Read & Respond w2: Getting Started

August 22, 2019

How do I do these?

First, an overview of how these will typically work. I’ll put up a post here every Thursday afternoon with a Readings section and a Personal section.

  • Readings will consist of links on 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). If there are no readings, this section will say so. There’s no set word count, but they should be long enough to meaningfully address the week’s subject. You don’t need to cite ALL the links, but you do need relevant material from several of them.
  • Personal will explain any requirements (specific content, structure, due dates) for the next week’s personal blog posts. If there are no specific requirements, this section will say so.

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. Focus on structure, not subject: 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)

I’d like you to identify some techniques from the blogs you’ve read and discuss how they could be applied to your concept and 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. Sunday, August 25. 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: Getting Started

August 21, 2019

From the list of concepts we came up with in class today, narrow down to TWO that you think are strong. For each, list five specific, timely posts (that’s 10 in all) that you think you could write.

A few ground rules. Your blog must have a clear MEDIA focus that goes beyond your own opinions – it can’t just be a diary or your movie reviews. To that end, some restrictions:

  • No diaries
  • No cat/dog/cute animal pictures
  • No recipes (yes, I’ve gotten this)
  • No sports, entertainment, fashion/health advice, tips, recommendations, recaps or reviews. You CAN use these subjects if your focus is clearly on their media angle – for example, if you covered issues in sports journalism – but your opinions on the Dallas Cowboys are not relevant here.
  • Seriously, no advice. Ever.
  • No pink dragons

You’ll post that list as a comment to THIS post by 5p Friday, Aug. 23.


Read & Respond week 15 – Voting!

April 22, 2019

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 Awards

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)

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. Monday, April 22 UPDATE 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, April 24.


Read & Respond week 15 (prelims): The Bloggie Awards ballot

April 18, 2019

It’s almost time for this semester’s social media awards, affectionately referred to by no one as The Bloggies! Right now, this post is a placeholder. After Friday, I will add in the links you provide me below. In class today, please provide the following in a comment on this post:

  1. Your two best PERSONAL blog posts (need these from everyone)
  2. Your GROUP’s three best posts (decide on these as a group and have one member include them in his/her comment

Post these links in a comment below. Please include a headline for each, and make sure the links work! Once I have them from everyone, I’ll compile them into a post and provide you an online survey to complete for next week.


Read & Respond week 14 – Our Work

April 12, 2019

For this week, we’re going to take a look at our own work. I’d like you to read through the first two weeks of posts by one of the other groups. Assignments are as follows:

For your responses, which you’ll post as a comment to this post as usual, I want you to identify the following:

  • How well does the group live up to its About page?
  • Which posts were the strongest (and why are they strong)
  • Which posts were the weakest (and how might they be improved)
  • Overall take on the blog and how it displays the group’s online journalism skills
  • What you’d suggest (general ideas; specific posts) for the rest of the semester

Post your responses by 11:59 p.m. Monday, April 15.


Read & Respond week 13 – Video

April 5, 2019

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).

(By the way, if you’re wondering how I jumped to a specific part of the video, check out its URL. Or you can be lazy and just use this site)

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 to the above questions, 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., Monday, April 8.


Read & Respond week 11 – Audio

March 22, 2019

When we think blogging, we tend to think writing, but these next two weeks will emphasize sound over sight. We’ll focus specifically on podcasting. Podcast listeners have shot up recently, so let’s see what all the fuss is about. Over the next several classes, you’ll listen to some podcasts and plan out one with your group to record in our own studio here in the Media Innovation Center. Read on, and think about what you might have to say.

What’s a podcast?

You could think of a podcast as an audio blog post. Instead of reading, you can download and listen, which is helpful if you like to do your “reading” while exercising, cooking, or doing something else. The process can be simple or complex, but it boils down to a few basic steps:

  1. Plan
  2. Record
  3. Convert/Upload
  4. Promote

This guide from DigitalTrends gets into more detail, but at minimum you need a theme (and usually some guests), a topic, a mic, and a (free) copy of Audacity; anything more can give a cleaner, more polished product, but high-end equipment absolutely isn’t necessary.

Some Appalachian examples

A past guest of this class is Trey Kay of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, host and producer of the “Us & Them” podcast. Check out some of these WV-specific pods:

The best part is, you don’t have to sit at your computer for this assignment. Cue them up on your phone and go for a jog (or brisk walk)!

Want more?

Audiences listen to podcasts via apps such as Stitcher (free), iTunes, or just listening to them streaming online (the NY Times has a great guide for getting into pods). If you’d like some examples beyond the WVPB ones above, consider these examples of the form:

Your response this week should be enjoyable: Listen to some podcasts, especially if you never have. Pick some from the links above, or find some of your own. How do these (and Briggs’ other audio subject) inform your work? Have you now decided blogging is dead, and you’re going to become a podcaster instead?

In addition, what’s a subject (ideally one relevant to your group blog) you could see running an approximately 10-minute podcast on? Would you have guests, or would it just be you and your groupmates? What are some questions/topics you can set up in advance to avoid the dreaded Dead Air? Post your responses by 11:59 p.m. Monday, March 25.