The Group Blog Project (fall 2019)

October 23, 2019

Hey, there’s a lot here! Follow these details, but check the specific deadlines here (these are always accessible through the group blog project link at the top)!

Beginning this weekend (Saturday, October 26) and continuing through the end of the term, you’ll create, maintain, and promote a group blog that tackles a local and contemporary trend, topic, or theme in a journalistic way. You’ve already started brainstorming, been assigned a team,  and written your first post, but now it’s time for greater specifics. You will:

  1. Identify, connect with and engage a community of interest in Morgantown
  2. Provide original content for that community through your own reporting and analysis

This is a team project requiring everyone’s strengths. The result should be a robust and engaging addition to your portfolio that will set you apart in the job market. If everyone does their own thing and there is no cohesive focus to the blog, you will do poorly. Read on…

Weekly requirements:

You will be judged on the frequency and quality of your posts, comments, and other demonstrable contributions to your online publication. In addition, if your teammates report you’ve become a significant asset (or weakness), that matters as well.

  • Individual posts: Every person is expected to post at least once per week, and each blog is expected to have a post every weekday. Groups must each arrange and follow a posting schedule to ensure regular updates throughout the week (Monday-Friday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.). If you miss your scheduled deadlines, you will get lowered (or no) credit for that post.
    • You must upload a draft of your complete post (all images and links) to the weekly draft folder for your group by Monday of the week before its publication
    • Example: If your post will be published on Thursday of Week 11, it must be uploaded to the Week 11 folder no later than Monday of Week 10
  • Weekly group budget: By noon every Saturday (beginning Oct. 26; ending Nov. 30), each group will email me a single budget (one for all five members) for the current week and following week. It must include the following (I will provide a template in our Drive folder):
    • Current week: Which stories are you going to run, when (day, date & time), who will write each, and a brief description of each story and why it’s of interest to your community. You must include multiple specific sources (include links, names, etc.)
      • Important: Saying “I’ll try to talk to someone in…” will lose you points!
    • Following week: Same information as above, but likely with less detail.
    • Longer term: Identify which big or longer-term stories you are pursuing.
    • Promotion: What will your group do this week to publicize your blog and connect to a larger community? (This might involve posting to social media but should also involve HOW you post – experiment with time, wording, etc.)
  • Weekly personal memo: By noon every Sunday (beginning Nov. 3; ending Dec. 8), each person will send me a weekly memo assessing your work so far and what’s to come. It must include the following (I will provide a template in our Drive folder):
    • Post: Provide details and links to your work.
    • Editing: Note whose post you edited, whether it was on time, and what contributions you made
    • Comments: You will make 5 meaningful comments per week(not all on the same day!), divided between your group blog, other class blogs, and some outside blogs of interest (which is good way of attracting like-minded bloggers to your site). Link to these in your weekly memo.
    • Added Value: A plain-text post adds only one level to the conversation. That’s the minimum, so doing only that will earn you the minimum grade. I expect to see you using your skills with links, images, maps, audio, wikis, and more, as well as integrating the site and its promotion into other social media like Facebook and Twitter (provide links).
    • Your Grade: Provide an honest grade for your work in the preceding week as a percentage score (e.g., 82%). Base your grade only on that week, and include an explanation of why you have earned the grade you propose.
    • Group Grade: Provide an honest grade for your group as a percentage score, and explain where the group struggled or excelled in the preceding week.

How You’re Evaluated:

As noted above, each Sunday (beginning Nov. 3) every student will send me an e-mail memo assessing the previous week. You’ll also include short updates on your experience thus far and your blogging plans for the week ahead. I use this to grade your quality of work, so if you’ve done more than just post, tell me about it!

You’ll get a grade for each week’s worth of work, which includes your weekly post, contribution to the group, and any extra work you do (note this in your memo). Because you’re each only expected to post once a week (more is allowed), I’ll expect the writing and ideas to be especially sharp – we’re not looking for long reviews. What matters more than the number of posts is the overall quality of the body of work.

First due dates:

  • Initial blog concept proposal (one page of overview, one page of posts from each member, and a tentative schedule) due as a single six-page packet from the group in class Monday, Oct. 7.
  • First post from each member (printed, with links and images/media indicated in brackets) due Monday, Oct. 14.
  • revised blog concept packet – based on the packet above and incorporating feedback from me and the group – due in class Monday, Oct. 21. 
  • Your group blog’s About page with a focused mission statement must be posted by Friday, Oct. 25. (post the URL as a comment to this post)
  • First budget: Email me this list of topics and dates for your first two weeks of postings (see above for explanation). It’s your first week, so this may change, but it must be thorough and complete – due noon, Saturday, Oct. 26.
  • Your group’s first post: Must be posted between 10a – 4p, Monday, Oct. 28.
  • Draft posts
    • Must be uploaded to group folder for their publication week the Monday before their publication week
    • Must be edited by another group member (type “Edited by ______”) by the Friday before their publication week

Group Assignments

Available here.

Don’t. Just don’t.

This list gets a little bigger every semester, so read it carefully if you want to earn points for your work.

  • There will be no restaurant, local entertainment, advice, or graduation-themed posts unless specifically approved by Prof. Britten (they won’t be).
  • No “here is a place/thing” or “this event/group exists” posts. All these elements may be involved with a post, but the focus should always be on specific issues.
  • Posts that are essentially community calendar events or recommendations for local places to check out will receive little to no credit.
  • Blogs focused on personality profiles are not recommended.
  • Unsourced lists are frowned upon.
  • Avoid interview-focused posts – the best work will show off your skill with online tools and sourcing.
  • Do not use clichés such as “eclectic” or “something for everyone” – define a focus and an audience.
  • Posting recipes will bring swift retribution.

One more thing:

In addition to creating a blog, you’ll need to add all your group’s members as authors (you may all be administrators or just choose one member for this role). Follow these steps:

  • In Dashboard, select “Users” from the left bar
  • Under “Invite New,” enter the new user’s preferred email address
  • Choose the new user’s role (contributor, administrator, editor, or author)
  • Click “Add user”

Group Blog Planning Assignment #3 – First Posts

October 7, 2019

First posts?? But I’m not ready!!

Take it easy – this is a planning assignment, after all. I’ve reviewed your proposal packets and emailed my feedback (I’ll return the prints in our next class), and for your next step, I want you to review those notes and pursue what seems like the most viable first post. You won’t be posting anything online yet, so consider this a rough draft.

You’ll need the following:

  • A coherent post. There might still be material to come, but it needs a beginning, middle and end. Don’t forget a compelling hed & lede!
  • Multiple content links. These must be a mix of in-text, media and social). This will probably be the biggest change from your personal blog posts – overall, these should be more richly sourced, so I don’t want to see a paragraph without at least one meaningful link.
  • Meaningful images. Use the strategies we’ve learned so far to bring in photography (yours or free-to-use), graphics (maps and – eventually – charts), screenshots, audio/video, etc.
  • A list of sources. Include this at the end. It should have TWO sections: Sources that are already in your post and sources you still need. We’ll take workshop time to fill in these gaps.

This post will be the first concrete draft of what your group’s blog will look like, but it will likely still have some growing to do. What would your imaginary reader think of it? What would make it better? It should be complete but doesn’t need to be the final version yet, so that should take some stress off.

DUE: You will need to bring TWO printed copies to class on Monday, Oct. 14 – one to mark up and one to hand in.


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

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 (https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/pdf/coe_ssa.pdf)
    • 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!


The Group Blog Project (spring 2019)

March 19, 2019

Hey! There’s a lot here! Follow these details, but check the specific deadlines here!

Beginning next week (Sunday, March 24) and continuing through the end of the term, you’ll create, maintain, and promote a group blog that tackles a local and contemporary trend, topic, or theme in a journalistic way. You’ve already started brainstorming, been been assigned a team,  and written your first post, but now it’s time for greater specifics. You will:

  1. Identify, connect with and engage a community of interest in Morgantown
  2. Provide original content for that community through your own reporting and analysis

This is a team project requiring everyone’s strengths. The result should be a robust and engaging addition to your portfolio that will set you apart in the job market. If everyone does their own thing and there is no cohesive focus to the blog, you will do poorly.

Don’t. Just don’t.

This list gets a little bigger every semester, so read it carefully if you want to earn points for your work.

  • There will be no restaurant, local entertainment, advice, or graduation-themed posts unless specifically approved by Prof. Britten (they won’t be).
  • No “here is a place/thing” or “this event/group exists” posts. All these elements may be involved with a post, but the focus should always be on specific issues.
  • Posts that are essentially community calendar events or recommendations for local places to check out will receive little to no credit.
  • Blogs focused on personality profiles are not recommended.
  • Unsourced lists are frowned upon.
  • Avoid interview-focused posts – the best work will show off your skill with online tools and sourcing.
  • Do not use clichés such as “eclectic” or “something for everyone” – define a focus and an audience.
  • Posting recipes will bring swift retribution.

Weekly requirements:

You will be judged on the frequency and quality of your posts, comments, and other demonstrable contributions to your online publication. In addition, if your teammates report you’ve become a significant asset (or weakness), that matters as well.

  • Individual posts: Every person is expected to post at least once per week, and each blog is expected to have a post every weekday.  Your groups must each arrange and follow a posting schedule to ensure regular updates throughout the week (Monday-Thursday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., or Monday-Friday if you have five members). If you miss your scheduled deadlines, you will get lowered (or no) credit for that post.
  • Weekly group budget: By noon every Saturday (beginning March 23; ending April 20), each group will email me a single budget for the current week and following week. It must include the following:
    • Current week: Which stories are you going to run, when (day, date & time), who will write each, and a brief description of each story and why it’s of interest to your community. Each story must also include multiple specific sources (include links, names, etc.)
      • Important: Saying “I’ll try to talk to someone in…” will lose you points!
    • Following week: Same information as above, but likely with less detail.
    • Longer term: Identify which big or longer-term stories you are pursuing.
    • Promotion: What will your group do this week to publicize your blog and connect to a larger community? (This might involve posting to social media but should also involve HOW you post – experiment with time, wording, etc.)
  • Weekly personal memo: By noon every Sunday (beginning March 31; ending April 28), each person will send me a weekly memo assessing your work so far and what’s to come. It must include the following:
    • Post: Provide details and links to your work.
    • Comments: You will make 5 meaningful comments per week(not all on the same day!), divided between your group blog, other class blogs, and some outside blogs of interest (which is good way of attracting like-minded bloggers to your site). Link to these in your weekly memo.
    • Added Value: A plain-text post adds only one level to the conversation. That’s the minimum, so doing only that will earn you the minimum grade. I expect to see you using your skills with links, images, maps, audio, wikis, and more, as well as integrating the site and its promotion into other social media like Facebook and Twitter (provide links).
    • Your Grade: Provide an honest grade for your work in the preceding week as a percentage score (e.g., 82%). Base your grade only on that week, and include an explanation of why you have earned the grade you propose.
    • Group Grade: Provide an honest grade for your group as a percentage score, and explain where the group struggled or excelled in the preceding week.

How You’re Evaluated:

As noted above, each Sunday (beginning March 31) every student will send me an e-mail memo assessing the previous week. You’ll also include short updates on your experience thus far and your blogging plans for the week ahead. I use this to grade your quality of work, so if you’ve done more than just post, tell me about it!

You’ll get a grade for each week’s worth of work, which includes your weekly post, contribution to the group memo, and any extra work you do (note this in your memo). If you like to think in terms of points, imagine that I score in roughly the following way:

  • 40%: Content — Is it interesting? Relevant to your blog’s focus? Fresh?
  • 30%: Connection — Quality and relevance of the link(s) you included in the post
  • 30%: Mechanics — Grammar, spelling, punctuation and appropriate style
  • Bonus points! … for HTML, outside comments, etc.—beyond-the-call stuff. If you’re the editor-in-chief or have other special duties, let me know!

Because you’re each only expected to post once a week (more is allowed), I’ll expect the writing and ideas to be especially sharp – we’re not looking for long reviews. What matters more than the number of posts is the overall quality of the body of work.

First due dates:

  • Initial blog concept proposal (one page of overview, one page of posts from each member, and a tentative schedule) due as a single six-page packet from the group in class Tuesday, Feb. 26.
  • First post from each member (printed, with links and images/media indicated in brackets) due Tuesday, March 5.
  • revised blog concept packet – based on the packet above and incorporating feedback from me and the group – due in class Thursday, March 7. 
  • Your group blog’s About page with a focused mission statement must be posted by Friday, March 22. (post the URL as a comment to this post)
  • First budget: Email me this list of topics and dates for your first two weeks of postings (see above for explanation). It’s your first week, so this may change, but it must be thorough and complete – due noon, Saturday, March 23.
  • Your group’s first post: Must be posted between 10a – 4p, Monday, March 25.

Group Assignments

Available here.

One more thing:

In addition to creating a blog, you’ll need to add all your group’s members as authors (you may all be administrators or just choose one member for this role). Follow these steps:

  • In Dashboard, select “Users” from the left bar
  • Under “Invite New,” enter the new user’s preferred email address
  • Choose the new user’s role (contributor, administrator, editor, or author)
  • Click “Add user”

Group Blog Planning Assignment #3 – First Posts

February 26, 2019

First posts?? But I’m not ready!!

Take it easy – this is a planning assignment, after all. I’ll be reviewing and returning your proposal packets this week, and for your next step, I want you to review my notes and pursue what seems like the most viable first post. You won’t be posting anything online yet, so consider this a rough draft.

You’ll need the following:

  • A coherent post. There might still be material to come, but it needs a beginning, middle and end. Don’t forget a compelling hed & lede!
  • Multiple content links. These must be a mix of in-text, media and social). This will probably be the biggest change from your personal blog posts – overall, these should be more richly sourced, so I don’t want to see a paragraph without at least one meaningful link.
  • Meaningful images. Use the strategies we’ve learned so far to bring in photography (yours or free-to-use), graphics (maps and – eventually – charts), screenshots, audio/video, etc.
  • A list of sources. Include this at the end. It should have TWO sections: Sources that are already in your post and sources you still need. We’ll take workshop time to fill in these gaps.

This post will be the first concrete draft of what your group’s blog will look like, but it will likely still have some growing to do. What would your imaginary reader (Rick, Ricardo and their friends) think of it? What would make it better? It should be complete but doesn’t need to be the final version yet, so that should take some stress off.

DUE: You will need to bring TWO printed copies to class on Tuesday, March 5 – one to mark up and one to hand in.


Group Blog Teams (spring 2019)

February 19, 2019

Sorting for your spring 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. Today in class, you will meet in your groups to solidify your concepts and start identifying stories.

Group 1: NAME TK

  • Holly Fry
  • Karlee Gibson
  • Dean Marrazzo
  • Adam Payne
  • Gillian Wanosky

Group 2: NAME TK

  • Gillian Brooks
  • Brianna Herscher
  • Shana Nelson
  • Anne Parker
  • Shyla Parsons

Group 3: NAME TK

  • Patrick Downey
  • Sadie Janes
  • Lyndsey Moran
  • Cody Nespor
  • Robert Potesta

Group 4: NAME TK

  • Diandra Conwell
  • Victoria Donatelli
  • Hailey Spicer
  • Alexandra White

 

Group Blog Planning Assignment #2

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 Tuesday, Feb. 26, 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-Thursday) for the final five weeks of the semester.

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