Worth 30 percent of course grade.

The instructor will, from time to time, assign you to write a blog entry discussing online journalism and related topics. These will be identified as mandatory blog posts. Mandatory topics will be announced in class and posted on the class blog, located at mjfuhlhage.net/courses/multimedia-journalism-spring-2014/. Beyond that, you need to keep up a regular blog. “Regular” means “every week and a half or so.” In addition to mandatory blog posts, you’ll be shooting for 10 to 15 blog posts throughout the semester relating to one of the following three options:

  • Option 1: Employers will want to see your professional blog or website. Your website or blog in this course is not only a showcase for your finished work, but also the process of that work and/or your thoughts and comments on journalism-related news and industry happenings. For this assignment, you may either create a personal website and blog you maintain throughout the semester using WordPress. These two URLs are my go-to places for industry news: www.jimromenesko.com, www.niemanlab.com and www.pbs.org/mediashift. Dan Carr’s media blog is pretty great, too. Find it here.
  • Option 2: Have you wanted to start a blog on a specific topic? OK! Instead of the first option, plan and execute a blog on a specific topic, such as an Auburn/Opelika food blog or a local wildlife or science blog. If you’re sports-oriented, do your blog on ONE sport or sports-related topic. In this blog, you could put stuff you come across that would not really warrant a full story. Be careful of sharing opinion in this blog that might indicate controversial bias; instead, stick to analysis. NOTE: You must clear your topic with the instructor by the end of the second week of the semester.
  • Option 3: If you already have a blog of your own, you may use this requirement to enhance that blog significantly. I would like you to send me the link in the first week of class, and use this segment of the grade to improve that blog by adding features, building new audiences, or tackling new forms or issues. You may not choose this option if you get paid to do that blog. This must be a blog that YOU conceive, organize, and operate, not a blog for the Opelika-Auburn News, AL.com, or the Plainsman. It may, however, be the continuation of a blog you began for another course.

The key here is that you write something interesting and witty. It must be a professionally oriented blog. Your blog needs to be passionate and subjective and have feeling. There should be some primary source reporting. For examples of what I am looking for, check out http://unknowncity.wordpress.com/. You are expected to publish in your blog about once a week. If I see that you have dumped a lot of blog entries in the days before the semester ends, I will mark you down significantly. I will grade you on a minimum of 10 entries during the semester (note that this is a minimum; if you want an A, work it!) We will use WordPress, a free blogging platform. I suggest you buy the 5GB of extra upload space so you can embed video and movies for $20.

You will do three kinds of posts for this course: Three mandatory focused, three mandatory critique, and at least four freestyle. Grammar, style, punctuation, and AP style all matter. Accuracy matters. Attribution (giving credit to others’ work, ideas, and quotes) matters. Here’s what I’m looking for from you:

  • Mandatory focused posts: Three of your posts will be on a topic of your choice relating to your topic area. These must be 300 to 500 words, with links to at least two websites.
  • Mandatory critique posts: Three of your posts will be journalistic critiques, each dissecting a journalistic/nonfiction audio story; a video story; and an interactive story or a data visualization. These will be 300 to 500 words, with links to the stories you critique. It’s up to you to pick the subject of your critique. These are the ingredients of a good critique: description of the content; link to the content; assessment of its content (use of human and document sources, whether and how it hooked your attention effectively, whether it was well organized); and assessment of its presentation (Was sound/video quality good? For data visualizations, were they usable?).
  • Freestyle posts: At least four of your posts need to be briefer posts (75 to 200 words) on a topic of your choice relating to your topic area. You may report your own original content, or you may comment on others’ journalistic work (and you must always link to that work). As an alternative, you may use Storify.com to curate shared and sharable online content and embed or link to it on your blog.