Read & Respond week 11: Images

March 28, 2016

This week is all about visuals. In 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, and others have yet to do so. Regardless of your use of visuals so far, how might your blogs tell a story that is more visual than textual? Yes, photos are ONE possibility – what are others? Skim around this list and identify some options you might be able to apply to making your blogging more visual.

Photos:

  • Some of you are photographers. Many of you aren’t. Here’s a crash course on using a point-and-shoot camera for your blog (from Mindy McAdams’ excellent Journalists’ Toolkit)
  • Photoblogs: These blog-like formats are focused on image sharing. Sites like Cake Wrecks hit big a few years back, but there are more serious efforts like the Boston Globe’s The Big Picture.
  • Tumblr provides a resource for frictionless sharing of images. Check out some of 2015’s best.

Graphics:

GIFs:

Sure, they’re short and silly, but journalists use them too. Is confining an idea to a seconds-long clip any stranger than limiting it to a 140-character tweet, or a six-second Vine?

Remember, your responses are due by 11:59 p.m. Sunday, March 27 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, March 29, as a comment to this post.

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Read & Respond week 10: Comment Culture

March 10, 2016

This week we’ll be talking about talking: How to get people talking about your work (promotion) and how to deal with those who are talking about it (commenters). The links you’ll be looking through touch on each of these areas. Lots of material here, so skim to the stuff that serves you.

Promotion

  • How do you promote your blog? Start with this list – we’ve already discussed several (commenting elsewhere; building long-term content). Pay particular attention to the Rule of 100.
  • Learn about SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Jeff Goins offers some tactics for writing SEO heds and posts, but beware – there can be a fine line between SEO and Clickbait.
  • (Then again, maybe it’s all Clickbait…)
  • Are you using Twitter as a tool or still just tweeting about mozzarella sticks with your buddies? If you just can’t adulterate your personal account, consider making a separate one to get your professional name out there.

Comments

Remember to respond to these readings in a comment to this post by  11:59 p.m. on Sunday, March 13. More importantly, come prepared to discuss these examples and, ideally, some of your own.


Your Group Blog Project (2016)

March 7, 2016

Beginning in two weeks (Sunday, March 27) and continuing through the end of the term, you’ll create, maintain, and promote a group blog that tackles a local and contemporary trend, topic, or theme in a journalistic way. You’ve already been assigned a team and started brainstorming, but now it’s time for greater specifics. You will:

  1. Provide original content through your own reporting and analysis
  2. Connect with and engage your community of interest

This is a team project requiring everyone’s strengths. The result should be a robust and engaging addition to your portfolio that will set you apart in the job market. If everyone does their own thing and there is no cohesive focus to the blog, you will do poorly.

Don’t. Just don’t.

There will be no restaurant, local entertainment, advice, or graduation-themed blogs unless specifically approved by Prof. Britten. Unsourced lists are frowned upon. Do not use clichés such as “eclectic” or “something for everyone” – define a focus and an audience. Posting recipes will bring swift retribution.

Weekly requirements:

You will be judged on the frequency and quality of your posts, comments, and other demonstrable contributions to your online publication. In addition, if your teammates report you’ve become a significant asset (or weakness), that matters as well.

  • Individual posts: Every person is expected to post at least once per week, and each blog is expected to have a post every weekday.  Your groups must each arrange and follow a posting schedule to ensure regular updates throughout the week (Monday-Friday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.). If you miss your deadlines, you will get lowered (or no) credit for that post.
  • Weekly budget: By 5 p.m. every Sunday (beginning March 27), your group will email me a single budget for the current week and following week. It must include the following:
    • Current week: Which stories are you going to run, when (day, date & time), who will write each, and a brief description of each story.
    • Following week: Same information as above.
    • Longer term: Identify which big or longer-term stories you are pursuing.
    • Promotion: What will your group do this week to publicize your blog and connect to a larger community? (This might involve posting to social media but should also involve HOW you post – experiment with time, wording, etc.)
  • Weekly memo: By 9 p.m. every Sunday (beginning April 3), each person will send me a weekly memo assessing your work so far and what’s to come. It must include the following:
    • Post: Provide details and a link to your work.
    • Comments: You will make 5 meaningful comments per week (not all on the same day!), divided between your group blog, other class blogs, and some outside blogs of interest (which is good way of attracting like-minded bloggers to your site). Link to these in your weekly memo.
    • Added Value: A plain-text post adds only one level to the conversation. That’s not enough. I expect to see you using your skills with links, images, maps, audio, wikis, and more, as well as integrating the site and its promotion into other social media like Facebook and Twitter.
    • Your Grade: Provide an honest grade for your work in the preceding week as a percentage score (e.g., 82%). Base your grade only on that week, and include an explanation of why you have earned the grade you propose.
    • Group Grade: Provide an honest grade for your group as a percentage score, and explain where the group struggled or shined in the preceding week.

How You’re Evaluated:

As noted above, each Sunday (beginning April 3) each student will send me an e-mail memo assessing the previous week. You’ll also include short updates on your experience thus far and your blogging plans for the week ahead. I use this to grade your quality of work, so if you’ve done more than just post, tell me about it!

You’ll get a grade for each week’s worth of work, which includes your weekly post, contribution to the group memo, and any extra work you do (note this in your memo). If you like to think in terms of points, imagine that I score in roughly the following way:

  • 40%: Content — Is it interesting? Relevant to your blog’s focus? Fresh?
  • 30%: Connection — Quality and relevance of the link(s) you included in the post
  • 30%: Mechanics — Grammar, spelling, punctuation and appropriate style
  • Bonus points! … for HTML, outside comments, etc.—beyond-the-call stuff. If you’re the editor-in-chief or have other special duties, let me know!

Because you’re each only expected to post once a week (more is allowed), I’ll expect the writing and ideas to be especially sharp – we’re not looking for long reviews. What matters more than the number of posts is the overall quality of the body of work.

First due dates:

  • A blog concept statement (your “About” page) and list of five possible ideas for your first posts (one page from each member) – due as a single six-page packet from the group in-class Monday, March 14
  • Your group blog’s URL and About page with a focused mission statement – must be posted (email the URL) by the start of class Wednesday, March 16
  • First budget: Email me this list of topics and dates for your first two weeks of postings (see above for explanation). It’s your first week, so this may change, but it must be thorough and complete – due 5 p.m. Sunday, March 27
  • Your group’s first post: Must be posted between 9a – 4p, Monday, March 28

Group Assignments

Available here.

One more thing:

In addition to creating a blog, you’ll need to add all your group’s members as authors (you may all be administrators or just choose one member for this role). Follow these steps:

  • In Dashboard, select “Users” from the left bar
  • Under “Invite New,” enter the new user’s preferred email address
  • Choose the new user’s role (contributor, administrator, editor, or author)
  • Click “Add user”

In-class #2: HTML 2

March 2, 2016

This week, we start with the foundation from last time and add lists and styles (learned this in this week’s Codecademy module: Web Fundamentals: HTML Basics II):

Remember these basics for coding and previewing your work:

To preview in TextWrangler:

  1. In Chrome, go to File > Open File… and open “index2.html”
  2. Command-Tab to select TextWrangler and write code
  3. Command-Tab to select Chrome and Command-R to refresh your webpage

You’ll do the following:

  1. Use/create WWW folder; create “index2.html”; add structural tags
  2. Create a comment inside that says “In-class assignment #2: HTML2”
  3. Create a first-level heading and an intro paragraph
  4. Create a second-level heading and an ordered list of your top three books, movies, or bands
  5. Create a fourth-level heading and an unordered list of skills you possess
  6. Add a fourth item to the ordered list (step 4) and add an image to it
  7. Change background color of page
  8. Change style of top headline to Verdana font family, a different color, and centered alignment
  9. Change style of your intro paragraph to 30px, a different color, and centered alignment