Welcome to Blogging and Interactive Journalism

January 6, 2012

Hi pre-bloggers

Welcome to Blogging and Interactive Journalism. We’ll be meeting for the first time next Tuesday, but if you haven’t yet, you should check out this, our course blog (which mirrors the email I sent you earlier). You can use the right-hand menus to check out past reading assignments (some will change, some will not), assignments, and projects.

Back on the course blog, you can also see your predecessors’ work, and this is something you should probably do. Recall that you’ll be posting twice a week in a personal blog on a topic of your own choice, and that at the midpoint of the semester you’ll also be designing and maintaining a group blog focused on some interest to a community in Morgantown (there will be changes here; restaurant reviews are now off-limits, so plan to do ACTUAL reporting).

I’d like you all to come to our first class prepared with a few ideas for your personal blog (and some names!). This will be focused on some specific topic of interest that could realistically be maintained beyond the semester, and something that would attract followers who are not your friends or mother. It will NOT be a diary, a collection of movie/restaurant reviews, or a weekly post about your favorite sports team or TV shows. That doesn’t mean you can’t pursue your interests, only that you’re covering a community, not writing for yourself. Valid past concepts have included gaming culture in Morgantown, rock climbing and outdoor photographers in Appalachia, art culture for the college audience, literary culture for the new author, and even one on the community of cat owners in college housing (this last might seem a bit silly, but the author developed an excellent rapport with like-minded individuals through commenting and responding).

Notice what all of these have in common: Words like “culture” and “community.” Your job is to find a way to set yourself apart. I have no reason to read your Baltimore Ravens fan blog when I can get the same information from ESPN or Deadspin from far more established commenters. However, a Lehigh student in a similar course parleyed her fandom into “A Chick Who Digs Baltimore Ravens Football,” a thriving blog on the culture of female Ravens fandom, and even wound up getting to do sideline reporting at some games! She did this by identifying a unserved community and covering it. That’s what I’m looking for from you (sideline coverage not required).

Finally: Grad students. You’ll be required to do an extra component for this class. Past students have had the option of doing original research for submission to AEJMC (deadline: April 1) or leading a course lecture on either an applied subject (e.g., creating a YouTube video account and editing with FinalCut) or other area of interest (e.g., a case study on anonymous commenting policies). Any presentations need to align with a given week’s content, and you’ll be required to submit your proposal by the second week of class.

So that’s it for now. Looking for other things to get a jump on? Start a Twitter account (or start using it again). Create a Google+ page. If you’ve got a smartphone, start looking for apps that might have a journalistic use (and experiment with location apps like Foursquare and SCVNGR). Bookmark Mashable and Read-Write Web and read them regularly. And go have a look at the course blog, come prepared with a few ideas for your personal blog, and I’ll see you next Tuesday.

Dr. Britten