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 LasVegasSun.com, 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.

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