Assignment #7: Make a Map

October 16, 2019

This assignment builds on what we learned about Google Maps in this 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 (10 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)
    • To improve your score, include useful information in your selection of pins, use of labels and colors, photos, etc.

You will post the map as part of your weekly personal post on Thursday, October 24 any time between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Assignment #6: Blog-a-Day Week!

October 7, 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, Oct. 14, you will post something EVERY day to your personal blog for a week (Monday-Friday) between regular blogging hours of 10a-4p. 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 and explainer posts, Twitter analytics, Google Trends, 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.
  • Use our previous assignments! Build posts around explainers, synthesis, Twitter and social media conversation, Google Trends and other analytics … anything to help you keep things going!

Scoring (10 pts total): Your Thursday (Oct. 17) post counts for your required weekly post (10 pts) and is NOT part of the assignment. The remaining four posts are worth 2.5 pts each (10 total) – these posts don’t need to be as substantial as your Thursday post, but they still should be coherent, compelling, and have a beginning, middle and end. Same-day and late posts receive NO credit, so make sure they’re up on time!

DUE: Every weekday from Monday, Oct. 14 to Friday, Oct. 18 (five posts in all)

So that’s it. Daunting, but I promise you’ll survive and learn some new skills. Remember: THIS is what full-time bloggers and social media managers do! 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 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

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!

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.

Assignment #3: Find Your Community

September 4, 2019

So far, you’ve introduced yourself, determined a focus for your blog, and made your first posts. This week, you’ll identify points of contact that will help you stay in touch with your community of interest. (

Part 1: Refine your focus

Last week, you created an “About” page with your blog’s mission statement. Now that you’ve had a chance to write some posts in this area, 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 (nobody cares). 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 (don’t worry, 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 2-3 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 individuals to follow: At least five bloggers and at least five social media accounts. Each of these should be a spiritual cousin to your own – they do something related to what you hope to do.

  • Blog ExampleDead Frog is Todd Jackson’s blog about the comedy business.
  • Social Media ExampleJosh Marshall is the editor of Talking Points Memo. He tweet regularly about political coverage.

A few cautions: These can NOT be general, non-blog sites (e.g., @NYTimes,, but 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. The point is not to link to news sites you already know, it’s to find people and communities that are part of the conversation you want to join!

Add a blogroll (Links > Add New > Create a “Blogroll” category) and add your 10 blogs/accounts to it, and write a blog post linking and describing your members (10 pts for Assignment #3)

Part 3: Build on your community

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 sources, 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.

Write a synthesis post on an issue combining information from as many of your blogroll members as possible (10 pts for weekly personal blog post)

Due Dates

  • 4p Monday, Sept. 9: Add a blogroll (Links > Add New > Create a “Blogroll” category) and add your 10 blogs/accounts to it (5/10 pts for Assignment #3)
  • 4p Tuesday, Sept. 10: Write a short post linking each of your 10 influencers and explaining in about a sentence each why they are relevant to covering this community of interest. (5/10 pts for Assignment #3)
  • 4p Thursday, Sept. 12: Write a blog post synthesizing (and linking) ideas from several members of your blogroll. (10/10 points for Personal Post #4)


Assignment #2: The About Page

August 28, 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 sections IN THIS ORDER:

  1. 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)
  2. 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!)
  3. 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.

In addition to these sections, you’ll need to include the following:

  • An image: Images encourage engagement. This can be a personal photo or something otherwise relevant, but don’t just give us a wall of text.
  • Links: At the very least, you’ll need links to some contact information (Twitter, LinkedIn), but you might also include links to your work so readers can get a sense for you.

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

  1. 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.
  2. Add the Calendar widget to your blog (Appearance > Widgets), then drag the Calendar widget to your sidebar). This is required for grading, so if your blog theme does not display the calendar after you’ve added it, you’ll need to select a new theme (Appearance > Themes)

Due: 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 1 (must post your link as a comment TO THIS POST by that time)