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Students Team Up in New Multimedia Journalism Class

Posted Jan. 18, 2011

For the first time at Kent State University, student journalists and computer scientists will collaborate on real-world projects in a single course, Web Programming for Multimedia Journalism. Student media outlets KentWired and The Burr magazine, as well as professional media, including Cleveland Magazine and Akron's, have expressed interest in publishing projects the class produces.

Photo from Web Programming for Multimedia Journalism classOffered jointly this spring by the university’s Department of Computer Science and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication (JMC), the new course currently has 22 enrolled students. There are 10 computer science majors and 12 student reporters and photojournalists.

“We’re not trying to turn journalists into computer scientists or computer scientists into journalists,” said Jacqueline Marino, assistant professor in Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. “We want each student to excel in his or her chosen area of expertise in a collaborative way. I often hear ‘Wow, that’s cool’ when I show some whiz-bang news application in class. This is the course where journalism students stop admiring from afar. They’re finally going to be with people who can help them make their own whiz-bang news app.”

Those skilled in programming have developed online tools to keep track of campaign promises (The Obameter), personalize searches of public data (EveryBlock), inform people of local crimes (Tampa Bay Mug Shots) and create innovative storytelling integrating user-generated content (A Moment in Time).

As the news becomes more personal and interactive, journalists know they need to collaborate with those who best understand the emerging technologies that will help media organizations inform, engage and inspire their audiences in the future.

Professor Paul Wang from Kent State’s Department of Computer Science said, “When faculty from the Department of Computer Science and JMC get together to create and teach this interdisciplinary course, students from both departments benefit, and the university benefits. The class will certainly make students strong candidates for a growing area of employment.”

Wang and Marino, along with Sue Zake (who advises KentWired and will be the class multimedia coach), want to increase literacy among student journalists and computer scientists, who will be tomorrow’s media partners. Journalism students will learn basic programming skills, including HTML and CSS. Computer Science students will learn journalism basics, such as news values, common practices and ethics.

By the end of the semester, the students will create their own news-related websites or interactive features that will include original journalistic content to be published on existing websites.

The course was developed with the help of a Summer Teaching Development Grant from the Kent State University Teaching Council.

Questions about the course should be directed to Marino, who can be reached at or 330-672-8285.

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Photo Caption:
Assistant Professor Jacqueline Marino of Kent State University reviews class materials during the newly created Web Programming for Multimedia Journalism course, offered jointly this spring by the university’s Department of Computer Science and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Media Contacts:
Jacqueline Marino,, 330-672-8285
Emily Vincent,, 330-672-8595