Assignment #5: Blog-a-Day Week!

September 19, 2018

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 sprints, but this week will be a 5K. Beginning on Monday, Sept. 24, 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.
  • Scoring (10 pts total): Your Thursday (Sept. 27) 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 day from Monday, Sept. 24 – Sunday, Sept. 28 (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 Blogs: Pitching Your Ideas

September 17, 2018

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).

Post a comment (to this post) with a pitch for a group blog concept by 10 a.m. Wednesday, September 19. This must contain the following:

  • A one-paragraph description of a group blog concept focused on some aspect of Morgantown life (no activities calendar 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!

We’ll go through these comments in our next class. By the end of class, you must 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. 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 13, 2018

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 no Briggs chapter for this week; instead, you’ll take a leisurely read through what has come before. Read the following:

First, read one of these:

Morgantown Problems (2013) or Morgantown Nightlife (2017). These are two 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)

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, September 16.


Assignment #4: Twitter Scavenger Hunt!

September 12, 2018

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, September 12), 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
  • 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. Prof. Biggins (Econ): 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. No more than half can come from the same building, so don’t just hang around Evansdale Crossing or the Rec Center – try heading downtown!

FIRST!

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

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 on or near campus. Why do they eat here?
  3. Professor on the street. Photo and quote from a professor on campus. Ask them what role they think social media plays in our society today. 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 where they get their news and if they use social media to keep up on the news. 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.
  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 NC State cancelling this weekend’s game against WVU due to Hurricane Florence.
  9. Extracurricular extravaganza: Photo and quote/detail that exemplify some of the huge variety of clubs, organizations, etc. available to students at our university.
  10. WVU Weird: Photo and detail of the strangest thing you can find in WVU or Morgantown. See if you can out-weird your classmates!

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 10-11:15a (one or two stragglers are acceptable), and your team must be done by 1p 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: Microblogging and Twitter

September 6, 2018

This week is about all things Twitter, so Briggs’ chapter on microblogging fits nicely with a platform where you’re limited to 140 280 characters or less. You’re probably familiar with microblogging but may never have heard the term – many of you have been doing it for years (did you know?).

Twitter’s the most widely known venue for microblogging, so poke around in some of these how-to links:

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

Finally – don’t skip this step! – 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 10 people and tweet at least five times. Try using some hashtags (#) and tagging (@) some people.
  • Follow me (@thebobthe) so I can follow you back.
  • Tweet something useful to our class to our course hashtag #WVUblogJ

As always, post your response as a comment to this post (and finish your Twitter duties) by 11:59 p.m. Sunday, September 9.


Read & Respond week 4: Links and Crowds

August 30, 2018

This week, we’ll be talking about connections: The in-person links that create crowds and the digital ones that create, well, the Internet. Briggs talks specifically about “crowdsourcing;” the term “the wisdom of crowds” was popularized by James Surowiecki, but it’s been around for a while. Some take issue with the idea that crowds actually have any particular wisdom; a crowd, after all is just a thrown rock away from a mob. Here’s a little tune on the subject from Nova:

Moving on to links and linking, consider some ideas from these posts:

Since there’s no class on the Labor Day holiday, you have until 11:59 p.m. Monday, Sept. 3 to make your responses to this post. Keep it concise, relevant, and don’t forget to integrate Briggs!


Assignment #3: Find Your People

August 29, 2018

So far, you’ve introduced yourself, determined a focus for your blog, and made your first posts. This week, you’ll 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 this week, we assessed these focuses. Based on my and your classmates’ feedback, refine your “About” page and add some depth. Remember these points:

  • 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 you’re doing it)
  • 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.
    • Think of yourself as the intersection of a Venn diagram with at least two circles
  • 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 individual blogs to follow. Each of these should be a spiritual cousin to your own – they do something related to what you hope to do. These can NOT be general, non-blog sites (e.g., ESPN.com) although you may link to an individual blogger on such a site as long as you justify why that writer is an excellent source for you. You have to find people and communities that are talking about what you want to talk about!

Part 3: Identify issues to cover

As we’ve discussed this week, you need to get out of the way and cover your community and the current issues that concern it. After reading your bloggers, you must identify five timely subjects or issues they’re talking about that could serve as the focus of one (or more) of your upcoming posts. Each must include at least one link (more is better) to current discussion on the subject and explain what the focus of your post could be.

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)
  • Write a blog post explaining (in 1-2 sentences each) each of the five issues you’ve identified and how you might cover each in an upcoming post – don’t forget to include relevant links for each item! (5 pts)
  • This post must have a meaningful title, not a label (please don’t just call it “10 blogs” or “5 issues”) and needs writing beyond the list. At the very least, you’ll need an intro and a conclusion explaining why these 10 things go together. Frame this like an actual post rather than a class assignment!
  • Note: This does NOT count as your weekly post! You’ll still need to make your weekly post on Monday, Wednesday or Thursday.

Due: 4p, Tuesday, Sept. 4 (you get an extra day because who’s reading blogs on Labor Day?)

  • To receive credit for this assignment, you must add a link to your post (with a short description) in a comment to this blog post.
  • Your blog post MUST be made between 10a and 4p on Monday!