JRL 430: Blogging and Interactive Journalism (CRN #17676 – 3 credits)
Fall 2018 – Tuesday/Thursday 2-3:15 p.m.
Evansdale Crossing (EVC) 421
Dr. Bob Britten (@thebobthe)
Office: 308 Martin Hall
Office Hours: 11a – 2p Tuesday/Thursday @Evansdale Crossing
(note: I do not have a physical office at Evansdale Crossing, so appointments are strongly recommended)
This lab course identifies the principles behind social media applications such as blogs, networking platforms such as Twitter, and open-source tools and applies them to the practice of journalism and mass communication. You’ll craft posts large and small, use social media as a reporting tool in both the lab and the field, learn a variety of free online tools, and produce a focus-driven team blog.
Note: This course has a heavy writing commitment. You will write at least one blog post per week, in addition to other assigned work. You have been warned.
Course-level Learning Outcomes:
- Manage, create content for, and moderate several different kinds of blogs
- Establish, engage, and mobilize networks through social media
- Maintain a presence across multiple digital platforms
- Write and understand basic code in HTML and CSS
- Create simple chatbots, data scrapers, and data visualizations
Required texts and materials:
- Online readings: These will be available on eCampus and will be posted to the course blog in almost every week: https://interactivejournalismwvu.wordpress.com
- OPTIONAL: Briggs, Mark. (2015). Journalism Next. 3rd
- Course Twitter hashtag: #WVUblogJ
- Accounts with Twitter, RunDexter and others (signups in the relevant weeks)
Assignments and Evaluation
Personal Blog (5 pts x 15): Starting in week 2, you will create a personal blog focused on media coverage of some area of your choice. You are required to update your personal blog at least once per week (this is the minimum – more is great). Every post must:
- Have at least three links to meaningful content (not Facebook, Wikipedia, or homepages)
- Incorporate meaningful visuals (no clip art, stock photos, or uncredited images)
- Be posted during regular blogging hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Thursday – this is when posts have the greatest impact, so posts outside this window will receive NO credit!
- Be timely and free of typos and grammatical errors
Assignments (10 pts x 10 or so): These are practical assignments given in and out of class. There will be about 10 of them, with more assigned as necessary. Assignments will typically require you to post your work to your blog and send me the link. Details will always be posted on the course blog!
Group Blogs (20 pts/week x 5): In week 6, you will be assigned to groups that will produce a professional-quality blog in the final third of the semester. You will conceive, plan, promote and maintain a group blog focused on some topic relevant to the area (e.g., no celebrity scandal coverage, unless it’s about Bob Huggins). Your duties will be original reporting, making community connections, and integrating useful links. You will be graded as both an individual and as part of the group.
- Week of Feb. 11-14: Groups assigned
- Thursday, Feb. 20: Group blog plan due
- Monday, March 25: Group blogs begin posting
Online Readings and Responses (2.5 pts x 10): I’ll post links and readings each week on the course blog. You will respond to the readings in a comment to the post by 11:59 p.m. every Monday (late responses lose a point). Your responses should be about 200 words. You’ll need to incorporate material from the majority of these readings for full credit.
Things to Be Aware Of
Attendance: Attendance will be taken at the beginning of each class (arriving late or leaving early counts as half an absence). Absences are only excusable with documentation from the Office of Student Life (304-293-5611). After three unexcused absences, you will lose 2.5% of your grade for every absence/tardiness/skipping out early. It is your responsibility to make sure your attendance is counted.
- If you arrive after roll call or leave early without my approval, you will be marked late.
- If you miss roll call and do not check in after class, you will be marked absent.
Electronic Resources: Although most readings and items will be posted on the course blog, I will often message the entire class via email. You are responsible for checking your email regularly.
Laptop policy: You must have a laptop computer in every class. Limited laptops are available to be signed out for classroom use.
Cell Phones, Pagers, iPods, Text Messaging, Facebook, Email, etc.: Phones must be silenced and out of sight in class (pockets or purses), and don’t use your laptop to text, play online, check Facebook, or anything other than take notes because seriously people. Ignoring this will result in being marked absent for the day.