This is an undergraduate journalism course at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture. “MASC 496 – Mobile and Social Media Journalism” is an intensive capstone class offered by Dr. Marcus Messner in the fall semester 2018, in which undergraduate journalism students utilize social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to report on important events and issues. The course is designated as a service-learning class by VCU’s Division of Community Engagement. In the fall semester 2014 and 2016, journalism instructor Vivian Medina-Messner was a co-instructor in this class.

The class also runs an innovative technology project, which was started in cooperation with VCU’s Center for Teaching Excellence (now VCU ALT Lab). Each student in the class uses an iPad kit as a learning and reporting tool for the duration of the semester. In the spring semester 2013 the class was supported by a Knight News Challenge Bridge grant by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. As a media partner of the class, WTVR CBS 6 provides social media expertise as well as a publishing platform for the student work. HASTECH, the Technology Services Support of VCU’s College of Humanities and Sciences, provides the technology backup for the project.

In this class, students apply the theories and concepts of mobile technology and online social networking to journalism. They learn to identify compelling story ideas and effectively break news on social media and blogs. The course integrates journalism skills and concepts from previous writing and reporting classes and adapt them to the social media and mobile environments. Students develop their own social media portfolios as well as build online communities around the various platforms.

Follow the project’s Twitter feed under @ipadjournos. You can also follow class discussions and other musings as well as the students’ reporting projects under the hashtag #ipadjournos on Twitter. Please also “like” the project’s Facebook page and follow the Instagram account.


The following are stories about this mobile and social media reporting project:

Student ‘iPad Journos’ covering Worlds via social media, CBS 6 (VCU News)

“Profiles in Learning: Reinventing the World of Journalism” (VCU Provost’s Office)

“Mojo Rising” (Richmond Magazine)

“Mass Communications Students use iPads for Social Journalism Class” (VCU News)

“iPadJournos reaching new level of education” (VCU School of Mass Communications)

“VCU students chase alleged thief, leads to arrest” (CBS 6)


For questions about the class, please e-mail Dr. Marcus Messner.

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