Archive for September, 2008

Showing off your work

When you do online journalism kind of work outside class, or anything else particularly noteworthy, please let me know—I’d like to share it with everyone here on the blog. Some great examples so far …

Raquel blogging from an SPJ conference in Atlanta this month …

Saul‘s piece in Nextbook, a Jewish magazine based in New York (by the way, Saul worked up his blog while in Panama the past week—Notes from Elsewhere) …

and Caitlin‘s review getting highlighted on the homepage of singer Sondre Lerche.

Ideas for the midterm

For your midterm paper assignment due Oct. 6, I’d like you to focus on a blogger or a website incorporating key elements of digital culture (remember the Deuze reading) and social media (think Web 2.0)—in essence, open-source sort of sensibilities. If you’re looking for ideas, you can find some by digging through these sites:


trade journals like CJR, AJR or OJR

Center for Citizen Media

Nieman Reports‘ 2007 issue on hyperlocal news

and a list of the top 100 blogs as ranked by Technorati

or, if you’re still stumped, here are a few exciting sites worth a look: citizen coverage of the presidential campaign via Huffington Post’s OffTheBus, hyperlocal news and info via EveryBlock, “crowdfunded” journalism via, or get more ideas via

… And while we’re at it, here are some examples (in terms of writing style) of the kind of case studies I’d like you to write:

Handmade 2.0

Gawker Media

State of the news industry and you

As a follow-up to last week’s liveblogged lecture, here’s the Jeff Jarvis slideshow I used, in case you’d like to review the slides.

Also, since we covered some new and strange-sounding topics, here’s additional reading on the link economy (and more posts here), the press sphere, and networked journalism (and more here and here).

Blogging vs. Journalism

I don’t want to belabor this debate, but building on some things I’ve sprinkled during the first four weeks and pivoting off our guest speaker’s words today — did you notice how often she tried to differentiate blogging and journalism? — let’s hash this out Wednesday.

First, read Jay Rosen’s “classic” piece, “Bloggers vs. Journalists is Over,” which he wrote nearly four years ago (that seems like forever in Web years, no?). It captures the essence of this debate. Then, read his update from last week — “If Bloggers Had No Ethics Blogging Would Have Failed, But it Didn’t. So Let’s Get a Clue” — which focuses on ethics, trust, and the open-vs.-closed distinctions of blogging vs. journalism.

Finally, take a look at this month’s Columbia Journalism Review, which has this piece of interest: “The Bigger Tent: Forget Who is a journalist; the important question is, What is journalism?

What’s your take on this?

Midterm paper assignment

Your midterm paper assignment is about taking what we’ve learned so far and applying it to what’s actually being done “out there”—whether in online journalism, or in the wider world of Web 2.0 software and sensibilities. Essentially, what I’d like you to do is write a case analysis of someone or something (yeah, it’s that broad!) who has become a success online, and done so applying the principles and practices of a more social, networked, transparent Web.

This isn’t merely a personality profile; rather, your paper should tell us what really “works” for this blogger/journalist/website. For instance, how have they gained and maintained an audience online? How do they interact with and learn from their reader/contributors? What kind of best practices set them apart? Practically speaking, what tech tools and processes of digital culture are essential parts of their work? What is the mindset of a successful Web 2.0 kind of venture?

Note that this doesn’t have to be about a person; you could analyze an up-and-coming online site like, which has gained a fair bit of attention, awards and praise lately. Whatever you do, try to answer this core question: What does this person/site teach us about surviving and thriving in a digital era of increased collaboration between audiences and producers?

To get at the core of these success stories, I expect you to do some digging. Conduct some interviews, closely study the site (both its external appearance and behind-the-scenes operations), and otherwise figure out what’s working (and what’s not). Then distill this into a five-page paper (double-spaced) that you’ll turn in at the beginning of class Monday, Oct. 6. That week of Oct. 6-10, you’ll each make an eight-minute presentation on what you found.

Your first assignment, though, is to pick someone or something to study. Please e-mail me with your choice by 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 25. That way I can review them and we can clarify any conflicts by Friday’s class.

Questions? Just let me know.

Reporter’s notebook this weekend

Part of being a good blogger (and a good writer, for that matter) is noticing the delicious little details of everyday life that provide vividness and interestingness. And, at the end of the day, gaining an audience of any kind (online and off) is all about being interesting. (As Michael Hirschorn suggests, newspapers should “stop being important and start being interesting.”)

So, for Monday, tell us something interesting that you observed this weekend—or overheard, noticed, etc., in Austin or wherever you happened to be this weekend. … Some ideas: Did you eavesdrop on a quirky conversation in a coffee shop, or in the laundromat, or another kind of “third place” around town? Did you know you can call 311 on any cars parked in bike lanes and the cops will ticket them? Bonus points if you spot one and call the cops. Additional bonus points if you spot one, call the cops, they don’t ticket it, and you have a photo to prove it. More bonus points if you spot one, call the cops, and they don’t ticket it because it’s a city council member’s car. If that all happens and you get it on video, I’ll buy you lunch.

To clarify your blogging assignment …

… let’s have the following (at minimum) ready to go Friday:

• 4-5 posts, rich with links and interesting content;

• an RSS feed for your blog;

• photo(s) with caption(s);

• embedded video;

• a blogroll of related links and blogs;

• and at least 3 other widgets of interest (such as RSS feeds from others’ sites)

Remember, I’m looking for signs of effort and interest in your blog—show me you’re having fun! We’ll review, praise, and critique each other’s work on Friday.

Twitter feed

Blog Stats

  • 33,548 hits
September 2008
« Aug   Oct »

What I'm reading