In-Class #1: HTML 1

August 31, 2016

After completing your first Codecademy assignment in Web Fundamentals (HTML I) and showing me your completion badges, do the following:

  1. Preparation:
    • Create a desktop folder called WWW
    • Open TextWrangler (or another text editor), create a new file called “index.html” and save to WWW
    • Save two images (ideally with short names) to your WWW folder
  2. Place your structural tags
  3. Create a title
  4. Add a first-level headline and one paragraph
  5. Bold a few words. Italicize a few other words.
  6. Insert an image
  7. Add a second-level headline and another paragraph
  8. Create a hyperlink to the SOJ homepage within this paragraph
  9. Add a third-level hed and another image
  10. Make this second image into a hyperlink

To preview in TextWrangler

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

To view a webpage’s source code

  • Chrome: View > Developer > View Source
  • Firefox: Command-U OR Tools > Web Developer > Page Source
  • Safari (why are you using Safari???): Develop > View Page Source

Assignment #3: Start Following!

August 29, 2016

So far, you’ve introduced yourself and determined a focus for your blog. This week you’ll solidify that focus and identify sources of information that will contribute to your writings.

Part 1: Refine your focus

This week, you created an “About” page with your blog’s mission statement. In class today, we assessed these focuses. Based on my and your classmates’ feedback, refine your “About” page and add some depth. Remember these points from our readings:

  • It’s not about you. Make sure your focus is a larger conversation, not a diary or “expert advice” (you’re not one) or “my crazy life” blog. How can you connect with a larger community?
    • Remember: No advice blogs, no reviews, no profile-only blogs, no whatever else I decide is off-limits (I’ll tell you if it’s you)
  • It’s not about everything. Avoid being too broad (e.g., “pop culture”) – if you say you will write about something general like “sports,” you’ll need to spell out what a reader might get out of reading your site compared to the countless other sports sites out there.
  • It’s not just links. Links are necessary, but a successful blog needs to add something to the information it synthesizes from elsewhere. Linking to a bunch of stories about the Pittsburgh Penguins is not blogging.

Part 2: Identify sources to help you

Blogging isn’t something you have to do on your own. With your focused topic in mind, it’s time to identify some sources to help you on that path. You will identify at least 10 blogs to follow. Each of these blogs should be a spiritual cousin to your own – they do something related to what you hope to do. They may be individual bloggers or group blog sites; they cannot be non-blog sites (e.g.,, although you may link to an individual blogger on such a site (no more than one from a site).

You’ll need to complete the following steps:

  • Add a blogroll (Links > Add New > Create a “Blogroll” category) and add your 10 blogs to it (5 pts for blogroll)
  • Write a blog post explaining (in 1-2 sentences each) how each of these blogs will inform your own blog – don’t forget to include links to each blog in your post! (5 pts for links)
  • Yes, this will count as one of your two weekly posts, but only if you actually write a post. If it’s just a bulleted list with no actual writing or description, you won’t earn this credit. (5 pts – one of your weekly posts – for compelling, coherent writeup)

Due: 10a, Tuesday, September 6

  • You get a one-day extension for the Labor Day holiday.
  • Post a link to your post (with a short description) in a comment to this blog post.

Read & Respond week 3 – Origins of the Internet

August 25, 2016

You might want to read/watch this week’s links before delving into Briggs as they provide some historical context to what he’s talking about. First: A video clip!

History of the Internet

After viewing that, skim one or more of these links (they’re meaty, reference-heavy sources, so just get an overview):

Is the Internet something invented by an individual? What’s a specific surprising event you found in the timelines? Remember, your response (to these links AND to Briggs) is due as a comment to this post no later than 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, August 28.

How-To: Starting Your WordPress Blog

August 24, 2016

We’ll be creating blogs today, and you’ll begin posting next week (in addition to the About page due Sunday). Here’s a step-by-step of how to do it! We’ll be using WordPress (

  1. Click the “Sign up” link (at top)
  2. Enter the required information (username, password, email)
  3. Give your blog a name
    • The format is
    • May take a couple tries to find one not taken

Once you’ve got a blog …

  • Post!
    1. Log in & in the top infobar click “New Post”
    2. Enter a title in the top box, enter your text in the lower box (we’ll delete it later)
      • For more detail, go to your dashboard (link in top left of infobar > WP Admin) – in left menu, Posts > Add New
      • You may want to compose your posts in a word processing program then paste them into the blog box
  • Add value! (in dashboard view only)
    • Images: Make sure you know where the image is, then click Add Media > Upload Files > Select Files. Find your image, and decide where you want it in the text (left, right, or center)
    • Links: Select the text you want to make into a link. Click the little chain link icon above the text window and enter an address (or cut and paste) – it MUST begin with http://
    • Tags and Categories: Tags and categories (in the right menu) help index your posts. Just type a new one and click “add”.
  • Publish!
    1. Click the big blue “Publish” button in the right menu
    2. If you want to save a post for later, click “Save Draft”
      1. Log in later and publish manually
      2. Set a specific time for it to publish automatically
    3. Don’t like what you have? Scroll to the bottom of your post and click “edit” and make the changes you want.
    4. Publicity (Publicize > Settings)
      • You can link your blog to your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and Path accounts
      • Linked blogs can publish automatically to these
  • NOTE: Whenever you make an assigned blog post, be sure to check the assignment for where to post the link (typically as a comment to the assignment post but sometimes as an email or tweet).

Assignment #2: The About Page

August 23, 2016

Your new blog needs a place for readers to find out what it’s about. You could do this as a first post, but over time, this will get hard to find – nobody likes scrolling, after all. Instead, you’re going to create an About page. Have a look at this read from blogtyrant on what makes a terrific “About Us” page – they include examples, too! With those ideas in mind, get started. There are two parts:

For Wednesday, August 24:

Write an About page and a first post (bring both, printed, to Wednesday’s class). Some things you’ll need to include:

  • What’s the blog about? Well DUH. But this means you’ll need to know that yourself, and that means spelling out the specifics of what readers can expect. You might add some links to similar blogs (while explaining what will make yours different)
  • Who’s the author? Tell us your background. What are you studying? What are your interests and accomplishments? (note: Readers don’t want to hear about YOU until they’ve heard about your blog!)
  • Where can I find you? You’re cultivating an online presence, so let interested readers know where they can hear more from you. You needn’t use an email if you don’t want, but at the very least put up your Twitter handle.
  • First post (this is the second part of assignment one): Make it a real, attention-grabbing post, not an introduction (“Here’s my blog!”). You’re only printing this out for now, so include links and multimedia (photos, video, etc.) in brackets [url=…] so we can see where they go.

For Sunday, Aug. 28

Create an About page on your blog (we’ll create blogs in Wednesday’s class) and post the link in a comment to this post, and I’ll add it to the blogroll on our course blog.

In your dashboard:

  1. Pages > Add New
  2. Title: “About” or “About This Blog”
  3. Write some appropriate “about” content (you can update this as your blog grows)
  4. Publish!

Due: 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 28 (must post comment by this time)

DON’T FORGET: Tweet the link to your first post (not this About page) using the #WVUblogJ next week too!

Read & Respond week 2: Getting started

August 18, 2016

First, an overview of how these will typically work. Just about every week has an assigned reading from the Mark Briggs textbook, Journalism Next. In addition, I’ll typically put up a post here (usually by Thursday) with some links to online readings. You are required to post a response to these readings no later than 11:59 p.m. on Sunday. You’ll post your response as a comment in reply to the Read & Respond blog post (like this one).

Your response MUST address the week’s Briggs chapter and should add some elements from the online readings. You don’t need to cite all the links, but you need to connect them (or other examples) to Briggs for full credit. Keep these short and to-the-point (they’re only worth 2.5 points), but do cover your bases.

Now on with this week’s assignment.

As the syllabus says, you’ll be reading Briggs’ introduction and chapter 1. As you work to develop your blog’s focus, Briggs offers some suggestions. Chief among them: “It’s not about you” (remember: “Nobody Cares”). What can you write about that gets beyond yourself and meaningfully adds to the ongoing conversation? See what examples you can draw from the links below to bolster your ideas.

Why blogs and journalism need each other (note: This is OLD – from 2003! – so consider how its argument has held up over time)

The Case Against News We Can Choose

Why you should blog

How NOT to blog

You will need to respond to these readings in a comment on this post no later than  11:59 p.m. Sunday, August 21. A few things to make sure of:

  • You’ll ordinarily be posting from your WordPress account, but most of you don’t have one yet, so however you choose to post, make sure it’s clear to me who you are (so you can get credit).
  • Specifically address the readings, but don’t just summarize – build on them!

Welcome to JRL 430 (now get to work)!

August 18, 2016

Hello, future bloggers, and welcome to the fall semester of JRL 430: Blogging and Interactive Journalism. This blog serves as the mothership for your work in this class: It will link to your personal and group blogs, detail your assignments, provide your online readings (you still need to buy the Briggs textbook though!), and promote your fine work. There’s even a syllabus and schedule in the links at the top.

To set the stage, here’s the promised link to that John Oliver piece on our current journalism situation, which we started watching in class. As up-and-coming mass communicators, what do you think of the media world you’re inheriting?

I’m also including here your first assignment, which we went over in class. It’s an easy one: I want you to come up with ideas for the personal, media-focused blog you’ll be maintaining for the duration of this class. Here’s the details:

Assignment #1: Getting Started

  • Come up with TEN blog concepts
    • Must have a mass media angle
    • Must be more specific than “sports” or “fashion”
    • NO reviews, advice, tips, or recipes
  • Choose your two best
  • Write FIVE one-sentence story pitches for each (that’s ten total)
  • PRINT and bring to Monday’s (Aug. 22) class
    • If it’s not printed at the start of class, it’s late!

So that’s it – well, that and the read & respond due by Sunday night. Get ready, come up with some good ideas, follow me at @thebobthe on Twitter so I can follow you (and get that account created, holdouts), start using our #WVUblogJ hashtag, and let’s get started.