Each of you can take justifiable pride in how far you have advanced and how much you have learned this semester about effective information design both in print and online. Yes, it took a lot of work, but you picked up a lot of skills in the process.
On the whole, your final projects (right), especially the print versions, appear to have been very solid efforts. As much work as you put into yours, don't forget to try to get it published in some form — print, online or both. Many would make great clips for impending job searches.
Our final project was in many regards a capstone experience not only for this course but also for your entire journalism education. The project wasn't about learning or practicing any particular technology or technique but rather was a creative, entrepreneurial effort, combining everythihng you know and requiring that you locate and master whatever new technologies and techniques as needed to produce a journalistically competitive project.
Whether you graduated or will be back next semester, all of you have moved past the point at which merely showing that you can do something cool or minimally acceptable with a technology, regardless of its journalistic marketability or value, is sufficient. Your final projects weren't just class exercises; they were supposed to be competitive not just against other student work but against the highest of professional standards. And, for the most part, you succeeded brilliantly, proving that you you have learned to identify and tell engaging and important stories not just with the quality of your writing but also with visuals and interactive elements.
This is exactly the type of project that will impress potential employers, proving that you are more than some refugee English major who likes to write but prefers fact to fiction. By demonstrating your abilities to tell stories not just with linear, narrative text, you've proved that you can find imaginative ways to relate to and serve a mass audience. These skills will set you apart professionally.
The digital versions of the final project, unlike the print versions, were somewhat disappointing. A lot of you more or less just shoveled the print version of your project online, not taking advantage of what the digital medium has to offer. There were precious few interactive elements, and while some provided nonlinear elements, many failed to integrate them well, resorting to purely categorical arrangement and forgetting important concepts like having telling headlines and cutlines — as if merely having a gallery or a graphic, labeled with nothing more than that, was sufficient. Some really good efforts unfortunately were marred by technical limitations or simple spelling errors and typos. All in all, the digital effort was not nearly as strong as the traditional print effort, but don't let that take anything away from your sense of accomplishment. Just realize that you need to think more about digital presentation and become less hidebound in print.
Gradebook has been updated to reflect grades on all assignments and the final course grade, the distribution and cutoffs for which are summarized at right.
Like the print version of the final, the website project (left) was another strong effort — and something that also ought to make a good sample to show prospective employers. It demonstrates how you can think entrepreneurially about news — finding a way to stand out from the competition, even when you don't appear to have a competitive advantage. It also required that you learn how to make new, largely unfamiliar technologies to be able to achieve your vision. These are things you will need to do for the entirety of your career.
Although all but 15 percent of the semester is now graded, don't get too caught up in what your grades mean. Note from past grading scales that the class does not use a rigid 90-80-70 breakdown for final letter grades. Course grades are based more on clusters of scores. So don't ahead of yourself and worry about what your letter grade might be based on these scores.
All in all, it was an enjoyable and productive semester. It was my pleasure to spend a large portion of it with you. Thanks for working so hard to develop what I hope will be important skills professionally. And don't forget to keep in touch as your careers move forward. One of the best ways, if you have a profile, is to connect via LinkedIn.
Whatever you do, remember to think visually and to regard technology not as a challenge or an end but as an opportunity and a tool. Do so and you can accomplish anything!