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Weekend assignment: learning Twitter

As I mentioned in class yesterday, during the next week I’d like you to explore Twitter—and if you already have an account that you use regularly, great! Just make this an “advanced Twitter” session for yourself.

Here’s the rundown:

—get familiar with using Twitter by checking out Sree’s Guide to Twitter for Newbies & Skeptics (obviously, you don’t need to follow all of those links, but look closely at parts that seem of most interest/value to you) and Mashable’s guide to Twitter (again, just skim this stuff);

—then, and more importantly, read this short piece with tips for using Twitter as a journalistic tool;

—now, go forward posting 3 times/day during the next week—focusing more on “mindcasting” ideas and sharing interesting links than simply “lifecasting” your day;

—start following at least 25 people and 5 lists;

—and in your tweeting use the class hastag #j349, so we can track each other’s tweets;

—lastly: search using the hashtag to be able to find and follow each other during this week.

Welcome to Spring term!

It’s the first day of school, the blog is back (after a long winter’s nap), and I’m looking forward to an exciting semester ahead.

You’ll find version 1.0 of our syllabus here. Expect some changes in the coming days as I refine the schedule and provide some clarity on the timing of the readings, adjusted for student interest.

Here’s to Spring!

I’ll take that endorsement!

Thanks, Jeff Jarvis. Via Twitter a few days ago. (My retweet, as well as related responses.)

Picture 1

Theme for fall semester: Innovation

I’m retooling the syllabus for a fall semester that begins in less than a week, and so the timing couldn’t have been better when I came across this video from the CoPress folks (on Twitter, too):

Beyond the buzzword emptiness that can be associated with “innovation,” the term has real meaning for how we think about journalism and its future in the digital age. During the 12 months that I’ve had the reins of this course on Writing for Online Publication, the focus has drifted from one of being blog-oriented (Fall 2008; to greater emphasis on social media (like Twitter) and the umbrella notion of “news innovation” (Spring 2009); and now to an even more penetrating look at the entrepreneurial elements of grassroots, startup journalism. This fall I hope to get the students thinking deeply about (1) the culture that undergirds innovation and the Web at large, (2) some simple tools for understanding the digital domain today, and (3) some practical applications for making new kinds of newswork come alive.

Should be a great term. See you in a week!

Creative Commons and blogging

Here are the slides from tonight’s lecture (and if you have trouble following the links, just download the file here):

Online journalism, in PowerPoint form

Paul Bradshaw, mentioned in the previous post, has a very active blog that you ought to get familiar with, even if its occasionally UK-specific focus might throw you now and again. So, read it. Dig into the archives. Lots of great stuf in there.

(And, by the way, he’s looking for virtual interns, in case you’re interested.)

Paul has been making available his PowerPoint slides for the online journalism course he’s teaching, and they’re just too good not to share here. (In fact, their bold design, let alone the nifty content, puts my slides to shame, I’m afraid…) Here are two for you:

We’re blogging. Ready? Go!

In today’s class, we sorted into our three blogging teams, all focused on a different aspect of Austin life, and we’re set to begin posting starting Monday. Great!

Between now and then, please read each of the following handy tips for newbie bloggers. More than anything, they’ll help you answer the constant question, “What do I blog about?” 

First, from Paul Bradshaw: Starting a blog? 12 ideas for blog posts

(While you’re there, I suggest you check out his classic post on the “news diamond,” his new model for news in the digital age, as well as this bit on how to be a journalism student.)

Second, see these posts by Mindy McAdams: her entry on blog basics, part of a larger series on Web journalism essentials, and her 5 Tips for Blog Beginners. From the latter comes this kicker:

Writing a blog will make you better at everything related to being a good journalist. Word. You will become a better writer, researcher, investigator, skeptic, listener, communicator — and editor. You will also become better at everything concerning the Web, if you really apply yourself to blogging. I speak from personal experience on this.

So, have some fun. Pick up some more WordPress knowledge (frequent the helpful FAQ section as needed). And we’ll see you again Tuesday.

Whither the newspaper?

Watching the implosion of the U.S. newspaper industry is like watching an impending car wreck in slow motion: You can see it coming, hear the tires squealing, and there’s nothing you can do about it.


Perhaps that’s an ill-fitting analogy, or at least overdramatic (indeed, some would say the death of print has been exaggerated), but the point is nonetheless the same: The demise of metropolitan dailies, which has been building at least since 2004, has suddenly accelerated in the past few months and now especially just in the past few days. Columbia Journalism Review nicely summed up the relevant lowlights and links from the week that was:

The Rocky Mountain News published its final editionRIP.

The San Francisco Chronicle might well be next.

So might the Philadelphia Daily News.

And could an online site replace Chicago’s dailies? (And how much are blogs actually worth, anyway?) While Newsday announced it’s going to start charging for Web content (making the blogosphere snicker), and Google News lost its advertising virginity (making the journosphere quake in fear), big media outlets dipped their toes into outsourcing to localnews sites. And the Times dipped its toe into local citizen journalism. Connecticut outletswrestled over local ownership. And Minnesota papers got a $238,000 grant to retrain their journalists.

Should the Times monetize its platform by sharing it with other outlets? Could kitemarksoffer an answer to the monetization problem? Does it all come down to supply and demand?

Everyone was all a-Twitter about microblogging. We talked about how we’re sick of talking about it. And then we talked about it some more. And then we got advice from it. BriWimocked it. Mark McKinnon felt betrayed by it. And a new twerncalular is emerging. But don’t use those twerms too often: using Twitter probably means you’re narcissistic. Or insecure. Or both.

Oh, and the Grey Lady was embarrassed by a blog.


Or, if you prefer this real-time narrative of newspapers’ demise in story form, Howard Kurtz provides a good recap.

Meanwhile, to dig a little deeper into the structural issues of newspaper journalism’s problems, this sometimes raw but utterly insightful post by Whet Moser is a must-read. The essence is captured in this sentence: “This is what happens when journalists stop being polite, and start being real.”

Indeed, let’s get real.

Citizen vs. traditional journalism, in stop motion

Thinking digitally about information

Here again are two videos from Michael Wesch that we’ve watched in class the past couple of weeks. Both touch upon key ways in which the nature of digital information—by its very nature—challenges traditional assumptions about human communication. I know the type was a little hard to read, and some of the terminology (such as XML) might have been new for you, so I suggest you spin through them again on your own.



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