Welcome to JRL 430 (and Assignment #1)

January 12, 2015

Here we are: Another exciting semester of blogging and interactive journalism. In this class, you will learn to use social media (a term under which I include blogging for its often-interactive nature) as a tool rather than a toy. You will create and curate a personal, media-focused blog (this is the College of Media, after all), pursue and create stories using various social media, and design a focused group blog on a topic of significance.

Some things to know:

  • You’ll be creating your personal blog next week (Monday, Jan. 18) using WordPress. If you have an existing blog, you may use it as long as it meets the course requirements.
  • This blog is a kind of living syllabus. It’ll be the home for assignments, reading responses, student work, and more. If you have questions about what you’re working on, check here first.
  • You’ll need a Twitter account if you don’t already have one – sorry, holdouts. If you’d prefer to keep this separate from an existing personal account, feel free to create a new one for this this class. Our course hashtag is #WVUblogJ. I’ll use it to share course material, and you should be using it too.

Assignment #1: Getting started

Part 1: Pick a topic

Write up the focus of your blog (about a paragraph) and post it as a comment to this post by 10a Wednesday, Jan. 14. Your blog must have a clear MEDIA focus that goes beyond your own opinions – it can’t just be a diary or your movie reviews. To that end, some restrictions:

  • No diaries
  • No cat/dog/cute animal pictures
  • No recipes (yes, I’ve gotten this)
  • No sports, entertainment, fashion/health tips, and so on. You CAN use these subjects if your focus is clearly on their media angle – for example, if you covered issues in sports journalism – but your opinions on the Dallas Cowboys are not relevant here.
  • No pink dragons

Also: Don’t forget to give it a title!

Part 2: Write your first post

Write up a good first post for your first blog, print it out, and bring it to class on Wednesday. You might describe the different arguments being made about a subject relevant to your topic, linking to each. Don’t just list, though. Provide evidence and synthesize something new: What are the bigger themes going one in these posts?

Some more requirements:

  • At least one high-quality link is required in every post for full credit. This means links to CONTENT, not links to Wikipedia, Facebook, or the CNN homepage (yes, I’ve gotten all of these).
  • The key here is to report on the conversation. What’s being said? Can you get at the discussion and tell us something new about it? Use links and evidence strategically – it doesn’t need to be long.
  • Mark links with the URL in brackets, e.g., “Miranda July’s newest novel is getting some good reviews [http://www.avclub.com/review/miranda-julys-first-bad-man-first-great-novel-2015-213144].”
  • Don’t forget a headline – try to make it something that would catch YOUR interest.

BOTH are due by 10a Wednesday, Jan. 14.