MC 4324 – Visual Storytelling

Course Information

Instructor: Sara Shields
Course Site:

Class Location: Old Main 212
Class Hours: Wed 2:00pm – 4:50pm
Office Location: Old Main 106-C
Office Hours: T/Th 4:00pm – 5:00pm, W 1:00pm – 2:00pm and 5:30pm – 6:30pm

Catalog Description

This course is an introduction to basic elements of video journalistic storytelling for today's converged newsrooms. Students gather information using journalism practices, such as in- person interviews, and learn to use video newsgathering technologies to produce stories for online and other digital platforms. Prerequisite: Full-major status.

Course Description

The need for video storytelling crosses from print media to digital to broadcast to public relations and advertising, and the goal of this class is to give you a fundamental understanding of how to use video to tell a quality story. The ability to create video is now more available to more people than at any point in history, thanks to technology. However, creating visual content and creating quality, compelling and professional-grade visual content are very different concepts. This course is intended to help separate you, a would-be video journalist, from everyone else with an iPhone in their pocket.

Learning Objectives

This course is designed to help you develop competencies in visual storytelling, which includes writing, visual techniques and theories, editing practices, time and project management skills, and learning how to tell an effective and compelling story. At the end of this course, you will be able to:

Shoot and edit digital video for use in journalistic storytelling

Work effectively as part of a team of journalists

Understand best practices for producing video stories across an array of platforms

Execute the basic principles of video compression and delivery

Tell a quality, compelling and focused visual story

Create that kind of visual story under deadline pressure

Effectively plan and execute a project from pre-production through post-production

Think critically about video messages in various media

Apply and understand ethical and moral considerations for video journalists

Required Textbook

There is a required textbook for this course and it is available in a number of ways, including as a free online resource through the Alkek Library. You will be able to access the book all semester via the online database.

However, if you would like to have a hard copy, it is available for purchase both in the bookstore and on Amazon, etc. Kobre, K. (2012). Videojournalism: Multimedia Storytelling, First Edition, Focal Press. #ISBN-13: 9780240814650

Required Materials / Software

  • An external hard drive for video editing. For example, students in the past have used the LaCie Rugged 500 GB External Hard Drive (1 USB 3.0 port, 7200 RPM). Of course, you can find something from another brand that is similar (I use a Seagate hard drive), but you will need to make sure that it is Mac compatible. If you work on a PC at home, you will need to make sure that the drive you purchase is Mac and PC compatible. I am not an IT professional, and we will not have time in class to do troubleshooting on the hard drive, so it is your responsibility to make sure that your drive is formatted correctly and formatted for a Mac (and a PC if that’s what you use at home) and ready to use. You must bring your external hard drive to class each week beginning the second week.
  • One 16 GB or 32 GB SDHC Card. You can purchase these at Best Buy or online. Our cameras cannot read SDXC cards so don’t purchase that version. You must bring your SDHC card to class each week beginning the second week.
  • One pair of headphones/earbuds. Do not buy or bring noise canceling headphones. You must bring your headphones/earbuds to class each week beginning the second week. Airpods will not work on the cameras.
  • Four AA batteries. I’d advise that you purchase a pack of eight batteries.
  • Adobe Premiere Pro. We will use Premiere Pro to edit video projects and assignments in the class.


Simply put, the skills that are taught in this class require you to attend and participate. You will work on projects, both in and out of class, which are deadline driven. If you cannot commit to making it to class and cannot commit to the time required to produce professional, quality work, this class may not be for you.

Since this class only meets once a week, attendance is even more vital. You are allowed one absence without penalty. However, you are still responsible for any material covered in class that you may have missed – and any grades completed in class are not allowed to be made up. On your second absence, your overall grade will be reduced by five points. The third absence is a full letter grade deduction. If you miss four classes, you automatically fail the class.

If you need to miss a class for a reason that rises to the level of an excused absences from the university (prolonged illness, death of a family member, etc.), please go through the Dean of Students Office so all your professors are notified. If you need to miss class because of a university sponsored event, I will need to discuss with your faculty sponsor. Otherwise, any other absence (flat tire, had to work another shift, not feeling like it, etc) fit under the stated attendance policy.

Class Expectations

Half of life is just showing up and showing up on time and ready to work each day is the very basic expectation for this class. Each day, everyone should respect one another, respect the equipment you’ll be working with, come to class with a positive attitude and bring a willingness to learn and take criticism. We will try to complete as much work as possible during our class time, but you will be required to complete work on your own time. We will be working in an air-conditioned computer lab, but we will also spend time outside shooting video, which means you must be prepared to spend time outside in whatever weather conditions are present that day. Comfortable shoes and weather-appropriate clothing should be worn, and you should be ready to carry equipment to and from your shoots.


As this is a hands-on course, the bulk of your points will come from hands-on assignments as opposed to quizzes and exams. Late work will not be accepted.


Personal Story 10%
Documentary 40%

Class Assignments

  1. Camera Basics 5%
  2. MOS Interviews 5%
  3. Documentary Pitch 5%
  4. Documentary Proposal 5%
  5. Documenting a Place or Event 5%
  6. Social Media Teaser 5%

Participation / Attendance

Participation and Attendance 10%

Weekly Quizzes

Ten Quizzes 10%

Equipment Checkout

It is the responsibility of each student to secure the proper camera equipment for their respective assignments throughout the semester. Please familiarize yourself with the policies and procedures. If you are late returning equipment to the checkout room (OM236E), you will lose all checkout privileges. In addition, equipment that is two days late may result in up to a letter grade deduction on the student’s course grade. Failure to return late equipment may also result in the equipment being considered stolen and reported to UPD. Failure to return late equipment will also lead to a permanent ban from using university equipment.

For shoots outside of class, it is your responsibility to know the camera room hours and to check out and inspect any gear you need for your shoot. It is also your responsibility to know when your gear is due back and to provide batteries for the lavalier microphones. You are also responsible for taking care of the gear. Mistreatment of equipment will result in a grade deduction.

Title IX Reporting of Sexual Misconduct

Effective January 2, 2020, state law (SB 212) requires all university employees, acting in the course and scope of employment, who witness or receive information concerning an incident of sexual misconduct involving an enrolled student or employee to report all relevant information known about the incident to the university’s Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Title IX coordinator. According to SB 212, employees who knowingly fail to report or knowingly file a false report shall be terminated in accordance with university policy and Texas State University System (TSUS) Rules and Regulations.

Academic Honesty

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication commits itself to the preparation of ethical mass media professionals and scholars. Such a mission demands the highest standard of academic honesty and integrity. Violations of academic honesty, including but not limited to plagiarism, unauthorized collaboration, collusion, deception, conflict of interest and theft are not tolerated and can lead to severe penalties. Disciplinary actions are outlined in the Texas State Academic Honesty Statement, printed each year in the Texas State Student Handbook.

You can read the Code of Student Conduct and The Honor Code here:

Falsifying sources or other information is an act of academic dishonesty that will not be tolerated in this class. They will result in a failing grade on an assignment and potentially a failing grade in the course.

All content in this course must be created during this semester and must be original. As explained in the University Policy and Procedures Statement, students may not submit the same content for this course that was completed in another course or student media organization without substantial revision or expansion of the work or notifying all involved parties.

Drop Policy

You can drop this or any course by October 28, 2019, and receive an automatic W. After that date, you cannot drop a single course. Instead, you must withdraw from all courses. Please review PPS 4.09 at this website:

Note to Students with Disabilities

Texas State University seeks to provide reasonable accommodations for all qualified individuals with disabilities. This university will adhere to all applicable federal, state, and local laws. Students with disabilities who need special accommodations should contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) at (512) 245-3451 and register with that office. ODS is located in Suite 5-5.1 at the LBJ Student Center. If you are a student with special needs certified by ODS and you require accommodations in this class, please notify me by the end of the first week of classes so that accommodations can be discussed and promptly provided.