Archive for January 21st, 2010

Weekend assignment: Learn

Because social media tools are a part and parcel of today’s online journalism (whether to find sources, promote your work, or listen to the community), many of our “weekend assignments” (see the syllabus for the explainer if you’re confused about those) will involve learning something new about the social web.

We’ll begin with social bookmarking—in particular, Delicious. If you need a refresher after my overview in class, try this:

Your assignment:

1. Bookmark at least 10 articles of interest to you.

2. Use the “share” function to share some of those articles with others (e.g., via Twitter, or look for a Facebook integration)

3. Just experiment, explore, and have fun getting familiar with this tool.

4. Post a comment to include a link to your public Delicious feed.

p.s. We may get back to this later in the term when talking about link journalism, but check out Publish2—it’s like Delicious built for journalists.

First-week readings: How we got the Web, and what that means for media


Before we can understand online journalism and its many forms and functions, we have to understand the Web itself. That means not only grasping the technical terminology and general architecture—which you got from the “Journalism 2.0” reading—but also digging a little deeper into the very ethos of the Web. That’s prerequisite. To “get” Web journalism, we have to get the Web.

So, let’s start with a little history. Watch:

Now: Who invented the Web, and why? What does the Web’s very makeup—its structure, its linking, etc.—have to do with big-picture issues regarding how we communicate, on a mass scale and in an interpersonal way? Should we care? Does any of this matter for journalism? (OK, that’s rhetorical. But, really: why does this matter?)

Bring some of those questions as you jump into this piece from Vanity Fair. It’s a long but rather interesting history of the medium, as told by the key players themselves. Try not to get bogged down with names and dates; I’d rather you skim that stuff and instead focus on the larger (and perhaps more subtle) issues at work here—the socio-cultural elements and implications of the Web’s development during the past 50 years. What are some of the takeaway lessons as we think about rebooting journalism for the 21st century?

Lastly: I would like you to layer into this two seminal readings that help us understand the “how did we get here?” question—which is one of THE big questions we need to grapple with in this class … (in this order)

Old Growth Media and the Future of News, by Steven Berlin Johnson

Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable, by Clay Shirky

Please respond with your comments (approximately 150-200 words) by 8 a.m. the day of class—in this case, by Tuesday morning.

p.s. We don’t have time to watch all of “Download: The Story of the Internet,” which aired on the Discovery Channel a while back, but a couple of clips are useful, such as this one on social networking:

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