Read & Respond week 15 – Group Blogs

You made it! Your last week of readings! To wrap things up, we’ll turn our better-educated eyes toward … each other. For this week, you’re reading your classmates’ group blogs. The assignments, divided by group, are as follows:

You will scan through the existing work and identify the following things in your response:

  1. The overall strengths and weaknesses of the blog
  2. The three strongest posts (and why)
  3. The three weakest posts (and why)
  4. How well the blog integrates the principles of online and interactive journalism

Dry your tears and post your response as a comment to this post by 11:59 p.m. Sunday, April 24.

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14 Responses to Read & Respond week 15 – Group Blogs

  1. patrickjamesclarke says:

    1. I absolutely love how Morgantown Underground focuses on one specific topic every week. It helps pull together the entire blog and makes it more interesting to read. I think one weakness would be how the introduction blog was always the top blog on the page. Although the introduction page had a list of each week’s topic, it would have been cool to have some sort of interactive blog at the beginning of each week to introduce the topic.

    2. WVU’s Mural in the Mountains, 4 Places to See Live Music…Besides 123, and Morgantown Safe Zones were the strongest posts for me because the content was interesting and I felt that a lot of people can take things away from these blog posts. They sort of reminded me of those BuzzFeed posts in a way that’s easy to relate to these blogs.

    3. [ ]- There wasn’t a title…, RFRA, and Making Morgantown Artsy One Piece at a Time were the weakest for me, even though I felt like the blog as a whole was strong. The one blog about Black Bear and the art on the walls first of all didn’t have a title, but also the blog didn’t fit in with the “hippy” theme of that week. The RFRA blog was informative, but I thought more credible information and an interview from a politician would have made the blog more believable. It’s hard to cover an art gallery (I know from experience), and I just didn’t think the blog was as interesting as the other blogs from that week.

    4. Morgantown Underground definitely integrates online interactive journalism. A lot of the stories included maps, videos, audio clips, etc., and it made the blog a lot more interactive and fun. Overall I think it’s pretty clear that Morgantown Underground had the best and most successful blog out of every group due to their organization, content, and social media presence.

  2. coreymac94 says:

    I was assigned to read Humans of Morgantown and I loved it. It was a really cool blog. One thing that immediately caught my eye is the layout – super unique that gives it a cool feel. Humans of NY is obviously going to be hard to match but this blog did a good job of it. What this concept offers is a rare insight into people’s lives that almost feels reassuring – that we’re all on our own little adventures. Some of the strongest posts I felt were Sara Berzingi, Rabbi Joseph Hample, and Jennifer Mangano. All these posts exemplified a really cool story that kept me interested in reading on.

    One thing that I thought while reading through the posts however was that the majority of them were all positive stories. Often times when I read ‘Humans of NY’ there are some pretty heart wrenching stories – stories that don’t necessarily have a happy ending – that may be more attention grabbing than the positive stories. This is something that could’ve been done better. It’s hard to get that out of an interviewee (and often times they don’t want their picture taken with it) but Humans of NY gives its interviewees the choice to not be photographed or have their face in the write-up. Also some of the weaker posts I found didn’t have much information, or didn’t go as deep as it could have. Katie Padden, Rachael Sands, andRich Guttman were examples.

    Another thing I noticed is a lot of the interviewees seemed to be pretty well known people in the community. Many were public figures, in the media, or were professors, etc. I would have enjoyed seeing a post of some random person on High St. and seeing what they would have to say if approached.

  3. For this week, my group had to read The New ‘Motown’. One strength of this blog is that the members of the group covered a wide variety of topics around the music scene here in Morgantown. All the posts were very different in content and all the posts were just really interesting. This wasn’t just your typical music blog that covered various venues and artists. The group did a really good job with diving deeper than the surface of the music scene. Also, the group seemed to push out weekly content and seemed like they were on top of their game throughout the week. I think that they used some cool outside content, such as photos and videos, but I would’ve liked to seem more outside content. Audio tracks would’ve been a cool thing to play around with, like snippets of songs or the interviews or something along those lines. I also liked that a lot of their blogs followed the same general format. Doing so allowed for a lot of uniformity in their design of their blog.

    One of the strongest posts was Structural Happenings, which looked at the development of the 123 Pleasant Street. Corey went above and beyond with this post by talking to a historian and diving into the vast history of 123 Pleasant while also providing various photos. This is a series post, so his other post titled What Once Was would also be another strong post for this group blog. I was really interested in the old photos that Corey found to include in the post. They really tied in well with content and provided a flashback for the audience also. He really thrived by making this a two part series because it allows the audience to get all the information without being overwhelmed while also bringing them back to the page later on to hear the rest of the story. The third strongest post is titled Building a Brand: Andrew White Gets Candid on Guitars. This whole post really interested me and they did a good job of covering an individual that many people may not know about. They had great photos to go along with the story and they gave some insight into some of his guitar masterpieces.

    One of the weaker posts is titled What Do the Students Want? The whole idea behind this post was cool in that it got a lot of perspective from students and what they want to see, but at the same time, didn’t provide any external content aside from one photo. Another weak post, in my opinion, was We the People — Ryan Hoke. I like the whole concept behind this story also, but there was lack of external content and it was simply a transcript of the interview. This post could’ve been strengthened by external content and maybe by including other interviews also. The last weak post I think would be Coming Soon Big Gigantic. My only reasoning for choosing this post is because it was more on the these people exist kind of line.

    Overall, I really liked this blog and everything that the group members did each week. I think that the New Motown provided integrated online and interactive journalism well. They provided insightful content each week and majority of the posts had some form of external content attached to it. There were plenty of photos, maps, videos and hyperlinks to complement the content well. Honestly, finding three weak posts for me was hard just because the posts were all really good and took a different angle and approach to the overall music culture in Morgantown.

  4. audriek says:

    After reading “Morgantown Matters,” I learned very quickly that I liked the topics of the blog as a whole. My group blog differs in many ways but it I really enjoyed reading these for that being one of the main reasons. Some strengths of it were the different sources implemented within each individual blogs. For example, there was a good variation of maps vs. vine videos vs. twitter screenshots. Also, each of them were well written making them easy to read. That is always a plus, reading something that is filled with grammatical errors is never a fun thing to do and thankfully this blog was not an example of it.
    The maps are very cool for showing something geographically. I saw this with a few of the blogs, specifically ones that required certain points in morgantown, ex: the traffic blog. Although I saw maps utilized a few times, I do not think they were overused.
    Thirdly, I thought another strong point included the different topics. They were all intriguing to people here in Morgantown because in one way or another, they affect those living here. So Kudos for guys nailing your target audience!
    A few things I would have personally done differently when creating this blog would have been shorter, more concentrated titles. A handful of them are very long and are more of a focus statement rather than just a “title.” Having a shorter, either clever title or shorter and concise title helps attract and “hook” the audience. That is what I have learned and have always tried to abide by this rule of thumb.
    For the blogs highlighting on music, I would have loved to have seen some video or music incorporated. I am a music person and am always open to hearing something new. Not only that but I believe when people see other links connected to your page, it becomes very interactive and is not just a “one-stop-shop.”
    Lastly, for the blog, “Pleasant Street: The Hippest Little Place in Town” I would have definitely added more links and or pictures. There is only one picture that isn’t the clearest and there are also no links.
    I think each group member held their own for the blog which in turn effected to the blog as a whole in a positive way.

  5. emilyeisenhuth says:

    I was assigned to read Morgantown Underground:

    Blog Integrates, Strengths, Weaknesses:
    I think the blog did really well with having different types of interactive journalism aspects. There is YouTube videos, pictures, maps, and many other social media platforms that we have learned about. I don’t think any are too plain, there is always something that shows/tells you what is being said in the article. I really like how each week they had a theme that everyone would try to focus on. I think that made the blog stronger. The writing from everyone seemed to get better from first post to last. I know that they created a Twitter, our group didn’t do that but I thought it was a good idea to get different people to look at it more.

    Stronger Post:
    Getting Ink’d : I think this was a super strong post because it gives you so much description and images that you get to see really how talented Gordon is. It also tells you different aspects of who this person is and how he got to where he is today. From having to make the decision of dropping out of school to just loving what he is doing it really a good story.

    By Day, By Night: This was just an all around great piece. It kept you reading all the way to the end. You learn both sides of Bennett and what he struggled with from his family and the way he loves who he is. It doesn’t leave you wondering or you questioning anything. I also like how it gave the events. I have never been to Vice but after reading I do want to check it out because I have also heard a lot of good things about it and just having a good time.

    Everyone did a really nice job with their articles. I just think these two stuck out the most that made me want to keep reading and held my interest until the very end.

    Weaker Post:
    The two weakest posts would have to be the ones that weren’t posted to the blog. I know that things come up and happen but obviously that’s a weak post. If I had to pick an actual post it would be Terra Café. Terra Café, I didn’t really find it to impel me to want to go and check out the location. I didn’t really think of it as an underground, unknown thing in Morgantown. It really didn’t keep my interest. Other than that I think this blog was a really good idea.

    AWESOME JOB!!

  6. pmlilly says:

    For my reading I was assigned to read Humans of Morgantown. My favorite thing about this blog would defiantly be how it is set up. It is really cool how the stories are just pictures of people, that is a great touch in the setup of your blog.

    The best three posts I would have to say were Nick Sordillo, Jim Guliano, and Rachael Sands. I think these are the best posts just because the have the most interesting content to me. My favorite one was Nick Sordillo, he was a great person to interview. I honestly just think he has the best story, especially since Huggins told him he needed to wear the costume next game. The Jim Guliano story is also very interesting, just because it talks about someone who is well known and you can hear him on the radio. The other story I like the most I liked just because it talked about Racheal following her dream and accomplishing it. It is just cool she runs her own yoga class and things like that.

    The three worst posts is hard to say, because they were all pretty interesting. I have to pick three though so I would say Rick Gutman, Julie Merow, Katie Padden. I chose Rick Gutman just because it is not very descriptive. For example it says something about him owning a restaurant for three years, but nothing more about that. The Julie story I just picked because her story is not all that interesting or important. she is just some random girl in a sorority. The last one I chose just because it is short. She sounds like a great person, and probably makes her class awesome. The only thing I think could have made this better was to be more descriptive.

    This blog is pretty good interactive wise. The only thing I would suggest to them would be a section in which people were able to suggest someone to get a story done about them. Like if the readers knew someone cool to have a story done, they could suggest a story be done on that person.

  7. I was asked to look at Morgantown Underground. My impressions of the blog are overall very good. The group did a good job staying focused on the overall theme, as well as the weekly themes. It is also interesting because it looks like my 3 best were in the same week, as were my 3 weakest. The use of technology increases as the semester progresses, reflecting an integration of the material being presented in class. The writing is strong, and it is clear that the writers interacted with the community and issues they are writing about. My 3 best: “4 Places to See Live Music…Besides 123” (Ashley DeNardo – 4/4), “LGBTQ Gender Inclusive Housing: True Colors” (Kaitlin Davis – 4/15), & “Drag Community” (Angie DeWitt – 4/14). I focused on how well the blogger integrated digital technology into their storytelling. Interactive maps, embedded YouTube videos, graphs, highlighted blog postings, links, lists, and creative imagery were all utilized by these postings. My 3 weakest: “Making Medical Advances wit Music Therapy” (Sierra Singleton – 4/6), “The sound of the underground” (Ashley DeNardo – 4/7), & “A Long Way to Go” (Audrie Kuntz – 4/12). Using the same criteria these posting were the weakest because they used the least amount of digital technology in the postings. Links and images were the only things other than text in these postings. I will also note that these were made in the early part of the group blog process. Overall I think this group was very effective in utilizing the principles and available tools to have quality interactive journalism. They learned and integrated while putting some light on a more obscure community in Morgantown.

  8. Sierra says:

    For this week I had to look at “The New Motown”. Not knowing anything about the music culture of Morgantown, this blog was really interesting to me. All of the writers really give a look at every aspect of music and how it plays a part in the past and present of Morgantown as well as where the culture may go in the future. Also, all of the writers really stick to the topic and give some great insight as to how people respond to music here.

    The strongest stories in my opinion were Building a Brand: Andrew White Gets Candid on Guitars, Hanging Out with the High St Jazz Band and What once was. These stories were the most interesting and had the most interactive and informative content as well as just being plain fun to read, especially about the jazz band of High St. Finding the weakest was hard to do and I could only find two which were Rising star in jazz will hit MainStage Morgantown today and What do the students want. The first story was more of an extended flyer advertising the artist and the second story seemed random. It was still good but it was hard to keep my attention on it.

    The overall strength of the blog is by far the content. Its full and rich content that can inform anyone and everyone what the music scene is in Morgantown. You can tell that all of the writers have a strong passion for music because it came out in their writing. A weakness was not including some actual audio content from some of the artist that were featured but overall this blog is on point.

  9. EmilyGMartin says:

    I was tasked with reading Morgantown Matters and one thing I would suggest about their site is to upgrade the layout, maybe add some pictures because right now it is a little basic.

    One really strong post is You Can’t Spell Party Without P R T-Why The PRT Is Closing Early because Patrick did a really good job with integrating outside content, including Vines and maps. I also really liked John Mark’s piece on Pleasant St. because I agree that it is its own little microcosm in town. Craig’s story where he talked about his interaction with West Virginia State Senator Robert D. Beach was really well done. His inclusion of the tweets really made for an interesting story.

    I have a really hard time choosing posts that I would consider negative. But, if I HAD to choose a few I wold say the one about Tim Wise. It wasn’t a badly written article by any means. It just, as it only includes one picture. Maybe include links. The exact same goes for the local business: a dying breed one and the growth+no cooperation.

    I like that they include how they reach out to other students and members of the community. That really shows their journalism skills. They also include Vines, photos, polls, and things that make their interactive skills seem really well-done.

  10. tuellkristen says:

    This week, I looked at “Morgantown Matters.” I found this blog pretty interesting because the authors brought up so many relatable things for people living in Morgantown. Every post I read, I understand completely what they were talking about because I’ve seen the majority of it first hand, or I’ve heard of it from friends in the Morgantown area. I would say that was their strength with this blog—the readers’ ability to relate to the content. Their weakness was sometimes the lack of outside content, but I think that’s something many of us struggle with throughout these group blogs.

    The three posts I would consider the strongest were the “Meal Plan, Prices, & Portions-OH MY! An Inside Look at Evansdale Crossing,” “Short-term Leases Should Be Available,” and “Where have all the Sunnyside porches gone?” While the first post I chose really lacked links and outside content, the content of the actual article was really interesting. While I was reading it, I just kept saying “yes” because I completely agreed with everything that was being said. I wish there would have been a part two. The second post I chose utilized more links and a google map, which was nice to see. Just as the first one, I agreed with everything that was written, and it finally put into words what so many of us students are thinking. I loved the porches post. The video at the end was a perfect demonstration as to what the entire article was about.

    The three posts I would consider the weakest were “The 3 biggest things that plague ‘problem locations’ (and how to fix them),” “We Need to Change,” and “Extra Extra… Money? College Expenses.” This first post was really interesting with the use of the “steps” (1,2,3, etc.), but other than that, I think it fell a little short of what I expected. Other than the map, there wasn’t much outside content, and if you haven’t been in Morgantown for very long, the changing of business isn’t something you really notice just yet. I really liked the idea of this second post, but I think it could’ve used some links, or videos, or more pictures really illustrate the problem. The final one, I chose as one of the weakest just because it was very short and with a topic like that, there could have been a lot of depth, details, and information to discuss how college is very expensive.

    Overall, the blog integrated the principles of online and interactive journalism pretty well. The authors as a whole utilized links, maps, and videos all really well. I found their topics very interesting and relevant to anyone in the Morgantown area.

  11. For this assignment I had to read Morgantown Underground, and I have to say this one has been my favorite to read. Their content is genuinely interesting–and I think that’s their biggest strength. They provide content that is interesting to their target group, people living in Morgantown who want to know more about the town they live in. They also know how to utilize interactive media, and I think that’s been extremely beneficial for them as well. As far as weaknesses go, there were some missing posts, and that can be detrimental in keeping your readers around.

    I think the three strongest posts on this blog are Getting Ink’d, By Day, By Night, and Flow as a psychological principle. Personally, for me, they all had interesting, compelling content, and they followed the theme of the blog–exploring various subcultures in Morgantown. I learned things I didn’t know about Morgantown by reading these posts. These posts in particular also implemented great visual and interactive media–pictures, Vines, maps, and relevant links.

    As far as the weaker points, the missing posts are the bigger weak links. Other than that, I found the weaker posts to be the ones about the restaurants– Blue Moose and Terra Cafe. While they had pictures and media, I just think that the two restaurants don’t really have anything to do with subcultures or “underground” Morgantown. I think most people here have been to one or at least heard of them. It would have been cool if you could have found a unique angle to look at the restaurants with–maybe an interesting story or something interesting about the people who work there.

    Like I said above with the three strongest posts, this blog does a great job at utilizing interactive media. They use maps, Vine, and awesome pictures along with relevant links.

  12. jadenarth says:

    I was tasked with reading Humans of Morgantown. The biggest strength of the blog is definitely the layout they chose. It’s perfect because it shows off who the story is about and it’s very nice to look at. One weakness is that a lot of the people they talked to are already well known. Everybody knows who Hilary Kinney and Julie Merow are. I want to know about the man I see on the street everyday.

    The strongest post is definitely the one about Sara Berzingi. Not only is it interesting, it also provides a ton of links and outside content. The map was a really nice touch to the story. Another strong post is the Christan Coogle post. It’s an interesting read and it has tons of links and even a video. Nick Sordillo is a strong post because it has an imbedded Instagram post and an imbedded tweet. Also a good read about somebody not a ton of people know about.

    The weakest post is Katie Padden. While her story is interesting and her quotes are good, it lacks any outside content. Another weak post is the post about Ross Weidman. Since he’s into engineering, it would have been cool to get a picture of him in the lab or something, not just one of him standing. It also has a lot of content to read but very little outside content. Rabbi Joseph Hample is another weak post. It’s a good read, but doesn’t have any links or anything.

    Humans of Morgantown did a good job of embedding outside content on some of their posts. The layout of the blog is great, it’s got good content, and does an overall nice job of integrating the principles of online interactive journalism.

  13. I thought the strongest point of The New Motown was it was something anyone can relate to in Morgantown. Everyone listens to music and cares somewhat about what’s happening locally in the music scene. For me, some posts had distracting spelling/grammatical errors or paragraphs were too long and made it tedious to continue reading. Sometimes the use of visuals was a strength but sometimes the lack-of was a weakness. I think it did a good job of representing different style of music and venues so far. I like that some posts related things to places outside of Morgantown, specifically Pittsburgh which isn’t too far away. There was a heavy student focus and voice. I’m not sure if that’s a strength or weakness, but I personally appreciated it. The content of all the posts were worth reading, so good job on that.

    Three strongest posts:

    1. “Big Plans for Morgantown’s Newest Venue” – good title because right away it brings you in to hear about the NEW venue and the BIG plans. I like that it explains why this particular venue is important to the local live music culture and how it plans to develop a kitchen and become a multifaceted venue.

    2. “What Once Was” – Mostly, I love the history angle, because I didn’t know about 123 Pleasant Street that far back. And the visuals were perfect for this type of story. Seeing the old newspaper gave the whole post a nostalgic feel that would make anyone in Morgantown who has been to that venue feel connected to the past of something great. It was short and sweet, too, and promised more in the future.

    3. “Ghost House Rises From the Dead” – Well, I love this band and it was great to see them get some exposure, even if this is a class blog. Their music is fantastic. I liked this, and similar posts, that gave an inside or behind-the-scenes look at how a musician is feeling and things like that. Also, there was some mystery in that post with the comment about a secret practice space. That’s intriguing.

    Three weakest:

    1. “The Who in Pittsburgh” – a lot of the content was interesting enough, but the lack of visual and written flow made it hard to want to read. I feel like the paragraphs were way too long, there were a lot of mistakes, like the wrong use of “their.” The end of the first gigantic paragraph made it sound like the complete end of the post. It felt choppy.

    2. “Get To Know — Ivan Gonzales of The Manor & Friends” – I’ve never heard of this band, so starting off with “well, you at least have heard of them” kind of alienates people who haven’t. There were a few mistakes where I had to reread the sentence to understand what was being conveyed. I didn’t feel like the post was over, and I think it would have been helpful to include a video or snippet of their sound.

    3. “What Do the Students Want?” – Okay, so I feel bad putting this because it was a good concept, and like I said I like that there is a heavy focus on what students want on this blog. However, I couldn’t ignore how empty the article looks. If I wasn’t assigned to read it, I don’t know if there was anything besides the title to attract me or another reader to take the time. Once again, the paragraphs are really blocky and long. But what’s inside them is pretty good, besides the few grammatical errors. I think it needs a lot more visually, even a video component or something. Same problem with “We The People – Ryan Hoke.”

    I think it did better with the online aspect (links, video, photos) than with the interactive part of it. One of the maps had the letters of the band name, but when you click on them it says like “Polygon 7” or something because there was no further information added. Putting some other information there could have made it less awkward. There were lots of links to other content. I don’t know how data could be incorporated, so I’m not really going to comment on that since I can’t think of anything either. I think there was one GIF used, and it was used well. I like GIFs.

  14. davidstatman says:

    I was assigned to read Morgantown Matters, which I thought was one of the stronger group blogs due to how well a few of the writers did on reporting on Morgantown businesses and civic affairs. For strongest posts, pick any of Craig Campbell’s posts on Morgantown civic affairs, the dysfunction of local and county governments and the lack of communication that’s leading to major issues. Craig knows his stuff, reports accurately and has actually engaged the local government leaders on what he’s writing about, which is a level of commitment and hard work that I honestly wasn’t expecting from any of these group blogs. The blog gets weaker when it loses its focus on things that really matter on Morgantown – for example, “Pleasant Street: The Hippest Little Place in Town”. A straightforward profile of a place that we all know about, and not really the kind of thing this blog needs to be doing. Morgantown Matters generally did pretty well at outside content, doing better when it was more interactive and adding some things I didn’t often see on other blogs: maps and polls especially.

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