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The Final


This is it.

Your final is a single blog entry. I hope it represents a semi-comprehensive review of what we’ve discussed or attempted in this class.

As you’ll see, I think, I’ve placed a lot of emphasis on reporting and writing. Just this morning, Prof. Alsdurf received a note from Bethel grad Travis Grabow, who’s now in the graduate journalism at Arizona State and focusing in multimedia:

“If you’re looking for advice specifically about grad school, I would say the biggest thing is to be ready to work really hard. 12 hour days are not unusual, which is something I wasn’t quite ready for when the school year started.

“I would also say that you have to make absolutely sure you’ve got the basics of reporting and writing down, even though that sounds pretty obvious. We’ve been learning a lot about multimedia and tech-related topics and skills, but they don’t matter much if you can’t use them to tell a good story.”

In news, as well as marketing and advertising, everything begins with the story. For this final, your “story” or article needs to be:


So focus on a person, place, event or issue that would be of interest to the Bethel community. Yes, you can continue with the same thread _ be it fashion, films, music, electronic gizmos, sports, etc. _ but you must add depth to your range. Do write about a single house of fashion, a single film or CD or gizmo or game, etc.. Instead, do more reporting and come back with a deeper story, for example, about a fashion trend, a a genre or season rather than one film or CD or group, the effect of the economy on electronic games, trends in pitching or hitting or steroid use in baseball.  Those are just suggestions to prime the pump.

Told well

This includes story structure and style. Does it have a strong lede, something compelling or interesting, that pulls the reader into the article? If the lede doesn’t identify the focus, does the article have nut graf or focus graf  that tells the reader what the story is about. Does the article use transitions to move naturally from one paragraph to the next? Is all the information included relevant to the article? Is enough background provided so that even someone new to the subject could catch on to what’s going on in the text? Does it have an ending?

Well reported

Articles not built on facts are empty. They waste people’s time. The more facts compiled and culled, the greater the chance of the article having something to say.

Well researched

Use lots of sources to build your story from facts. Do you have to cite them all? Not necessarily. But use your initial research to point you to even better, more specific research. Then pick and choose the facts to include in your article. When turning in your final, please go to the comments section of and list all the sources you used to build this article.

Search-engine friendly

Write a headline that uses words that Google might pick up. For example, instead of calling this blog com300blog, I could have called in “online journalism” to attract readers. Com300blog isn’t something search engines would pick up, but online journalism would be much different. The same works for headlines. Take the first few words of your headline to “speak to” Google. Cute headlines don’t work either.


The article needs to have six to 12 hyperlinks. These links need to be written into the flow of the article , not tacked on using conventions like “You can see more here.” Some of these may be included in your research.


Find and incorporate images that are appropriate to your article. These should supplement or complement your story.  No (what I call) static art. For example, posters, book covers, CD covers. Unless no other illustration is available, avoid “handout” art. Exceptions: photos of products or scenes that can’t be otherwiseobtained. This could also be a multimedia piece, such as a video or slideshow or podcast. Include a well-written caption under any photos.


Create a Google Map of something related to your story.  It could be a locator map. For instance, if Sarah D. and Tiffany write about film, they may want to use Google Map’s satellite feature to pinpoint a particular studio or soundstage being used for a particular film. Or you might want to create a map showing the route some in your story takes to work each day. But it must supplement, not repeat, what’s in your story. It must “show” something the reader can’t obtain from text alone. This map needs to be embedded in your text.


Create a blogroll of links to five other blogs that also focus or have focused on the topic your article.


Tag your posts. For extra credit, create a tag cloud. At or


Create categories related to your post.


Link to the other blogs in this class and thoughtfully comment on at least three of them. Include your blog URL in your comment. Please, no one-sentence quick hits. Comment on the content, not the style.

Final thoughts

AP style Use it. Dust off the AP style handout provided earlier in the semester. Or, if you wonder if something is according to AP style, sometimes you can fudge a little by Googling “AP Style” and the word or punctuation that has you stumped. This works sometimes but not all the time.

Tpyos They’ll count against your grade.

Spelling The same.

Links If they’re broken, they’ll count against your grade.

Writing for the Web Earlier this semester we discussed writing for the Web, how it should be tighter and brighter and assembled in chunks. Few if any of our class blogs follow those guidelines. In case you’ve forgotten or misplaced the handout or links, you can find them here and here. I’ll be looking for articles composed according to these guidelines.

Story length: 750 – 1,000 words, minimum.

Extra credit:

Starting with this discussion on Prof. McAdams’ personal blog, reflect on the semester. What could/would you do differently to teach online journalism? What would you add? Subtract? Emphasize? De-emphasize? It might help to read her original post and then all the comments leading to this exchange.  Submit this on the comments section of

New York Times: multiple news distribution platforms


Found this just now on Romenesko:

NYTer: The future format of news? It’s your choice

“I believe that print will be around for years to come,” says New York Times president Scott Heekin-Canedy. “Yet as the distribution formats proliferate and there are more choices, like Kindle, Sony Reader, IPhone and other devices soon to enter the market, the proportions of our readership are likely to shift across these platform choices. What might be the future format? I think the answer is that it will be your choice. We expect to provide formats to support these devices if there is customer demand.”

Link journalism: an online journalism reporting resource


Here is one example of link journalism produced by The New York Times and called “Reading the Web.” Historically, news organizations rarely if ever credited another news organization for reporting. The thinking was referring to the competition was like telling the viewer/reader/listener to change channels or read another publication.

That’s changing. Take a look at ProPublica, a not-for-profit news site and aggregator. The site pulls content from television and print. Here’s a story describing link journalism in action in Washington state.

Aggregators: online journalism reporting resources


News, at least online news,  is no longer just the news oracle speaking to the audience. That’s the the Internet and interactivity, the news is gravitating toward becoming a conversation. In this conversation, journalists and readers “work” together to define, gather and report news.

One way to jump into the conversation, especially for someone new to this kind of reporting, is to learn how to use blog “aggregators” or collectors like Technorati. An excellent and easy to follow tutorial is available at SMUG, a Web site “college” created by Lee Aase,  the manager for Syndications and Social Media at Mayo Clinic.

Go ahead and stop by the site and follow along. Go to Technorati and insert words you want to use for your search. If necessary, you can refine the search using the “authority” link. You can also take the step to narrow your search by using tags.

And you can create a “Watchlist.” On the home page,, move right along the green toolbar until you see “Favorites.” Click on that. When the window opens, click on “Watchlist.”

That should open another window that asks you to type a word or URL you want to track. Type in a key word or two from  your subject and hit enter. Do that as often as you want. To monitor your watchlist, you can return to regularly. Say once a day. Or, you can set up an RSS feed for each specific Watchlist you create. Then you can monitor the entries through your reader.

You can do the same with other Technorati feeds.

As Aase suggests, try out BlogPulse (no sign up necessary) and IceRocket(no sign up necessary) and, in your own time, set up your account at Google News.

Finally, you can create an account on Alltop.

SEO: drawing attention to your blog


The first 50 or so times I saw the acronym SEO, I didn’t bother to learn its meaning. Dumb me.

The letters simply stand for Search Engine Optimization. Mark Glaser at the blog Mediashift says SEO “means using technical and not-so-technical techniques to make sure that people searching for topics you write about will find your site.”

Or, it how to attract attention of search engines like Google. You can read Glaser’s whole piece.

Beatblogging: reporting using crowdsourcing and comments


This is a great link that’s provides a definition/explanation of  beatblogging.

Within that you’ll see terms like two-way communication, which really means reporters talking directly with readers and vice versa.

If you want, skip that and head to “Why beatblog?” Those are worth reading.

What’s it mean to us? For now, it means setting up comment boxes on our blogs (if you haven’t, do s0). Will you build a community before class ends? Probably not. But it’s all part of the package.

Alerts: Working toward what will be on the final


Set up Alerts.

Click on the link and you’ll be directed to a window to create alerts. These will be fed into the e-mail account you provide. Then it’s up to you to check your e-mail as frequently as needed to stay on top of your subject.

When you set up, you’ll need to decide how often you want the e-mails sent. Select “once a day” or “as-it-happens.” Where it says “type,” I’d recommend “comprehensive.”

Create as many alerts, using a variety of terms, as you want. To begin I might start with five. See what volume that produces for a day or two.  If you think you need more, add more.  See the author’s notes for how to choose your words.

For class Thursday


In this post, blogger Gina M. Chen shows the ways multiple-media platforms were used in the shooting in Binghamton, N.Y.

Here’s how she explained it on her blog,

“What was happening in Binghamton was told through traditional stories, blog posts, tweets, video, slide showsGoogle maps. People could take advantage of what they wanted to view, listen to, read. They could choose to examine all the information, or just get a short update. The New York Times followed the story on its “The Lede” blog, which gave brief updates, reminiscent of tweets, but with better grammar and spelling and greater length. The Press and Sun Bulletin invited readers to e-mail the paper if they were witnesses to the scene. My own newspaper offered readers a thorough aggregation of information, including links to other media organizations, along with original reporting. News organization generally do a great job of covering major breaking news, but to me this showed clearly how new media is changing how we do that for the better.”

Map making made easy…maybe


Today, we play with Google maps.