Archives for posts with tag: blogging

This one goes out to My Beloved Multimedia Journalism Students:

This is just to give you a gauge on your progress on the blogging portion of your grade. As you know from reading the syllabus, 30 percent of your grade in the course comes from your regularly posting items on your blog that are related to your blog topic.

Some of you have been creating killer content. Others haven’t been blogging much. You know who you are. So do I. Check yourself against the next several paragraphs to know what you need to do to earn the grade of your choice. Hey, it’s your grade; how well do you want to do?

If you have about 10 blog posts up at this point and they are substantial, you’re right on track. Keep it up at the current pace and you’ll lay down enough to ace this part of your final grade. (No, just a photo and one sentence are not enough to even qualify as a post for our purposes; see “What is enough content to be considered a complete post?” below for guidance.)

If you have about eight up, you’re a little behind an “A” pace and at this rate you’ll probably eke out a B if you continue at this pace.

If you have six or fewer, you’d better get a couple of posts up each week for the rest of the semester unless you just want to end up with the minimum of 10 posts for a C.

Five or fewer? There’s still time to turn things around, but you have backed yourself into a serious hole. Find stuff to write about that’s interesting and relevant to your topic. Repeat as necessary, which for you will be two or three a week till the end of April.

What is enough content to be considered a complete post? It’s not enough to just post a picture, a photo gallery, even an audio slideshow or a video, without providing a short introduction to what awaits the viewer if they click the link. You need a headline with good SEO principles applied, about 75 words of introduction to your photo/slideshow/gallery/video/what have you, and the content (either embedded in the post or linked to on a host server such as Google Drive, which everybody now knows how to do after the audio slideshow assignment). Multimedia means more than one kind of media. In most parts of the online world, you have to sell audiences on your content. Give them a reason to click the link! Just don’t do one of those Upworthy headlines, of which I am sick. When you tease to multimedia content, you are making a promise of what to expect. Be sure you don’t promise more than you can deliver.

We’re into the homestretch. I want to see you all get good grades, but you do have to earn them through your effort, skill, creativity and enterprise (not necessarily in that order).

In case you have misplaced your syllabus, these are the guidelines for grading the blog posts:

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 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…

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 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 …

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 to curate shared and sharable online content and embed or link to it on your blog.

Keep the blog posts coming. Regular posting is the way you build a following and boost your blog’s position in search results.

Dr. Fuhlhage

It’s frustrating as all get-out that NBC isn’t providing live coverage of the opening ceremonies of the Sochi Olympics. I’m sure I have that in common with millions. But three news outlets’ live blogs are giving us what the network refuses to provide.

These are my three favorites at this moment in case you just can’t wait to watch tonight:

  • The Guardian: The place to look for thoughtful and cheeky commentary and vibrant photography. Location: United Kingdom.
  • New York Times: Look no further for a rapidly updated streaming photo gallery coupled with meatier posts by a variety of NYT staffers. A classic American new media approach to the Sochi Winter Olympics.
  • Wall Street Journal: It’s terse. It’s rapid. It’s informative. Feels more like a microblog (which is what Twitter is for), but concentrated in one place. Seems more optimized for maximizing hits for than for fitting the audience’s needs, but hey, it’s a business! And WSJ is all about the Benjamins (well, more like the Salmon P. Chases), yes?
  • NPR: National Public Radio’s live blog from Sochi is wonderfully descriptive and quickly updates. The emphasis is more on writing that appeals to the senses than photography. It feels very much like radio voices translated to text, and it works. I’m constantly telling my reporting students the advice Charles Kuralt’s blind editor early in his career gave him: “Make me see it!” NPR’s writing embodies that advice.

Let the Games begin!

My Multimedia Journalism students have written about some dynamite photo galleries and slideshows for their First Mandatory Post assignment of the semester. In this assignment, I’ve asked them to find three photo galleries from online journalism sites that inspire them and to critique their content in terms of journalistic value and other factors. Their writing and ideas are pretty awesome! Yet some didn’t take advantage of all the features that make blogs easy to find, easy to read, and interesting to look at. This post provides reminders on how to do those things.

Beloved Multimedia Journalism students, here are some things to add to your repertoire next time you do a blog post:

Break up long paragraphs: Long paragraphs fatigue the online reader’s eye. They make even the most excitingly written content appear long, ponderous and dull.

Use bold in posts to signal the transition from one section to the next: In a blog post critiquing galleries about wine, for instance, you could do that for each of the galleries you critique. It can be a subhead or just the first three to five words of each critique. Here’s how make words boldface in WordPress:

Link back to the sources you write about: Do this to make it easy for your readers to find more interesting stuff. But you also do this in order to attract traffic from those sites via linkbacks. That was the case when I linked back to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution from my Snowpocalypse post. Not only did I send readers to, but the linkback on the AJC post I linked to sent me some readers, too.Here’s how link back to your online sources:

  1. While editing your post, highlight the name of the source (e.g., the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the New York Times) or a few key words pertaining to the content you cited from another blog or website.
  2. Click the chain icon in the tools bar above your post (the same place where you would click to bold, underline or italicize type). This should summon a popup box.
  3. In that box, paste the URL for the blog or website you referred to.
  4. Click the blue “Add Link” button.

Add tags and categories: Tags and categories help boost your SEO ranking in search engines, making your content easier to find and driving more traffic to your site. They also make it easy for a reader already looking at your blog to find content related you’re written previously on the blog.

Do these things, and your posts will be readable, easy to look at and easy to find. You’ll also attract more readers.

I used to think it was laughable how two inches of snow could paralyze the cities of the South. That was before I moved here in 2007. The Northerner in me just thought people here weren’t tough enough to deal with icy weather. Toughness has little to do with it, as I have learned from a number of blogs by observers in Atlanta and Birmingham who are providing the view from Ground Zero of the Snowpocalypse.*

Preparedness is the key. The lay of the land and a relatively warm climate make ice and snow so rare that the infrastructure for clearing the roads, such as ice and sand trucks, county snowplows and abundant independent contractors with snowblades mounted on the fronts of their pickups, simply does not exist. As a result, we’re about to have our third snow day at Auburn University, where students flocked to campus for snowball fights and the novelty of tossing flying discs in snow. The cancellations are wise. They demonstrate an abundance of caution that was absent in Atlanta, where ice-induced paralysis has become a national news story. Among the stories in the blogosphere about the Deep South’s slow-motion transportation disaster:

Meanwhile in Alabama, which the national news media have overlooked, bloggers told our stories:

These writers are helping us make sense of our current paralysis and revealing the stories of everyday heroes. They are connecting us to one another, and they are explaining us to the outside world. Things will thaw in a few days, and we’ll be back to normal again. When disaster strikes, we pull together and help each other out, and we give each other consolation and comfort.

Folks in the Kansas countryside where I grew up did (and do) the same. Our geography is different, but maybe deep down we’re not all so different after all. Here’s hoping the spirit of connection this storm has sparked in us continues past the thaw.

* Question: Should it be the Snowpocalypse, Snowmageddon, or some other label? I’m going with Snowpocalypse since its namesake, the Apocalypse, is foretold to bring natural disasters as well as the Four Horsemen of conquest, war, famine and death. That contrasts with Armageddon, the site of the gathering of armies for the final battle during the End Times in which Christ triumphs over Satan and his followers. But I digress.

Temps right around freezing left a bit less than a quarter-inch of ice on cars Tuesday morning in Auburn. Come afternoon, the snow started to fall, hiding the danger from drivers.

Temps right around freezing left a bit less than a quarter-inch of ice on cars Tuesday morning in Auburn. Come afternoon, the snow started to fall, hiding the danger from drivers.

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