Group Blog Planning Assignment #2: Planning Your Concept

September 30, 2019

Sorting for your fall 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.

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 Monday, October 7, 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-Friday) for the final five weeks of the semester (25 items total). What will each person post each week? Don’t worry about being locked into this; you just need to get a potential list up there.

All this material can be changed, but you must have it in hand at the START of Monday’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.

Group 1: NAME TK

  • Jenna Kijauskas
  • Victoria Krieger
  • Charles Montgomery
  • Cassie Thomas
  • James Nucci

Group 2: NAME TK

  • Alayna Degenhardt
  • Michael Griffith
  • Jared Jorden
  • Emily Rinehart
  • Ciara Litchfield

Group 3: NAME TK

  • Adison Ammons
  • Abigail Bromley
  • Jordyn Johnson
  • Patrick McKay
  • Benjamin Halperin

Group 4: NAME TK

  • Karli Celestin
  • Hannah Hebel
  • Connor Lohmiller
  • Savannah Schafer
  • Kaitlin Esposito

Readings and Personal Post: Week 7

September 26, 2019

Note: I’ve changed the titles of these posts to better reflect what’s in them (both readings and personal post requirements). 


No readings for next week because you’ll be focusing on Group Blog Planning Assignment #1. Make sure you hit all of its deadlines!

Personal Post

Personal Post

Write a blog post incorporating trend information from Google Trends (including a link to the trend search(es) you use). We’ll develop these in Wednesday’s class. The trend may be the focus of your post, or it may be integrated into a larger post, but it should meaningfully add to the post. As always, the overall post must be relevant to your personal blog concept and must include:
  • At least three links (more is better) to meaningful content. This means news stories, relevant posts, and substantive material, NOT to homepages (e.g., or general sites (e.g.,
  • At least three content links: Images, video, social media posts, etc.

You will post it Thursday, October 3 any time between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Group Blog Planning Assignment #1: Pitching Your Ideas

September 23, 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: Brainstorming!

We’ll do some preliminary brainstorming work in Monday’s class. On Wednesday, you will turn in a page with the following:

  • Five potential group blog topics
  • Two SPECIFIC issue-oriented story pitches for each
  • Example: “I propose a blog focused on student employment issues.”
    • Story Pitch 1: How does WVU compare to the U.S. for number of working students? I will use data from the National Center for Education Statistics (
    • Story Pitch 2: How much would you have to work to pay for a semester of classes at WVU? A New York Times article this week said students are having more trouble than ever working their way through college.
  • Due: Bring a printout of your 5 blog concepts (two pitches for each) to Wednesday’s class

Next: Concepts!

Post a comment (to this post) with a pitch for a group blog concept by 4p Friday, Sept. 27. 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!

Finally: 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 – it will help you to get a concept you actually want), and let the creator know what you’d bring to the table. Make these comments by 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 29. 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

September 19, 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)

The Eclectic (2011)

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Morgantown (2011)

A “J” in the Life (2012)

#gradschoolproblems (2012)

Morgantown Man Cave (2013)

Meet Me in the Mountain State (2015)

Wild But Not So Wonderful (2015)

Morgantown Matters (2016 spring)

The New Motown (2016 spring)

Morgantown Notes (2016 fall)

Mountaineer Munchies (2016 fall)

Conserve the Wild and Wonderful (2017)

Old & New in the Gold & Blue (2018)

Almost Heaven, Almost Green (2019 spring)

Arts in Appalachia (2019 spring)

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. Sunday, Sept. 22.

Personal Post

Write a blog post incorporating at least four tweets. They may be drawn from your listed influencers or just people discussing the subject you’re writing about, but they must be clearly relevant and must be addressed in your writing (don’t just drop them in without comment). As always, the overall post must be relevant to your personal blog concept and must include:
  • At least three links (more is better) to meaningful content. This means news stories, relevant posts, and substantive material, NOT to homepages (e.g., or general sites (e.g.,
  • At least three content links: Images, video, social media posts, etc.

You will post it between Monday and Thursday any time between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Assignment #5: Twitter Scavenger Hunt!

September 18, 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 (Wednesday, Sept. 18), 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 earn credit, 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 this Saturday: “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 and description of your team (that means two per team) before posting any items 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? Be sure to say where “here” is!
  3. Professors weigh in. Photo and quote from a professor on campus. We’re in the middle of WVU diversity week, so you’ll ask a faculty member how they address diversity issues in their classes. Be sure you include the professor’s title and department. (students always seem to leave this one until last – I promise, we’re not that scary!)
  4. Current issues. Photo and quote from a student (not you or your partner) in response to a specific issue. This semester, ask someone what they think about the state of pedestrian safety here at WVU (there’ve been a number of accidents, most recently this August). 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’ve seen 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.
    • 2018 rule: No photos from the PRT overlook. It’s … the PRT.
    • 2019 rule: No photos of the ponds next to the rec center. The geese have been complaining.
  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 football 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. Try to find someone informed to talk to, but if you can’t, 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 clearly add something special, and determining what constitutes “extra” is solely my call.

DUE: You need to make most of your 10 tweets during our regular class time of 10-11:15 a.m. (one or two stragglers are acceptable), and your team must be done by noon 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!

Read & Respond week 5: Twitter

September 12, 2019

This week is about all things Twitter, the platform where your thoughts are limited to 280 characters but the outrage is limitless. We’ve got some neophytes in our class, so first, have a poke around in some of these how-to links:

Getting more into the realm of journalism and mass communication, skim through these suggestions and warnings:

And now for the important part. There’s a current debate over whether Twitter does more harm than good. Read (don’t skim these ones) these next two and see what you think:

In your response, I’d like you to respond specifically to these two viewpoints. Never tweet? ALWAYS tweet? Something in between? Give us some examples that illustrate your stance and why it’ll make the world (or at least journalism) better!

As always, post your response as a comment to this post (and finish your Twitter duties) by 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 15.

Personal Blog for Week 5

For week 5, you will publish your explainer post. Remember that a minimum of 10 meaningful links is required, and don’t forget to bring your annotated list of links to Monday’s class! (full details with the assignment)

But Before You Go…

Finally (if you haven’t already) you need to get ON Twitter. You’ve got four things to do:

  • Create an account if you don’t have one (or want to use a different one for class), and make sure it is public (not hidden).
  • Follow at least 20 people – if you’re new to Twitter, try tweeting with some hashtags (#) and tag (@) some people (start with your classmates and me if you’re anxious).
  • Follow me (@thebobthe) so I can follow you back.
  • Post two tweets promoting one of your personal blog stories on two separate days, one on Thursday and one on Friday (include our course hashtag #WVUblogJ in each). We’ll compare their performance in class.

Assignment #4: Explain It!

September 11, 2019

Now that you know how to write an explainer, you’re going to make one of your own. This has a specific due date (included at the end of this assignment), so make sure you’re following directions. Using the posted guidelines, you’ll do the following:

  • Identify a subject in your area that requires explaining (see our own explainer for details on this)
  • Monday, Sept. 16: Bring to class (printed) an annotated subject list. This must include your subject, why it’s timely, and a link list with sentences explaining the relevance of each. Ten links are the minimum! (10 pts for Assignment)
  • Thursday, Sept. 19 (any time between 10a and 4p): Publish your explainer! Remember again that a minimum of 10 meaningful links is required! (10 points for Personal Post)

ALSO for next week: We’re getting started with Twitter, so you must have done the following prior to Monday’s class:

  • Create a Twitter account and follow at least 20 people (most of you have already done this!)
  • Follow me (@thebobthe) – that’s not an ego thing, it’s just needed for our following class work, so make sure I’m able to follow you back.
  • Post two tweets promoting one of your personal blog stories on two separate days, one on Thursday and one on Friday (include our course hashtag #WVUblogJ in each). We’ll compare their performance in class.