Jour 475: Publication Design and Technology 4 units

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JOUR 475: Publication Design and Technology

4 units | Spring 2015 | Tuesdays 6:30-9:50 p.m.

Section 21404 | Location ANN 305
Instructors: Les Dunseith and Nick Cuccia

Contact information:

Les: (310) 528-0777

Nick: (323) 663-0633

J475: What Is It?

Seeking a career in print or digital media? Then you must do as generations of aspiring newspaper, magazine and public relations professionals have done: become skillful in gathering facts and opinion, learn to organize information effectively, refine your ability to write clearly and concisely, and master the intricacies of grammar, spelling and syntax. Do these things well, and your writing will be worth reading. But one challenge remains: How do you entice people to read them?

That’s where J475 comes in. This course offers instruction in design and layout, photo selection and usage, development and design of graphics, use of color and project planning. Along the way students will become adept at using the primary software tools of modern print and digital design.

Course Objectives

Learn the basic principles of publication design

Become proficient in InDesign and Photoshop

Apply the principles and skills to create a portfolio-worthy final publication project

Instructional Approach

J475 uses the School of Journalism’s technology facilities and access to software programs, which are representative of the types used by news media today. Through in-class exercises and selected graphic design projects, students become skilled in two widely used print design programs, Adobe InDesign and Adobe Photoshop, and how to apply them to today’s digital publishing environment.


The course is project-oriented, and students can expect plenty of hands-on exercises throughout the semester. J475 culminates with each student producing a publication of his or her choosing, such as a newsletter, a calendar, a short magazine or marketing collateral for a business campaign.

The class emphasizes “learning by doing.” In-class sessions are discussion-based, with little traditional lecture material. Most class sessions feature a combination of quizzes, problem-solving discussions and in-class exercises. Peer review sessions are common, as are sessions dedicated to analysis, planning and execution of specific design challenges. Class sessions last about 3½ hours, with the discussion section ending after about an hour and the remainder of the class consisting of practice assignments, hands-on instruction and software training.
One class session is scheduled to take place off campus, with students interacting directly with publication designers in their work environments.


Students earn points based on the following approximate breakdown:

Quizzes (10 at 10 pts.): 100 20% of course grade

Exercises, homework, other assignments: 200 40% of course grade

Final project: 200 40% of course grade

Final grades are assigned as follows:

94-100%: A

90-93%: A-

87-89%: B+

84-86%: B

80-83%: B-

77-79%: C+

74-76%: C

70-73%: C-

67-69%: D+

64-66%: D

60-63%: D-

0-59%: F

Submission of Work

  • All homework is to be turned in at the beginning of each class session. Homework assignments correspond directly to in-class material, so it’s important to keep up with the work.

  • Class attendance and completion of all assignments and projects are vital.

  • Most class sessions begin with a quiz based on reading assignments. It is the student’s responsibility to arrive each week fully prepared for these quizzes.

  • Makeup work for full credit is allowed only with prior consent of an instructor. It is the student’s responsibility to document this approval.

  • Makeup work from an unexcused class session will be assessed a penalty of up to 50%.

  • Makeup quizzes and assignments must be completed within two weeks of the original due date.

  • Electronic submission of most assignments is normally required. Details about the specifics of this process will be explained at the beginning of the semester.

Required Reading

“The Non-Designer’s Design Book,” Williams

“Exploring InDesign CS6 or CC,” Rydberg

“Exploring Photoshop CS6 or CC,” Toland, Hartman

Multiple handouts as distributed throughout the semester (also available digitally)

Supplementary Materials

Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual

Active USC email account

Portable media storage

Laptop Policy

Effective Fall 2014, all undergraduate and graduate Annenberg majors and minors will be required to have a PC or Apple laptop that can be used in Annenberg classes. Please refer to the Annenberg Virtual Commons for more information. Always bring your laptop with you to class.

  • To connect to USC’s secure wireless network, go to Information Technology Services

Adobe Software

All students need to install the latest version of the Adobe Creative Suite on their personal computers. This software is free for Annenberg students, and detailed instructions about the installation process can be found on the Virtual Commons at this link:

  • InDesign and Photoshop are the primary focus, but in-class instruction will also include Bridge and Illustrator; other programs, such as Flash and Muse, may be referenced on occasion.

  • Be sure to include all available Adobe fonts during the installation process.

Important Dates

Jan. 30: Last day to add classes; last day to drop a class without a mark of “W” and receive a refund

April 10: Last day to drop a class with a mark of “W”

May 12: Final projects due


Here is the general outline for J475; instructors reserve the right to make adjustments, including adding or changing assignments.

Jan. 13 Week 1

  • Intro, explanations, InDesign basics


  • Design assignment #1: Good/Bad

  • “Exploring InDesign,” Preface and Chapters 1-2

Jan. 20 Week 2

  • Design Basics

  • InDesign session #2


  • Complete InDesign Exercise #1 (Wyndbreakers flyer)

  • Chapter 1 in the “Non-Designer’s Design Book”

Jan. 27 Week 3

  • Quiz #1

  • InDesign session #3


  • InDesign Exercise #2 (Desserts Menu, Production Sequence)

  • “The Non-Designer’s Design Book,” Chapters 2-6

  • “Exploring InDesign,” Chapter 3

Feb. 3 Week 4

  • Quiz #2

  • Real world design for print and web

  • InDesign session #4


  • InDesign Exercise #3 (Anna Sanchez table tent, Monsters Poster)

  • “The Non-Designer’s Design Book,” Chapters 7-8

  • “Exploring InDesign,” Chapter 4

Feb. 10 Week 5

  • Quiz #3

  • InDesign session #5


  • InDesign Exercise #4 (Drum & Bugle Corps, Fun in the Sun)

  • Chapters 9-14 + appendix in “Non-Designer’s Design Book”

  • “Exploring InDesign,” Chapters 5 and 14

Feb. 17 Week 6

  • Quiz #4

  • InDesign session #6


  • InDesign Exercise #5 (CD cover, Hooks & Ladders)

  • “Exploring InDesign,” Chapters

  • “Typographical Blunders” handout

Feb. 24 Week 7

  • Quiz #5

  • InDesign session #7


  • InDesign Exercise #6 (Miljat brochure)

  • “Exploring InDesign,”
    Chapters 9-13

  • “Art of Readability” and “Art of Legibility” handouts

March 3 Week 8

  • Quiz #6

  • In-class midterm project


  • “Exploring Photoshop,” Preface and Chapters 1-4

  • “Common Design Pitfalls” handout

  • Describe your final project (500 words)

March 10 Week 9

  • Quiz #7

  • Photoshop #1


Photoshop assignment #1

  • “Exploring Photoshop,” Chapters 5-7

  • Basic Photo Corrections handout

March 17 Spring Break

March 24 Week 10

  • Quiz #8

  • Photoshop #2


  • Photoshop assignment #2

  • “Exploring Photoshop,” Chapters 8-9

  • Photoshop Filters handout

March 31 Week 11

  • Quiz #9

  • Photoshop #3

  • Final project setup discussion


  • Photoshop assignment #3

  • Work on final project

  • Read “Exploring Photoshop,” Chapters 10-12

April 7 Week 12

  • Quiz #10

  • Photoshop #4


  • Photoshop assignment #4

  • Complete off-campus visit with
    professional designer

  • Work on final project

April 14 Week 13

  • Photoshop #5

  • Emerging technologies


  • Complete off-campus visit with
    professional designer

  • Work on final project

April 21 Week 14

  • Photoshop #5

  • Illustrator integration

  • Interactivity in InDesign


  • Complete off-campus visit with
    professional designer

  • Work on final project

April 28 Week 15

  • InDesign, Photoshop integration

  • Summary and wrap-up


  • Complete off-campus visit with
    professional designer

  • Work on final project

May 5 Study Day

  • Open Lab (optional)

  • Professional visit summaries due

Tuesday, May 12

  • 7 p.m. Final Projects Due

Policies and Procedures

USC seeks to maintain an optimal learning environment. General principles of academic honesty include the concept of respect for the intellectual property of others, the expectation that individual work will be submitted unless otherwise allowed by an instructor, and the obligations both to protect one’s own academic work from misuse by others as well as to avoid using another’s work as one’s own. Journalists must be particularly vigilant regarding plagiarism. Presenting someone else’s ideas as your own, either verbatim or recast in your own words – is a serious academic offense with serious consequences.  Please familiarize yourself with the discussion of plagiarism in SCampus in Section 11, Behavior Violating University Standards

Other forms of academic dishonesty are equally unacceptable.  See additional information in SCampus and university policies on scientific misconduct,
USC School of Journalism Policy on Academic Integrity

“Since its founding, the USC School of Journalism has maintained a commitment to the highest standards of ethical conduct and academic excellence. Any student found plagiarizing, fabricating, cheating on examinations, and/or purchasing papers or other assignments faces sanctions ranging from an ‘F’ on the assignment to dismissal from the School of Journalism.” All academic integrity violations will be reported to the office of Student Judicial Affairs & Community Standards (SJACS), as per university policy, as well as journalism school administrators.”

In JOUR 475, all work turned in for grading is to be completed by each student working independently. It’s OK to ask a classmate for help in solving a basic software usage problem, such as the keyboard shortcut for a particular InDesign function. But the work itself should be yours alone.
It is assumed that the work you submit for this course has not been previously produced by you for submission in another course or Learning Lab unless specifically approved in advance by the instructors.
Also keep in mind that we expect the final projects to be an original design project and not simply a re-creation of an existing publication. (There have been instances in the past where a student wanted to redesign an existing publication, and that would probably be allowed after some discussion to set specific boundaries.) The final projects require that you come up with an idea, obtain the necessary resources yourself and produce the final printed document with no conceptual or production assistance from anyone other than the instructors.

This course is heavily focused on learning of software programs in a group setting. To minimize distractions that would hinder the learning experience for your classmates:

  • Students should arrive promptly in the classroom and get their laptops up and running in a timely manner. Ideally, students will be connected to the Annenberg network – with appropriate Adobe software already opened – by 6:40 p.m. each week.

  • Any student arriving late to class – even with prior approval – will be expected to get up to speed quickly on their own and then stay after class to recoup any missed work, if appropriate; instructors will not pause in-class training sessions to accommodate computer setup by a tardy student.

  • Although students will use their personal laptops, they must refrain from any computing activities unrelated to J475 during class hours. Similarly, personal mobile devices should be tucked out of the way until the break, which normally occurs about halfway through each class session. The instructors reserve the right to deduct points on in-class assignments for persistent failure to heed this policy.


The value of professional internships as part of the overall educational experience of our students has long been recognized by the School of Journalism. Accordingly, although internships are not required for successful completion of this course, any student enrolled in this course who undertakes and completes an approved, non-paid publication design internship during this semester shall earn academic extra credit herein of an amount equal to 1 percent of the total available semester points for this course. To receive instructor approval, a student must request an internship letter from the Annenberg Career Development Office and bring it to the instructor to sign by the end of the third week of classes. The student must submit the signed letter to the media organization, along with the evaluation form provided by the Career Development Office. The form should be filled out by the intern supervisor and returned to the instructor at the end of the semester. No credit will be given if an evaluation form is not turned in to the instructor by the last day of class. Note: The internship must be unpaid and can only be applied to one journalism class.

Equity and Diversity
Discrimination, sexual assault, and harassment are not tolerated by the university.  You are encouraged to report any incidents to the Office of Equity and Diversity or to the Department of Public Safety  This is important for the safety whole USC community.  Another member of the university community – such as a friend, classmate, advisor, or faculty member – can help initiate the report, or can initiate the report on behalf of another person.  The Center for Women and Men provides 24/7 confidential support, and the sexual assault resource center webpage describes reporting options and other resources.
Support with Scholarly Writing
A number of USC’s schools provide support for students who need help with scholarly writing.  Check with your advisor or program staff to find out more.  Students whose primary language is not English should check with the American Language Institute, which sponsors courses and workshops specifically for international graduate students.

The Office of Disability Services and Programs provides certification for students with disabilities and helps arrange the relevant accommodations.

Stress Management

Students are under a lot of pressure. If you start to feel overwhelmed, it is important that you reach out for help. A good place to start is the USC Student Counseling Services office at 213-740-7711. The service is confidential, and there is no charge.

Emergency Information

If an officially declared emergency makes travel to campus infeasible, USC Emergency Information will provide safety and other updates, including ways in which instruction will be continued by means of blackboard, teleconferencing, and other technology.

Grade Requirement

Although J475 is an elective course, grades for the course are factored into the computation of overall grade averages for the School of Journalism, and a low grade thus could negatively affect a student’s ability to earn a degree. Students should consult with their academic advisers if they have any questions about the specific grade point average requirements for their academic program.

About Your Instructors

Les is the faculty adviser for the Daily Trojan. He is a former copy editor, designer and graphics editor in daily newspapers, primarily at the Los Angeles Times. He also has worked in university public relations and does freelance design work.

Nick is a senior consultant for a company that provides training and documentation related to CCI NewsGate and Adobe software, particularly InDesign. He is a former copy editor and designer in daily newspapers, with prior experience that includes the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle and Dallas Morning News. He also does freelance print and web design.
Full CVs for both instructors are included at the end of this syllabus.
Les Dunseith

(310) 528-0777

EDUCATION University of Southern California | Master of Arts in Print Journalism Graduated with honors in 1985

Truman State University | Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication

Graduated summa cum laude in 1980

WORK EXPERIENCE University of Southern California

Lecturer | Adviser to Student Newspaper 1992 – present

Longtime member of adjunct journalism faculty, teaching copy editing for one semester before introducing a digital design course that continues each semester. Also assist student editors of Daily Trojan as a part-time consultant and previously served as a journalism writing coach.

Academic Adviser and Teaching Assistant 1984 – 1985

Advised undergraduates in USC's public relations sequence while enrolled in the university's Graduate School of Journalism. Also served as a teaching assistant for an Introduction to Journalism course.

Los Angeles Times

Graphics Director 2002 – 2013

Delivered daily counsel and insight to senior editors regarding visual presentation options for breaking news and enterprise stories.

  • Advised newsroom leaders and helped establish best-practice guidelines related to potential coverage issues, technology hurdles and content management challenges.

  • Personally produced or directed production of more than 1,000 information graphics per year on
    wide-ranging topics – politics, government, healthcare, science, entertainment, the arts, travel, business, finance and more.

  • Implemented and managed production procedures to encourage visual presentations of the highest-possible quality, ensuring results that consistently received journalistic accolades. This work often took place during times of high stress when covering breaking news events that included:

  • U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

  • Numerous U.S. and international natural disasters, including tornadoes and
    hurricanes (Katrina among them), several major earthquakes and two catastrophic tsunamis

  • Three presidential elections and numerous other national and California races

  • State and local news events – San Bruno pipeline explosion, multiple California wildfires, two major Metrolink crashes and many more

  • Several Olympics
  • Wall Street meltdown and subsequent worldwide financial crisis

Design Director, Administration | Executive News Editor | Copy
Chief | Copy Editor | Designer
1989 – 2002

  • Management responsibilities as supervising editor included departmental budgeting, vendor relations, staff development and training, personnel evaluation, scheduling and integration of new technology.

  • Participated in interdepartmental group hand-picked by senior leaders to select new content management and production system. Instrumental in working with outside vendor to customize software for Times' use. Led team that developed and executed training and implementation plan.

  • Worked directly with deputy managing editor on sweeping reorganization of Times' design and graphics operation – about 90 staff members – that coincided with move to fully digital production.

  • Supervised staff of 35 people on Features copy and design desks for about three years.

  • Held a variety of non-management roles, including news designer and copy editor. Also handled hundreds of graphics related to local news.

California State University, Northridge

Part-time instructor 1991 – 1992

Taught Introduction to Mass Media for two semesters.

Los Angeles Herald-Examiner

Copy editor and slot 1989

Worked on the copy desk for about six months before the newspaper folded.

Truman State University

Instructor 1985 – 1989

Spent four years as full-time instructor, teaching courses such as news writing, copy editing,

media law and history of American journalism.

Staff Assistant in Public Relations | Student Newspaper Adviser 1980 – 1983

Prior to break for graduate school, oversaw campus newspaper and handled various duties in

PR office, including editing and designing campus alumni magazine and recruitment publications.
Other duties included media relations and community outreach.

Legislative Intern Spring 1980

Served one semester as legislative intern for Missouri State Sen. Harold L. Caskey, who was majority whip at the time. Because then-Sen. Caskey is visually impaired, I also acted as a personal assistant during my internship, helping to review legislation.

Pasadena Star-News

Copy Editor 1984 – 1985

Worked as a copy editor and page designer while also enrolled as a full-time graduate student.

AWARDS AND HONORS 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards Conceptualized, researched and helped produce online graphics that were featured component of winning entry in New Media category for L.A. Times project known as “Beyond 7 Billion.” Worked closely with reporter Kenneth R. Weiss, photographer Rick Loomis and others to create interactive maps and charts, plus three narrated motion graphics that illustrated worldwide impact of population growth.

Pulitzer Prizes Developed visuals for several Pulitzer nominees and winners, including graphics about King-Drew Hospital for series that won public service award in 2005. Played key role in Altered Oceans project that won Pulitzer for explanatory reporting in 2007. Developed graphics that were central elements of Big Burn investigative series that won Pulitzer for explanatory journalism in 2009. Part of L.A. Times local news staff that shared in Pulitzers for spot news coverage of 2003 California wildfires, 1998 North Hollywood shootout, 1994 Northridge earthquake and 1992 L.A. riots.

Society for News Design L.A. Times received more than 400 honors in annual Best of News Design international competition during my time as a senior design leader. Directly supervised production of more than 25 graphics that received specific recognition.

Society of Professional Journalists L.A. Times was sole winner of information graphics award for large news organizations for unprecedented six consecutive years: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009.

Online News Association Developed visuals for many L.A. Times stories and projects recognized for excellence in online presentation, including 2013 award in Explanatory Journalism for "Beyond 7 Billion."

AREAS OF EXPERTISE Visual storytelling | Information graphics for print and online | Data-driven communication | Deadline production | Personnel supervision | Information gathering | Project management | Writing and editing | Media trends | Journalism education

OTHER SKILLS Proficient in Adobe design programs, including InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator. Advanced user of Microsoft Office programs such as Word and Excel. Well-versed in PowerPoint, GIS mapping and online presentation tools from Google and ESRI. Familiar with other software programs and content management systems, including CCI, Quark XPress, Adobe Muse, Adobe Flash, HTML and CSS. Knowledgeable about social media and search engine optimization.
Nick Anthony Cuccia

2459 Hidalgo Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90039-3328

323.663.0633 | |

Red Badge Consulting Inc.: SENIOR CONSULTANT, April 2011 to present:

Trainer and documentation editor for CCI NewsGate software installation at Gannett and McClatchy newspapers. Provides one-on-one in-newsroom support for staff. InDesign trainer and consultant.

University of Southern California, ADJUNCT LECTURER, January 2011 to present:

Co-instructor of “Publication Design and Technology,” a junior-level course in design fundamentals and Adobe InDesign and Photoshop software.

Episcopal Church, COMMUNICATIONS CONSULTANT, August 2008 to present:

Holy Spirit, The Church of the Epiphany, St. James’:

Design templates and write, edit and lay out content for newsletters. Design and edit weekly Constant Contact e-mail, resulting in more efficient and timely distribution of information to a wider audience and better-than-industry average open rate. Design and coordinate production of leaflets, ads, liturgy leaflets.

Los Angeles Times, December 1986 to July 2008:

DESIGN EDITOR, FEATURES (6/2005-7/2008): Designed Highway 1 and Real Estate sections, working with department heads and photo and graphics editors to develop content display. Also designed pages for Daily Calendar, Home, Calendar Weekend and Food sections.

TRAINER, REDESIGN PROJECT (10/2002-5/2005): Compiled manual detailing hundreds of style elements for use by staff of more than 200 editors and page designers. Responsible for issuing style updates to staff. Tutored design staff in Adobe InDesign software fundamentals, resulting in on-time transition from use of QuarkXpress to InDesign throughout newsroom.

CCI TRAINER AND SYSTEM “SUPERUSER” (7/2000-10/2002): Wrote and edited training manual for CCI “Newsdesk” page-design program and taught staff of more than 150 designers, resulting in on-schedule conversion to new system. Developed and participated in team tests to resolve problems and improve system. Provided technical support and ongoing training to reporters, editors and designers resulting in more efficient and creative use of system.

FOOD SECTION NEWS EDITOR (7/1995-7/2000): Coordinated copy flow, editing, layout and proofing of Food section. Wrote occasional feature items. Initiated update of Food section style manual. Launched effort making Food the first fully paginated section of paper, using Quark Xpress.

NATIONAL EDITION ASSISTANT NEWS EDITOR (1/1990-6/1995): Repackaged content of Los Angeles edition for East Coast version of paper, resulting in wider and earlier exposure of the paper in the New York City and Washington, D.C., markets.

ASSISTANT BUSINESS NEWS EDITOR (12/1986-1/1990): As first editor of special annual “Times 100” supplement, conceived story ideas, developed graphics themes, supervised composition of section, which gave Times readers a unique perspective on performance of companies in the state. Coordinated production of weekly “California and The Pacific” Business section. Supervised copy desk of eight persons and did layout for daily Business section, consistently meeting section’s nightly deadline.

Prior to 1986: San Francisco Chronicle, Copy Editor; Oakland Tribune, Assistant News Editor; Sohio Petroleum Company, Editor and Proofreader; The Houston Post, Universal Desk Editor; Dallas Morning News, Copy and Layout Editor.

Teaching Experience

Los Angeles Times

TRAINER: Tutored design staff in software fundamentals.

PANELIST: Diversity Committee on minority workplace issues and news coverage.

PRESENTER: Diversity Seminar for all newsroom managers.

University of Southern California, ADJUNCT LECTURER: Co-instructor of “Publication Design and Technology,” a junior-level course in design fundamentals and Adobe InDesign and Photoshop software. As consultant, evaluated content and advised redesign of USC Daily Trojan. Led design seminars for Daily Trojan editors.

The University of Texas at Austin, TEACHING ASSISTANT: Taught editing and headline-writing skills for a sophomore-level copy-editing course. In junior-level reporting course, helped students develop news stories for the student daily.


The University of Texas at Austin:

Bachelor of Journalism with honors

Bachelor of Arts (in Latin) with honors

Graduate work in Journalism

California State University, Northridge:

Graduate work in Journalism

The University of the South School of Theology (Extension), Sewanee:

Certificate, Education for Ministry program

UCLA Extension

Coursework in print and web design, public relations, event planning


Society of Newspaper Design:

2008 Award of Excellence for Los Angeles Times Real Estate section design

2004 Award of Excellence for L.A. Times Food section design (shared)

Los Angeles Times:  Honorable Mention for editing of “Times 100” supplement

Oakland Tribune: Publisher’s awards (two) for headline writing

The Houston Post: “Spur” awards (two) for headline writing and page design

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