Search | Directories | Reference Tools
UW Home > Discover UW > Student Guide > Course Catalog 

Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Alexander M Stonehill
COM 495
Seattle Campus

Special Topics in Communication

Lecture, seminar, and/or team study. Topics vary.

Class description

Learn the skills you need to be a successful freelancer in a changing local media climate. Develop your own story ideas and pitch them to editors. Study audio, video and multimedia production techniques. Learn to fund your own reporting, maximize your resources and build your own brand as a freelancer. Students will produce multimedia content for the award-winning Next Door Media neighborhood blog network, one of the fastest growing and most successful new media ventures in the country. Focusing on a specific north Seattle neighborhood, they will identify a local story in need of deeper coverage, and learn the process of researching, reporting and producing an in-depth multimedia feature for publication on the blog. This class will also explore changes and emerging opportunities in the local media industry, discussing the increasing popularity of hyperlocal and online media outlets. Course will be taught jointly by the core staff of The Common Language Project, a new media nonprofit based at the UW, who have reported from over a dozen countries and been published by the Seattle Times, PBS, and NPR. Visit for more on The CLP and for info on the Next Door Media network.

Student learning goals

Analyze news content in order to identify freelance story opportunities

Research, develop and pitch story ideas

Conduct investigative reporting for multimedia

Build technical skills for reporting and production in audio, video, and multimedia formats

Understand emerging opportunities and new career paths in journalism

Build relationships with successful local journalists and media outlets

General method of instruction

The first segment of the course will be focused on learning to identify, research and develop multimedia story ideas as well as exploring and critiquing emerging online news sources.

During the second two phases of the course, students will report and produce investigative multimedia feature stories for award-winning neighborhood blog network Next Door Media. This part of the course will require significant work in the field with guidance from instructors, and may include the chance to shadow a neighborhood blog editor in their daily coverage of a north Seattle neighborhood.

Brief lectures during the third phase of the course will cover strategies for funding and marketing your reporting, building your brand, developing your voice as a freelancer, and using social networking tools to reach and interact with your audience.

Recommended preparation

Because field reporting will be a major element of the class, willingness to travel off-campus several times for reporting is required. Please come to the first class having spent some time on Next Door Media blogs, with preliminary ideas of stories covered there that you'd like to report on in greater depth. Also, come with a sense of the medium you'd most like to work in this quarter (writing, audio, video or multimedia).

Class assignments and grading

Daily assignments will include brief response papers, blog posts, submission of story notes and tape logs, and media critiques. Each student is also responsible for producing a multimedia feature story.

Half of your grade is based on successful completion of daily assignments, and half of your grade will be based on your final project.

The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Alexander M Stonehill
Date: 04/26/2010