I have to say that while online journalism was challenging, it has to be one of the most most valuable classes I took all semester. If you never built your own website and you want to, this is the class for you. The pace was fair and everything from learning how to use Motion and Adobe Illustrator to coding was frustrating but in the end so addicting you won’t stop trying to fix all the little details.
I found it so valuable to have students in the class critique your work, that helps you improve what you already have and definitely ask for coding help and feedback from your professor. I also found it valuable to check out multimedia/project websites to see if you can get ideas for your stories.
Here are some programs we worked with if you want to get a head start learning:
- Adobe Illustrator & Photoshop
(Yea, you will know what this all means by the end of the semester)
I would advise future students to do this alongside your final project because you’re dedicating a lot of your time to your story and learning the skills as you build your infographic or website for that story. Spend some time thinking about the title of your project so that you can get the right domain name early on, I would recommend running the title through your professor or project adviser. Nothing too long and complicated and make sure it’s spelled correctly.
If you have an idea for a story, it’ll be good to check out related websites on your topic to see how they presented it, but try to make yours stand out and own it. Trust me, you will be proud of your work in the end and you’ll be surprised how much you end up knowing by the end of the semester.
On the first day of Jrn 381 I thought to myself, “what have I gotten into.” Before this class I had miniscule experience with code, and it was not something I saw myself picking up right away or enjoying doing. Well, I was right about one thing, it took me a while to grasp, but I actually enjoyed coding. I’m not crazy, I swear! What I enjoyed was figuring out how to make my website work and how to get it to look the way I wanted. There is no greater feeling than finally realizing what you’ve been doing wrong for the past hour and seeing your website work the way you imagined. Continue reading
This class was very challenging for me, but I am very happy I took it. For other graduate students I would recommend taking it either before your master’s project or during it, particularly if you are doing a broadcast piece. Learning illustrator and motion were vital to my final project. Having a place to present your work is also beneficial.
Advice I would give to fellow classmates is to start early. Know within the first month of the class what aspects you want to include in your website- videos, infographics and words, because it will help you when designing the website. Your one print or video piece and an infographic are not going to cut it. Knowing going in that you are going to have to create more than is actually required to make a good website.
I would like anyone going into JRN 381/581 to know that you will be thrown into the deep end. No, that’s an understatement. You will be thrown into the deep end of a pool that’s on fire and populated by sharks.
Be ready for it. You’ll have all semester to build your website. Use that time wisely.
It’s not the making the website part that is particularly difficult. It’s learning how to read and manipulate the code that brings your site to life. You need to put in some solid hours just figuring out how to navigate and read this stuff.
A screenshot from my portfolio website.
Instead of building a website for my capstone project, I set out on building a portfolio site.
You can find it here: http://matt-gerardi.com/.
The biggest difference between this version and what was my draft is obviously the home page. Instead of going with a blog-style page with lots of posts, I opted for a simple bio page.
I posted most of my stuff on the website. If anyone has time, please share your opinions. Here’s the link, annluk.com.
My project is focused around electronic music in America, so I wanted the logo that clearly symbolized America. I was originally thinking overlaying a pair of headphones or speakers with an American flag, but thought it would misrepresent the story as being patriotic. As for the headphones, I was trying to think of electronic music-specific images, but most things like knobs, sliders or other hardware wouldn’t be very distinguishable in a silhouette. Headphones aren’t necessarily electronic music specific, but the silhouette is very clear and the blocky form gives off a more modern and digital feel.
This assignment was challenging because I found a black and white photo and tried to stick with the simplicity of the colors. I used the font Lucida Sans Typewriter because I thought it suited the quote for the album title. Fresno High School sounded like a young band from California, so I imagined them typing stories in a low-budget way.
Since Fresno High School is in California, I tried to add some bright colors for a warmer feel. I thought the angles might keep a persons eye moving throughout the cover. Also, I tried made Fresno High School in white over the orange shape so it would look like it was carved out of the color.
Album cover made learning Adobe Illustrator.
For this album cover I decided to use the straight angle of the woman’s arm to display the band’s name “Felis Lunensis,” (otherwise known as the first small cat species). Being that her arm is straight for the most part I though it would grab the readers eye since we read left to right. I put the album title in the right bottom corner to balance out the text, and changed up the color of the text for the same balance.
For the cover art I used a texturizing effect to enhance the dark vs. light in the photo which was black and white to begin with. I wanted to emphasize it further so I also brought down the opacity. I though this effect would play on the album title “all through me” being that the woman is the focus of the cover.
I am not particularly happy with the font selection but wanted something with a bit of a country feel (that wasn’t cheesy). Using italics seemed to be my best bet.