Thursday, January 5, 2017

WSU Digital Photojournalism: Q & A for a new hybrid format course

   The Wayne State Digital Photojournalism course is going to be a bit different this semester.
   The course is typically a one-day a week, three-hour class. But beginning next week, the classroom time will be cut down to 1:15 minutes. It will be a hybrid course, otherwise known as a flipped class. This means most of the lectures will be available either on Blackboard or this course blog. Lectures will be prepared, recorded and posted, and students must view them by due dates, which will be announced on the assignment sheets. This will give them the time they need to soak up the information. Class periods will be used for using the software, taking quizzes and contributing to classmate critiques.
Digital PJ course schedule for winter 2017 semester
This does not mean they can skip class, even if they already have the software at home. This is the only time I can see their images, answer their questions, and critique their work. 
Every class is mandatory.
   Speaking of questions, here are a few popular questions students have asked over the years.

Q:  Why do I have to take this course? I’m a journalist/broadcaster/PR specialist, not a photojournalist.
A:  This course is necessary because at some point in your career you probably will be asked to take your own photos. It is a stark, real and unfortunate reality that staff photojournalism jobs are dwindling each year, leaving journalists to pick up the slack with point and shoot cameras and cell phones. 
   Despite their lack of photography experience, journalists are being tasked (and sometimes forced) to produce their own images. The only way to combat poor photo quality and legal/ethical issues is to offer courses like COM 2280, which is designed to prepare you for the inevitable.
   Also, even if you never take another photo in this field, this class will help you understand the photographers you will work with, for, or who will work for you.
Q: How hard is this course?
A:  Moderately difficult. This course is designed to give you basic photojournalism skills that will prepare you to work in 21st Century journalism newsrooms. It is a practical-skills driven course, meaning you will practice what you learn. 
   You will be exposed to camera operations, and many of the industry standard software used by most photojournalists, like Photo Mechanic, Photoshop and Adobe Premiere Pro CC. You'll even learn how to capture and edit audio using Audacity. So yes, expect a steep learning curve on a few assignments.
   The two most important tips I can give are to pay attention and keep up
   Please be fully engaged in every lesson, even if you’ve already been exposed to photography and some of the digital editing tools. After all, practice makes perfect (I never say perfect in this course) precision. Once you think you know it all, you stop learning and improving. 
Q: How can I get an A?
A: I understand that most students expect an A in every class they take. That’s human nature, but it’s not realistic to issue 20 As per class. If you don’t earn an A, don’t fret. Remember that you are learning the building blocks of a very technical profession. Practice and opportunity in the field are what truly matters, not an A in a single class.
   That said, here are several ways that will NOT earn you an A:  
          Here are several ways that will help you earn an A, because I don't just strictly look at the assignment assessments:
  •             Be willing to help your classmates
  •             Have no fear of asking questions when you don’t understand something
  •             Pay attention to the little details, like spelling, AP styles, blog design, etc., how to post your assignments
  •             Redo less-than-stellar assignments
  •             Have a good attitude
   Here are several ways that will prevent you from earning an A: 
  •        Telling me you need an A because you have a perfect GPA so far won't help your case. If you want an A, you have to earn it with great attendance; zero missed assignments; good class participation; and a willingness to climb out of your comfort zone.
  •      Miss more than two classes
  •      Miss one assignment or quiz
   Warning: It is possible to get a D or flunk this course. All you have to do is miss a lot of classes and homework assignments. I have issued too many Ds and Fs, and I don't like doing it. I don’t like dishing out Cs and below, either, but I won’t give credit where it’s not due. Not only is it not fair to those students who earned their As and Bs, but I'm all too aware how competitive it is out there in the real world, and it's my job to prepare you for that, which means being rigorous sometimes.

   If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to email me at

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