Homework assignments

Fall 2013

Due by the start of the Dec. 5 class meeting

Review the slides from class. Then, write a script for your 2-4 minute video story and email it to me. Your script should include:

  • An opening shot
  • A few sequences using the 5-shot method
  • Clips from at least 2 interviews
  • Title cards wherever necessary
  • A closing shot

Due by the start of the Nov. 21 class meeting

1. Read:

2. Come up with at least 1 question about any of the topics covered in the reading, and be prepared to discuss the question(s) in class.

3. Read the grading rubric for video stories, then gather the raw footage for your video story (this will take about 3 hours, including scheduling, setup, travel, etc.):

  • At least 2 interviews, each about 15 minutes long
  • Several minutes worth of sequences (action) and b-roll
  • Bring your footage to class (on your device or a USB drive)

4. Optional: Post at least one entry on your blog ~ 250 words or more, or at least 150 words and a video sequence using Vine (or a similar tool). Research one or more relevant hashtags that people are actively using on Twitter, then tweet a headline and link to your blog post with the hashtag(s).


Due by the start of the Nov. 14 class meeting

1. Post at least one entry on your blog ~ 250 words or more, or at least 150 words and a video sequence using Vine (or a similar tool). Research one or more relevant hashtags that people are actively using on Twitter, then tweet a headline and link to your blog post with the hashtag(s).

2. Read (or re-read) this blog post by Mindy McAdams about how to shoot a video story.

3. Keep refining your idea for a video story, then send it to me by the deadline if you haven’t already.


Due by the start of the Nov. 7 class meeting

1. Review the slides from the Oct. 31 class, if you want. Then, post your audio story to your blog (via SoundCloud) along with a 2-3 graf written intro and any other relevant media (photos, etc.). Research at least one relevant hashtag that people are actively using on Twitter, then tweet a headline and link to your blog post.

2. Read:

3. Come up with at least 1 question about any of the topics covered in the reading, and be prepared to discuss the question(s) in class.

4. Research an idea for a 3-5 2-4 minute video story. Your idea should be specific – a story, not a topic. Email me a brief pitch (100 words or fewer) describing what the story is about, what’s interesting about it, 2-3 possibilities for sequences and any other b-roll, and 2-3 possible interview sources.


Due by the start of the Oct. 31 class meeting

1.  Continue working on your audio story. Send me your script, if you haven’t already. Bring the latest version of your script to class, along with your raw interviews. If you’ve recorded your narration, bring that, too. (The new deadline for your published audio story is Nov. 5.)

2. Post at least one written entry on your blog (250 words or more). Research at least one relevant hashtag that people are actively using on Twitter, then tweet a headline and link to your blog post with the hashtag(s).


Due by the start of the Oct. 24 class meeting

1. Read Better writing through radio Part I and Part II by Nancy Updike.

2. Come up with at least 1 question about any of the topics covered in the reading, and be prepared to discuss the question(s) in class.

3. Review the slides from the Oct. 17 class. Then, write the script for your 3-6 minute audio story and send it to me. Here’s an example. Here’s another example.

4. Post at least one written entry on your blog (250 words or more). Research at least one relevant hashtag that people are actively using on Twitter, then tweet a headline and link to your blog post with the hashtag(s).


Due by the start of the Oct. 17 class meeting

1. Read the second part of Alex Blumberg’s manifesto

2. Conduct 15-20 min. audio interviews with at least 2 sources. If you hear an opportunity, record a few minutes of ambient sound.

3. Log each of your interviews. Be sure to include time codes every couple of minutes or so in your logs. Here’s an example of a log (yours doesn’t need to be verbatim like this one).

4. Optional: Post at least one written entry on your blog (250 words or more). Research at least one relevant hashtag that people are actively using on Twitter, then tweet a headline and link to your blog post with the hashtag(s).


Due by the start of the Oct. 10 class meeting

1. Read:

2. Come up with at least 1 question about any of the topics covered in the readings, and be prepared to discuss the question(s) in class.

3. Research an idea for a 3-6 minute audio story. Your idea should be specific (a story, not a topic). Email me a brief pitch (100 words or less) describing what the story is about, what’s interesting about it, and 2-3 possible interview sources. Be prepared to discuss your ideas during the next class meeting.

4. Post at least one written entry on your blog (250 words or more). Research at least one relevant hashtag that people are actively using on Twitter, then tweet a headline with a link to your blog post, and include the hashtag(s) in your tweet.


Due by the start of the Oct. 3 class meeting

1. Read the grading rubric for micro video sequences. In a blog post, embed at least 2 Vines by you (or Instagram videos, or Tout videos or something similar) that show some action. Here’s how to embed the videos. One of your videos should be a sequence that compresses the time it takes to show something happening. The other can be a creative video that breaks the rules of shooting sequences, if you want. Include at least 150 words that help to describe the facts of the story, give background and context, and tell people anything else they need to know to understand the story.

2. Research at least one relevant hashtag that people are actively using on Twitter, then tweet a meaningful headline and a link to your blog post, and include the hashtag(s) in your tweet.

3. Read:

4. Come up with at least 1 question about any of the topics covered in the readings, and be prepared to discuss the question(s) in class.


Due by the start of the Sept. 26 class meeting

1. Read (or review):

2. Come up with at least 1 discussion question about any of the topics covered in the reading, and be prepared to discuss the question(s) in class.

3. Read this blog post by Nitasha Tiku about the former CTO of Business Insider. It’s a good example of how to use hyperlinks effectively. Study how the author uses hyperlinks and try to adopt this style of linking. Pay attention to the words included in the links, and click through on some of them. Links are especially useful for sourcing facts and giving your readers some background information.

4. Review the grading rubric for written blog posts. Then, post at least one written entry on your blog (250 words or more). Research at least one relevant hashtag that people are actively using on Twitter, then tweet a headline with a link to your blog post, and include the hashtag(s) in your tweet.


Due by the start of the Sept. 19 class meeting

1. Read:

2. Come up with at least 1 discussion question about any of the topics covered in the reading, and be prepared to discuss the question(s) in class.

3. Read the grading rubric for written blog posts. Then, post at least one written entry on your blog (250 words or more). Research at least one relevant hashtag that people are actively using on Twitter, then tweet a headline with a link to your blog post, and include the hashtag(s) in your tweet.


Due by the start of the Sept. 12 class meeting

1. Read:

2. After you get the go-ahead from me, launch your WordPress.com blog. Choose a visual theme (not the default one).

3. If the theme you chose automatically comes with an “About” page, fill out that page with 2-3 paragraphs explaining what your blog is about (example). Use present tense, e.g. “This blog is…” rather than future tense, e.g. “This blog will…” If your theme doesn’t include an “About” page, make one (instructions). Include on your “About” page a way to contact you.

4. Make a blogroll with 5 to 10 blogs related to your subject area (instructions).

5. Direct message me on Twitter with a link to your blog so I can subscribe to your RSS feed and follow your work throughout the semester.


Due by the start of the Sept. 5 class meeting

1. Read the following and be prepared to discuss in class:

2. Come up with at least 1 discussion question about any of the topics covered in the reading, and be prepared to discuss the question(s) in class.

3. Get a secure USB drive with a capacity of at least 2 GB and bring it to class.

4. Before the start of class next week: Propose two ideas for a niche blog. Make sure you have done all the reading first. Write your proposals in a document, put the document on your USB drive and bring it to class. Your proposals should include:

  • A name for each blog
  • A tagline (1-sentence description) for each blog
  • 2-3 paragraphs explaining in some detail the mission of each blog and who you hope to reach with it

Fall 2012

Due by the start of the Dec. 12 class meeting

1. Check out the grading rubric for the Google Chart assignment. Then, dig up some recent data from a credible source that’s relevant to your blog. It may take awhile, but you can find a lot on the Web. Input the data into a Google Spreadsheet and create a simple Google Chart. Choose the most appropriate type of chart for the data (pie, bar, line, scatter, etc.). Customize the chart, give it a meaningful title, label the axes, and so on. Save the chart as an image and embed it in a blog post. In your post, include 2-3 sentences explaining anything readers need to know about the data and the chart. Cite the source of the data and link to the source, if it’s online. You can, if you want to, collect your own data! Tweet a headline and a link to your post. Expect to spend 2-3 hours on this part of the homework assignment.

2. Check out the grading rubric for this assignment. Then, make a drawing, comic, cartoon, illustration, meme, animated GIF, Lego diorama, ThingLink or other piece of visual journalism that’s not a traditional photograph or video and that’s relevant to your blog. It can be news, feature, commentary, criticism, analysis, satire, parody or any other style of journalism you choose. Have fun and be creative. Embed the piece (scan or photograph your drawing, or take a picture of your Lego diorama, for example) in a blog post, along with a sentence or two of text, if needed. Tweet a headline and link to your post. Expect to spend 4-5 hours on this part of the assignment.

3. Send me, via direct message on Twitter, a link to the first tweet in your livetweet session.

4. Send me, via direct message on Twitter, a link to your Ustream channel.

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Due by the start of the Dec. 5 class meeting

1. Read, watch, listen, etc. All by Susie Cagle, who will join us via the Internet (details to be announced) in our next class:

2. Optional: Post at least one written entry on your blog (250 words or more). Research at least one relevant hashtag that people are actively using on Twitter, then tweet a headline and link to your blog post with the hashtag(s).

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Due by the start of the Nov. 28 class meeting

1. Review the grading rubric for video stories, then publish your edited, 3-5 minute video on YouTube and embed it in a blog post. Include 2-3 grafs introducing the video. Here are some resources you might find helpful:

2. Tweet a headline and link to your post.

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Due by the start of the Nov. 14 class meeting

1. Review the slides from class. Then, using this as an example and template, finish writing the script for your 3-5 minute video story. When you’re done, share the script with me in Google Drive. Your script should include:

  • An opening shot
  • A few sequences using the 5-shot method
  • Clips from at least 2 interviews
  • Title cards wherever necessary
  • A closing shot

2. Post at least one written entry on your blog (250 words or more). Research one or more hashtags that people are actively using on Twitter, then tweet a headline with a link to your blog post, and include the hashtag(s) in your tweet. Review the grading rubric for written blog posts, if needed.

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Due by the start of the Nov. 7 class meeting

1.  Post at least one written entry on your blog (250 words or more). Research one or more hashtags that people are actively using on Twitter, then tweet a headline with a link to your blog post, and include the hashtag(s) in your tweet. Review the grading rubric for written blog posts, if needed.

2. Review the grading rubric for video stories, if needed. Continue gathering footage and do possible re-shoots for your video story. When you’re done shooting, you should have about 20 minutes of sequences and b-roll, and at least 3 interviews. Bring all your footage to class (on your device, flash drive or stored in the cloud).

3. Optional: Read about what happened to this dude after he trolled himself on Facebook.

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Due by the start of the Oct. 31 class meeting

1. Read (or re-read; this will take about 30 mins.):

2. If you haven’t already, add these features to your blog (this will take 20-30 mins.):

  • “About” page with a graf about you, a graf about the blog, contact info (email and Twitter, at least), and any other ways to find you (Tumblr, Flickr, etc.)
  • Blogroll with at least 5 related blogs, sites, etc.
  • Search widget (some themes have it built in)
  • Twitter widget showing your recent tweets
  • RSS buttons for posts and comments (this is the “RSS links” widget)
  • At least three, up to a half dozen or so tags on each post (instructions)

3. Create a shot list (shooting script) for your video story with at least 10 specific shots, then email it to me. In reality, you should plan to gather many more shots than that in the field. Here’s an example of a shot list or shooting script. (This will take 30-60 mins.)

4. Gather footage for your video story (this will take about 3 hours, including scheduling, setup, travel, etc.):

  • At least 2 interviews, each about 10-20 minutes long
  • 20 minutes or so of sequences (action) and b-roll
  • Bring your footage to class (on your device, a flash drive, or uploaded to the cloud)

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Due by the start of the Oct. 24 class meeting

1. Read:

2. Research an idea for a 3-5 minute video story. Your idea should be specific – a story, not a topic. Email me a brief pitch (100 words or fewer) describing what the story is about, what’s interesting about it, 2-3 possibilities for sequences and any other b-roll, and 2-3 possible interview sources. Be prepared to discuss your idea at the next class meeting.

3. Post at least one written entry on your blog (250 words or more). Research at least one relevant hashtag that people are actively using on Twitter, then tweet a headline with a link to your blog post, and include the hashtag(s) in your tweet.

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Due by the start of the Oct. 17 class meeting

1. Read: How to embed a Soundcloud file in a blog post.

2. If you want, review the slides from Oct. 3 and 10 and the scripts for “A slow media movement” and “Babies’ cells linger, may protect mothers.”

3. Finish writing the script for your audio story. If you want me to edit your script before you record your narration, send it to me by Oct. 15 at midnight.

4. Record and edit your narration. Edit and mix your audio story. Length must be between 3 and 5 minutes and should have at least 3 other voices besides your own. For your reference, here’s a guide to using GarageBand.

5. Post your audio story to your blog (via SoundCloud) along with a 2-3 graf text intro and any other relevant media (photos, etc.). Research at least one relevant hashtag that people are actively using on Twitter, then tweet a headline and link to your blog post.

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Due by the start of the Oct. 10 class meeting

1. Read:

2. Conduct 15-20 min. audio interviews with at least three people, and gather several minutes (total) of ambient sound from a variety of sources. Log each interview and ambient sound file and share your logs and sound files with me on Google Drive. Be sure to include time codes every couple of minutes or so in your logs. Here’s an example of a log (yours doesn’t need to be verbatim like this one).

3. Optional: Post at least one written entry on your blog (250 words or more). Research at least one relevant hashtag that people are actively using on Twitter, then tweet a headline and link to your blog post with the hashtag(s).

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Due by the start of the Oct. 3 class meeting

1. Read:

2. Post at least one written entry on your blog (250 words or more). Research at least one relevant hashtag that people are actively using on Twitter, then tweet a headline with a link to your blog post, and include the hashtag(s) in your tweet.

3. Come up with a story idea for a 3-6 minute audio piece. Your idea should be specific – a story, not a topic. Write a brief pitch (100 words or less) describing what the story is about, what’s interesting about it, what the possibilities might be for ambient sound, and 2-3 possible interview sources. Be prepared to discuss your ideas during the next class meeting.

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Due by the start of the Sept. 26 class meeting

1. Read:

2. Review the grading rubric for written blog posts, then post at least one written entry on your blog (250 words or more). Research at least one relevant hashtag that people are actively using on Twitter, then tweet a headline with a link to your blog post, and include the hashtag(s) in your tweet.

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Due by the start of the Sept. 19 class meeting

1. Read:

2. Review the grading rubric for written blog posts, In your first blog post, introduce yourself and the blog (2-3 grafs). Then, in the same post, write at least 5 grafs about how other bloggers are covering your subject area. Include hyperlinks to at least 5 specific posts or stories (not home pages of news sites or blogs) and any other relevant media (photos, videos, etc.). Someone reading your post should be able learn the latest about what’s happening on your beat. Here’s an example.

3. Research at least one relevant hashtag that people are actively using on Twitter, then tweet a snappy headline and link to your blog post. Include the hashtag(s) in your tweet so that people who aren’t necessarily following you will have a better chance of seeing your tweet and clicking through to your blog post.

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Due by the start of the Sept. 12 class meeting

1. Read these first:

3. If your chosen theme automatically comes with an “About” page, fill out that page with 2-3 paragraphs explaining what your blog is about (use present tense, e.g. “This blog is…” rather than future tense, e.g. “This blog will…”). If your theme doesn’t include an “About” page, create one (instructions). Include on your “About” page a paragraph about yourself along with your full name and email address. Example.

4. Create a blogroll with 5 to 10 blogs related to your subject area (instructions). Subscribe to the RSS feeds of these blogs and follow them on Twitter.

5. Direct message me on Twitter with a link to your blog so I can subscribe to it in Google Reader and follow your work throughout the semester.

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Due by the start of the Sept. 5 class meeting
1. Read/listen to the following and be prepared to discuss in class:

2. Before the start of class next week: Propose, via email, two ideas for a niche blog. Make sure you have done all the reading before pitching. Your pitch should include:

  • The name of each blog
  • A tagline for each blog (a one-sentence description)
  • 2-3 paragraphs explaining the mission of the blog and who you hope to reach with it
I’ll reply with questions, and after some back-and-forth we’ll agree on a plan for your blog.
Your blog will be the home for your journalism work in this class, the primary way your progress and understanding will be assessed, and, I hope, a place for connecting with a community.
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Fall 2011
Due by 4 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15
Publish your video story in a blog post, either via YouTube or Vimeo. Include an SEO-friendly headline and 2-3 grafs introducing the video. Tweet a headline and link to your video story.
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Due before the start of class Thursday, Dec. 1

1. (Optional) Read this iMovie HD 6 tutorial.

2. Finish collecting all your raw footage for your video story, including b-roll and interviews with at least 2 sources.

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Due before the start of class Thursday, Nov. 17

1. Read this iMovie HD 6 tutorial (optional)

2. Edit your video sequence and publish it on your blog.

  • The total length of the video should be roughly 30-60 seconds. Each shot should be about 3 seconds long.
  • If the audio is not important in your video, you can include a soundtrack. You can download free tracks from the Free Music Archive. (Don’t use copyrighted music w/o permission.)
  • Include a text card at the beginning of your video (a title, a credit, and any text necessary for the viewer to understand the video).
  • Write an SEO-friendly headline for your post.
  • Upload your video to YouTube and embed it directly in your blog post. You should be able to watch the video on your blog without having to click through to YouTube.

3. Continue gathering interview and b-roll footage for your video story, due Dec. 8.

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Due before the start of class Thursday, Nov. 10

1. Read:

2. Share a favorite example of video journalism. DM me the link or share via Google+. Nothing too long — 10 minutes or so max.

3. Begin gathering footage for your video story

  • Interviews
  • B-roll

4. Post at least one entry on your blog. It can be a written post (250 words minimum, with a generous amount of hyperlinks), an audio interview (3-4 mins.), an audio story (4-6 mins.), a photo story (6-8 original images, with captions), a Storified story (at least 20 tweets or other online elements), or a video (2-4 mins.). Tweet a headline and link to your blog post.
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Due before the start of class Thursday, Nov. 3

1. Read:

2. Collect the raw footage for a sights and sounds video

  • Must be related to your blog (assume this for all assignments, unless otherwise specified)
  • Gather 20 minutes or so of footage
  • Shoot in sequences, vary your shots (wide, medium, closeup)
  • You do not need to edit the video yet, but plan for the length of finished piece to be 1-2 minutes long

3. Post at least one entry on your blog. It can be a written post (250 words minimum, with a generous amount of hyperlinks), an audio interview (3-4 mins.), an audio story (4-6 mins.), a Storified story (at least 20 tweets or other online elements), a photo story (6-8 images, with captions) or a video (2-4 mins.).

4. Tweet a headline and link to your blog post.

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Due before the start of class Thursday, Oct. 27
3. Storify our meeting with BART’s Jim Allison, Luna Salaver and Frank Lucarelli. Readers should be able to get a full picture of the conversation. It must include the following:
  • A descriptive, SEO-friendly headline (with a verb!)
  • A brief summary (deck)
  • At least 10 tweets of your own
  • At least 10 tweets from others (e.g. classmates)
  • Written transitions between tweets or groups of tweets, where needed
4. Optional: You may also include Flickr photos, YouTube videos, links to stories, etc. wherever appropriate.
5. Publish your Storify. Tweet a headline and link to it. You do not need to embed it on your blog.
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Due before the start of class Thursday, Oct. 20

1. Review the grading rubric for written blog posts, then post at least one written entry (at least 250 words long) on your blog. Tweet a headline and link to your post.

2. Read:

3. Review (if needed) “Building blocks of a multimedia story.” Develop and pitch me a story idea (via Google+) for a 3-minute video feature. Describe in some detail what your story is about, why your audience should care, who you plan to interview, where you plan to shoot, and what you plan to shoot. It must be an actual story.

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Due before the start of class Thursday, Oct. 13
1. Review the grading rubric for written blog posts, then post at least one written entry on your blog. Tweet a headline and link to your post.
2. Read: Building blocks of a multimedia story (Mark Berkey-Gerard)

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Due before the start of class Thursday, Oct. 3 6

1. Review “Better Writing Through Radio” Part 1 and Part 2 (if necessary).

2. Finish writing the script for your audio story. If you want, you can ask me to edit your script before you voice your narration. Your story should be no shorter than 3 minutes and no longer than 6 minutes.

3. Record and edit your narration, and mix your story according to your script.

4. Upload your audio story to SoundCloud and embed the player in a blog post.

5. Write a 2-3 graf intro/teaser to your audio story.

6. Write an SEO-friendly headline for your post, then publish it.

7. Tweet (publicly!) a headline and link to your post.

8. Non-photojournalism students only — Read:

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Due before the start of class Thursday, Sept. 29

1. Review the slides from class. Edit your first audio interview using GarageBand.

2. Read these instructions on how to embed a Soundcloud file in a blog post. Publish your edited interview in a blog post. Include a 2-3 graf introduction explaining/teasing the interview. Give your post an SEO-friendly headline.

3. Read “Better Writing Through Radio” Part 1 and Part 2 by Nancy Updike.

4. Develop an idea for an audio story. Conduct interviews (10-20 mins. each, unedited) with at least 2 sources. Upload your interviews — mp3 files only — to Google Docs and be prepared to log them in next week’s class.

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Due before the start of class Thursday, Sept. 22
1. Read:
2. Conduct a 7-10 min. interview with a source relevant to your blog. Don’t just gather information — get stories: anecdotes and reflections. Be sure to include a LIVE intro and outro. No re-recording questions!
3. Save the raw file as an mp3 file, upload it to Google Docs and share it with me.
4. Review the grading rubric for written blog posts, then post at least one entry on your blog.
5. Tweet a headline and link to your blog post.
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Due before the start of class Thursday, Sept. 8
1. Read the following and be prepared for a group exercise next week:
2. After you receive approval for one of your blog ideas, launch your WordPress.com blog. Choose a visual theme (not the default one). If your chosen theme automatically comes with an “About” page, fill out that page with 2-3 paragraphs explaining what your blog is about (use present tense, e.g. “This blog is…” rather than future tense, e.g. “This blog will…”). If your theme doesn’t include an “About” page, create one (instructions). Your “About” page should have a paragraph about the blog’s mission and a graf about yourself, along with your full name and an email address. Example.
3. Create a blogroll with five to 10 blogs related to your subject area (instructions).
4. Direct message to me on Twitter with a link to your blog so I can subscribe to it in Google Reader and follow your work throughout the semester.
5. In your first blog post, introduce yourself and the blog (2-3 grafs). Then, in the same post, write at least 5 grafs about how other bloggers are covering your subject area. Include hyperlinks to at least 5 specific posts/stories (i.e. NOT home pages of news sites or blogs) and any other relevant media (photos, videos, etc.). Someone reading your post should be able learn the latest about what’s happening on your beat. Therefore, you must summarize actual news items and link to credible (not necessarily mainstream) sources.
6. Tweet a headline & link to your blog post.
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Due before the start of class Thursday, Sept. 1
1. Finish the Twitter exercise we started in class.
2. Read the following and be prepared for a short quiz next week:

3. Before the start of class next week: Pitch me, via Google+, two ideas for a beat blog. Make sure you have done all the reading before pitching. Your pitch should include:

  • The name of each blog
  • A tagline for each blog (a one-sentence description)
  • 2-3 paragraphs explaining the mission of the blog and who you hope to reach with it
I’ll respond in the comments section with questions. After some back-and-forth we’ll agree on a plan for your blog. Your blog will be the home for your journalism work in this class, the primary way your progress will be assessed, and, I hope, a tool for community engagement.