Assignment #7: Make a Map

February 28, 2019

This assignment builds on what we learned about Google Maps in last week’s class. You’re going to apply that to your personal blog by writing a post that incorporates a map of your own creation. That means the post needs to incorporate a “where” component in some meaningful way: Locations of key events, places to find a thing, cities where a performer has played, and so on.

For the assignment, you will:

  • Write a post for your personal blog with a clear location component. Your blog post will be graded like a typical post (5 pts) and counts for this week’s post. It should hit all the usual marks for content, links, depth, and overall quality.
  • Create a Google Map that adds to the story in your post in some meaningful way. This will be graded independently of the post (10 pts), but it must be relevant!
  • The map should have a least FIVE useful data points (that’s the minimum, so it’s worth the minimum grade). Use the guide on our course blog to make sure it’s set to a useful default view (we probably don’t need to see the whole world), and include useful information in your selection of pins, use of labels, photos, etc.

DUE: This assignment is due whenever you post next week’s personal post, so it must be during normal blogging hours (10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday-Thursday) during the week of March 4-7.


How-to: Making and Embedding a Google Map

February 28, 2019

Today we’re making maps! At the bottom of this how-to, you’ll see a sample map of our own beloved Evansdale Crossing, made by following these very steps. Follow along and create your own!

Making the map

  1. Sign in to Google and go to maps.google.com
  2. Click the menu icon to the left of the search bar (it looks like three horizontal lines) and select “Your Places” from the drop-down menu, then click “MAPS”
  3. Select “Create Map” (at the very bottom of the left bar)
  4. In the new window, click “Untitled map” to give it a title and description
  5. Add places: Search a place address, click the marker, and select “+ Add to map” in its pop-up window
  6. Make changes by clicking a placed marker:
    1. Edit (the pencil icon) lets you change the title and description of a place. You can also add links () with HTML.
    2. Style (the paint bucket icon) lets you change the color and design of map markers. You can also upload your own designs, if you’re fancy.
    3. Add Image or Video (the camera icon) lets you … well, I think you can figure that one out.
    4. You can also add points of your own by selecting the “Add marker” icon (under the search bar) and clicking to place new map markers.
  7. Add lines and shapes
    1. Click the line/shape button and click points – double-click to finish
    2. Can name/describe your lines and polygons (shapes) in the same way as map markers.
    3. Style:
      1. Click lines to change color and thickness
      2. Click polygons to change color, border thickness, and transparency.
  8. Trash an element by selecting it and clicking the trashcan in its window

Adding group members

  1. Click “share” in top left menu
  2. Under “Invite collaborators,” add email addresses
  3. Choose what they can do: “Can view” or “Can edit”

Embed the map in your blog

  1. Click “share” and change settings from Private to “Public on the Web” (this allows any reader of your blog to see it), then click Done.
  2. Placing the map:
    1. Position the map how you want it to appear on your blog
    2. Click the three dots next to your map’s name in the top left menu > Select “Set default view”
    3. Click them again and select “Embed on my site”
      1. The code should look like this: “iframe src=”https://www.google.com/maps/d/embed?mid=1L7ZYJ8iuII5T9qoIuk4IAtmQF7U” width=”640″ height=”480″ “
      2. [note: There will also be pointy brackets like this around it, but I’ve left them out so WordPress doesn’t think I’m trying to embed a map here!]
    4. Paste the resultant line of code directly into a WordPress blog post and preview to see if it looks the way you want it.

Advanced map shaping

  1. Don’t like the shape of your map? Notice the details of that code:
    1. (this code comes from the map embedded in this post): iframe src=”https://www.google.com/maps/d/embed?mid=zRA7u_2r6VF0.kDx4jre2-3cA”; width=”640″ height=”480″
  2. See those “width” and “height” values? Right now it’s a horizontal rectangle, but you can change that! Try some different values to get the shape you want.

Here’s our map (in progress)!

Last semester’s map (for reference)


Group Blog Planning Assignment #3 – First Posts

February 26, 2019

First posts?? But I’m not ready!!

Take it easy – this is a planning assignment, after all. I’ll be reviewing and returning your proposal packets this week, and for your next step, I want you to review my notes and pursue what seems like the most viable first post. You won’t be posting anything online yet, so consider this a rough draft.

You’ll need the following:

  • A coherent post. There might still be material to come, but it needs a beginning, middle and end. Don’t forget a compelling hed & lede!
  • Multiple content links. These must be a mix of in-text, media and social). This will probably be the biggest change from your personal blog posts – overall, these should be more richly sourced, so I don’t want to see a paragraph without at least one meaningful link.
  • Meaningful images. Use the strategies we’ve learned so far to bring in photography (yours or free-to-use), graphics (maps and – eventually – charts), screenshots, audio/video, etc.
  • A list of sources. Include this at the end. It should have TWO sections: Sources that are already in your post and sources you still need. We’ll take workshop time to fill in these gaps.

This post will be the first concrete draft of what your group’s blog will look like, but it will likely still have some growing to do. What would your imaginary reader (Rick, Ricardo and their friends) think of it? What would make it better? It should be complete but doesn’t need to be the final version yet, so that should take some stress off.

DUE: You will need to bring TWO printed copies to class on Tuesday, March 5 – one to mark up and one to hand in.


Read & Respond week 8: More Images

February 22, 2019

We’re not done with images yet! Last week we focused on photo; now we’re going to take a look at graphics. Graphics are ways to visualize data (we’ll focus on data more intently a few weeks from now), typically in terms of where, when and how much of something compares to something else. Graphics you’re likely familiar with include maps, charts, timelines, tables, and diagrams.

There are lots of free graphic-making tools out there, at a variety of quality levels, but just because you can make charts doesn’t mean you can make them WELL (or that your readers will understand them).

It’s easy to think of graphics as being extras to the story, but a good graphic IS the story. Here’s a good example: Take this New York Times quiz and see what it tells you about yourself. Any surprises? This quiz and resultant map was the Times’ most popular story of 2013 (and it was created by an intern). Can you see why? There’s something compelling about a map that tells us something about our favorite subject – ourselves – and people started sharing this story with friends.

That shareability is why graphics, and charts in particular, are such popular subjects in online communication, but without being graphic-literate, it’s easy to make misleading charts. Have a look at these common chart errors – would you have spotted any of these without being warned?

Lastly, as we segue into a focus on data, check out Google’s training links on data journalism. We’re frequently talking about analytics in class, so plunge into one or two of these 5-minute tutorials (I’d definitely do some tinkering on the Google Trends page – can you identify any interesting comparisons?). How could you incorporate this with your personal or group blog?

Remember, your responses are due by 11:59 p.m. Monday, February 25, as a comment to this post.


Assignment #6: Blog-a-Day Week!

February 21, 2019

After blogging for several weeks, you should have a feel for what works, what doesn’t, and how to plan your attack. So far you’ve been doing 5Ks but this week will be a marathon. Beginning on Monday, February 25, you will post something EVERY day to your personal blog for a week (Monday-Friday) between regular blogging hours of 10-4. This will not be easy, but you can do it, and at the end you’ll have a newfound respect for those who do this every week.

Some rules and tips:

  • The first rule of Blog-a-Day Week is: We do NOT talk about Blog-a-Day Week! This means no posting about how hard it is to post every day, or other such metacommentary.
  • Likewise, no posting about how you don’t know what to post. Use the skills from previous challenges, ideas from your blogroll, synthesis posts, comments from other students … ANYTHING that leads to a substantive post!
  • As always, good posts will have rich content (links, videos, images, maps, etc.) and be connective. Now might be the time to check out that “Add Poll” button up at the top of your New Post window.
  • Try themes and multi-day posts! Instead of thinking up multiple unrelated posts, consider how you might cover ONE story or issue over multiple days.

Scoring (10 pts total): Your Thursday (Feb. 28) post counts for your required weekly post (5 pts each) and is NOT part of the assignment. The remaining four posts are worth 2.5 pts each (10 total). Same-day and late posts receive NO credit, so make sure they’re up on time!

DUE: Every weekday from Monday, February 25 to Friday, March 1 (five posts in all)

So that’s it. Daunting, but I promise you’ll survive and learn some new skills. THIS is what a full-time blogger does. I strongly recommend writing a few posts in advance to keep from going insane. You might also want to check out the National Blog Posting Month website for advice and support – don’t go it alone!


Group Blog Teams (spring 2019)

February 19, 2019

Sorting for your spring 2019 group blog teams is now complete! I went through your existing blogs and the comments you left on last week’s assignment to sort you by complementary interests, styles, and so on. The more detail you provided, the better a fit I was likely to find. Today in class, you will meet in your groups to solidify your concepts and start identifying stories.

Group 1: NAME TK

  • Holly Fry
  • Karlee Gibson
  • Dean Marrazzo
  • Adam Payne
  • Gillian Wanosky

Group 2: NAME TK

  • Gillian Brooks
  • Brianna Herscher
  • Shana Nelson
  • Anne Parker
  • Shyla Parsons

Group 3: NAME TK

  • Patrick Downey
  • Sadie Janes
  • Lyndsey Moran
  • Cody Nespor
  • Robert Potesta

Group 4: NAME TK

  • Diandra Conwell
  • Victoria Donatelli
  • Hailey Spicer
  • Alexandra White

 

Group Blog Planning Assignment #2

In today’s class, you’ll be meeting to work out the initial details of whatever it is you’ll be doing for the final five weeks of the semester. On Tuesday, Feb. 26, your group will present its concept to the class along with several specific story pitches. As a group, you will print and submit the following as a (stapled) six-page packet:

  • Page 1: The title of your blog and a detailed description
  • Pages 2-5: One page from each member with SIX short story pitches. These must be complete sentences. The stories you pitch should be specific, explain why we should care and suggest several potential sources with contact information.
  • Page 6: A tentative posting schedule (Monday-Thursday) for the final five weeks of the semester.

All this material can be changed, but you must have it in hand at the START of Tuesday’s class (or the group will receive a deduction). I recommend collaborating together in Google Docs so you don’t all have to be together at the same time. NOTE: Don’t create an actual blog on WordPress yet – that comes later.


Read & Respond week 7: Images

February 16, 2019

The next two weeks are all about visuals. In this first one, we’ll tackle photos. Some of you have been incorporating visuals into your work from the start while 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, but what are others? Skim around this list and identify some options you might be able to apply to making your blogging more visual.

Photos:

  • First, a must-readHow to use photos LEGALLY on your blog. There’s a great graphic “Can I Use That Picture?” guide at this post from The Visual Guy.
  • Rather than guess about whether to use an image, consider using (and joining) Creative Commons, which lets you contribute and use a variety of works on the creators’ terms.
  • Photoblogs: Some blogs focus specifically 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. There’s a whole bunch more to skim (150+) at this list.

Apps:

GIFs:

Your responses are due by 2 p.m. Tuesday, February 19 (I’ve extended this to account for your group blog assignment being due this weekend) as a comment to this post.


Group Blog Planning Assignment #1: Pitching Your Ideas

February 14, 2019

For the final third of the semester (weeks 11-15), you will be creating, promoting and maintaining focused group blogs. In preparation, and to identify similar interests, each of you will propose a group blog concept and a list of potential stories. I’ll use these to determine group assignments, which we’ll finalize in class. Use the group blogs you reviewed in this week’s read & respond to identify ideas you think will work (and those you think NEED work).

First: Concepts!

Post a comment (to this post) with a pitch for a group blog concept by 4p Friday, February 15. This must contain the following:

  • A one-paragraph description of a group blog concept of clear relevance to Morgantown and/or WVU (no activities calendar or recommendation blogs!). Other regions (e.g., West Virginia; other cities) can also be your focus as long as you’re able to cover them.
  • A tentative title for this blog concept
  • At least FIVE story ideas. Use complete sentences and address why this story matters. For example: “A few years back, downtown Morgantown saw an explosion of eCigarette shops, but today many of these have closed. Is vaping on its way out?” Include at least two potential sources for each!

Next: Comments!

Once our pitches are all made, you’re going to see what interests you. After Friday, I want you to read through the pitches that have been made and identify which ones you might want to work on. You’ll need to post comments to TWO concepts that you’d be interested in contributing to (more than two is fine), and let the creator know what you’d bring to the table. Make these comments by 11:59 p.m. Sunday, February 17. This will determine who you’ll be working with for the last five weeks of the semester, so make your best case!


Read & Respond week 6: Group blogs past

February 8, 2019

In preparation for your group blogs (into which you’ll be sorted this week), you’ll be taking a look into the past. There’s two sets of readings I’d like you to choose from:

First, read one of these:

Morgantown Problems (2013), Morgantown Nightlife (2017), or Transpo in the Mo (2018). These are three of the most engaged group blogs produced in this class, and I want everyone to have a look (especially Morgantown Problems’ Panera post and its resulting comment thread).

Then, skim at least TWO other previous group blogs from this list:

Move-in Morgantown (2010)

MountainEats (2011)

The Eclectic (2011)

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Morgantown (2011)

Graduation Preparation (2012)

A “J” in the Life (2012)

Mountaineers Connect (2012)

#gradschoolproblems (2012)

Morgantown Man Cave (2013)

Meet Me in the Mountain State (2015)

A Gentleman’s Guide to Morgantown (2015)

Wild But Not So Wonderful (2015)

Humans of Morgantown (2016 spring)

Morgantown Matters (2016 spring)

Morgantown Underground (2016 spring)

The New Motown (2016 spring)

Business of Morgantown (2016 fall)

Morgantown Notes (2016 fall)

Mountaineer Munchies (2016 fall)

Conserve the Wild and Wonderful (2017)

Morgantown Diversity (2017)

WVU Women’s Health (2017)

Old & New in the Gold & Blue (2018)

Bleeding Blue and Gold (2018)

Wild and Weird (2018)

Your response will focus on the blogs (one from the first group and two others) and what they did. What are they about? Is there a clear focus? What are some of their strongest posts? Weakest? (yes, you have to pick one – be constructive) Finally, and most importantly, what would you have done differently, and how does that influence your own group blog plans? Your response is due as a comment to this post by 11:59 p.m. Monday, February 11.


Assignment #5: Twitter Scavenger Hunt!

February 7, 2019

It’s time! Every year, our class takes to the streets for a Twitter scavenger hunt. Thus far, many of you have probably only used Twitter for personal posting, but it’s a powerful tool for reporting and newsgathering, and the best way to learn about this is to do it. For the remainder of class today (Thursday, February 7), you’re heading out into the world in teams of two (at least one of you needs a phone with the Twitter app) to find 10 things. You’ll need to complete the bulk of this assignment by the end of class.

IMPORTANT: To count, each tweet MUST include:

  • A photo or video
  • The context of what you’re reporting – your audience doesn’t know what you asked, so be clear (e.g., Freshman Jim Jackson predicted a WVU loss to Oklahoma: “They’re just lousy this season.”)
  • The full name(s) of whoever you’re talking to
  • The number you are doing (e.g., 1. Joe Smith: “I love WVU”) – Without these, I can’t guess which entry you’re checking off (which means no credit)!
  • The hashtag: #WVUblogJ

So a sample tweet might look like this:

“3. Asked about the impact of social media on society, Prof. Biggins (Econ) said “It’s made protesting easier, but also more identifiable”. #WVUblogJ

Restrictions: No College of Media students, and please don’t all mob the same professor (I’m off-limits). They can’t all come from the same building, so don’t just hang around Evansdale Crossing or the Rec Center – try heading downtown!

Also: Be ethical – make sure the people you talk to know you’ll be posting their responses!

Let’s Get Started!

Each member of your team must post an introductory tweet with a photo of your team (so two per team) so readers and I know what to expect. Don’t forget the course hashtag for this as well!

And now … the list!

  1. School spirit: Photo and quote from someone (not you or your partner) revealing school or civic spirit (what that means is up to you).
  2. Eating Up: Photo and quote from someone (not you or your partner) at a restaurant, coffee shop or bar anywhere in Morgantown. Why do they eat here?
  3. Professors weigh in. Photo and quote from a professor on campus. Ask them how last week’s snow cancellations affected them. Be sure you include the professor’s title and department.
  4. Student on the street. Photo and quote from a student (not you or your partner). Ask them what they think about how police responded to students celebrating during last week’s snow days. Be sure you include their year in school and major.
  5. Academic excellence. Photo and quote that reveals (you are going to have to be creative) how our university contributes to cutting edge research and/or learning.
  6. Scenic spot. Photo of a distinctive scenic spot on or near campus.
    • 2016 rule: No photos of Woodburn Hall. We get it! It’s in all the brochures!
    • 2017 rule: No photos from the top of Evansdale Crossing. It’s very pretty, but I’ve seen enough of it.
    • 2019 rule: No photos from the PRT overlook. It’s … not pretty.
  7. Little-known fact. Photo and detail of something you think many people might not know about your school or campus or city.
  8. Fanatic fans – Photo/quote from somebody asking for their take on WVU’s basketball season. Why do they feel the way they do?
  9. Extracurricular extravaganza: Photo and quote/detail that exemplify some of the huge variety of clubs, organizations, etc. available to students at our university. What do people have to say about them?
  10. It’s the Arts: Find an example of the arts at work in Morgantown – paintings, sculptures, exhibits, or something more out there. Ideally you’ll still have someone to talk to about this, but if not, make sure to provide specifics about what it is we’re seeing (and where it is)

Extra Credit? Sure, why not? Add something beyond the standard requirements above, and I’ll consider an extra point or so. It should be clearly above and beyond the norm, and determining what constitutes “extra” is solely at my discretion.

DUE: You need to make most of your 10 tweets during our regular class time of 2-3:15 p.m. (one or two stragglers are acceptable), and your team must be done by 4p today. You’re expected to use class time to work on this, so if there’s a long delay to your start, it will affect your grade.

A Few Tips:

  • Think like a reporter. Have an eagle eye for the interesting, the important, the relevant, the unique, and the immediate. Double check your facts.
  • Think like a public relations professional. Show other people what’s cool about WVU.
  • Think like a storyteller. You may only have 280 characters in each tweet (actually less, once you subtract numbers, links and hashtags), but you can say a lot in a few words or using an image.
  • You may use more than one Tweet for each of the items below. Don’t overdo it, though, and don’t forget the #WVUblogJ hashtag for each!
  • 280 characters isn’t much. Try using other apps and tactics to allow you to say more.

This is going to seem a little strange to some of you, but the goal is to reveal to you the journalistic applications of Twitter. You need to be an observer, a reporter, and you can’t be afraid to accost people on the street for their opinions. You’ll provide perspective and voice, and you’ll tell a larger audience something about your subject (WVU, in this case) – make sure you’re thinking of them!