University Multimedia Boot Camp Utilizes Social Mapping Platform

By September 10, 2010

Incoming master’s students, at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, took part in a six-week news writing and reporting course resulting in the Secs in the City website.

Secs in the City is a  multimedia project produced by print/online news, arts journalism and public relations students. It was conceived to tell the stories of people and places across the five regions of Syracuse. The students produced 75 “slices of Syracuse life,” that were each 60-second videos, slide shows and text articles.

The students assisted one another in teams of two or three as they reported, but each produced an individual story. They shot their stories in the morning, edited them that afternoon, and put the finishing touches on them the next morning.

“The media landscape is changing daily. New tools are being introduced and knowing which ones to pursue is a constant struggle. The challenges schools face include making sure students are prepared to deal with the ever changing interface. Students can’t solely rely on a class, they must take their own initiative to learn and utilize the tools they will need to become a valuable communicator,” reporting boot camp professor Jon Glass said.

As part of this project, the students used  digital cameras, digital recorders, or video cameras. They also learned how to edit with Audacity, Final Cut and Photoshop programs. The project was published using Newsgarden, a social mapping platform developed by Serra Media. Seattle based Serra Media creates hyper local tools for media companies.

Glass, the executive producer of, utilized Serra Media’s Newsgarden service for the Secs in the City website.

“I saw Newsgarden being used by certain newspapers and other outlets to plot stories and thought it would be beneficial to expose the students to the platform,” Glass said.

Emilie Davis, coordinating professor for the reporting boot camp is credited with the original idea of an intensive one-day, video-driven experience to introduce students to multimedia storytelling and the Syracuse community and secured the resources necessary to make it happen.