Writing for Digital Media

COMM DM 1652 

Many, but not all, assignments for this course will be posted or available as downloads here. The syllabus for this class may be downloaded here.  


Module #1 We will transpose an actual experience into a fictional monologue then record it and add SFX.


The first three reading assignments are available as a single PDF download here. 


A link to the Freesound.org website is here. 


As a break download Willard's monologue and edit it using your handwritten notes from a previous class.


Module #2 We will create scripts for three linked PSAs. The topics TBD the week before. The topics last semester were bad cell phone or texting behavior, alcohol abuse and mental health. What are some social issues that concern you? However


Drinking and Driving PSAs


The Ad Council website is here.


 Prime resources for this cluster of classes are the Ad Council and the TV Access Spot Source website


Module #3 We will devote this section to the conventions of journalism and the on-line revolution in News production and consumption. 


            Welcome to the Post-Text Future


A University of Wisconsin website about journalism ethics is here.


The NY Times is the national newspaper of record. I will refer to it frequently during this section. The "Times" is considered to be a reputable source as are most major newspapers. A website like this one for example is not considered as a reputable news source. 


A current article about unethical journalism is here.


An excellent textbook about print and digital journalism is here.


  • What is Journalism? Are you skeptical, empirical or normative?
  • When is anonymity permissible?
  • What is objectivity and, in regard to journalism, why is it controversial?

The "lead" paragraph for your journalism story usually attempts to provide the "five Ws and one H." That would be the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How. Sometimes this is impossible, especially the Why and How. The five Ws and one H do not necessarily have to be in any particular order. However when reporting on an event  you may want to lead off with Where and When. 


The NY Times Opinion page is here.

The Des Moines Register Opinion page is here.


Objective                                                         Subjective                             Journalism                                                     Opinion/Editorial 


 Objectivity and subjectivity exist on opposite ends of a continuum with the informed opinions of critics somewhere in the middle. 

In Module #4 we will move from writing for the media to writing about the media. The media arts, film, television, music, etc. are typically reviewed in a form that often seems to straddle the line between reporting and editorial writing. In other words the balance between objectivity and subjective opinion often blurs in a review. This will be easy to discern in                                                                                      the examples we will read for class.  


A link to the NY Times Movie Review section is here.



Module #5 We will create short treatments and scenes loosely (but not necessarily) using Twilight Zone as a model with opening and closing voice-overs. 


If you want to write fictional but relevant narratives for the media, Rod Serling can be a good source of inspiration. You can easily find much of his work aggregated here on Youtube.


A Twilight Zone script, The Obsolete Man is part of our reading.  As you read the script try substituting "books" for something else that you think may become unfortunately obsolete. 


An important idea to understand is intertextuality or how media texts "quote"each other. The Simpsons and Twilight Zone are good examples.


Another good example is here, starting with a scene from Third Rock From the Sun.


A good description of the process of writing a TV or film treatment is here.




Tom Waits is a great American songwriter and storyteller.


 We will end this module with an appropriate ceremony: Baby Blue, Blue Baby.


There is a great blog on the NY Times website where writers write about writing. (I always wanted to write a sentence like that.)