Midterm take-home assignment

Grade value:

This assignment is worth 50 percent of your midterm grade. The in-class portion of the assignment is worth another 50 percent. Together, the midterm is worth 10 percent of your overall grade for the course, so please take this with the requisite gravitas.

Deadline and advice:

The take-home segment of the midterm is due at 7 p.m. on March 28. It must be posted to your personal blog. Send me the url via email and tweet it to the class twitter account via direct message. Follow the good Web-writing guidelines we have discussed in class these last eight weeks, which means: SEO-friendly headline, quality in-line links in your copy, screenshots when necessary, bulleted lists, anchor tags if necessary.

"Frank Sinatra Has a Cold" is known as one of the best stories ever done by Esquire. How would you have published it online?

Sourcing and captions for photos. Use real-world examples as evidence for your assertions.

I do not want you spending more than 90 minutes (aside from reading and intelligently considering the story on which you are working) on this assignment, since traditional midterms are done in-class. We will have one hour for the in-class portion of the midterm on March 28.


Write a coherent, conclusive post of at least 550 words (please post the word count at the bottom of your post) based on a feature story, enterprise story or profile from the years 2003 or earlier.


If your story is from Dec. 1980, consider yourself to be firmly planted in that era. Which means you have no access to people or information from the future. However, you do have access to all of the Web-storytelling techniques we have discussed in our class.

Timelines, photo galleries, design concepts, audio, video, interactive graphics, Google maps and more are all in play here.

Consider that you are an online editor or producer at the publication from which your article comes, which means if you have chosen a Frank Sinatra profile from Esquire, you’re sitting in the magazine’s offices in New York City, and your boss tells you there’s a profile on Sinatra coming in next week, and they have just heard of this new way to display stories on this newfangled thing called the Internet. You have to come up with a proposal for how the story will be played online.

Taking into consideration the look and feel of your publication, tell me how you would design and produce the story for the Web. Some of the things to consider writing about:

  • Would you use a typical “news site” look, or would you develop a special page for your story? Would you create a special landing page for your story? How would you promote your story on the website? How would you promote it in the print version of the publication? What would you do to make sure people kept coming back to your story? Which elements would be created “for today” and which ones would have a “long-tail” sensibility? When your story was done, how would you use social media to promote the story? Include the text of any tweets or facebook posts you would use.
  • Propose three multimedia or interactive elements that would go along with your story. If you find a particularly good photo gallery interface used by a site, take a screenshot and explain how your story would fit into the photo gallery. If you think there’s a good video out there that takes advantage of some of the concepts you admire, include a link, or if embed code is available, embed the video in your post using the HTML tab in WordPress. If you would like to do a poll, write the poll question and possible answers.
  • If you would like to make a hand-drawn mock-up of your page design, or create a lay-out using a design program, go for it, but create a .pdf and upload it via the media manager in WordPress.

    Do you like the People Magazine photo gallery style? Could you use it in your proposal?

  • Just because your story “only” was done in print the first time around, doesn’t mean you are limited just to the elements contained on the original printed page. Feel free to do a little pie-in-the-sky brainstorming here. Would you hire an illustrator to do a graphic using flash? Would you get a videographer to do a day-in-the-life with Frank? How many photos taken by your photographer never saw the light of day the first time? What kinds of photos and how many would you use in a photo gallery?

You are expected to live up to all standards and policies in effect for exams at UMd. There will be no tolerance for assignments submitted late (one letter-grade deduction per day). If you envision a problem on March 28 (such as a flight delay, bad weather or jetlag), cover your bases and begin work on this assignment early. There is no penalty for submitting early.

About danfriedell

I'm a sports writer, editor, adjunct professor, mystery book lover, Cleveland native and a softball player. More about me can be found at www.danfriedell.com
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