Read & Respond – Week 9

You’re busy. I know you’re busy. You’ve got a group blog to plan, a budget and mission statement to write, and Guilder to frame for it. You’re swamped. This week you’re reading Briggs Chapter 10, on the newsgathering conversation, but beyond that, I just want you to take a leisurely read through what has come before. Scan through the three group blogs from 2010 and see what you think. What do they do well? Poorly? What are your favorite posts, and which seem less useful? How clear are their focuses, and how well do they stick to them? Finally, and most importantly, what would you have done differently?

The blogs are:

Masticate Morgantown

Motown Entertainment

Move-in Morgantown

Be sure to at least touch on each of them in your response (although you may focus on one or two), and see how Briggs’ thoughts on conversation factor into the work you read. Your response is due as a comment to this post by noon, Monday, March 7.

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25 Responses to Read & Respond – Week 9

  1. capnwinters says:

    The Masticate Morgantown blog has too many recipes, which really don’t pertain to Morgantown. If Morgantown is in the blog name, one would assume it would have bearing on the content, yet perhaps half of the entries were recipes which could be found anywhere. Granted, writing this many posts would quickly grow exhausting, but still. That said, there are flickers of competence in the media integration displayed in the Farmer’s Market entry.

    The Move-in Morgantown blog has a great variety of entries without losing focus. It covers various aspects and tribulations of living in Morgantown, in dorms and otherwise. The layout is sensible, readable and unobtrusive to boot.

    Motown Entertainment has average writing, but no discernible focus that I could see. Topics were presented with no theme or organizing thread. I really dig entertainment, and I think that a better way would be to concentrate on student focused entertainment such as CAC performances, what’s playing in the Mountainlair, street performers in front of the Lair, etc.

    The readings highlighted the fact that getting the community involved in your blog is the best way to retain an audience while also adding an element of crowdsourcing to it. When engaged in the proper way, the community can be an invaluable resource to a blog.

  2. K.Wish. says:

    Masticate Morgantown didn’t aggregate information very well most of the time. They were simply telling us about places but not connecting it to any bigger picture. I did like how they rated restaurants sometimes but they didn’t create any rapport for people to trust their ratings. However, they did have some nice posts and information to provide to the foodie world. This was a good post because it creates new information and interest. Especially as a sushi lover, that post is interesting to me and I would want to know the outcome of the comparison and their thoughts.

    One thing that started to bother me as I was looking through the blog was that they often left a lot of people out on their polls. Even though a spot is left for “other,” it seemed commenters were almost angry that some restaurants weren’t an option to vote on. This ties in well with Briggs and the notion commenters adding to the conversation by complaining about what they as unfairness or inaccuracy in an article. I also saw a post where someone commented on how badly edited the post was and to be careful about their punctuation (correct errors, whoops). In addition, their recipe posts were a good idea in theory but can’t I find the same information by just Googling “recipes”? I would have done more investigative reporting for more blog posts. Many of them were oh-so topical and easy, which is okay sometimes. But I could find the majority of the information posted on Masticate Morgantown from more reputable, larger web sites.

    Morgantown Entertainment was a step up from Masticate Morgantown. In other words, I liked this blog for the most part. It’s oddly similar to what our group came up with. However, our beats are a little different and more focused. Some of their ideas weren’t developed well. For example, their Wiener of the Week idea was just weird. It only had two posts under that category and I just wonder why they thought that was a good idea. However, they did stick to their guns and add more relative and new content to subjects. There were sections of the blog I enjoyed quiet a bit. In their music section, they used videos to recap people that they saw in shows and festivals. The videos aren’t original and it would have been cool to see video clips from the actual show. But I suppose they aren’t allowed to do that sometimes are concerts. I also liked this post because it’s contributing new ideas to a topic and includes videos and links that adds more value.

    Last, we have Move-in Morgantown. It was kind of obvious that the Move-in Morgantown blog was the most developed of the three. I really enjoyed how they used Google Maps on their Reviews tab. After looking through the blog, the reviews aspect was absolutely the best part of this blog. Although the tips for moving, buying, and other renting related topics, were nice and helpful, they didn’t really link too much or aggregate information from other trusted sources. It would have been nice to see their tips posts have more depth and interest.

    In the end, I noticed that all of the blogs had commenters contributing to the conversation. There were commenters complaining, telling what restaurant or apartment they liked, and other places to check out in Morgantown. Since we are all part of the Morgantown community, some of us will see some things that others will miss. The same holds true for all online journalism, as Briggs mentions.

    I think another good point to bring up is that some posts were really good and some weren’t so good, for all three blogs. But I’m sure if we look at the authors of the good posts, most often they will be the same people.

    • aaaaaargh says:

      Thoughtful discussion, especially with regard to the role of commenting. A little background information: I may be partly to blame for Wiener of the Week. The group was looking to incorporate some recurring departments and mentioned – possibly jokingly – one member’s idea of reviewing hot dog places (WV has quite a lot of them). I thought the name was pretty funny, but things didn’t really seem to pan out.

      • K.Wish. says:

        Hahah, no that’s fine. It’s just something I noticed. I’m sure much of their blogs has to do with assignments and such. I just thought it was fruitless to create a entire section for something but only update it twice.

  3. aarongeiger says:

    Before I get to discussing and dissecting the blogs, I have to make a few comments about Briggs’ tenth chapter and the role media plays in the larger “conversation.” I moved here from Illinois; I went to the University of Illinois. At this time every year, the University students celebrate “Unofficial,” or “Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day”—a bacchanal drunkfest that draws students from Chicago, Indiana, and Iowa. It’s such a spectacle I decided to follow it via Twitter (#Unofficial) and on the police scanner via a free website. But while following the tweets, I observed the city manager and the “News-Gazette” (the local rag) having an argument. Then I saw a couple of reporters making jokes about drunk students. I thought about how the public conversation is drawing normally “silent” or composed journalists out of the protection of their neatly formatted stories.

    Briggs observes the confusing mediums that journalists and their companies are caught in. He notes that most online comments for newspapers have either too many people or two few, and the comments are usually inane. It seems that as journalists we are increasingly becoming part of the conversation, but our lives are becoming more transparent; we risk becoming “human” again instead of a filtered voice. We’re seeing increasing notoriety on “blog news” sites like Huffington Post, and less traffic on established news sites. When I started a Facebook group in 2008 to combat the closing of Illinois state parks by the now infamous Rob Blagojevich, I attracted thousands of “friends” and I was also picked up for a news story by a reporter that found me on Facebook. Although she approached me professionally, I had access to her Facebook wall and I could see her posting about drinking with friends, as well as a conversation she had with someone else that was quite the opposite of professionalism. Part of me thought this was normal, but I wondered what some other people would think. I wondered why she didn’t “friend” me via her news organization’s Facebook page.

    Regarding our group project and the previous group blogs that were provided as examples, it seems as if they are primed for engaging the public in the “conversation.” It seems acceptable that since we’re student-journalists, and that we’re focusing on the local fare, it’s probable that we won’t be deemed as “professionals” and therefore we have a sort of pseudo-credential that allows us to engage with our peers and fellow townies. We can open that conversation on the blog as contemporaries; only we’re the ones that are taking the time to research the material that will appear on the blog. But how do we get people to engage with us?

    That being said, “Masticate Morgantown” had a lot of opportunity to open up that conversation. But the students that ran this blog failed to do so. Aside from the previous comments on the recipes and cocktails of the week, when they wrote about “Munchies” or even the farmer’s market, they didn’t open the door for anyone else, nor did they ask questions of their audiences. I think to Foursquare when people can leave tips. When I “check in” to WVU Coliseum, I can see other people that have left tips, such as telling me to go to the blue gate to take a picture with Jerry West’s statue. When the bloggers wrote about “Munchies,” why not ask the public what *their* favorite “tips” are for that establishment? What days are best to go? What are the secrets only locals and frequent patrons know? Why didn’t they ask people who ate there what they thought?

    The same point goes for Motown Entertainment. They write about “Chico’s Fat” and they only offer one viewpoint on the food, and it’s a pretty narrow view, at that. They offer some other highlights, like video and links, but overall there is no “conversation,” only a voice with multimedia.

    Finally, on “Move-in Morgantown,” the bloggers made a nice, clean website that is focused, specific, and visually engaging. I concur that it’s well done, but as we go through the material, it seems that the “conversation,” again, is one-dimensional. There aren’t many opportunities for people to react, respond, or contribute. When talking about places to live in Morgantown, the best source of criticism on places to live (or where is best) is the common crowdsourced voice. On the first page there is only one instance where they say something like, “Here’s what other users had to say…”

    I know, I’m hypocritical. I did the same thing on my own blog/website, for the most part. I do think it’s important to be inclusive, and I’ll try to focus on the conversation, and that includes my new group’s blog.

    • aaaaaargh says:

      Useful observations, Aaron. I don’t think it’s hypocritical to make these observations when you’ve done so yourself in this class – after all, the class exists for you to learn to go beyond that. I am glad to hear reading these other sites has encouraged you to go beyond one-way conversation with your own blog. A dirty little secret is that this will save you some work, at least in the thinking up new ideas. Well, more accurately, it changes your job to one of initiating conversation, facilitating that conversation, and filtering and making connections between the crowd’s ideas. In many ways, the coming journalism can function as a source of moderated and directed community dialogue. I’m eager to see what your group comes up with.

  4. Briggs Chapter 10 seemed like a big reiteration of what we have been learning in class, but it did add some thoughts. The focus was on getting people to not only comment on your blog, but also how volatile comments can be to your blog.
    “Unfortunately, user collaboration and user-generated content does not come easily…it takes a lot of work…you can’t buy or license it, you have to build it” (pg. 291).
    This is true. I have noticed in my own blog that it certainly takes time and commitment to build up a regular community for the blog. Hopefully, the group blog will have enough established bloggers with a following that our blog will receive enough viewers and commentary. Also, the advertising using Twitter and Facebook will hopefully bring in even more.
    Briggs also mentions how monitoring is also important. A bad comment can take away credibility of the blog and turn people away.
    Masticate Morgantown reminds me of a decent idea that ran out of content. It starts with a map of Morgantown and talks about the Morgantown Farmer’s Market, but then reverts to becoming a blog full of random recipes and cocktail drinks. I like the layout of page, very clean polished with photos, but I think the key is that it no longer had anything to do with Morgantown or good, solid reporting. It was all done sitting at the computer and nothing with going out into the world with journalistic talents.
    Motown Entertainment threw me off. I click on the link and I was expecting something entertaining on the main page. The first thing I saw was about carbon monoxide safety with a picture of a smoke detector. Weird. Also, summer living in Morgantown with a night picture of the Rec Center is very deceiving. Needless to say, the entertainment aspect of this blog is stretched to the max in my opinion. I understand the baseball post, but telling a person to eat at Chico’s Fat doesn’t fall into entertainment to me. At least do a restaurant with a band or something. That makes more sense to me. Also, the layout is the same as my personal blog so I am turned away by that as well. I wanted to see something different.
    Move-in Morgantown is great. I love the layout and it is perfect for how they have their site laid out. It is full of links and real reporting. By far the most focused and dedicated blog of the three.
    My question for you Dr. Brittan is this: Did you have very structured blog requirements in the last class, or was it more experimental? The reason I ask is that you told our class that there should be reporting in our group blogs, but it doesn’t look like that was a requirement for this past class.

  5. rdlwvufan says:

    Masticate Morgantown-I thought that this blog did a pretty good job of giving an overview of places to eat in Morgantown, and the only real problem I saw was the inclusion of recipes. The main idea seemed to be focusing on restaurants, and to a lesser extent, where to purchase food locally to prepare at home. I don’t know if it was a lack of ideas at certain points in the semester, but the recipes took away from the blog’s purpose. I like how the restaurant reviews offer tips on what to buy and the general cost of dining. I would definitely exclude the recipes if I wrote for this blog.

    Move-In Morgantown-I like how this blog not only gives reviews of apartment complexes, but it also offers general tips for people living in them, like roommate selection, where to start searching, how to decide where to live, etc. The only place I see the blog (sort of) get off track was in the posts related to saving money on food, water, electricity, etc., but even these are practical things to consider as a college student. They did a good job of aggregating information, but I feel the opportunity to add to this might be limited if one is writing a review of a place in which he has not lived.

    Motown Entertainment-This blog seemed similar to Masticate Morgantown, in that it also had several restaurant reviews. It seemed kind of all over the place though. The blog can be about a lot of different things, but it didn’t feel like those things were tied together very cohesively. The Up All Night posts didn’t really add anything to a basic list of what was coming up. Some of the better posts were probably the fashion ones, considering the writer gave her thoughts on the place she was recommending. The restaurant reviews were pretty good, too.

    As for Briggs, I see the point he is making about not allowing technology to take place of actual interaction with other people, but rather to work alongside of it. I feel that with the group blogs we’ll be writing, it will be important to not just post about a restaurant or an event, but to actually try to engage other people to add something more to it. This makes it feel more real to the readers , and it allows for the formation of potential sources.

  6. Jazz says:

    It’s almost like you planned for us to read about news-gathering when we began our group blogs. Briggs contributes a number of points to enhance my working knowledge of blog-smithy. For one, issues of objectivity; a journalist can only be credible when trying to further a view based on truth (not truthiness) and that can only be attained through proper source work. More important for our groups than our personals are questions of garnering feedback from the public. Not pandering to a demographic, per se, but making our posts well-rounded enough to have something for everyone without straying from our mission. I don’t have the answers to how to motivate an entity towards caring enough to respond to media, because that is the domain the successful blogs have of which we daily strive. Insomuch as we don’t spam message boards or make bs grabs on twitter.

    As for past blogs, there are varying degrees of useful lessons. As for masticate morgantown, which is basically the obstacle our group wishes to surpass, was subject to mere fatigue by the end. If your blog is about local food, and you are posting recipes for generic cookies, you’ve thrown in the towel. It may be irony that the better restaurant reviews belonged to the entertainment blog of Motown Entertainment. Visuals aside, it had a wonderfully diverse berth of content. Of course, diversity is often a double-edged sword, as when out of control one’s objective can suffer. They seemed to keep focused pretty consistently. We’ve talked so much about Move-in Morgantown, I feel more praise would be too much. Let’s just say the use of media was great, and the blog had good practical use.

    Let the group blogging commence, and may the art of journalism be reflected with justice in the social media age.

  7. I wasn’t very impressed with Masticate Morgantown. The biggest thing for me was that the blog claimed to be about food in Morgantown, but most of the time it was talking about recipes you can make on your own. I don’t see how that attracts a Morgantown audience. Also, some of the recipes weren’t even interesting. They would list off ingredients and directions, but not include a description of the meal/drink. Several of the recipes didn’t even have names… which I thought was a big thing to leave out. I think they had plenty to write about on food in Morgantown, but instead they just went the easy way and looked up recipes online.

    Also, I don’t think they did a good job at responding to comments. When I saw posts with comments they usually only had one- and when I looked in to posts with more than one comment the second comment still wasn’t from the author. This group could have done a much better job connecting to the community.

    Move-In Morgantown was better than Masticate. It stuck to the topic and taught me a lot about moving in in Morgantown. My only real problem with this blog is that it isn’t always going to be timely. It is geared toward students and most people are looking for houses in the Spring, so that would be the only time the blog would get any traffic. Also, I don’t think a blog like this would have a large following. I would check in on this blog in a Google search when I was having trouble finding a place, but as soon as I signed my lease I wouldn’t think twice about going back.

    I saw some better responses in the comments from this group… they attempted to interact with their community past posts.

    Motown Entertainment was good. Some of it threw me off though. They were talking about entertainment in Morgantown, but within the first couple posts I read about Carbon Monoxide poisoning and finals week…. That isn’t related to entertainment in Morgantown, or entertainment, or Morgantown. I think other than the random posts that didn’t really fit their topic it was a pretty good blog though.

    Something that confused me about all three blogs was the comments. Even if the majority of the comments were from their fellow bloggers, I still think the authors should have been responding to them. When new readers see they interact with all readers they will be more likely to add to the conversation….

    Which brings me to Briggs- He talked about our blogging community and not only how important it is to engage them, but to engage them honestly. What I learned: One, I know I can’t try to write my blog to get views and comments, I have to write a blog that deserves to be viewed and one that is valuable enough in the larger conversation to make someone want to comment on it. Two, Make sure I don not see people as merely comments on my blog, but as people who I can engage in meaningful conversation with. And three, I should start learning from my audience. They can become one of my most useful tools.

  8. bostonkid124 says:

    After going through the three blogs, I found a lot of information and different angles to approach my own blog. I decided that I wouldn’t read the latest posts and would rather dive into posts that were at the beginning or near the middle of their semester. I felt like it would be easier to find flaws there because the groups probably were still figuring out what/how they wanted to do the blog.
    Move-In Morgantown: I thought the concept of the blog was great, giving people reviews on different apartments and living residences. They also gave tips on what you may need to move in and give helpful reminders of stuff you might forget as one would prepare to move to Morgantown. One little thing that I liked about the site was that the about section was always in the top-right corner of the page. This allows new readers to quickly understand the concept of the site, while refreshing the memory of the regulars.
    In my opinion there wasn’t much about this blog that was done poorly. They used a lot of links in the posts and their sidebar (mainly the blogroll) was helpful as well. If I had to be picky I wish they had a little more flare to the site, I feel like the layout seems kind of dull and boring. But that’s just me being picky. My favorite post was probably the post about the “Worst Rated Apartments” mainly because I knew people that lived at all three and found it humorous as they had told me about their horror stories living there. This blog did a great job of staying on topic and focusing on issues that come up when dealing with moving and finding a good apartment. One minor suggestion I would have had, would be to locate the apartments or residences on Google map I feel like this would help the reader better understand the area and see what’s around.
    Mastigate Morgantown: With this blog I thought a better design would have helped. I also didn’t like how they would insert recipes as posts because in their about page it basically says that the blog is about dining in Morgantown. Maybe if the recipes had ties to the locals, but you don’t need to be in Morgantown to make “the best cookies ever” (I hope I’m getting my point across the way I want to). Basically I feel like, although their focus was clear, they kind of veered away from it a little but I can understand that there are only so many restaurants and places you can review in Morgantown, especially on a college student’s budget.
    One of the things I did like we’re the restaurant reviews and how informative they were. For example this was a good post because it gives you almost everything you need to know. One thing I might have tried to do would have been to talk to the restaurant managers or owners in an effort to promote for each other. Maybe if the restaurant would post a link on their website (if they have one) to the review, the blog would get more readers and at the same time (if a positive review) would make the restaurant look better. I also liked how they frequently used polls to get reader feedback.
    Motown Entertainment: I finally came across a blog that was catchy. The other two blogs were kind of “meh” in their design and colors. I feel like if you throw some colors out there it will catch the reader and potentially entice them into reading some posts rather than bouncing immediately. Their about page and focus wasn’t very well explained and wasn’t entirely completed as Greg wasn’t covering anything (again me being picky).
    Overall the group did a good job of finding new topics to write about. As I was scrolling down the pages I kept finding titles that caught my attention. They had a wide range of topics from the universities “Gold Game” to reviewing spring break from an opposite angle. Another thing that appealed to me was they had nine categories, one for each topic with one being the “Wiener of the Week.” There were only two posts under the section but I found it funny that he chose to review hot dogs and that WV had quite a few hot dog places… regardless the hot dog man on high street will forever be my favorite! Haha. Motown Entertainment was the blog that appealed to me the most, due to the colors, the heavy usage of multimedia and links and the wide variety of topics that appealed to me.

  9. lindsaycobb says:

    I posted my comment logged in under our group blog, sorry!! You’d think I’d be getting better with technology this far in to the semester…
    Anyway this was my response-

    I wasn’t very impressed with Masticate Morgantown. The biggest thing for me was that the blog claimed to be about food in Morgantown, but most of the time it was talking about recipes you can make on your own. I don’t see how that attracts a Morgantown audience. Also, some of the recipes weren’t even interesting. They would list off ingredients and directions, but not include a description of the meal/drink. Several of the recipes didn’t even have names… which I thought was a big thing to leave out. I think they had plenty to write about on food in Morgantown, but instead they just went the easy way and looked up recipes online.

    Also, I don’t think they did a good job at responding to comments. When I saw posts with comments they usually only had one- and when I looked in to posts with more than one comment the second comment still wasn’t from the author. This group could have done a much better job connecting to the community.

    Move-In Morgantown was better than Masticate. It stuck to the topic and taught me a lot about moving in in Morgantown. My only real problem with this blog is that it isn’t always going to be timely. It is geared toward students and most people are looking for houses in the Spring, so that would be the only time the blog would get any traffic. Also, I don’t think a blog like this would have a large following. I would check in on this blog in a Google search when I was having trouble finding a place, but as soon as I signed my lease I wouldn’t think twice about going back.

    I saw some better responses in the comments from this group… they attempted to interact with their community past posts.

    Motown Entertainment was good. Some of it threw me off though. They were talking about entertainment in Morgantown, but within the first couple posts I read about Carbon Monoxide poisoning and finals week…. That isn’t related to entertainment in Morgantown, or entertainment, or Morgantown. I think other than the random posts that didn’t really fit their topic it was a pretty good blog though.

    Something that confused me about all three blogs was the comments. Even if the majority of the comments were from their fellow bloggers, I still think the authors should have been responding to them. When new readers see they interact with all readers they will be more likely to add to the conversation….

    Which brings me to Briggs- He talked about our blogging community and not only how important it is to engage them, but to engage them honestly. What I learned: One, I know I can’t try to write my blog to get views and comments, I have to write a blog that deserves to be viewed and one that is valuable enough in the larger conversation to make someone want to comment on it. Two, Make sure I don not see people as merely comments on my blog, but as people who I can engage in meaningful conversation with. And three, I should start learning from my audience. They can become one of my most useful tools.

  10. deepafadnis says:

    This is a great Read and responds assignment. To be frank, I was hyperventilating at the thought of starting our group blog and not because it’s a lot of work, but because I have very limited resources. As a complete stranger to this town, I have no contacts that I can build on and in addition to that I do not have a vehicle to help me reach out to my sources. Anyway, after reading these blogs I feel a bit relaxed. I see the ease with which students have focused on a particular area of Morgantown and tried their best to cover all aspects of this area.

    To begin with, this week’s Briggs chapter was informative, but he did not have anything new to add to what we already know. Although I do like his categorization of user and the famous 1-10-100 rule. Speaking of which, I often find myself wondering if these blogs have a sort of a position for comment moderators. I recently came across a posting for a social media comment moderator for NY Times and I figured that the people who actually accept or reject these comments most often are not the people who write the article or blog entry. This brings me to the point of different voices in a blog. I can think of a lot of instances where I read the article and when I go over the responses to the comments it’s not the same person. To keep the readers engaged, it is very important to maintain the one single voice.

    Back to the blogs, Move-in-Morgantown definitely steals the show. There is amazing amount of clarity among the group about their objective of this blog. It is only natural that sometimes we tend to sway away from our goal, but the group did great. The information, the structure, the use of google maps, the length and the pictures were together a great effort. Their blog posts were very informative. They had just about the right amount of information, not too little and not too much, which generally tends to get repetitive. I also liked the fact that they diversified their entries. Instead of just reviewing different apartment complexes, they also had helpful entries on Subleasing, Finding a roommate, Moving tips etc.

    On the other hand, Masticate Morgantown had a brilliant concept, but the execution was poor. I don’t want to get over critical and they have some useful and informative entries, but the recipes did not make for appropriate entries. Although I did like the entry on the farmers market. A lot of their entries had great potential but you don’t see the effort being taken. Like the one on the food outlets on the Interstate highway was a great idea for a post and so much could have been done around it.. that itself could have been broken down into three different post. But instead they just listed the names and details of the placed on the highway.

    Well, I just hope we can fill in the vacuum these blogs have failed to notice and reach out to more people.

    • aaaaaargh says:

      Glad reading group blogs past was useful to you, Deepa. As for comment moderator spots, I would imagine this could be a growth industry in the future as more blogs move away from anonymity and into more detailed commenting policies.

  11. kerigero says:

    Masticate Morgantown, the very first post you see is “Best Cookies Ever” so that immediately confuses you about what exactly the blog is about, because the About Me page states that “Our blog intends to include sections on food and drink specials, New Restaurant reviews and other food related news to come” and a recipe for cookies doesn’t seem like it would fall into that category (and the cookies don’t even look that good, who wants dried fruit in their chocolate chip cookies?!) I also feel like just simply posting a recipe and not adding anything else seems kind of lazy or like they didn’t have any other ideas for that week. There are entirely too many recipes as posts, and they didn’t add anything else, just the recipes–they should have put that they were going to be talking about recipes in their “About Me” page, then the blog might have made slightly more sense. Because if someone is going to this site to find out good places to eat in Morgantown or local specials, they would be disappointed to find out that all they can learn about are random recipes. The only post that I really thought offered some actual tips to eating in Morgantown was the How to Eat Organic post, I felt like it offered the most information, but it still wasn’t a post about a place to dine in Morgantown.
    -The biggest thing I would change about this blog is just make the “About Me” page match what you’re actually posting about. And lay off the recipes, if we want to learn how to cook something, we’ll Google it.

    Move-in Morgantown, I thought that information-wise, this blog had the best posts. Every college student in Morgantown is dealing with a number of housing issues and I really liked how this blog discussed a large variety of issues–from small things like how to stay organized while moving to larger issues like going through the hassle of finding a roommate. The posts were all very organized and had a lot of links and pictures to make the articles interesting. My favorite post was “Tips for moving into a dorm”, there are a lot of things that freshmen don’t realize they’ll need until they’re in the process of moving in, and I just thought this post really covered everything well.
    -The only thing I would change about this blog, is just jazz up the actual page a bit-it just seems kind of drab and makes it look a little bit boring. But the posts were all very good and very informative!

    Motown Entertainment, this blog really caught my eye when I opened the page, I really liked the colors they chose. The first post about carbon monoxide safety, kind of threw me off because the blog states that it’s about “things you didn’t know you could do in Morgantown, WV” and this post is simple about fire and carbon monoxide safety–not even a class on fire safety, just tips on safety…so that threw me off a bit. The rest of the posts were kind of hit or miss, on sticking to what the blogs “About Me” states. I kind of felt like most of the posts were geared toward just basic events in Morgantown (like high school football games) rather than actual little known entertainment in the area. Some of the posts I did like were the 2 talking about Springfest, it was nice to get 2 different angles on the event, and I really loved the post which had videos on it…it makes the post more interesting to read and then watch an example of something you just read.
    -Again, I would just change the posts (or the about me page) so that the two sync up better…it’s confusing when you go to a blog to learn about a specific thing and then only about 50% of the posts relate to what the blog is said to be about.

    Overall, Move-in Morgantown, to me, was the best out of these three blogs. I just thought that they really hit what the majority of people in this town are dealing with (students & housing issues) and they really executed it well.

  12. coreypreece says:

    I’m not sure why I decided to go with a Clint Eastwood theme, maybe it is because I watched Gran Torino for the 1,489th time, but this respond post has a “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” theme. Enjoy!

    The Good: Move-in Morgantown…Wow, this is actually an impressive blog considering the circumstances surrounding its creation and upkeep. “Move-In” has a very attractive design with a consistent post format (it’s obvious some thought was put into how this blog should look) and the “Reviews” tab at the top of the blog, which allows the reader to navigate to housing reviews (the most useful of the posts) on a big custom Google Map. The blog also does a good job of keeping posts short and sweet and really cleaning out any fluff information and “incoherent ramblings.” As far as a negative aspect, the blog doesn’t use an archive system or even a categories widget (though it does have the nifty Review tab and map). It really would have been nice to sift through reviews, move-in tips, and the different lists and posts that are scattered throughout the content. In regards to focus, Move-In Morgantown takes top honors for the 3…everything is very consistent, has a stated purpose, and is related to every other post on the blog (instead of the dreadful Motown Entertainment…more on that later). Something this blog is missing is a custom banner and I would have really tackled this off-the-bat. Given the effort put into the design, not having something at the top to grab your attention, or at least accentuate the rest of the blog, is lazy.

    The Bad: Masticate Morgantown…While this blog hints at what my group is aiming for, Masticate Morgantown could have really used a centralized focus. The blog does well by adding photos and interactive media (maps and polls) to almost every blog, and includes a lot of helpful tips and lists that the average reader could use both in the kitchen and at a restaurant. However, the blog’s navigation was questionable with no post archive and no categories to easily find different themed posts, not to mention the amateur blog staple “blogrolll.” Masticate Morgantown does a pretty good job of sticking to their collegiate roots with a variety of cheap dining posts, do-it-yourself recipes and lists of restaurant/bar specials. Yet, the main downfall of the blog (and a reason why I mentioned a need for a more concrete focus) is the incorporation of far too many recipes (some are O.K. but it got the feeling of being a college cookbook) and the endless Cocktail recipes (who in Morgantown has a fully stocked bar to make all those drinks? Bob Huggins?) In the end, I would have focused more on restaurant reviews, as they were my favorite part of the blog, and offering helpful cooking/dining tips instead of the “copy-paste” recipe posts that litter the content.

    The Ugly: Motown Entertainment… “Umm O.K.?” Is really all I can muster for this blog. The blog says it offers “things you didn’t know you could do in Morgantown,” instead it should say “A blog you shouldn’t read in Morgantown.” Fortunately for Motown Entertainment, the blog boasts the easiest post navigation of the three blogs, as the various categories of posts were listed right across the top for quick access to the content. But what goes up, must come down, and this blog is a prime example of that. The blog literally has no sense of focus what so ever, as you can read about “Carbon Monoxide Safety” and then get caught up on what you are going to wear to prom or a frat formal. The site has no streamlining qualities with no consistency concerning interactive content (maps and polls) and each post has a different sized photo, logo, or video attached to each post. When thinking about what I would change about this blog, I would 1) get a clear and concise focus with a maximum list of 5 or 6 categories, 2) do a better job of making sure photo size and interactive content was consistent, 3) have a better mind for editing and gatekeeping…how does a post about changing the batteries in your fire alarm on the same blog about a dress shop review? (this is making my head hurt).

  13. ewadd986 says:

    Masticate Morgantown- This blog was my least favorite of the three. Off the top, there is just way too much white going on with the page. Aesthetically it is just not appealing. If I were them I would have chosen a different template for the blog. You can also tell that they began to run out of ideas for their blog because the most recent posts are basically just recipes. Another thing I didn’t like was the constant misspellings. This made me think about my own blog and realize that nobody will take you credible if you have tons of spelling errors, definitely something I will keep my eye on. I think the bests posts were the ones that included interactive polls and maps because besides pictures there wasn’t much, other content.
    Move-in Morgantown- I really like the template for this blog. Everything seems very neat and clean. The colors could have been better but already this is a lot more visually appealing than masticate morgantown’s blog. I also thought they did a really good job of varying the content. They spaced out their ideas very well and I thought that a lot of their posts showed a good amount of effort. If I were to change some things I would definitely add more color to the blog and would have taken my own photos instead of using a lot of stock ones which they seemed to have.
    Motown Entertainment- I like the look of this blog too but right away I thought that it needed a banner. This blog has a real good chance to pop but the lack of variety kind of threw me off. I did like however the amount of tabs that they had. It made it real easy for me to look through their site and find out what they are all about. It was a great idea when dealing with such a broad topic but I do think their focus could have been narrowed down a little bit. I think they could have done more to do with the college itself rather than the broadness of the entire town of Morgantown but it was still a good blog. I liked the music and sports reviews.
    I think that from the Briggs reading the section on commenting was especially important. He brings up a ton of great points about building a community and connecting to that community. To do that you have to be dedicated and you have to comment on established blogs in your community to get your name out there as well. This will be important for our group blog but I think the fact that we have multiple group members will make it easier especially if we are hitting the quota of 5 comments per week; then our group should be at 25.

  14. tonicekada says:

    Mastigate Morgantown stated in their “about” page that they intended to show the people where to eat in Morgantown through reviews and specials. I don’t think the posts on their homepage lived up to their intentions as most of them were recipes. Recipes are too easy to post. It probably took them five minutes to google it, post it, and find a picture. I think that’s what’s worse is that a lot of the posts didn’t even really pertain to Morgantown at all. A recipe or a cocktail of the week doesn’t relate to Morgantown in particular. I don’t think recipe’s are a bad idea though, especially considering the topic of interest. However, I would have created a seperate category all together for recipes and added them in there as extras after they have written their post, but not as the main post itself. In addition to that, I would have made any recipe more representative of Morgantown…idk, maybe something about “mountain cooking” or something.
    But back to the main posts, my favorite was “Eating Organic in Morgantown.” (big surprise right? lol) I liked how the author talked about what she learned about organic foods through his/her experience in eating them. I also enjoyed the post about the farmer’s market (I’m going to have to hit that up!) Other than these posts, I didn’t really see any of the others building on to a greater conversaion with an idea, but instead, just sort of posted information that anybody can get anywhere.

    As for Move-in Morgantown, I would say this is was a pretty informative blog for students living in Morgantown. The authors lived up to their mission statement fairly well. However some of the posts, like the “WVU off-capus page” was too directional. By this I mean, it almost seemed lliek every other word was a link to another page. This post simply just listed links and sent the reader elsewhere to find what they wanted to know. It would have been a great post if the author built on an idea from the pages he linked the reader to. On the other hand, I thought this site offered many good tips for readers, like how to find an extra roommate. I didn’t know the Ridge and District could do it for you, that’s probably a good thing some people might want to know. I also like how maps were included to show which complexes offered pools. If it were me, I would have interviewd people who lived a specific complex, checked out the complexes fb page, and so on to write a post building on ideas about what others think about living in MOrgantown. A post about landlords and maintence (which places have the best care) would have been a good one.

    All in all, it’s pretty easy to crtique another blog when it isn’t yours haha. But seriously, I’m glad we were asked to do this because I think I just learned a great deal about my own blog and what I need to work on.

    Briggs talks about the conversation and how important social media plays a role. This was a minor mention in the chapter but I liked what he said about adding event calenders to your website and adding polls or reccomendations. If I can figure out how to do that for my own blog, I think it will. It’s a small, but another good way to contriubute to conversation on top of commenting, building on ideas, and so on. Adding events allows people to know what is going on, and possibly spark conversation about the event. For my own blog I could do an event calender on the days the Farmer’s Mrkt. is open, or when it s discount day at the Mountain People’s Coop. I like the pooling idea becase it’s a quick and fun way for people to share their input, so you’ll most likely get some input and hopefully ideas.

    Briggs also reminds us that social media will always be there, it’s not going to die. We reporters need to stop relying so heavily on the computer (e-mail esp.) and get out on the streets!

    • aaaaaargh says:

      Your suggestion seems useful, Toni – though I’ve slagged on recipes (and don’t want to see them without good justification), they could be a functional extra. Even better, what if you got Morgantown bartenders’ top drink recipes? That could be some interesting reporting!

  15. It seems that Move-in Morgantown is the overall chosen favorite and I will jump on the bandwagon and agree. This group had a great theme that was continued throughout the course of their blog. Each post did a good job with timeliness and relevance. Their blog had a professional layout and seemed to have the most potential to become a credible source of information for residents in Morgantown. Now moving to the other end of the spectrum…Masticate Morgantown lacked a strong focus and didn’t keep to their original mission statement. As everyone has pointed out there were entirely too many recipes (really there shouldn’t have been any recipes at all) and a severe lack of “food news”. For example I thought the Eating Organic post had potential, but the pros and cons were merely the opinion of the author and I am sure that there is much outside information that could have been brought into this post to lend some credibility to this blog. Also Masticate Morgantown did not have very many widgets and lacked a strong layout.
    Morgantown Entertainment had a good theme and did a nice job of covering a variety of entertainment events (not just sports and music). I also really liked how they had the tabs and categories across the top of the page and a search bar to make for easy navigation. Some of the posts were a little too far stretched for me, especially the last one about Carbon Monoxide in her apartment,( maybe if she could have someone integrated how certain entertainment venues in town are poorly ventilated and have the potential to be hazardous because of carbon monoxide buildup it would’ve made a little more sense).
    As Briggs mentions, the basis for survival in the blogosphere is really grounded in raising awareness and integrating community involvement into your blog. All of these ideas had great potential but it seems that they feel short of really gaining readership and branching out to reflect the Morgantown community as a whole.

  16. awieders says:

    The first thing that I noticed from Masticate Morgantown, almost immediately, was that the first couple of posts were all recipes. It resonated with me in a bad way since I had heard just the class before Professor Britten say “don’t just post recipes.” Masticate Morgantown is well set up and easy to read, but it seems to fall far from what it claims to be. Since it is such an easy blog to read and follow, that makes it easy to respond which is part of what Briggs talks about in terms of social media and staying connected. The commenting feature allows blogger and reader to communicate.

    Move-in Morgantown was not only practical, but extremely well done. The reviews were to the point. The blog was basically all-inclusive, since they even had a great post about moving into dorms and even advice about how to live with your roommates. Move-in Morgantown was everything that it promised to be.

    The hardest part of blogging is to keep up with it. Something that I’ve found harder then anything else is keeping up with my posts, which ideally would be a daily routine. With Move-in Morgantown, they sometimes were able to post multiple times a day. You don’t want to overdo it, but keeping the blog updated is almost the entire battle.

  17. Briggs’ was right in talking about how volatile comments can take away from the trustworthiness of a blog. But in a way, it’s better to be hated than to not be read at all, right? The biggest thing I’ve learned through this class is that it takes time to build up a blog and audience. Working at the DA, we have to deal with a LOT of issues about commenting on our website. Last year in particular, during SGA elections, I, personally, got ripped apart on our website. It was a story about the “Greek” ticket on campus losing. The website asked if I had been “blue-balled from a sorority” “Why does Melanie Hoffman hate Greek life so much?” and “This is the most biased coverage I’ve ever seen in my life.” It was the first time my journalism skills were really questioned, and I won’t lie, it sucked. The comments on that story became so volatile we ended up taking them all down. We also have a policy to have writers not comment on stories. Most of the time they just end up picking fights with commenters. Briggs said social media wasn’t going away, and it isn’t. But as journalists, we put ourselves out there via social media, and sometimes the consequences are scary. It’s not something we can change though, it’s something we have to adapt to.

    Masticate Morgantown was an interesting idea. I hated the recipes. I had no idea why these were on a blog about Morgantown – what’s special about these recipes to Morgantown? When it highlighted certain places to buy food. It was really informational and helpful. I thought the layout could have been easier to read as well. When there are so many types of informational being thrown into a blog, setting it up differently would have made it more cohesive, I think.

    As for Morgantown Entertainment, the content and seemingly endless supply of information, on somewhat random topics, too, was very interesting. I loved the mixture of video, photos and writing on the posts. But I think this too could have had a better layout to make everything more cohesive. (Somehow I think I’m channeling the Huffington Post here and thinking that tabs for each category would solve many problems for these blogs). It’s weird, because from the blog title, I was expecting it to be like “E” entertainment. But it really became “Things to do in Morgantown,” which is fine, but I think the title is a little misleading. The topics they covered are very similar to what my group is doing, so hopefully we can learn from some of their mistakes.

    Finally, the Move-in Morgantown blog is fantastic. I loved it. The way it’s set up makes the blog look very professional. And most of the posts had great content. What I didn’t like was there was really no easy way to view archives or search for hmm.. perhaps your piece of crap apartment and see what they said about the owners, ha. A housing blog was great for Morgantown. I would have liked to see more feedback from students, so I wonder how the publicizing was. It seems like most comments came from classmates when this was something that really could have reached a whole broader audience. By far, though, it was the most cohesive and put together blog.

    Obviously with an assignment like this it’s easy to throw rocks, but I think, if nothing else, all three groups really learned a lot from doing these blogs (you can tell by their continual improvements as the semester progressed). Hopefully we can all learn from what they’ve done to improve ours as well. Creating a forum that’s a conversation is difficult but critical to the success of a blog.

    • aaaaaargh says:

      Interesting story about commenting at the DA. I imagine it would be quite difficult to deal with as a student journalist reporting on other students (although people don’t get any less defensive about their cherished clubs after graduation) – when I was working for my college paper, any time we ran a story about Greek organizations, the newspapers tended to disappear and be found in dumpsters around campus. So it goes.

  18. While Brigg’s hits on some important point about commenting and collaboration, I am unsure I am learning anything new from it. While I am sure some may like the anecdotal stories about successful bloggers etc., I find myself wanting to understand why the 1-10-100 rule is the way it is. I find that Briggs is lacking in the “Why” area. However, I do believe in the importance of making news participatory. I hope to eventually have an audience that is both large enough and active enough to engage them more. I have already started to collaborate a little bit with non-journalists for our group blog and look forward to more collaboration in the future.

    Move-in Morgantown.

    I loved the map interface for the reviews, but thought that they needed another way to navigate the reviews for those who didn’t know the locations of a residence. It must be assumed that not everyone is a geographic and spatial person, as I am. I liked the post ‘Finding a Pool’ because of it’s multimedia nature.

    Masticate Morgantown

    My favorite article here was the Munchies feature. I enjoyed the humor and the links to the menu and the google map. I felt that this synthesized information from different sources and added an editorial quality to it. However, this blog would benefit from more reviews and less recipes. I felt that I was mislead into thinking it would be more about the restaurants and such.

    Motown Entertainment

    I wasn’t a fan of this blog because I felt that is lacked a focus. However, I did think that incorporating video into the “Review of Springfest” was appropriate and worked nicely.

    I hope to use more maps and multiple mediums in my everyday posts when appropriate.

  19. jonvickers says:

    I was signed in as our group blog before. Sorry

    While Brigg’s hits on some important point about commenting and collaboration, I am unsure I am learning anything new from it. While I am sure some may like the anecdotal stories about successful bloggers etc., I find myself wanting to understand why the 1-10-100 rule is the way it is. I find that Briggs is lacking in the “Why” area. However, I do believe in the importance of making news participatory. I hope to eventually have an audience that is both large enough and active enough to engage them more. I have already started to collaborate a little bit with non-journalists for our group blog and look forward to more collaboration in the future.

    Move-in Morgantown.

    I loved the map interface for the reviews, but thought that they needed another way to navigate the reviews for those who didn’t know the locations of a residence. It must be assumed that not everyone is a geographic and spatial person, as I am. I liked the post ‘Finding a Pool’ because of it’s multimedia nature.

    Masticate Morgantown

    My favorite article here was the Munchies feature. I enjoyed the humor and the links to the menu and the google map. I felt that this synthesized information from different sources and added an editorial quality to it. However, this blog would benefit from more reviews and less recipes. I felt that I was mislead into thinking it would be more about the restaurants and such.

    Motown Entertainment

    I wasn’t a fan of this blog because I felt that is lacked a focus. However, I did think that incorporating video into the “Review of Springfest” was appropriate and worked nicely.

    I hope to use more maps and multiple mediums in my everyday posts when appropriate.

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