What To Do At The End of the Semester

You thought your were almost done. But your work is just beginning…

“I’m happy with what I’ve done, but I don’t want to continue my blog.”

Great. Write a final farewell post (Post #20) letting your readers know you are done — or are at least taking a break for a while. Link to some of your best posts so they can see your “greatest hits.”

You can leave your blog where it is. Future students will see it and get inspired. You can link to it for internship and job applications.

“I don’t like my blog. I’m done with it. I don’t want anyone to see it.”

That’s fine. But DO NOT DELETE your blog right now. It has all of your work for the semester. Many things could happen in the coming weeks. I could lose my grade book. The school could lose your grade. You could decide to challenge your grade. Or you may change your mind and decide to pick up you blog again. So don’t delete it.

Please make sure it stays public until June 1. After then, you can password protect it – meaning only you or other people who have the password can see it. For instructions, see the instructions for Setting Your Blog to Private.

After you have received your official grade from Rowan, you can delete it. Here are instructions for how to delete your blog. If you delete a blog you will not be able to get it back.

So don’t delete it until you get your official grade and are absolutely sure you want to eliminate your blog.

“I love my blog. I want to continue it.”

Good. Write your final post for the class (Post #20) letting your readers you are going to continue. Link to some of your best posts so they can see your “greatest hits.” Then go for it. Give yourself assignments. Nurture your audience. Make your blog what you want it to be.

“I love my blog. I want to continue it. But the free version of Word Press is limiting.”

Fine. You have a few options.

You can purchase a Word Press upgrade starting at $15 a year. There are various options to fit different needs – domain names, more space, upload audio and video directly, etc. Carefully research them before you spend the money.

If you want to keep learning and practicing online journalism, I suggest you move your blog to your own Web host (costs about $5 to $7 a month) and use WordPress.org — that’s .ORG — which is different than WordPress.com.

So if you are interested, visit WordPress.org which has a lot of tutorials.

I also recommend educhalk.org a great resource for learning how to build a Web site using WordPress.org.

“I’m not sure what I want to do.”

Fine. Follow the instructions from #1.

“Wait. Isn’t there more to online journalism than blogging?”

Of course.

But you have learned more than just blogging this semester. You have been introduced to some important concepts and formats of online journalism – ie HTML, CSS, aggregation, linking, slide shows, maps, audio, timelines, and video. And you have gained experience in creating a publication from scratch and trying to get people to read it…which is what many people in the news industry are trying to do.

Also online journalism is not just about new media skills. It is a mindset. It is the ability to think outside of the traditional boundaries. So keep educating yourself.

“Keep educating myself? I thought that is why I’m going to college and paying tuition. How am I supposed to educate myself?”

Fair enough.

However, education and school are not the same thing. Hopefully education continues long after you finish school.

Here are my suggestions for expanding your horizons in journalism outside of the classroom.

1. Expand your “news diet.” Seek out organizations, networks, and publications that you don’t already read. Make them part of your regular routine.

These are the staples of my news diet:
The New York Times
WHYY radio
New Yorker Magazine
Fresh Air
This American Life
Frontline Documentaries
But I also routinely seek out new, innovative projects…mostly by following bloggers or people on Twitter that point me toward the good stuff.

2. Read the classics of journalism.
NYU’s list of Top 100 Works of Journalism and Top Ten Works of Journalism from 2000-2009

3. Teach yourself some new skills with tutorials from sites like Knight Digital Media Center and News University. If you don’t know how to do something, Google it. Someone else has already learned how to do the same thing and has written about it.

4. Get advice from people in the field. Read their blogs and follow their lead. For example, Mark Luckie of 10,000words.net has written posts like:
Journalism Grads: 30 Things You Should Do This Summer
How to make the most of your journalism internship

5. Create an online portfolio. See some good examples.

6. Find a mentor. A professor, an internship supervisor, an older friend, an editor. Learn as much as you can from them.

7. Participate in something that excites you.

-Start your own online publication or blog.

-Join The Whit or Rowan On the Record.

-Write for your church newsletter.

-Volunteer at a small publication. Stuff envelopes.

-Join a Flickr photo group.

-Participate in a video project, group, festival or contest on Vimeo.

-Host an online radio talk show like the Chicken Whisperer.

-Find people with a shared interest and launch a glossy magazine using Magcloud.

-Self publish your book with Lulu or Blurb and sell them or give them away.

The key is to participate. Online journalism is a process, not a product. It is interactive, participatory, and collaborative. So interact. Participate. Collaborate.

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