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The Final

05/12/2009

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:

Newsworthy

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 com300blog.wordpress.com 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.

Hyperlinked

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.

Illustrated

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.

Mapped

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.

Linked

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

Tagged

Tag your posts. For extra credit, create a tag cloud. At http://www.wordle.net or http://tagcrowd.com

Categorized

Create categories related to your post.

Connected

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 com300blog.wordpress.com.

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