Read & Respond week 3: Origins of the Internet

January 18, 2019

This week, we’ll go back to where it all got started. As you learn to be a more effective online communicator, it helps to know more about where online communication came from. 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):

From the early internet, the road leads to the social Web, and that road is littered with the corpses of early efforts. Ever hear of Friendster? It’s arguably the first major social networking site … and it’s dead now. MySpace is still out there, populated by some hardcore oddballs, but it’s nothing like it once was. And we predict The Death Of Facebook pretty much every year. The argument has been made (seemingly every year) that social media as we know it is about to change. What do you think?

Is the Internet something invented by an individual? What’s a specific surprising event you found in the timelines? What do you think keeps a social media site alive, and what comes next? Remember, your response is due as a comment to this post no later than 11:59 p.m. on Monday, January 21.


Assignment #2: The About Page

January 17, 2019

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 (well, kind of). 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, let’s get started…

Your about page should include the following:

  • 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.

But how do I MAKE a new page??

It’s easy! 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!

What’s due

Create an About page on your blog and post the link in a comment to THIS post. Once it’s up, I’ll add your blog to the blogroll on our course blog.

Due: 11:59 p.m. Sunday, January 20 (must post comment TO THIS POST by this time)


Read & Respond week 2: Getting Started

January 11, 2019

How do I do these?

First, an overview of how these will typically work. I’ll put up a post here most every Thursday afternoon with some links to online readings in line with the week’s theme. You are required to post a response to these readings no later than 11:59 p.m. on Monday. You’ll post that response as a comment in reply to the week’s Read & Respond blog post (like this one).

Regarding length, there’s not a word count, but they should be long enough to address the question(s) and express a coherent thought (look at previous posts for examples). You don’t need to cite all the links, but you should reference a meaningful number of them. Be clear and concise (they’re only worth 2.5 points after all), but do cover your bases.

Now on with this week’s assignment!

As you work to develop your blog’s focus, consider a suggestion from Mark Briggs’ “Journalism Next“: “It’s not about you” (remember: “Nobody Cares”). What can you write about that gets beyond yourself and meaningfully adds to the ongoing conversation? How can you identify a community with issues that you can participate in and cover? See what examples you can draw from the links below to bolster your ideas.

Now read The Case Against News We Can Choose. This is a classic piece from 2010 by journalist Ted Koppel that gets into those filter bubble and “Daily Me” issues that persist today.

After that, pick a few blogs from this list. The content might not be your interest, but that’s not the point. Look at the structures: How do they use sources, and what kinds of sources do they use? How do they build their stories? How visible is the author’s opinion and voice? Are they single-authored or group blogs?

  • Coal Tattoo (this WV blog has been dormant since mid-2018, but it’s still one of the best examples of covering a community and its issue, and its author, Ken Ward Jr., is a WVU alum! Check out his Twitter account)
  • The New York Times’ blog directory (pick one or two)
  • Talking Points Memo (politics)
  • Deadspin (sports news without access, favor or discretion – feel free to explore the other Gizmodo blogs linked at the top instead)
  • Footnoted (corporate filings, but don’t automatically skip for that reason – great example of mining a REALLY specific focus)
  • DailyKos (VERY liberal and opinionated but also one of the oldest blogs still thriving today)
  • SCOTUSblog (law blog about the Supreme Court and its decisions – they’re on Twitter too)
  • AP Style Blog (fewer links and more expertise-driven than you’ll be doing in class, but notice how timely its posts are – their Twitter feed is often funny)

For your response, consider the questions above. I’d like you to identify some techniques from the blogs you’ve read and discuss how they could be applied to your first post. In addition, are there any other blogs you’d suggest? Be specific – even though may not have settled on a concept yet, write about some of the options you’re considering and suggest what you could do for a first post.

You will need to respond to these readings in a comment on this post no later than  11:59 p.m. Monday, January 14. A few things to make sure of:

  • You’ll be posting from your WordPress account, so make sure you’re logged in! If your name isn’t clear from your username, please add it in to the post (so you can get credit).
  • Remember that your first comments won’t show up until I approve them, so don’t panic (but feel free to email me if you’re concerned).
  • Specifically address the readings, but don’t just summarize – build on them!

Assignment #1: Developing a Concept

January 8, 2019

For your first assignment, you’re going to think about how to cover some aspect of our new media world. We’ll start this one in today’s class, you’ll bring the finished product to class on Thursday, and you’ll post it later that day.

Your personal blog must focus on mass and social media coverage of some area of interest. More specific is better – politics, entertainment, sports, etc are all good starting points, but stronger blogs will focus more narrowly. For example, instead of “entertainment,” you might consider “coverage of minority issues in theatre.”

The bulk of each post must be focused on the coverage and conversation about your subject, not be a long list of your personal opinions. In fact, there’s a list of off-limits content lovingly compiled over years of teaching this class:

  • No reviews
  • No recaps
  • No sports (or other) predictions
  • No diaries
  • No advice
  • No tips
  • No recipes
  • No anything else I say is off-limits!

Whew! Despite that list of forbidden subjects, you’ll find a lot worth writing about. In fact, that’s our first assignment. Here’s what you’ll do:

  • Come up with TEN blog concepts (write these as a bulleted list) that are interesting enough to cover for fifteen weeks (one post a week, including Thanksgiving break!) – we’ll start this in class!
    • Must have a mass media angle
    • Must be more specific than “sports” or “fashion”
  • Choose your TWO best concepts
    • Do they follow the rules?
    • Can they be linked to timely and newsworthy events?
    • Can you find an active online community to connect with?
  • Write FIVE one-sentence story pitches for each (that’s ten total) – Again, bulleted lists are fine, but they must be complete sentences explaining why the pitches are relevant and timely.
  • Print TWO COPIES and bring to Thursday’s (January 10) class – If it’s not printed at the start of class, it’s late!

Read & Respond week 16 (part 2) – Pick the winners

December 4, 2018

And here’s the last part of your final read & respond! You’ll be assessing your own work, based on the material you provided me. Based on the following examples, you’ll be voting (via this Google Forms ballot) on the following categories.

NOTE: If your name doesn’t have links, you need to provide them to me!

ALSO NOTE: You’re not expected to read all these links – you’ve already read a lot of your classmates’ work during reviews and commenting – just use them for reference!

Group Blog Honors

Note: You can’t vote for your own group unless otherwise indicated!

The Groups (group-selected posts are linked):

The Categories

  1. Best Post on a Group Blog (can’t vote for your own post, but can vote for a post by your group)
  2. Best Group Blog Headline
  3. Most Improved Group Blog
  4. Best Group Blog Overall
  5. Best Use of Additional Content
  6. Best Social Media Presence

Personal Blog Awards

Note: You can’t vote for yourself!

The Personal Blogs (best posts provided by you)

First Last Post 1 Post 2
Brie Autry Post 1 Post 2
Alex Balog Post 1 Post 2
AJ Barnes Post 1 Post 2
Taylor Brown Post 1 Post 2
Te’a DiNapoli Post 1 Post 2
Katie Forcade Post 1 Post 2
Brooke Hawthorne Post 1 Post 2
Aaron Host Post 1 Post 2
Megan Irwin Post 1 Post 2
Marshall Kesterson Post 1 Post 2
Patrick Kotnik Post 1 Post 2
Xavier Leroy Post 1 Post 2
Alexis Piatkowski Post 1 Post 2
Kenna Richards Post 1 Post 2
Christine Robinson Post 1 Post 2
Olivia VanHorn Post 1 Post 2
Dan Walsh Post 1 Post 2
Erica Young Post 1 Post 2

The Categories

  1. Best Post on a Personal Blog
  2. Best Personal Blog Headline
  3. Most Improved Personal Blog
  4. Best Personal Blog Overall

Superlatives

Nominate another blogger for best uses of audiovisual, non-audiovisual, and social media content.

Nominate another blogger for a “Most/Best ____” category (e.g., Best use of GIFs, Most Likely to Proofread Everyone’s Work)

Nominate yourself for something at which you think you excel (e.g., Best Interviewer of Homeless Persons) or perhaps are notorious for (e.g., Most Likely to Get Caught Texting)

The usual deadline applies, but you don’t have to respond as a comment. Instead, complete the ballot on Google Forms by 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 4.


Read & Respond week 16 (part I) – Best of US

December 2, 2018

This one’s a two-parter, but don’t worry – both parts are easy!

For our final week, we’ll be assessing our own work. For this first part, you’ll need to provide me that work! First, give yourself a quick refresher of your best stuff (personal and group) this semester. Take note of the following:

Personal

  • Best two posts
  • Best headline
  • Best added content (maps, podcasts, etc)

Group

  • Best three posts
  • Best headline
  • Best added content (maps, podcasts, etc)

Submit your nominations using this Google Form ballot. We’ll finalize things and begin voting in Monday’s class. I realize this one came up pretty late, so do the best you can to complete it before class (as I said, it won’t take long). If you REALLY can’t swing it, you can finish up in class.


Read & Respond week 14 – Video

November 8, 2018

This week’s readings are mostly viewings. Once upon a time, this unit involved the late, lamented Vine (for those not in the know, Vine was an app that let you create and share six-second videos; Twitter bought them, and that was that). That time limit and focus on speed and sharing made it a tremendous place for creativity (and weirdness), and it might be why the app couldn’t last. Check out some of these applications:

(Why am I having you read examples from a dead app? Because I want you to see what journalists and mass communicators did with this weird little thing. Innovation is our focus, after all: When you see something new, your first thought could be “how could I do journalism with this?”)

Vine may be gone, but live video’s having a moment. My friend Mike is involved with the Purple Martin cam up at Presque Isle in Erie, Pa., which is a live camera pointed at a purple martin nest all day.

You may think a bird’s nest wouldn’t draw much interest, and you would be wrong – the cam was a surprise hit, with people logging on throughout the day to watch (and comment on) the activities of the birds (check the comments on that video if you don’t believe me). Elsewhere, scientists are livestreaming marshes, and entertainment like gaming has become big business largely thanks to streaming popularity on YouTube and apps like Twitch (as in this example for a mobile game).

Naturally, the big kids want to play. Facebook lets you livestream with Facebook Live, and Periscope, another app gobbled up by Twitter, now powers Twitter Live (not much for originality in naming over there). Facebook has even fiddled with letting viewers skip to the good part – think of it as semi-livestreaming. This is our current social media world: Ideas live, they die, they live again (but under new management).

Livestreaming is inarguably changing the media landscape. Do you livestream? Is it something you’d try? Consider these suggestions from Poynter on how to do it (have a plan, don’t waste my time, make sure you’re adding value…). How can we apply this to the practice of journalism, and what are its problems?

As part of your overall response, propose a livestreaming topic that would compliment your personal or group blog. When and how would you do it? What would you need to prepare in advance? We’ll discuss further in this week’s classes.

Post your responses in a comment to this post by 11:59 p.m., Sunday, November 11.