Week 5

In-Class:
-Discuss NPR’s CodeSwitch (news blog of the week) – Try to find one post that makes your own personal “code switch” – meaning it challenges how you have thought about race or ethnicity with a new insight or perspective.
-Leads
-Intro to simple web analytics
-Twitter 101 for journalism students

Assignments:
-Read Vice (news blog of the week). Here is an interview with Shane Smith, co-founder of Vice magazine.
-Read JournalismNext Chap 11 – “Building a digital audience for news”
-Read JournalismNext Chapter 4 – “Microblogging and social media”
-Read “What I Learned in Joplin” by Brian Stelter
-Post 4: Q & A with Photo due by Oct. 5 at 10 p.m.

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Post 4: Q and A with Photo due Oct. 5

Post 4: Q & A with Photo due by Oct. 5 at 10 p.m.
Worth 50 points

Find a relevant person with something to say about your topic and interview him/her. You can do the Q & A in person, by phone, email or online chat. Transcribe it. Edit Q & A for grammar/spelling. Decide how much of it to run. Write up a few sentences of introduction. Add hyperlinks. Post it online in a Q & A format with a photo of the person. Aim high and have a few back up plans. One of your backup plans should involve a physical place you can go to talk to people if no one responds to your emails or phone calls in time.

Grading Criteria:

  • Descriptive headline that uses key words and includes the person’s name so it can be found in a search. Also five key word tags, including person’s name. (5 points)
  • A photo of your subject (preferably one you take yourself) and credit that identifies the source of the photo. (5 points)
  • Introductory text (Who is the person? Why is she/he someone we should hear from? What does she/he have to say? Teases rest of Q&A) (5 points)
  • Bold questions so it is easier to read. Q & A is edited and formatted for clarity and readability. (3 points)
  • Contains hyperlinks to background information. (2 points)
  • Original reporting and effort in finding a good subject. (Did you find a relevant person with something to say about your topic?) (15 points)
  • Content of Q&A. (Is it compelling? Does it offer useful information?) (15 points)

-1 for each typo, spelling, grammar or AP style error

Examples from former students:

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Intro to web analytics

Journalists live in an age of the big board. So they must understand how, when and where people get their news. But understanding how the web works also involves going beyond the common knowledge and practice.

“To build your audience online, you need to analyze what you publish, what your readers like and don’t like, and then do more of what they like. You also need to make sure that your content, especially content your current readers have shown interest in, can be found by new audiences through search and shared through social media.” – JournalismNext

Some basic terminology:
-top posts and pages – most visited posts and sub pages
-page views – total number of pages viewed in a given time period
-visits – number of times everyone accesses a website
-unique visitors – number of computers that access a website
-referrers – where your traffic comes from; links to your site)
-search engine terms or queries – what words people searched to get to website
-subscribers – individuals who subscribe or follow your posts (get information via feeds or email alerts)
-clicks – URLs that readers click to go away from your site

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – understanding how to optimize your web content so it can be found by search engines.

“Google Juice” Top 10 Most Important Google News Ranking Factors

Get to know your WordPress.com stats

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Week 4

In-Class:
-Checking in on student blog list
-Highlighting a few aspects of WordPress.com’s CMS
-Grading rubric or What I’m looking for in a blog post
-Common types of blog posts
-Tips for writing for the web
-Linking like a journalist
-Tags and Categories
-Writing headlines for web and mobile
-Leads

Assignments:
-Read NPR’s CodeSwitch (news blog of the week) – Try to find one post that makes your own personal “code switch” – meaning it challenges how you have thought about race or ethnicity with a new insight or perspective.
-Read JournalismNext Chapter 3 – “Crowd-powered collaboration”
-Read JournalismNext Chap 10 – “Managing news as a conversation”
-Post 2: Aggregation and Post 3: Free Choice due by Sept. 28 at 10 p.m

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Writing headlines for web and mobile

You have two audiences online: readers and search engines.

For readers: Headlines should be simple, literal and direct. They must motivate readers to click.

For search engines: Search engines look for keywords. If a headline contains keywords that are also repeated in the text of the article, it will show up higher in search engines.

Suggestions for writing better online headlines:

1. Be descriptive – say clearly what the story is about

2. Use keywords

3. Use conversational language

4. Avoid puns that confuse or are unclear

5. Engage readers – your headline is just one in a zillion circulating on social media.

Love them or hate them, BuzzFeed and UpWorthy know how to do headlines. Here’s an article explaining what Upworthy might mean for the future of online content.

Now give it a try. Rewrite the following newspaper headlines for the web.

Continue reading

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Writing Leads

After the headline, your lead – a simple, clear statement consisting of the first few sentences of your story – is the most important part of your article.

A lead must:

  • Pull the reader in.
  • Convey the basic information (who, what, where, when, why and how)
  • Include only the most important information
  • Tell the reader what is unusual or unique
  • Focus on people doing things
  • Tell reader why they should care
  • Be accurate

If your lead isn’t compelling, chances are your reader will go elsewhere.

There are many ways to craft a lead. Two of most common leads are 1.) the hard news (or inverted pyramid) lead and 2) the delayed (or anecdotal) lead.

A hard news lead answers the basic information: who, what, where, when and why in the first paragraph. It is usually short, often fewer than 25 words, unless you use two sentences. Here is an example: Hong Kong democracy protestors defy calls to disperse (USAToday.com)

A delayed lead often sets the stage with some concrete details, incorporates a good quote, or sets a scene before conveying the basic information. Here is an example: For a Worker With Little Time Between 3 Jobs, a Nap Has Fatal Consequences (NYTimes.com)

But there are also other ways to write a lead; for examples, see 10 Ways to Write a Great Lead.

In-class Exercise:

Open a Word Doc. Using the following facts to write a lead. Write it as if it happened yesterday.

1. Write a hard news lead using the following:

WHAT: Rowan University Recreation Center runs a program called Santa Callings, in which local South Jersey kids get a phone call from Santa asking what they want for Christmas.

WHO: Rowan University students call local kids who participate in summer camp at the Rec Center. Female Rowan students pose as elves. Male students pose as Santa Claus.

WHEN: Calls are made yesterday, two weeks before Christmas.

HOW: Parents fill out questionnaires for their children that include information like the name of their school, siblings, family members and what gifts they want. Rowan students use the information to make the call seem more real.

WHERE: Rowan University Rec Center.

WHY: It’s a fun activity that reinforces relationships between the Rec Center staff and parents. And it’s fun for kids.

QUOTE 1: “When I was told what the Santa Callings were I was a little hesitant to try it,” said Marty Marcinkiewicz, a former Rec Center employee. “I was afraid the kids would not believe I was Santa. But after a few calls I loved it. The kids get so excited, it’s awesome.”

2. Now write a delayed lead using the same facts, but also some audio that is played in class.

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Post 2: Aggregation and Post 3: Free Choice due Sunday, Sept. 28

Both posts are due Sunday, Sept. 28 at 10 p.m. 

Post 2: Aggregation – Worth 25 points
News aggregation is a term used to describe human or computer generated collection and republishing of online information. It is an active way for reporters to do research on a subject. Learn what others are writing about and saying then share it. The reporter provides a service for the audience by finding and organizing the best information on a topic. The hyperlinks help generate authority and traffic.

Assignment:
Write a post that pulls together and organizes online information that is useful for your reader. Your post must include at least 5 hyperlinks. Upload a photo to add some artwork to the post. Take your own photo, follow fair use guidelines, or use Creative Commons image. Give photo credit in the caption.

Grading Criteria:

  • Does the post organize useful information for readers?
  • Post contains at least 5 links that are properly formatted
  • Artwork and caption for post that follows fair use guidelines
  • See grading rubric for specifics

Examples:
-Weekend Picks (uwishunu)
-Comcast Roundup (Technically Philly)
-New York Today (NYTimes.com)

Post 3 (Free Choice) – Worth 25 points
Free posts allow students to create a blog post of their choosing. Pick the topic, the format, and the length of the post.

Grading Criteria:
Each free post should be newsworthy, informative and useful for your specific audience. For specifics, see grading rubric.

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