The Mario Blog
Teaching multi-platform strategies in J School

TAKEAWAY: It’s important that journalism students start practicing with those instruments of the media quartet as soon as possible as part of their studies. How one university does it.

TAKEAWAY: It’s important that journalism students start practicing with those instruments of the media quartet as soon as possible as part of their studies. How one university does it.

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Prof. Sanefski critiquing the work of students in his multi platform design class/photo by Professor Alysia Steele

It was Darren A. Sanefski’s title, under his name, that made me happily curious: *Assistant Professor of Multiple Platform Journalism.

Indeed, a title that says it all and one that perhaps more journalism professors should carry attached to their names.

So I contacted Darren, with whom I had worked several years ago during a redesign of the Syracuse Post Standard, to inquire about his new activities, and, more importantly, how this title was applied to real life situations at The Meek School of Journalism and New Media, University of Mississippi.

“Our Dean, Will Norton, is all about everything based around traditional journalistic teaching, but not focused on just traditional Media. Multiple Platform Journalism is taking that traditional content and reshaping it so it is optimized on multiple platforms (print, web, tablet). Stories told through the written word, video, photography, informational graphics, and design.”

This semester, for example, Darren is teaching his first course in tablet magazine design in which the students will be publishing an entire magazine digitally.

An interview with Prof. Sanefski

Here are four questions for Darren:


So your program is all about multi-platforms, how is this reflected in your curriculum and courses available to students at The Meek School of Journalism and New Media

We have made 4 of our core classes multi-platform in 102, we teach writing and reporting across platforms primarily text-based for print and online, but we introduce video on a very basic level. In 271, we teach reporting across platforms, bringing in audio, still and video and assigning stories that leverage the strength of those in the reporting process. In 375, we deal with storytelling with stills, audio and video. In J500 our capstone, we have a multimedia project that involves the learning from all of these previous courses to prepare multimedia projects. Our weakness right now is in Web production/presentation we are getting better at gathering multimedia assets, but we need more production-oriented classes where students build websites, apps, etc.


Is there such a thing at your School as majors in specialized areas: newspaper, magazine, broadcast, photojournalism?


Outside the core, students still specialize, though in the broadcast emphasis, courses continue to include Web writing, social media, mobile news gathering, etc. for example.


What is the role of design in your multi-platform curriculum?


As for design, we see content as king and design as a way to access and amplify that content. Design is all about making content more consumable but we also want the reader/user to be able to enter the story from different avenues, like audio, video, slideshows and interactive graphics. But no matter the technology, it is all about making a connection to the reader/user. I am teaching a class on tablet magazine design and I have to make sure that anytime we add pop-up information it is used as a way to add to the conversation and not just put in because, “It’s Cool.”


What lessons are you learning about this type of multi-platform journalism curriculum?


Currently we are in the midst of changing our “Introduction to Graphic Design” class from a skills to a theory class. We are adding a 300 level skills class for those students who want to pursue more hands-on graphic design projects. This allows the professor the ability to teach the skill to a smaller group instead of teaching assistants teaching a larger one. Also the theory class will have the ability to be easily taught online.

For more information:

Darren A. Sanefski is also a Society of News Design Foundation board member and its Education Director; those interested in getting more information about his program at the University of Mississippi can contact him directly at; Twitter: dsanefski

Way to go with J-education

It’s great to see dramatic changes in the teaching of journalism, such as what Darren describes here, already taking place at The Meek School of Journalism and New Media. It’s also encouraging to hear that this is also happening at several other universities through the United States.

I would like to hear from other academics whose programs are combining the best of teaching traditional journalistic practices with the techniques of storytelling in a multi-platform world.

Of related interest:

Only last week we blogged about For Journalism, a project that facilitates multi-platform journalism teaching through the sharing of resources.

For Journalism: here’s a program the industry desperately needs

Previous blog posts about J education:

Advertising: reacting to the moment

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Things move fast in the era of the media quartet and social media, no doubt.

So, when the electrical power went out unexpectedly for 34 minutes during the Super Bowl game Sunday evening, instantly Oreo Cookies tweeted this:

Power out? No problem.

And the image appeared there as well.

Clever advertising with the speed of “breaking news”.

Pages we like

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In Sunday’s Bild am Sonntag, several pages developed to America’s greatest of sports events, the Superbowl. In addition, Frank Deville sends us an interesting double page for the regular feature The Photo That Speaks, about a 400 Kg sea leopard in pursuit of a mini penguin.

More pages we like

Go here for a superb collection of recent front pages compiled by Michael Roston:

Super Bowl front pages

Here are the front pages from the two Super Bowl competitors, Baltimore (the Sun) and San Francisco (the Chronicle).

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Where’s Mario until March 2, 2013?

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Mario’s upcoming speaking engagements

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Take advantage of our iPad Design/Ad Lab workshops

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Do you want to take your brand to the next level by creating a tablet edition? Garcia Media can help. We now offer one- to two-day iPad Design Lab workshops on demand to jumpstart your presence on this exciting new platform. We also offer iPad Ad Lab workshops to develop engaging advertising models for your app. Contact us for more information.

Purchase the book on the iBookstore

iPad Design Lab has been given the QED Seal

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The QED (Quality–Excellence–Design) Seal is bestowed by the judges of the Publishing Innovation Awards after “a thorough, professional 13-point design review with an eye towards readability across multiple devices and in multiple formats.”

Learn more about the QED Seal here.

The EPUB version of book is HERE:

Now available: The EPUB version of  iPad Design Lab: Storytelling in the Age of the Tablet, ready for download via for Kindle:

Here is how you can get iPad Design Lab book:

The original version of the book is the multitouch textbook version available on the iBookstore for iPad (iOS 5.0 and up):

This version includes video walkthroughs, audio introductions to each chapter, swipeable slideshows, a glossary and a sophisticated look and feel.

Apple only sells multitouch textbooks in certain countries at this time, unfortunately. Copies are available in at least the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, and the United States.

For those in other countries and without an iPad, we have made the book available in a basic edition for other platforms. This basic edition includes the full text of the original, along with the images and captions, but lacks the other features such as audio and video. It is available on the following platforms in many countries:

Amazon Kindle:

Google Books:

Take a video tour of iPad Design Lab

“iPad Design Lab” trailer on Vimeo.

Read the Society of Publication Designers’ review of The iPad Design Lab here:

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Keep up with Mario Garcia Jr.. via Garcia Interactive: helping transform online news since 1995.

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