March 29, 2012
Here are some reasonably light visual readings for your return from spring break. Mainly, you need to read through the assigned Briggs chapter 6 on visual storytelling. Think about his advice and note the example experts he gives. Some of you have been incorporating visuals into your work from the start, others have come around to it, and a few are still pounding out mostly text articles each week. Use these readings as a way to start thinking about more creative forms of visual storytelling. How might your blogs tell a story that is more visual than text (and while “use lots of photos” is surely an answer, it’s not the ONLY answer).
Second, I’d like you to look at some photoblogs. What’s a photoblog? Find out for yourself. You’ve probably seen some photoblogs – post an example in your response (and use an in-text link, please – full URLs are so tacky).
A great home for this kind of thing is Tumblr. This site (and others like it) are becoming prominent examples of quick-hit, visual blogging (actually, I’m not even sure if “blogging” is the right word for whatever Tumblr is, but it’ll suffice for now). This Huffington Post list of “33 Tumblrs you NEED to follow” is a good place to explore. It may not be your thing, but resist the urge to gripe’n’grumble and remember: Look past the content to what’s behind it. What ideas are here that we as journalists can use?
Finally, something that you’ll either get a kick out of or really hate: Memes. The meme is a basic cultural unit (much like the gene is a biological one). Like a virus, it lives to spread from carrier to carrier, mutating and adapting as it goes. Successful memes thrive, unsuccessful ones die out. Go to quickmeme (or your own favorite meme creator, if you have such a thing) and browse the current and most popular images. Then go to the Facebook WVU Memes page and scan back a few weeks/months (if you weren’t aware of this, I’m sorry/you’re welcome). Yes, Marshall and Pitt have their own meme pages, and the college meme trend is already showing signs of burning out, but take a look anyway. Resist the urge to say “this is dumb” (which it surely is), and consider what’s going on here. I won’t ask you to come up with a journalistic application for memes, but how might the kind of sharing and creativity going on here be useful in more valuable mass communication?
Remember, your responses are due by noon Monday, April 2 (after spring break) as a comment to this post.
March 15, 2012
In anticipation of next week’s visit from Ali Manzano, social media and engagement coordinator for the Oregonian, I want you to read some of that publication’s forays into, well, social media and engagement. Start with the Oregonian website (don’t forget the ownership discussion we had in class today – there’s also OregonLive, which is primarily Oregonian content but is still a separate entity). Just do some general sifting here. How do you see online and social media incorporated, whether on the site itself or in individual stories? How does a typical story incorporate links, comments, aggregation, and so on? Get a picture of the publication as a whole before moving on.
After taking this overview, have a look at some more prominent examples of how the Oregonian does its job (these are from my sparsely maintained media blog, where you can find several posts on my time at the Oregonian in summer 2011):
- The Eat Tweet inspired recipe contest challenged readers to submit a full recipe in a single tweet (prizes were awarded for the best). I love the creativity this kind of “assignment” requires to meet the limitations of fitting a complex process into 140 characters (or less).
- This Gigapans project photodocumented the crowd at the Portland Timbers home opener, then invited attendees to find and tag themselves in the image. To me, this seems like an idea that appeals to the same place as cutting out a picture of yourself and hanging it on the newspaper, except the picture is massive and detailed and the newspaper is visible everywhere (okay, it’s not a perfect analogy).
- Many other projects weave elements like Tweets, location, and other kinds of reader feedback into seemingly traditional stories. Simple projects like weather mapping or responses to official proposals take on a different kind of life while being fundamentally recognizable to more traditional readers (and journalists) as well. It’s the same skills, but with a wealth of new tools.
Once that’s done, check out the Oregonian and OregonLive‘s (separate) Facebook pages. What kinds of things get posted on each? How do reader reactions (page & post likes, comments, etc.) differ, and why might this be? Over on Twitter, you can also have a look at the publication’s two lists of journalists: Oregonian staff members and Oregonian beats. Look through a few of these, especially the region-specific beats that are maintained by the rotating reporters that fill those beats – what’s the idea here?
We’ll push back the readings listed in the syllabus to account for the visit, so don’t worry about the Briggs chapter on visuals (for now). As usual, make your responses in a comment to this post by noon Monday, March 19. As NOT usual, come to class prepared to talk about what you’ve seen with Ali.
March 12, 2012
Here is your roster of course group blogs for 2012. They’ve been added to the right-hand blogroll (under “2. Group Blogs”), bumping previous blogs down into the realm of “4.Past Students.” They’re all new, so today they don’t consist of much more than a mission statement, but have a look at what’s to come.
#GradSchoolProblems: Five West Virginia University Students’ Guide to Graduate Study … and other complaints.
Mountaineers Connect: Building a community between Morgantown and WVU.
A “J” in the Life: A blog made for journalism students by journalism students at WVU.
Graduation Preparation: With stories about masters programs, internships, finding jobs, and more, we’re sure to be your number one spot to prepare you for before and after graduation.
March 1, 2012
You’re all pretty busy at the moment, so this week’s reading will go in a different direction. 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 a few of the group blogs from the past few years and see what you think.
The blogs are:
Masticate Morgantown (2010)
Motown Entertainment (2010)
Move-in Morgantown (2010)
Mountaineer Life (2011)
The Eclectic (2011)
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Morgantown (2011)
Pick two of these blogs (ideally one from each year) and respond in depth (similar to how we critiqued each others’ personal blogs). What are they about? Is there a clear focus? What are some of their strongest posts? Weakest? Finally, and most importantly, what would you have done differently (and how does that influence your own group blog plans)?
Don’t forget to incorporate how Briggs’ thoughts and suggestions on conversation factor into the work you read. Do you see a conversation in the group blogs you’ve read, or are they just talking to themselves? Your response is due as a comment to this post by noon, Monday, March 5.