SYLLABUS | JOUR 4520 – Spring 2014

Online Design and Editing
Monday 5:30 p.m. to 8:10 p.m.
JOH 300


Daria Kempka
Office hours: By appointment
Office: (414) 288-0385
Mobile: (414) 688-1499 (only for emergencies!)


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JOUR 4520 is a senior digital journalism course taught by Daria Kempka at Marquette University. Collaborating with working journalists and editors, students create microsites and interactive stories on a current topic.

In 2014, students will work with both Lillian Thomas, O’Brien fellow and assistant managing editor of special projects at The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and Sharon McGowan, editor-in-chief of the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service,  to create an interactive story that will be published in May on the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service site.

The course will consist of  3 key topics:

  1. Interaction design for the news across contexts – including web, mobile, tablet
  2. Infographics and visualizations: visual reporting, bringing clarity to complex topics, finding stories in data
  3. Engaging, publishing and promoting: Advanced SEO, analytics, optimizing content for sharing beyond your website

What you will be able to do at the end of the semester:

  • Design interactive content for desktop browsers, smartphones, and tablets
  • Code a simple website by hand using HTML and CSS
  • Create graphics and storyboards using Photoshop and prototyping tools
  • Conduct basic usability tests and heuristic evaluations
  • Identify and communicate about ways to improve digital experiences
  • Work with editors, designers, programmers and project managers on interactive projects
  • Optimize your content and stories for search and social sharing


The first half of the course will be dedicated to developing the technical and design skills that you will need in order to complete the final project.

The second half of the course will be dedicated to completing the final project which we’ll begin on March 24 in a workshop/kick-off meeting.

Every week you will learn at least one design skill (e.g., interaction design or working with color) and one technical skill (e.g., Photoshop or HTML).

Homework and assignments

You will learn concepts and skills by completing tutorials, exercises, readings and watching videos at home. The homework equips you with the knowledge and technical skills you will need in order to participate in class following week.

Please budget at least 8-10 hours per week for work outside of class.

Class time 

Class time will be spent in hands-on practice with the skills and concepts you learned from your homework assignments.

We’ll also have a couple of workshops led by guest practitioners.


If you miss more than 2 class periods, you will be dropped from the course. I may be able to make an exception to the absence policy in the case of a documented emergency, but only if the work and the information you miss doesn’t jeopardize your chance to succeed in the course.

1 point = 1 percent

Final project: 40%

Attendance and assignments: 60%

Homework due at the beginning of class is worth 2 points 

In class work (due at the end of class) is worth 2 points 

Homework and in-class work are pass/fail, so you either get all of the points possible or none of them. Instead of letter grades, you will  get verbal or narrative feedback to help you build your design skills.

Late assignments won’t be accepted except in the case of a documented emergency.

Missing homework is worth – 4 points each.
Missing in class work is also worth -4 points.

Absences are worth -8 points each. Arrangements to restore points will be made for documented emergencies or if you let me know of any planned absence ahead of time and complete all of the work within a timeframe you and I can agree on.

Why so strict? 

Because we’re working on a professional project, you’ll have to work incredibly hard to produce a project with the quality needed to publish. There really will not be any room for ‘catching up’.  So if you just remember that you need to come to class every week and complete your work every week, you will be fine. Talk to me if something comes up, and I’ll try to find a way to be flexible if it is possible. The idea is not to punish you, it’s just to let you know up front that you’re going to have to put a lot of energy into producing this project. But it will be worth it, I pinky-swear.


94-100%                  A

93-88%                    AB

87-83%                    B

82-77%                    BC

76-70%                    C

66-69%                    CD

60-65%                    D

59% and below  F


There are no required books. The readings and tutorials you are responsible for are available through the university on and proquest, but university access is limited to several users at one time. If this becomes an issue for you, you could consider subscribing to the sites that provide these materials. is $25/month and proquest is around $17/month for students.

In a nutshell: you are required to complete the ‘readings’ on time. If you are unable to access them through university subscriptions, you’ll need to purchase your own.

To minimize stress, please budget at least $150 for expenses related to this course. If you don’t spend it, you can buy yourself a nice present at the end of the semester.

ACADEMIC HONESTY (How Marquette spells ‘cheating.’)

Please don’t pass someone else’s work or ideas off as your own.

For more details on consequences and what specific behaviors are defined as cheating, see Marquette’s academic honesty policies:


Let me know by next week if you need any particular arrangements in order to succeed in this class. Contact the Office of Student Educational Services (OSES) for additional support and resources.


If anxiety, stress, depression, or other issues are interfering with your ability to function, please contact the Counseling Center. The Counseling Center offers free, confidential counseling services for all full time students. Phone: (414) 288-7172. Website:


Every building on campus has signs posting evacuation routes. Please take the time to learn them. Also consider adding the Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) phone number to your mobile (414) 288-1911. Other safety information and resources can be found on the DPS website.






Digital interactive journalism course site