Graduation Date

Winter 12-30-2020

Grading Professor

Jeremy Caplan

Subject Concentration

Urban Reporting

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



At its core, journalism is a civic enterprise with a mission to help citizens better understand their world and communities. Fulfilling this lofty mission in today’s digital media landscape poses new and evolving challenges, but it also presents a unique opportunity to reexamine the relationship between storytellers and their audiences. Advancements in the learning sciences in recent decades offer important insights into how the mind works. In teaching and learning, pedagogical experts and practitioners increasingly utilize these insights to refine and implement instructional strategies that increase student engagement, motivation, and learning. This capstone project aims to establish a framework for storytelling that engages audiences as learners, not merely as consumers. A central question to this project is: What if we thought about our audiences in the same ways that great teachers think about their students?

To develop this framework, I relied on deep background knowledge built over more than 10 years of experience reporting on and writing about education, a period that began during my first semester at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. Research for this project included interviews with researchers, experts, and scholars, and experienced practitioners in teaching and journalism. I reviewed articles, white papers, presentations, research publications, podcasts, and videos on topics that include existing and emerging journalism models; visual storytelling tools; interactive and game-based storytelling elements; multimedia formats; and social channels and audience engagement strategies.

The framework is organized according to four learning principles: Learning Activation, Knowledge Building, Collaboration and Community, and Application and Reflection. As I identified journalism practices, I codified them based on their alignment with these four principles. I write more extensively about this learning design and showcase specific journalism examples in a series of Medium articles that are documented in the capstone archive.

My intention for this work is that it will serve as a practical guide for storytellers. As I learned about different best practices, I aimed to apply and model some of these practices for this project. To this end, I produced, edited, and published a video tutorial; created an interactive quiz; and built a standalone microsite with visual elements to further highlight this work. On social media, I engaged with educators and journalism practitioners to amplify my ideas, generate further discussion, and gather feedback.

To demonstrate mastery of reporting and subject matter expertise on specific topics–education, public policy, teaching, and learning–I chose to include a selection of published stories that span the past decade. This includes education and census stories published in the New York Times as a full-time student in 2010, as well as multimedia stories published as an education reporter with GothamSchools/Chalkbeat.

Web site: Journalism Through Learning Design

Google Drive File Location:

Quiz Link:

Journalism By Learning Design – Video.mp4 (59456 kB)
Video Tutorial: 3 Ways to Promote Audience Learning

Learning Activation – Journalism By Learning Design.png (145 kB)
Infographic #1 – Learning Activation

Infographic #2 – Journalism By Learning Design.png (153 kB)
Infographic #2: Knowledge Building

Infographic #3 – Journalism By Learning Design.png (138 kB)
Infographic #3: Community and Collaboration

Infographic #4 – Journalism By Learning Design.png (132 kB)
Infographic #4: Application and Reflection



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