Welcome to Blogging and Interactive Journalism. We’ll be meeting for the first time this Tuesday, but if you haven’t yet, you should check out this, our course blog. The tags at the bottoms of posts (and in the right-hand menus) will let you check out past assignments, readings, and so on (if you’re the kind of person who does that sort of thing). More importantly, you can see the work of those who’ve come before. There are links to selected personal and group blogs, both of which you’ll be doing yourself soon enough. Some are defunct, others are still updating, but they’re useful for seeing what lies ahead.
There are two major changes to this term. First, the personal blogs will be different. They must now have a specific focus on journalism and mass communication. You might go fairly broad, considering social media use across all mass media, or narrow, looking at advertising digital case studies. We’ll discuss this further in class, but if you were hoping to blog about Mountaineer Football … well, sorry about that (although you could cover sports journalism).
The second change is that I’ve added a fairly hefty coding component, which means we’ll be spending most Thursdays working with HTML, CSS, and perhaps some others (depending on our progress). Now, before you go looking for the Drop form, you should know this is a skillset that your future employers are looking for. Even if you don’t become a webpage designer (and you probably won’t), you will need to be code-literate if you hope to get your job done. This class will help with that.
Some basics of what you’ll need:
- A personal blog on WordPress.com (which we’ll start in class) – we will eventually be purchasing the custom design upgrade ($30/year), which will allow us to alter our blogs’ code, add plug-ins, and so on, so prepare for that expense.
- Accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. If you are one of those holdouts who’s refused to get a Facebook account, your choices are to drop the class or join the 21st century – this is a mass communication class, and you need to be able to use the tools that are its focus. If you’d prefer to start an account separate from your personal one, that is just fine – we’ve all got secrets – but make sure your Twitter account is public (readable to all).
- Mark Briggs’ JournalismNext (2nd ed.). Yes, you need it. It’s a how-to book, and we’ll be using many of its guides in class.
- A willingness to write at least two blog posts per week. These must be posted on Monday-Friday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., and cannot be on the same day. Nobody is reading your blog at 3 a.m.
- Grad students must complete an additional project for the class, typically an individual research or professional project with an 8-10 page writeup and in-class presentation. We’ll discuss further in class.
Come to our first class with some ideas for a focus for your blog, and think of a few first posts that relate to recent events in journalism and mass communication. These blogs are not diaries, they’re entries into the discussion. Have a look through the course blog’s blogroll links to get some ideas about what that means. Beyond that, start bookmarking sites (some good starters are Mashable and Read-Write Web) and read them regularly. See you Tuesday.