Course Description

Introduction to new media and strategies for effective communication through them. Students will analyze the technical and rhetorical possibilities of online environments, including interactivity, hyperlinking, spatial orientation and non-linear storytelling. PR-COM 301.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, my goal is for students to:

Stuff you need to know

Instructor: Dr. Brian Carroll, Laughlin 100
Office phone: 706.368.6944 (anytime)
E-mail: OR
Home page:

What you will need (required)

• The Elements of Journalism, Kovach & Rosenstiel (Three Rivers Press)
• Writing & Editing for Digital Media, Carroll (Routledge, 2014)

What you may want (recommended, not required)

• Lauren Kessler and Duncan McDonald, When Words Collide: A Journalist’s Guide to Grammar and Style (Norton)
• Steve Krug, Don’t Make Me Think (New Riders)
• Andrea Lunsford, The Everyday Writer (Bedford/St. Martin’s)
• Patrick Lynch and Sarah Horton, Web Style Guide 3 (Yale University Press)
• Robin Williams and John Tollett, The Non-Designers Web Book (Peachpit Press)

Class format

This is a seminar course, so much is expected of students. Discussion and participation are key components. Hands-on application also is an emphasis. We will learn how to create content specifically for presentation in digital environments and to publish that content to the web and for mobile.


• Attendance: Attendance is a part of your grade. Be here every day on time, just as you would for a job, surgery or a haircut. Everyone gets one unexcused absence >> no questions asked. Stuff happens. After that, unexcused absences will result in deductions from the "professionalism and participation" portion of your grade -- one point for each unexcused absence or late arrival. What is excused is at the instructor's discretion, so you are best served by discussing situations and extraordinary circumstances prior to class whenever possible.
• Distractions: This instructor is easily distracted. Ringing or vibrating cell phones, therefore, will be lobbed out of the classroom window and run over with a truck. Chatter during lecture will result in "professionalism and participation" point deductions, as will texting or other unauthorized device use during lecture or topic presentations, particularly after warnings have been issued. If you have to arrive late or leave early, clear it with the instructor beforehand whenever possible. Basic civility is what is expected. If you are at all unclear as to what “basic civility” implies, the professor would be more than happy to elaborate.
• Focus: During class and lab sessions, no device use. These activities prevent you from getting the information you need and it is distracting to your classmates and to me.
• Preparation: Complete the assignments and be ready to tackle the activities of the day. Be ready to discuss and debate ideas, approaches and opinions.

How you will be graded

Collaborative class storytelling project 65%
Blog posts, daily activities 15%
Discussion 10%
Professionalism and participation 10%

Viking Honor Code

It is not just policy. It is foundational to the academic environment we enjoy and in which scholarship thrives. It is in force in this classroom and during all lab sessions. For the complete Viking Code, please consult the student handbook. In short, each student is “expected to recognize constituted authority, to abide by the ordinary rules of good conduct, to be truthful, to respect the rights of others.” The College’s mission, in part, commits to a community of integrity and justice. During an era when ethics are sometimes suspect, there seems no higher goal toward which students ought to strive than that of personal honor.


There are no exams in this course, although students may be quizzed from time to time. These will be no pop quizzes; students will be forewarned. Deadline pressure is an important dimension to the rigor of the course. Meet the deadline or take a penalty.

Assignment rules

While working in class, these parameters apply:

• In-class/in-lab assignments: You may use any and all reliable references, including stylebooks, dictionaries and online sources. Be careful with information found on the Web. When in doubt, cross-check and verify.
• Collaboration: I support collaboration, but any graded work must be the student’s own. In some cases, I will encourage feedback sought from one another. For other assignments, I may require solitary work. Generally, students should operate under the assumption that they are accountable for their own work. When in doubt, ask.


• When an in-class/in-lab assignment is due, it is due. This reflects the reality of many mass communication professions and work environments. Late in-class assignments will not be accepted unless permission for extension had been granted prior to deadline. Turn in whatever has been done by deadline.
• If we have out-of-class assignments, they will be accepted for up to one week after deadline, but late assignments will be penalized. Remember, penalized work is not necessarily the same as 0 (zero) points. Complete out-of-class assignments and learn from them, even if they are turned in late. Partial credit can be earned. After an assignment is more than a week late, however, that work is not eligible for points.
• Please note: If a student misses a class when an assignment is due and that student has a legitimate excuse, I will accept the late assignment without penalty at my discretion. I define what constitutes a legitimate excuse and reserve the right not to grant full credit for assignments turned in under these circumstances. The same holds true for exams.

Students with special needs

If you have special needs of any kind, including learning disabilities, please let me know. Come discuss it with me. I want to make sure on the front end that we prevent any problems associated with the course. From the Academic Support Center: “Students with disabilities who believe that they may need accommodation in this course are encouraged to contact the Academic Support Center in Memorial Library as soon as possible to ensure that such accommodations are implemented in a timely fashion.”

Finally, I believe we are here for a good time, not a long time, so let’s have some fun.

questions or comments? bc at
back to top


This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I believe this constitutes a "fair use" of such material under Title 17, U.S.C. § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes that go beyond "fair use," you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.