In-Class Assignment #4: Storify

January 31, 2012

Last week, we used Twitter to report. This week, we’ll use another popular app, Storify, to condense the best of those Tweets into a narrative that can accompany a news story or serve as a stand-alone narrative (adapted from Dave Burdick’s tutorial)

Getting Started

  1. Go to and log in with your Twitter handle
  2. Once in, browse through the stories to get a feel for what’s possible
  3. Click the “Create Story” button at the top right of the screen and create a Storify page of your team’s scavenger hunt

Adding content

  1. In the left panel, add a title and description for your story in the blanks
  2. In the right “Media” panel, click the Twitter icon (the little blue bird) and type in “#WVUblogJ”
    • You can search users and keywords too, but start with this for now)
  3. Drag tweets and images from the right panel to where you want them in the left panel
    • You can click “Images” to just display images to use, “Timeline” for tweets a single user sees, and “User” for tweets from that user
  4. You can also include elements from Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Instagram & Google by clicking the relevant tab on the right panel
  5. You can embed links to specific sites as well – just click the little chainlink icon, enter the URL, and drag it to your story
  6. Add text by mousing over blank areas before or after your content links. A yellow bar will appear. Click on any of these to enter text

Publishing your story

  1. At the top right of the left-hand window is a big, friendly blue “Publish” button – click it
  2. You’ll get a window with a Publicity message that lets you send this to Twitter or Facebook and also inform people you quoted
    • You can change these from their defaults to something better
    • You can skip this and send it later by clicking “Notify” at the top of your story panel
      • This is a great way to publicize what you’re doing to the people who helped you do it!
  3. If your Storify is associated with an actual news story (e.g., something in the DA or WVU News), and you’re embedding the Storify at the end, switch the default link to that of your story
    • NOTE: You can’t embed this code in a WordPress-hosted blog, but you can post to there by clicking “Export” (at the top)
    • To embed: Click “embed” (below the headline of your story) and copy/paste the resultant text to your story (or blog post).

In-class assignment (1/31/12): Storify your scavenger hunt and publicize, adding #WVUblogJ and #JRLweb tags to the update

Read & (literally) Respond – Week 4: Intercollegiate Crosstalk

January 25, 2012

In keeping with this week’s Twitter Mega-assignment, we’ll be reading up on the work of your peers from around the country. All of the links provided are to classes who will either be scavenger hunting alongside your, or who are about to embark on that selfsame journey in the near future.

The other participating schools (instructor’s handle in parentheses) and their hashtags are below. All are posting this week unless otherwise noted:

  • University of Memphis (Carrie Brown-Smith @Brizzyc) #J4801
  • University of Oregon (Suzi Steffen @SuziSteffen) at #J361
  • Lehigh University (Jeremy Littau @JeremyLittau) at #J230
  • Drury University (Jonathan Groves @GrovesProf) #DU221
  • Brigham Young University (@cressman) at #comms238
  • American University in Cairo, Egypt (@KimFoxWOSU) at #AUC202 (Starts school after us so will be doing it a little bit later)
  • Southern Methodist University (@jbatsell) at #j2380
  • Grant MacEwan University in Alberta, Canada (@KarenUnland) at #J256
  • Valencia College (@KenCarpenter) at #vcj
  • Auburn University (@AuburnJProf) at #J2310 (will do a later week)
  • Texas State University in San Marcos (@cindyroyal) at #mc4382s

There are three parts to this assignment (15 points in all):

  • Retweet (5 pts) at least five posts from students at these other schools. They can be scavenger hunt items or something else relevant to the course. It is preferable that you add some of your own (brief) perspective where possible, so you’re adding to the conversation.
  • Respond (5 pts) to at least five separate posts from students at these other schools. This is different than retweeting – you’ll need to make contact and open up an actual conversation.
  • Post (5 pts) an overview of the Twitter experience – with specifics regarding the scavenger hunt and inter-school interaction – in a comment to THIS post. Post a link to that post here, and share that post via Twitter with the #WVUblogJ tag.

All these things must be completed by noon, Monday, January 30.

Social Media Challenge #2: Twitter Scavenger Hunt 2012

January 24, 2012

The best way to learn about Twitter is to use it. For the remainder of class today (Tuesday, January 24), you’re heading out into the world in teams of two (at least one of you needs a phone with Twitter – I prefer the TweetDeck application for mobile use, but you may use whatever works) to find 10 things. This is part of our Twitter Mega-Assignment. You’ll need to complete this assignment by the end of class. DO NOT FORGET THE HASHTAG #WVUblogJ

  1. School spirit. Photo and quote from someone (not you or your partner) revealing school spirit (what exactly that means is up to you.)
  2. Eating up. Photo and quote of/from somebody (not you or your partner) at your favorite eating spot on campus.
  3. Professor on the street. Photo and quote from a professor on campus. Ask them what they think the role social media plays in social change, such as Egypt. Be sure you include the professor’s title and department.
  4. Student on the street. Photo and quote from a student. Ask them where they get their news and if they use social media to keep up on the news. Be sure you include their year in school and major.
  5. Academic excellence. Photo and quote that reveals (you are going to have to be creative) how WVU contributes to cutting edge research and/or learning.
  6. Scenic spot. Photo of your favorite scenic spot on campus.
  7. Little-known fact. Photo and quote of something you think many people might not know about West Virginia University, even some of those of us that go to school here.
  8. Fanatic fans. Photo/quote from somebody asking for their thoughts on the WVU/Pitt game outcome, prognosis on the remainder of the basketball season, or other sport of your choice.
  9. Personal favorites. Photo of you and a photo of your partner in your favorite spot on campus.
  10. Extracurricular extravaganza. Photo and quote that exemplifies some of the huge variety of clubs, organizations, etc. available to students at our university.


  • Think like a reporter. Have an eagle eye for the interesting, the important, the relevant, the unique, and the immediate. Double check your facts.
  • Think like a public relations professional. Show other people what’s cool about West Virginia University.
  • Think like a storyteller. You may only have 140 characters in each Tweet, but you can say a lot in a few words or using an image.
  • You may use more than one Tweet for each of the items below. Don’t overdo it, though. Less is more (and don’t forget the #WVUblogJ hashtag!)
  • You will want to offer an introductory Tweet or two explaining what you are doing and introducing your partner. You may use either of your accounts or both. Doesn’t matter as we are using the hashtag to organize the Tweets.

This is going to seem a little strange to some of you, but the goal is to reveal to you the journalistic applications of Twitter. You need to be an observer, a reporter, and you can’t be afraid to accost people on the street for their opinions. You’ll provide perspective and voice, and you’ll tell a larger audience something about your subject (WVU, in this case) – make sure you’re thinking of them!

(As always, props to Dr. Carrie Brown-Smith of University of Memphis for this fantastic idea)

In-class Assignment #3: Twitter

January 24, 2012

For the first part of our Twitter Mega-Assignment, we need to get to know Twitter. This in-class assignment will get you started (if you’re not already). The requirements are simple:

  • Create a Twitter account and post it as a comment to the Mega-Assignment page. You may use your existing account if you have one, or you may create a new account if you’d like to keep your existing account private. Due: In class, Tuesday, January 24.
    • NOTE: Your profile must be publicly accessible (because I have to be able to read it to grade you)
  • Add the Twitter widget (in your Dashboard under Appearance > Widgets) to your personal blog and link it to the account you’ll be using for class. Due: In class, Tuesday, January 24.
  • Find at least 30 people/organizations/whatever to follow (these should include @rww and @mashable – you may also follow your classmates, but not ONLY them). Due: Noon, Friday, January 27.
  • Post at least 10 tweets in addition to the Scavenger Hunt assignment, each incorporating one or more of the following:
    • links
    • hashtags
    • retweets
    • In addition, at least a few of these should include the #WVUblogJ tag (and be relevant to this class!).
    • Due: Noon, Monday, January 30.

Mega-Assignment: Twitter Week 2012!

January 24, 2012

Get ready to Twitter like you never have before! We’re going to shuffle the semester a bit in order to do this project mostly simultaneously with several other universities around the country. Starting in Tuesday’s class, we’ll be working through an integrated array of projects designed to get you thinking about the connective and journalistic potential of Twitter. I’ll post each assignment individually, as usual, but will also link to them via this post.

In-Class Assignment: Getting Started in Twitter (posted 1230p Tuesday) – 5 pts

For this simple in-class assignment, you’ll get your feet wet in Twitter. You’ll create an account, start tweeting, follow a bunch of people, and experiment with the nomenclature (@, #, RT) of Twitter. Easy stuff.

Social Media Challenge: Twitter Scavenger Hunt (posted 2p Tuesday) – 20 pts

Now that your feet are wet, let’s get them good and soaked. You’ll head out into the world in teams of two (at least one of whom has a phone with Twitter capability) to collect a list of “items,” which you’ll report via Twitter. This assignment requires you to talk with people – it is a class about journalism, after all – and you’ll need to label each post with the #WVUblogJ tag.

Read & (literally) Respond: Intercollegiate Crosstalk (posted Wednesday) – 15 pts

This assignment spans at least four other colleges and universities, with students just like you scavenging for the same list of items. It’s a great way to get to know others, their practices, and their universities … and that’s just what you’ll do. You’ll need to retweet and respond to a set number of students at other participating schools, and you’ll post a comment (to that assignment) summarizing what you’ve learned from the experience.

Total points: 40

Man that’s a lot of Twitter! Oh, and one more thing: Post the Twitter handle you’ll be using (e.g., @thebobthe) to THIS blog post so we can follow along. See you in class!

Read & Respond – Week 3

January 19, 2012

This week is all about past AND present. In addition to continuing to refine your blog’s concept, you’ll be learning about where the Internet came from, and where it is (or is not) going with regard to the current SOPA debate. Let’s dive in…

Briggs this week calls his chapter “advanced blogging,” which is right in line with where you should be by now. You’ve got a few posts under your belts, but you’re wondering where to go from here. In keeping with this week’s history theme, he’s got a good section on where blogs came from, including a shout-out to Dan Gillmor, who’s a strong evangelist for rethinking media-audience communication (have a look through his Twitter feed for evidence of the man’s passion for this subject). Briggs offers up some good tips for getting started, as well as providing some useful terminology and audience-building tactics.

You might consider reading this week’s links before Briggs because many of them address the world before social media (these are fairly in-depth, so SKIM). First, there’s this piece from the Internet Society, “A Brief History of the Internet” – it’s a little tech-y, but note the players involved. Likewise, take a glance at these two timelines: How the Internet came to be, and Hobbes’ Internet Timeline (now up-to-date!), which is an EXHAUSTIVE listing of events – don’t try to read the whole thing, but DO use it as a reference.

Now, let your reading muscles relax and watch this video on just where the Internet came from:

With all that context in mind, I want you to turn your mental gaze to the SOPA/PIPA debate we’ve discussed in class. After yesterday’s blackouts, the bills seem to be taking serious hits from what’s been presented as a ground-up, new economy vs. old economy throwdown. Online iconoclast Jaron Lanier, on the other hand, suspects there’s a lot of hooey to these “grassroots” claims (as you’ll see this semester, Lanier thinks there’s a lot of hooey to most things). Based on what you now know about the Internet’s origins, what do you think of how the SOPA debate has progressed?

Is the Internet something invented by an individual? Just where did it come from, and in what forms has it existed? How do its origins inform the things we use it for today (like protesting)?

Remember, your response is due as a comment to this post no later than noon on Monday, Jan. 23.

Social Media Challenge #1: Start Following!

January 18, 2012

In your first post, you introduced yourself and suggested a focus for your blog. This week you’ll solidify that focus and identify sources of information that will contribute to your writings. Don’t forget, you’ll need two posts this week (and every week thereafter) too!

Part 1: Refine your focus – Due: Noon, Thursday, Jan. 19

Last week, you created an “About” page with your blog’s mission statement. In class yesterday, we assessed these focuses. Based on my and your classmates’ feedback, refine your “About” page and copy & paste it into an email to me. Remember these points:

  • It’s not about you. Make sure your focus is a larger conversation, not a diary or “expert advice” (you’re not one) or “my crazy life” blog. How can you connect with a larger community?
  • It’s not about everything. Avoid being too broad (e.g., “pop culture”) – if you say you will write about something general like “sports,” you’ll need to spell out what a reader might get out of reading your site compared to the countless other sports sites out there.
  • It’s not just links. Links are necessary, but a successful blog needs to add something to the information it synthesizes from elsewhere. Linking to a bunch of stories about the Pittsburgh Penguins is not blogging.

Part 2: Identify sources to help you – Due: Noon, Monday, Jan. 23

Blogging isn’t something you have to do on your own. With your focused topic in mind, it’s time to identify some sources to help you on that path. You will identify 10 blogs to follow. Each of these blogs should inform your topic in some way – for example, a social media blog might draw on You’ll need to complete the following steps:

  • Post links to each of your 10 blogs in your blogroll
  • Add their RSS feeds in Google Reader
  • Write a blog post explaining (in 1-2 sentences each) how each of these blogs will inform your own blog – don’t forget to include links to each blog in your post!
  • ALSO add,, and the course blog to your Google Reader (these don’t count toward your blogroll, and they’re not required for it)
  • Yes, this counts toward your weekly two posts.

Part 3: Add the Calendar widget to your blog – Due: Noon, Monday, Jan. 23

This is an easy one. In your Dashboard, go to Appearance > Widgets and drag “Calendar” to your sidebar. This must be also done by noon, Monday, Jan. 23.

How-To: Adding to your Blogroll

January 17, 2012

For Social Media Challenge #1, you’ll be creating a blogroll of the 10+ blogs you’re following in your RSS feed. A blogroll keeps your influences at your fingertips, and it’s a useful way to show visitors to your blog the places you use for information. It makes sense – if they like what you have to say, they might want to know who you like.

It’s easy to create and update this in WordPress:

  • Sign in to your blog and click “My Dashboards”
  • In the left column, go to Links > All Links
  • Click “Add New” (at the top next to “Links”) and fill in these blanks:
    • Name: What is the blog or blogger?
    • Web Address: The URL – be sure to include the http://
    • Description (OPTIONAL): Tell something about the blog
    • Categories: Default is “Blogroll” – you can create others if you like
  • Click the blue “Add Link” button on the left, and you’re done!

How-To: RSS feeds and Google Reader

January 17, 2012

Blogging means reading. How do you keep on top of everything you’re trying to read? Easy – you use an RSS feed! In class, you were required to start following at least 10 blogs with relevant information to your personal blog (and add them to your blogroll). Here’s a recap.

RSS stands for Rich Site Summary but is more commonly understood as Really Simple Syndication. From

RSS solves a problem for people who regularly use the web. It allows you to easily stay informed by retrieving the latest content from the sites you are interested in. You save time by not needing to visit each site individually. You ensure your privacy, by not needing to join each site’s email newsletter.

People use feed readers (like Google Reader) to follow RSS feeds. You can add any site that syndicates content to your feed – sites with syndicated content will have an icon in their URL window that reads RSS, XML, or RDF. Here’s how to set up a reader for yourself:

We’ll use Google Reader, which you can access at

  • Click “Create an account” button to create a Google account (if you have a gmail account, you can skip this step)
  • Provide your email account and a password
  • Agree to terms of service and click “I accept” button

Once you’ve signed into Google Reader:

  • Add blogs – Click the big red “SUBSCRIBE” button in top left
  • Manage blogs – Your subscribed blogs show up in the left column under “subscriptions” (click one to read posts from just that blog, click “All Items” at the top of the left column to see posts from every subscription)
  • Hold the “All Items” button (at top) to switch to view only new items
  • “Mark all as read” is a useful way to clean house when your feed gets backed up
  • You can switch between “List” (just the headlines) and “Expanded” view with the buttons at the top right

Student blog listings – 2012

January 17, 2012

Below is this year’s listing of your personal blogs, including short descriptions of what readers can expect from each. Once I’ve gotten everyone’s address, I’ll post links to each of these in the “Students” menu on the right-hand bar. Have a look and get to reading and commenting.

Although I’ve posted the descriptions you’ve given me, some of you still need to refine your concepts (if you’ve heard from me about this but see someone here with a seemingly similar concept, rest assured they have also heard from me). We’ll continue to work on these this week. In a nutshell, remember the Don’t list we discussed in class last week: No diaries, no “my crazy life,” no expert advice (you’re not one), and no recipes/reviews (you’ll notice these are all one-way approaches to blogging). But also remember the Do list: Identify a focus that lets you connect to existing conversations and communities, that provides multiple external sources of information, and that is fruitful enough to maintain long after this course has ended.

Marshal Carper: A scrawny writer attempts to return to jiu-jitsu training after a major knee surgery.

Michael Carvelli: It will be a blog where WVU fans can go to get up-to-the-minute news and information about Mountaineer athletics.

Sarah Cordonier: My blog is about what life is like in a family with many children (allocation of resources, family dynamics, misconceptions, etc.).

Erin FitzwilliamsFocusing on animal rights and ethics news in West Virginia, but will also discuss/localize national and international news from time to time.

Breanne Hill: My blog covers the events and people surrounding the study of martial arts at West Virginia University, focusing on the college students practicing Taekwondo.

Hunter Homistek: The CoalFist is West Virginia’s premier mixed martial arts blog.  Come here for fight info, fighter profiles and places to train in the Mountain State.

Greer Hughes: I would like to focus on iPhone photography and specifically Morgantown photos and apps.

Matt Krauza Midnight Writer is all about the life of a graveyard shift worker and how working that shift affects their life.

Autumn Lonon: It is the broke girls guide to getting the most out of your college years.

Matt Murphy: Explore Route 40 exists as a guide for locals and non-locals alike to introduce local restaurants and attractions along America’s first federally-funded highway.

Candace Nelson: My blog will focus on local food culture in Morgantown, which includes people, events, ideas and community that all have a passion for food and drink.

Mary Power: Though Ramen Noodles, Easy-Mac, and fast food are all subpar culinary creations, it is possible to live on a college budget and eat well (if your definition of well involves slabs of butter, which mine does).  This blog aims to detail that struggle as well as different student diets while providing easy, quick, and wonderful creations.

Ben Scott: My blog will be discovering and exploring the wilds of West Virginia through original photography and recordings.

John Simson: My blog is basically about the progression of extreme sports and the individuals that are progressing them.

Katie Sloane: I will be writing about preparing for life after college, how to cope with the changes that my peers and I are going to face, and resources that are available to aid us in this journey.

Anan Wan: I’ll focus on the daily life of the international students in WVU, especially on the biggest Chinese traditional Spring Festival celebration.

Matt Wolford: My blog will focus on the latest tech buzz and I’ll give my opinion of why I think it’s positive or negative to today’s world and the consumer.

Samantha Young: The blog will address ideas for students who want to eat healthy and are on a budget.