Read & Respond Week 11 – OUR group blogs

You’ll be doing a two-part response this week, but it’s an easy one. On Briggs’ chapter 9 (data journalism) and on the group blogs. In your response:

  1. Read through the first week of one of the other group blogs – AlmostHeaven Entertainment and Morgantown Problems will read each other, and Morgantown Man Cave and The Cap, the Gown & The Pursuit of Happiness. What’s their mission? What are they doing well so far, and what needs work? You need to critique honestly – everyone in this class needs advice in these early stages.
  2. Re-read Briggs chapter 9 and provide your thoughts on data journalism. What is it? Who does it? How can it inform your work? Notice I’m not giving you links to read this week; instead, I want you to provide an example of your own that you continue data journalism (if you use Google to find an example, please don’t be too obvious about it – I’ve seen the top search hits already).

Since I’m later than usual getting this up, I’ll extend the deadline. You have until the start of class, 11:30 a.m., Tuesday, Oct. 29, to post your response in a comment to this post.

25 Responses to Read & Respond Week 11 – OUR group blogs

  1. After reading, “Almost Heaven Entertainment,” I found that they did some things things well. Every blog post had strong links, and several of them to back up the opinions in each post. Overall I felt the posts linked really well. I also think some of their posts were enhanced by interviews they conducted to include college student perspectives on the topic. This helps back up some opinion in the blog as well as the facts the blog post author laid out. I also liked that the group picked a “themed week” and stuck with it.

    I found, “A college-based growing economy and free movies” to be a little lengthy. It didn’t keep my attention for very long when I realized how long it was, I think other people may have the same issue with the length. I felt like it was two different posts. The beginning could have been more of a mission statement or about post for the blog, and WVUp All Night would be the second topic. I also thought the photos in this post were a little too small. I had a hard time seeing them. In addition the Midnight Movies post touched on WVUp All Night. Maybe the two stories could have been linked together somehow?

    I thought Zak’s, “Brown Bag Lunch,” post did a great job visually. There were meaningful photos and a video to help illustrate the points of his blog. He provided a lot of facts, and I really feel like I learned something from reading his post.

    Overall I feel like this blog would benefit from using more meaningful visuals and adding captions to their photos. I also feel like they would benefit by choosing topics where they can pick a unique angle that some people might not know about. Many people already know about the redbox and WVUp All Night options. It would be cool to learn about some new entertainment options that Morgantown has to offer. I know my boyfriend and I don’t always want to go to the movies, we’re always kind of looking for something different and unique to do. Morgantown does a lot of this at various times throughout the year. Things like the cookie swap downtown business do on occasion or the art walk they have would be interesting things to hear about and also viable entertainment options. Public theatre is growing around here, and many dance studios offer holiday dance recital options too. Entertainment encompasses a wide variety of things, I think this group would really benefit by thinking outside of the traditional realm of entertainment.

    Briggs defines data journalism as using new tools and technologies to enhance your journalism and improve your productivity. Briggs says new technologies are developed to make our journalism more important to people. Briggs suggests sharing information electronically in databases and spreadsheets is an example of data journalism. Briggs says on the web, data journalism can be very important because of the depth, customization, searchability and long shelf life. He uses the example of USA Today and when they started doing this by putting salaries of professional baseball, football, basketball, and hockey players in searchable databases. Data lends credibility to your story and makes it factual and trustworthy. Data can almost be more important than an eye-witness interview. Having quick access to this data can be the difference between a good story and a great story. Data often adds the “why is it important” element to a story which is essentially what every viewer is seeking. Data also adds something interesting to the story that most people probably didn’t know before watching. It adds something that sticks.

    I think one of the best ways I can use data journalism is through the use of mapping. Recently in class we learned how to make Google maps. I’ll admit I wasn’t crazy about it at first, but once I used on in my first post, I found it kind of addicting and actually very helpful. It added a unique element to my post, and connected my post to a variety of other things. Additionally, my group blog partners have decided to use a collaborative Google maps for our efforts in our “Morgantown Problems” blog. If we all connect our weekly posts to this map, each week 5 new points and a plethora of information will be added to the map. When I think about it that way, it seems so amazing. Anyone interested in the problems of Morgantown and the solution to those problems can find much more on the subject and related subjects in one location. It’s incredible to think of all of the technology and innovation that has made this possible. Before this class, I never would have considered maps a form of data journalism, but after reading and using maps for my posts, I understand their intention a lot better than I originally did.

  2. ebuchman5 says:

    I think Morgantown Problems does a great job right off the bat of explaining what their purpose is, and how they’re going to deliver information to their readers. The tagline says it all: “a blog about hometown problems and the people who solve them.” I believe this blog is off to a great start- they’ve chosen “beats” that are relevant to not only students in Morgantown, but to families and other residents, so they’re doing a nice job at being inclusive and taking a look at a variety of issues.

    Each beat has a plethora of things to write about and information to be found, and it’s not too advice-driven. So far, the writers are doing a nice job of exploring real issues, debunking myths, and finding out opinions on both sides of an issue. Using interviews is a great way to put a human face to an issue, and hearing from people who are living and dealing with these issues in Morgantown will help readers understand the issues better. In addition, there is a great use of visual aids and videos that keep readers’ interest, that show the readers some of the educational materials that already exist on certain issues.

    Especially for students, the use of linking has been great, because it alerts students to a lot of services in Morgantown that they may not know even exist. One example that sticks out to me is Maddi’s post about off-campus housing. I didn’t know half of these resources for students even existed who are having trouble with their landlords. This blog can be a great resource for students especially if the posts continue to stay this informative.

    For the future of this blog, I hope to see some interviews with city officials regarding some issues. By understanding some of the thought processes that went in to making the decisions (for example, Eastwood Elementary on the Mileground), readers will get the complete story, rather than the author’s opinion. One thing I would watch out for when writing this blog is length—some of the posts are getting a little lengthy, which could potentially cause readers to not finish reading. This would be a shame, because I do think this blog is very much worth reading! This blog is very readable and has a nice voice with it. The writers are doing a nice job and keeping it informative, professional, and helpful. Just be careful to not use too much opinion—I noticed this in a few posts, and I think it’s important to remember you should be telling both sides of the story instead of just explaining everything you think is wrong with a decision.

    As far as the Briggs’ reading for this week is concerned, Briggs explains the concept of data journalism very well. Every journalist can do citizen journalism—and every journalist should. Essentially, data journalism is breaking down a story into focused and organized data points that can be constantly reworked and updated. Making spreadsheets, maps, databases, and other forms of data can be beneficial for a reporter trying to organize a story idea. A familiar theme kept showing up in this reading which struck me—geography. I haven’t really thought about it before, but organizing stories by location really narrows down the work on the readers’ part. It makes it easier for a reader to find stories that are of importance to them, without having to search through multiple sources.

    I like the idea of using a map to do this, because not only does it centralize geographical information in a smart way, but it also increases interactivity. For example, if a reader was using a Google Map of Monongalia County news, they would be able to click on each point for a small description of the event, which would give them the option to link to the entire news story. As I’ve read in research for another class, one of the best things a journalist or organization can do to increase readership is to bring the news to the readers—make them do as little as work as possible to find the news.

    Even in terms of my own blog and writing, I could definitely incorporate geographical designations and organization better. This year in particular, most of my writing is focused on user-generated content in news stations, which is an example Briggs uses in the text to explain how a “geographically based ecosystem” can be successful. This type of data journalism would allow readers to contribute their own ideas, as well as inform the reporter on other events happening in any geographical location. Data journalism is absolutely something I should start considering using more of in my own work, and Briggs’ text taught me quite a bit about it that I was previously unaware of.

  3. Morgantown Problems

    The Morgantown Problems blog takes on the city of Morgantown’s issues dealing from road changes and construction, tuition problem help, and even an article on off-campus housing problems. Their mission is to address local problems by providing all aspects of information concluding to either some solutions or strategies to work around these problems found in Morgantown. I like that the group addressed their focus on the diversity in Morgantown and applied certain issues to different demographics although so far most of the posts have applied to the general population (for example the roundabout applies to several demographics, not specifically one group). However, this is what I like about this blog because I see a lot of potential and am interested to continue reading on their future posts. I expect to see issues around Morgantown that apply to everyone and I am sure as the group project goes on the posts will have more posts that focus on specific problems for specific demographics. Regardless, this group has a simple and clever concept that anyone in Morgantown can either relate to or come across by. I think that the group is doing well by sticking to beat reporting and that is explained in their first group post (which I found to be very organized as it had a beautiful picture of Cooper’s Rock, information on Morgantown, the blog statement and then information on the authors and what they are intending to do. Sometimes instead of just listing numbers and facts it is more enjoyable for readers to see pictures, numbers, charts and colors so the group can include graphs next time when addressing issues like change over years. The posts include plenty of links and quotes and I came across a variety of pictures I liked, as well as the video about navigating the Mileground Roundabout I found to be useful and something that I would want to see on a post. The group did a good job by adding content from other journalism students as well by linking back to their own group blogs. I really liked the connection from this group’s blog to a video about Slum Landlords that was posted by the Mountaineer News Service because it adds information and links two stories together! Although you can click on the authors to the right of the page, which is easy to navigate, I think adding links to connect with the blog contributors in their first post would have been helpful to identify the authors to the readers. I also like their search option as well as categories setup.

    Data-Driven Journalism

    I believe that data journalism is a very important concept for every current and future journalist to grasp, as well as any one working in a business or interested in expanding their knowledge. First off it is important for people, journalists or a school board staff, to be able to utilize digital tools and services to seize opportunity through new technology. With tons of information having data charts, lists, maps and topics/subjects will help organize and provide productivity for anyone or business. As technology expands, so does journalism so of course journalists should be up to date with technology to make their jobs easier. By organizing e-mails, developing a personal productivity strategy, and using programs like Basecamp, companies and businesses as well as groups and journalists can benefit. Briggs introduces Basecamp, which is a project management program that helps organize information and work while keeping group members connected. This program can help a news paper with a large staff keep up to date on who is working on what project and when through mass e-mails. This system does not only work for journalism students and writers, just like data journalism it is something that more people can and should take advantage of. If a flower shop plans to order in new plants and wants to compare prices, popularity and stock using simple data charts and spread sheets will accomplish the same task. Journalists and businesses, as well as people who want to advance their daily productivity should use data-driven journalism not only to become organized but to be able to get as much knowledge from the right source at one time. Data journalism can inform my work by simply giving me options of organization and as a journalist there are always mass amount of notes, interviews, and drafts that I need to keep organized. Now that I am aware of systems like Basecamp and fielded data I am able to organize my work.

  4. ryanglaspell says:

    The Cap, the Gown & The Pursuit of Happiness aims to help all students who are in the midst, or about to, deal with issues relating to graduation or post-graduation. They want to offer advice and help calm the racing hearts of an upperclassmen that is close to being done with college. I honestly think this is a great blog. There are a number of things they do right. The first thing is the focus. There are always going to be people who are getting ready to graduate. In a college town filled with a significant number of grad students and upperclassmen, not too many topics are more relevant.

    I like their “Person of Interest” feature. It is a pretty run of the mill Q&A, but good and useful information is still being relayed. I think it will be a good, easy to read feature. A problem they may encounter with that is receiving the same answers to the same questions. I feel like I’ve heard the typical, “go to class, read your book, be prepared” advice many times. Not that it’s bad to have on a blog, but depending on who they interview and the questions they ask there is a potential for redundancy.

    Another thing I think they do really well is select their blog post ideas. All of them (with the exception of the thesis, which doesn’t apply to me) entice me to read them simply because of their nature. Sure, “Forms for Graduation” doesn’t scream excitement and groundbreaking journalism, but I read through that sucker easily because it is important to know. The posts are a good length. Not so long that I automatically say to myself tl;dr (too long, didn’t read), and not so short that it is generalized stuff that is easy to come by. It’s a bit more than a fine line to tread, between overwhelming length and underwhelming overgeneralization, but it’s one that needs to be under this blog’s feet to remain relevant and intriguing.

    The only criticism I can really offer is to make the blogs more interactive. The great thing, as I said before, is that there is always a big, needy audience for graduation tips. Give them a voice. Maybe there is a fifth year senior or grad student out there with some crazy story or tip on how to take advantage of the graduation process. The blog isn’t doing anything to impede this from happening, but it’s just a suggestion to encourage it more.

    Data Journalism

    Like it or not, data journalism isn’t a small niche that sits off to the side by economic and scientific journals. Data journalism is taking all of the easily accessible information and using it to tell the story. Briggs talks about how every story is a field of data. Data isn’t always numbers and counts. When things are easily comparable and relevant to one another they can be data for a story. When it comes to who uses data journalism, I think the answer should be most successful journalists. In a world where everyone and their cat-crazed aunt has an opinion on the internet, data journalism transcends the day to day rants and advice columns. And that’s what many organizations are seeking. This “Journalism Fellowship” , hosted by Google, has a long list of companies and newspapers that are desiring people with an interest in data-driven journalism.

    As for myself, I could definitely stand to learn a few things about data journalism. I need to incorporate more data-driven components in my blog. Music Machinery is a blog that has incorporated data-driven components like scatter plots and other graphs and charts a number of times in his posts. This post is nothing more than an aggregate of Google trends, yet it’s a wonderful post! By keeping an eye out for music data and not being afraid to compile info to transfer into a relevant visual (like MusicMachinery does), I could make my blog a lot better. Not only more aesthetically appealing, but I could get whole stories based off of a chart!

  5. I think that AlmostHeaven Entertainment has an interesting theme and has the potential to be really great because entertainment is incredibly significant in a college town. I did notice a few problems in each post and the About Me page, however. This includes:

    About page: The page made it seem like every week is a theme week, but it wasn’t heavily advertised, at least this week. I’m assuming it was budget-friendldly week, but I wasn’t completely sure. This should be obvious.

    Rachel’s: The bullets didn’t seem necessary and made the post choppy to read. I think a chart on the side would be a better option for comparison. I also liked Kevin’s idea (in his comment) about adding Vintage Video to the list. Options like that or less-known websites are better than the obvious Netflix, Blockbuster, etc.

    Ian’s: I thought this was a cool idea, but the first two paragraphs trip over each other. Also, a list of upcoming movies and their times would make this post more relevant.

    Zak’s: I really liked this one, and I’m glad he added the upcoming schedule as a link.

    Eva’s: I like how she talked about the big picture in the movie industry and how it applies to Morgantown. I think it would be better to go more in depth with that.

    Ilyssa’s: The photos are so small. In the first one, the people are so small the room actually looks empty and the other one is too small to see the schedule. Also, this isn’t really newsworthy at WVU. Everyone knows about WVUp All Night.

    Overall: I thought it was all over the place, and a lot of the posts were pretty obvious. I didn’t learn anything new. Also every post was about movies, which is fine if that’s what the week’s theme was, but if not, this is seriously limiting the term entertainment. Morgantown offers so much more than that: swing dance club, concert recitals, local mic nights, even the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is coming to WVU!

    I think these topics that cover one thing (like Netflix) or one event (like the Brown Bag series) fall a little flat. They would be more interesting if they had a Morgantown spin on them. For example: stories like “Where to Get Your OCEs (Out of Class Experiences for University 101 students) and Have Fun, Too” or “Entertainment Discounts You Didn’t Know About” would be more interesting. Like I said before, this blog has a lot of potential, and I think all the writers did a good job for the first week of posts. It’s something I would come back to and read even if I didn’t have to for class.

    Data journalism uses spreadsheets, lists, databases and my personal favorite, maps to further tell the story and provide more details in an organized way. It’s useful (and arguably necessary) in every profession these days, but it is especially important for journalism. It can be helpful for researching data, storing data (like contacts) and displaying data. It can tell the story better whether that’s through a map, chart, bulleted list or Excel spreadsheet. An example I’m really excited about is using maps to tell stories. Every visual detail on a map–height, distance, viewshed, aspect, etc.–better show the reader this aspect of this idea spatially. A map can make any story about location instantly, and it can add that extra dimension to your writing.

  6. iamoore says:

    I thought the blog Morgantown Problems was a very good idea of looking at current problems affecting Morgantown and its residents. Right away I liked the look of the blog and the organization of the content. But past the superficial stuff I thought all of the articles included excellent reporting. The writers never made it a personal blog or opinion piece, but instead used information gained from interviews with officals and data to back up their claims. This being said the articles did not read too much like a dry local news article. In Bryan’s post about the roundabout you could tell it had a bit of his voice behind the information when he made the joke about the Towne Centre being trendy because of the extra e’s. I also found that Maddi very effectively implemented tweets into her story to show peoples complaints with landlords, showing people dealing with a very real Morgantown problem.
    While this weeks stories were all very strong, I found myself growing very tired of reading stories about the roundabout. While this is certainly an issue in Morgantown, and each story had unique aspects, at about midway through the second post I felt I had learned enough about the roundabout, and was refreshed to read the articles on landlords and tuition problems.
    Data Journalism is journalism that utilizes maps, charts, lists, spreadsheets, and information from databases. Being comfortable using this type of information is important in every profession because Briggs mentions how you must organize your emails, contacts, and utilize data in any profession. Data is especially important in the field of journalism because we are able to make more compelling stories by providing the reader with important information. Briggs mentions that every story is essentially a big mash of data. I have personally found the benefit of this type of data here at journalism school. Using databases has helped me research topics and find interesting facts that the reader needs to know in my covering of public events.
    One type of data journalism that I enjoy is the use of maps to concisely portray information. articles like this one from Politico
    very effectively combines a large amount of data in one easy to understand piece of visual information.

  7. frostedtsaar says:

    I like a lot of what’s happening on The Cap, the Gown & The Pursuit of Happiness. One thing I really liked early on is the regular feature People of Interest. Knowing the right people on campus can mean the difference between graduation hell and smooth sailing, so I like that the blog will be introducing us to people that can help us with the process.

    The blog’s mission statement says that it is “aimed at preparing college students for graduation and career success after graduation.” To that end, the writers have stories on the forms one needs to graduate, information on loans, thesis proposals, internships, and the aforementioned people of interest. One thing that does worry me so far is the lack of something to set it apart. There is a lot of good information here, but I found it a bit boring to read. There is very little content besides the text, and the videos and pictures that are included are not related to the story besides to serve as window dressing. That’s certainly better than nothing, and does give a sense of professionalism, but I would like to see more integration of the skills we’ve been learning. There is really good information here; I’m just worried it is being lost in the text.

    Another thing: links are very hard to distinguish from the rest of the text. I actually thought that the links were simply bolded words before I noticed they lead me places. I would recommend changing that up.

    Data-journalism is interesting, and one that a lot of people not in the journalism field don’t associate with “traditional” journalism. Data journalism involves creating resources that readers can regularly check to find out data and statistics, movie times, weather, anything like that. With online reporting, we can have resources that constantly update. Sticking to what I know, there’s a great website called VGChartz which gets data on game sales from all over the world and puts them in nice, easy-to-understand charts. It’s a great example of data-journalism, and a great resource when you need some quick data on what’s selling.

  8. AlmostHeaven Entertainment

    Mission: Bringing readers information on entertainment and art in Morgantown — a broad, but useful resource for people living in Morgantown.

    What they’re doing well: I noticed that this group is doing well on speaking to a specific audience. I firmly believe that if they continue writing posts like they did the first week, people interested in this topic can use this as a very useful guide. On that note, I think that it may be useful for them to create categories that address specific readers. For example, they could create categories like “Family Entertainment” “Student Entertainment” “Free Events” etc. This could help readers easily find what they are most interested in and what relates to them the most. Because this can be a useful resources for readers, I think that the group needs to make topics easier to find for certain groups.

    What needs work: So far, the group has used some pretty good links. I think they do need to make sure to always make their links relevant to the subject. Secondly, I think that the group should consider the length of posts. I like that some of these posts include interviews and such, but the group needs to differentiate between times when people want to read about why others liked an event or when they just want to know about the event itself. On that note, some of the posts were very long. Remember to keep it concise.

    I appreciated this chapter very much. Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed with all the documents and downloads on my computer that I don’t know what to do with myself. This past summer, I did an internship with The Becket Agency in Charleston, S.C. — it’s a very small agency with a lot of clients, and they were all about organization. My bosses introduced me to Basecamp (Briggs talked about this very briefly). It is a project management website, and it’s free. You can invite certain people to certain projects, and the site will notify you of updates/changes via email. It is a great way to organize event and project information.

    Another point that Briggs discussed was printing out documents and filing them. From my work in my capstone, I have realized that you need to save a document in EVERY way so that when you need it, it will be easily accessible. I have been trying to print out documents that I will need so I have a physical copy (despite the new technology fee), save my files to Google Docs so I can access the document with the Internet if I do not have access to my computer, and, clearly, save them to my computer and my flash drive.

  9. Before getting into the missions of the three other group blogs in our class, the first thing I look at is the layout. Is the layout reader friendly? Is it easy to the eye? A lot of successful blogs and websites have unique formats and is the first thing that people look at when finding their next favorite blog.

    My favorite theme/format of the blogs is “Morgantown Problems”. They’ve done a great job of including pictures in the beginning of each post to separate them, the titles format is great and links are easy to find. Their mission is to take each beat the writers got and talk about and give advice to problems in Morgantown. It could have gotten a bit repetitive and just a bunch of whining but it does a good job of putting character to their post and substance. Their headings draw the readers in, great job to them on that.

    My second favorite theme/format of the three other blogs is “The Cap, The Gown & the Pursuit of Happiness”. It’s very easy to the eye because the headings are bigger and the background is bright yellow. The only problem format wise I saw, which I thought was a big downfall was the links were the same color as the text and hard to distinguish. Their mission statement is to prepare college students for graduation and their future after graduation. They do a good job honing in on their audience and excluding non-seniors and graduate students. Length isn’t everything but when I look at their post I see short posts that have a lot of potential. I am usually guilty of this as well, but something I look to improve, as should some authors on that blog. With that being said, the People of Interest segment is GENIUS, continue with that!

    The “almostheadvenentertainment” blog was very creative on their name, I love it. It’s just a very simple template that when I go on, I may click out of it. It could be my bias of wanting to see more than a white screen and words; maybe pictures and more color could help with that. On a blog stand point, most of the posts are great, while others are almost pointless. I wasn’t a big fan of the Best Video Rental post, although I did learn about Red box finder. Almost everyone knows the Red box and Netflix prices and what they do. Aside from the layout and a couple weak posts, the other posts have a lot of good, useful information.

    Data Journalism is using stats and useful information to make you more creditable and make your posts more substantial. The new information we can find to enhance our writing, the more likely our readers will stay on the post and read more. We’ve used data journalism by linking and pictures. But our biggest form of data journalism was our use of mapping. Data Journalism can inform my work by using more stats and showing my readers information they can trust. Using creditable sites and using the data on that site will enhance my readers experience, and having them wanting more!

  10. kevinmduvall says:

    Group Blog

    I read The Cap, the Gown & the Pursuit of Happiness. This blog’s mission is to inform readers about the preparations needed for graduating and the process of finding internships and jobs. The focus is very well defined and the posts all reflect the topic.

    On the whole, the posts have a good mix of personal insights and facts straight from sources. All the posts are relevant to WVU students, and some are also relevant to students at other universities. In particular, I found this true of the posts on thesis proposals and internships. Both posts offer helpful information for any students wanting to know more about graduate school and finding internships. I also like the weekly Q&A feature; this one revolved around WVU but most of Emily Moll’s responses also apply to other college schools.

    There are a few areas where the blog could use some improvement. First, I would specify on the About page that the blog is primarily geared toward WVU students because some of the processes described in the posts are specific to WVU. I do like, though, that the blog features links to other university sites so students can compare them to WVU’s sites. Speaking of links, the blog would benefit from having more links to sources that are not universities. The blog is well-sourced overall, but having more links to other blogs and websites about college would give more variety and connectivity. Lastly, I’d like to see more images on the blog. I know the topic doesn’t lend itself to pictures as well as the other blog topics, but some more images (photos or charts/graphs) would break up the texts in the posts. However, the images and videos that are in the blogs are effective, and it has a great layout.

    Data Journalism

    Data journalism is using new technologies in data gathering and productivity to enhance one’s news writing. It involves using visual presentations of data, such as maps, charts, graphs, slide shows, databases and infographics (among other tools) to help tell stories. Most journalists today use data, in keeping with Briggs’s observation that every industry is experiencing an influx of available data. It informs journalists’ work in that it supports their words with numbers, strengthening the quality of their stories.

    In addition, data can help audiences know the facts about breaking stories more quickly, because the data can be pieced together before the full story is written, and can be a story in and of itself. Briggs uses two maps as examples. The Los Angeles Times mapped out the locations at which homicides took place in the city, keeping readers informed of the safety of various areas. The map provided a way for readers to see the information in a simpler, more straightforward way than how it would have been portrayed in a text-only story. The information was also likely easier to process because of the visual aid. The Salt Lake Tribune got readers further involved by using a collaborative map to share their experiences in an earthquake. This let people know what was going on with immediate updates and let them tell the story as it was happening.

    Another example of an organization that uses data journalism well is the Gawker blogs. They often feature charts and infographics that explain some of the data the writers compile in a way that is easiest for the audience to understand. At the beginning of the NFL season, for example, Deadspin created a bar graph and a line graph to show which teams had the biggest box office draw in away games. This measurement was calculated based on the average increased price of tickets when each team playing away. In other words, a Steelers fan buying tickets at Heinz Field for Steelers vs. Broncos would pay well above the average ticket price for the game, while tickets for Steelers vs. Jaguars would be considerably less than the average Steelers game. The calculation is kind of hard to explain in words, so the graphs make the information much easier to discern because they lay it out visually and simply.

    The Deadspin story can be found here:

  11. cricha18 says:

    One blog site that I really enjoy reading is Morgantown Problems (and solutions). I really enjoy the idea of a group of students who find out all of the problems that people may be facing in the area and how people are dealing with them. They also focus on a nice variety of topics ranging from the rising cost in tuition to the new roundabout up on the Mileground. The group also does a good job at incorporating links and other media within their blog posts. I’ve browsed through a few of their blogs that had videos in them, and other blogs that included tweets from people.
    The only problem I’ve noticed (and it may not be an actual problem yet) is becoming too critical of things. A blog site that highlights problems in the area could very easily fall into the pitfall of sounding too whiny, but that isn’t a issue that I’ve noticed yet with this blog and maybe it will never come up. One blog post that I really liked was “Off campus housing problems: who’s to blame?” The idea of including actual tweets from Morgantown residents voicing their disdain was great, and the links to all of the different resources/sources gives more depth to the blog post.
    Briggs describes data journalism as a method of gaining information or presenting information through the use of electronic/digital means. Some of these methods include sending/receiving email, or updating information on a newswire. I would normally say journalists are the ones who use this method and information, but when you think about it just about everybody uses data journalism to suit their needs. It may be journalists who update the information but that knowledge could be free to the public and anyone could use that. An example of how data journalism informed me occurred during my time working at WVU’s campus radio station, U92 FM. We had a subscription to the Associated Press newswire and it constantly fed us information on an hourly basis. I used the information from the newswire to give my news stories more depth, and since it updated regularly I always had the most up-to-date information possible.

  12. samanthacart says:

    The Morgantown Man Cave

    The Morgantown Man Cave blog is focused on providing a niche audience— men in Morgantown— with the latest people, places and events in sports, gaming, music and other industries. Their mission is to connect audience members to an interest-based community. Even though I am not a man, I have really enjoyed reading this blog since its inception. So far I think the bloggers have done a nice job of really honing in on their topic, which was focused enough to be a Morgantown-specific blog but broad enough to keep them from running out of content, as well as integrating skills we have learned this semester, such as the use of several Google maps and their hilarious and effective promotions on Twitter.

    Some traps I think this blog could potentially fall into (and I think these things could apply to all of the group blogs) are how-to type posts and generic topics. For example, one of the posts on this blog is how to sign up for intramural sports. While I actually really enjoyed this post and even commented on it earlier this week, continuing to post like this will lead the blog to read like a how-to column, which is against our class’ guidelines. I also think that this blog has huge potential to be witty, informational and popular. However, if the topics become too generic, it could read almost like a carbon copy of the D.A. I know it is difficult managing two blogs along with other classwork, but making sure the information relating to WVU and the community is either original or that you add something to what has already been presented will make this a stand-out piece!

    Briggs’ Chapter Nine

    While just hearing the word data makes me shudder a little (I did just about everything I could think of to keep my thesis from including numbers of any kind), I have to admit that data journalism is incredibly important. After reading the Briggs chapter, I also found that I had a misconception on exactly what data journalism is. According to Briggs, data journalism is using new tools and technologies to enhance journalism and improve productivity. Data doesn’t have to be sheer numbers, and we have already experimented a bit with it in this class. For example, we have learned coding, Google mapping and Storify tactics, all of which could fall under “technology” that enhance journalism when used correctly. Also, I am working on creating my own charts and graphs for my original research presentation.
    Not everyone has embraced data journalism yet, but when asking who does it— the answer should be every journalist. It’s no secret at this point that in a career field where jobs are diminishing, only those willing to learn new skills and use new technology will be kept around.

    Data journalism can truly inform your work by making it more factual (as with the use of numbers and statistics, reported correctly of course), more engaging and interactive (Google maps, links, etc.) and more relevant to an audience that is looking for the source that best fits their needs.

    In the future, I will of course continue to use the skills I have acquired from this class, but I’d like to take that a step further. While for some people using video might be their normal medium, for me it is the most difficult part of journalism. I’d like to further my use of this technology to make myself a more well-rounded journalist. I also like to envision myself creating awesome data journalistic-type content, such as the New York Times’ political poll tools.

  13. ryanfadus says:

    The purpose of The Cap, the Gown and The Pursuit of Happiness is to inform readers on how to prepare for graduation as well as all that follows with it, such as getting a job or an internship. This is a very interesting blog since it pertains to a large audience and it can also give good information to parents on what to do for their kid’s graduation. The posts also do a good job of talking about other things that graduates have to deal with such as paying of their debt, which is something many of us will have to do.

    I think something that could have the potential to be very good is the People of Interest post. This is something that can be very informative and can turn into a reader favorite if it is posted the same day every week. The first post I thought was done very well; it included some background information on the person as well as the tasks they do in the journalism school. By adding the questions in with the answers this is very helpful to readers who may have some of the same questions. Now they don’t have to read between the lines and it is right there for them and easy to figure out.

    The posts also do a great job of incorporating pictures, links and videos. That being said, one thing I would recommend is maybe use some of the things we learned in class to put into some of the future posts. By adding maps, tweets or other interesting features to your posts they can make them more appealing to read. They can also generate a ton of buzz if done correctly and if they add a new element to the post. Maps may be hard to use, but if you guys can find interesting or informative tweets about graduation advice or even some statistics that can be turned into a table. Then they could give readers a new look on things as well as presenting information in a much clearer form.

    Data journalism can include anything that can be used to write stories to getting information from recent polls to be used in the story. Briggs’ said information like this can include; databases, spreadsheets or other forms of communication that gathers data. Any journalist can use it to their advantage since they are always trying to make their articles more informative as well as more presentational. The more information they have, especially if it is presented in an interesting way will draw more people to their articles.

    A few examples of this would be to include a Google map or a tweet into your article. The map is great for showing people where certain places are around a town, state or country and they can see if there is anything close to them that pertains to the article. As for putting in a tweet, this is good for getting an expert’s take on a situation or just a regular person. If a writer incorporates both of these tweets then they can open up the conversation because it can start a debate on who is right and who is wrong, depending on the situation.

  14. trentcu says:

    The Cap, The Gown and The Pursuit of Happiness aims to educate its readers in regards to the various aspects of college graduation. I feel the authors do a solid job of addressing issues that a prospective college graduate would be most concerned about, and from that perspective, are successfully fulfilling their objective of preparing their readers for graduation by highlighting the most relevant of topics.

    One potential issue I see with the blog is that I do not think they’re clear about how broad their target audience is. Are they reaching out to all college students, or WVU students specifically? If it’s the former, the focus on WVU-oriented content may need to be reduced a bit, as the general college student will not be able to directly relate to it.

    What I’ve gathered from the Briggs chapter is that data journalism is not necessary a change in the content of information itself, but rather a technologically driven enhancement of its dispersal and application. It allows the scope of a block of information to be expand through the interactivity of content enabled by computers.

    A common example of this is the ability of journalists to briefly allude to something relevant to their work and have it expanded on by merely incorporating a hyperlink to a larger display of relevant data. Linking can be a key component of data journalism, as it enables one to enrich the information aspect of his work by utilizing interactivity.

  15. dkrotz says:

    The Morgantown Man Cave blog is about things that are going on around the city that basically are interesting to guys. So far, I think they have done a good job of outlining some events and interests from around the town that would be of note for their readers and audience. However, I wondered what exactly constitutes an event or happening which would be covered on the blog. Not every guy is interested in the same things, although it does allow for a nearly infinite amount of post ideas.
    In terms of the Briggs reading, data journalism is basically the collection of data by a journalist and the presentation of that data to the audience.

  16. I really do like the concept of AlmostHeavenEntertainment. It’s well-researched, well-written, and utilizes media well. My only problem is one of voice. Who is your target audience? Are you writing specifically to them? Anytime you write something, you should know who you’re writing it for, that way you know what (or what not) to assume in your text. A lot of the pieces I read had a lot of introductory information about Morgantown. If your target audience is people who live in Morgantown and need something fun to do in their spare time, they already know a lot of the stuff you’re telling them. For example, the piece titled A college based growing economy and free movies has three paragraphs of introductory data about Morgantown. It’d be a great pitch if I was thinking about coming here, but is your target audience people who don’t already live in town? I’m reminded of how magazines shape their content: sometimes they create a fake person who exemplifies the type of people who read their magazine. Before the magazine writes anything, they ask themselves: would our target person like this? Understand it? Care about it?

    Oh, data journalism. When we first met, I was terrified by your vast seas of numbers and massive, intimidating spreadsheets. It was only after I got a smartphone that I began to understand your power.
    I found it interesting that Briggs put the section about digitizing your life in the same chapter as data journalism. Personally, I’ve found the two go hand-in-hand. The more people who do things digitally, the more points we have for data journalism. I see what you did there, Briggs.
    Data journalism is a niche-carving term – a better word for what Briggs is describing is Big Data. Big Data can be and is already used by individuals and organizations all across the spectrum. Google is one choice example: by sifting through the disgustingly large amount of data they keep on you, they can target you with ads you’ll be more likely to click. The NYPD is even using big data to accurately predict when and where they should place officers throughout the city, based on crime trends. It’s less evil, but still kind of evil.
    If I’m interpreting your question correctly, you’ve asked us to describe how we perpetuate data journalism. I personally do a number of things that leave a big digital imprint that could make my data valuable to journalists and advertisers.
    1. I use a lot of social media and I often use location-based features. Sometimes these location features can be great for journalism, other times they’re used to make silly advertising projects.
    2. I use Google a LOT. That means my search data is all over the place and probably up for sale. Whatever – I pride myself on an ability to completely ignore ads.

    But rather than being purely the subject, sometimes I use data journalism.
    For a project I did a few years ago, I analyzed a spreadsheet of data concerning arson fires (usually couch or dumpster fires) in the Morgantown area. I crunched all the numbers and visualized the data on a spreadsheet which has since been taken off the internet after the Daily Athenaeum updated their website and wiped their archives. Unfortunately the sheet didn’t contain location data, or else there would have been a really cool map to make.

  17. rachelwvu says:

    1. Morgantown Problems:
    The central theme of this blog focuses on various problems that arise in the Morgantown area and how residents respond to those problems. The contributors are definitely sticking to the topic well. The writing itself is great. Whitney does a good job at bringing in the community’s voice. I like Karlea’s approach—she explained the “problem” and gave tips and pointers to solving it within the same post. This was useful and easy to follow.

    Contrary, I think the stories are becoming repetitive—especially the ones about the roundabout. Also, many of the posts read a lot like a news story. Quotes and interviews are good, but they’re kind of boring. A blog about “problems” is hard for me to want to read. I hear enough about “problems” on social media and the news. No offense, of course! I just prefer more light-hearted topics.

    2. Briggs says data-driven journalism is utilizing technology, resources, and databases to get the most out of data for an even better story. Journalists can collect data from multiple databases then collaborate it to find interesting things. Essentially, this allows journalists to create a story that might have gone overlooked, otherwise. With data, a journalist has the tools to do what he or she should do—uncover information the public doesn’t have time to go through, analyze it, then share the findings. Everything the journalist is reporting is based on data and can be proven and displayed in a story. Also, a journalist can take the data findings and expand. By humanizing the numbers, a story can be must more affective. Moreover, reporting with data is a hidden treasure for journalists. It holds the key to our credibility and possible job opportunities.

    One good resource for acquiring data is
    This can be useful for investigating anything from non-profit groups to uncovering dirty politicians. There is data available for pretty much every beat, and the IRE website is a great place to start searching. A good way to display the data findings for the public is with a timeline maker. Sites like this makes pulling data together simple.

  18. zvoreh says:

    After reading over “Morgantown Problems” I found Bryan’s post very informing, and I liked Maddi’s use of twitter post. I like how they group together around Morgantown issues and how they look at different angles of the same issues like Bryan and Whitney did with their two post. As for the readings I believe that Briggs definition of Data Journalism is the collection of data by adding in online sources in hyperlinks or using the internet to gather information like in polls. Here is a good example.

  19. karleapack says:

    “Almost Heaven Entertainment” focuses on presenting their readers with plenty of information on entertainment and art options right here in Morgantown. One thing I liked was that the links were very easy to distinguish from the rest of the text, considering that in some other blogs they’re somewhat hidden because they look like bold text. Every post seems to stick to their mission well and I don’t see them running out of options to write about seeing as how there are plenty of rarely discovered options in town for entertainment purposes. The use of pictures and videos were a nice touch and easily kept me interested in reading on so I think they should perhaps add a few more here and there. Although the pictures/videos somewhat helped, some of the posts were a little bit long and seemed to drag on a bit. The plain white template bored me quite a lot, I think they should add some color in so the text doesn’t get lost in a sea of white—like every other paper we see everyday for class.

    Data Journalism is a style of journalism that breaks any story into data points and organized for customized manipulation, displayed through lists, calendars, maps, spreadsheets, and information pulled from databases. Breaking this information down by creating these resources gives readers a quick and easy way to check dates, times, locations, etc. As Briggs discusses, anyone and everyone can “digitize their life” by organizing your email contacts, bringing order to your work, and finding just the right personal productivity tools. Though, data journalism is more so important for journalists because it can add value and credibility to their work, while helping effecting reader’s lives. Journalists can help readers understand where they live and present them each with the tools to make decisions. Numerous undiscovered data sets are out there that can easily provide a journalist with multiple stories buried within that information. If used correctly, data can take a regular news piece and turn it into a huge hit for a journalist. Obviously we have all used data journalism in this class by creating pinpointed Google maps and incorporating them into our blog posts. Personally I have “digitized” my life by organizing my email contacts for my Capstone, like Briggs suggests for any email user. Sorting these contacts into groups helps me keep all important information readily available at any given moment, which helps in such a fast-paced and intense course like Dr. Colistra’s.

  20. acampb22 says:

    The blog Morgantown Man Cave is a blog aimed at the males of Morgantown. I like that the audience is so specific and that the blog offers something for everyone in that audience. Their posts touch on video games, live music, sports, and other manly topics. To add to these topics they do a great job of using really interesting, rich content. For example, I really like that some posts actually embed music from the band they are talking about. Also, there is really good and interesting use of Google Maps.

    The only thing I would suggest for improvement is possibly implementing a weekly theme. I think that because there are so many different interests in this blog following a theme that could apply to each interest would make the blog even more interesting to it’s audience. I think that it could also add a little more order to the posts as now it seems random as to what topic is next.

    Data journalism is not a facet of journalism that many people know exists. It is the strategy of using data, numbers, technology, etc. to tell a story. We have used this in many different ways so far this semester. We have used it while using Google Maps to plot points on a map that explain our stories further. We have also used it while learning how to code in html. Knowing how to code is incredibly useful for journalists because it gives them the ability to personalize and customize websites, blogs, etc. The Internet is what Journalism is all about now and knowing the tools for creating data behind this is crucial.

  21. Morgantown Man Cave’s motive is clear and simple. It’s a place to get information on all areas of entertainment in Morgantown. It covers a range of categories including sports, video games, music and more. I actually love this blog. When I step back, I realize that the blog itself is simple, but it could be executed terribly or boring. This group of guys gives it a great voice based around the fact that they are males. What I still love about the blog is that it is for anyone and everyone, NOT just men. At least, that’s what they say. It’s very early on in the posts, but I hope to see more of a range of topics. I would hate to stereotype, but there are SO many more activities offered in Morgantown. I feel like someone should incorporate theatre or dance into a post. If that seems to throw off the other posts, maybe the focus of the blog should be reevaluated.

    So far, I really like how everyone seems to have a pretty set beat. I feel like that can work well for this type of blog, and it allows the readers to go directly to an author they might like or go directly to his content. I also think the group has done a good job at incorporating media, and I like the general layout of the blog itself. The name is perfect, and I really love the typeface. Like I have said before, I think what works best in this blog is the voice and humor. The About page is great, as is the tagline. I think if each individual writer was to incorporate more of this laid-back, humorous style of writing and thinking in their posts, the blog itself will thrive.

    The Brigg’s chapter focuses heavily on the use of tools and technology to engage readers. This can be anything from graphs to maps. Data journalism becomes more important to readers because they can directly see the affect it has on them. This data can be reworked and presented later on for potentially different results. Data journalism is especially important because media is constantly changing. People respond well to seeing change, rather than reading about it. Journalism is also used so the majority of readers can understand the content easily. Data journalism is a way to break that information down for more understandable ways.

    One way that I could incorporate data journalism in my blog is by using tools such as graphs or charts. In fact, I could make my own to incorporate my ideas rather than show information that influenced my ideas. I was also very interested to see if there was a trend of failing newspapers depending on the area of the country they were in. This would be something very interesting to visually see. My predication is that they are mostly failing in more rural areas. Regardless, it might be interesting for aspiring journalists to research to decide where to look for a job and where to avoid.

  22. dkrotz says:

    I commented earlier from my phone, and for some reason it cut off the ending part to my post. So, here’s the rest of my comment.

    Data journalism is really the collection of any information and the presentation of that data to the readers. It can be anything from databases to information graphics. The Briggs reading talks a lot about technology and ways it can be used in order to utilize data journalism.

    A great example of this would be any reporter or blogger who uses, for example, a graph or chart with relevant data or some sort of information graphic which displays information. As a blogger, I could utilize information like this to make my posts much more informative.

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