Picking A Beat For The Semester

For this class, I am asking you to take a journalistic approach to blogging which has been called “beat blogging.”

Beatblogging.org defines the term as “any blog that sticks to a well-defined beat or coverage area, whether it is the work of a single person or a team, whether it is authored by a pro or an amateur journalist.” It continues:

Content-wise, a beat blog presents a regular flow of reportingandcommentary in a focused area the beat covers; it provides links and online resources in that area, and it tracks the subject over time…. When beat blogs are part of a pro reporters work, the best ones are not incidental to the reporter’s work but an integral part of it; sometimes the blog is the main platform for the beat.

Start thinking about the “beat” you want to cover for the semester. It can be a specific subject, geographic location, or community.

Here are some things you should consider:

1. You should be passionate about it or at least want to be passionate about it.

2. You must have regular access to your beat and people, places, and events. You will be required to do original reporting on short notice. You will interview people, take photographs, gather audio, and shoot video. Also, friends and family CAN NOT be used as sources. Keep that in mind.

3. Think of it as building a journalistic publication. What is your niche? Who is your audience? What kind of content would your audience want? What kind of publication you would like to have at the end of the semester?

4. The best blogs are focused on a narrow, concrete subject. For example, “Little League baseball in Washington Township” is better than “sports” or “baseball.” And you can’t cover the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers, Sixers or fashion in Milan or Hollywood gossip or any other subject that you do not have access to. See point #2.

5. Your beat should be one that allows you to consistently report on journalistically worthy news stories, event information, profiles of interesting individuals, and any other related topics your audience can’t get in any way but through your site. This blog is NOT a personal journal or a place to make stray observations. It’s a work of journalism.

6. Consider your own conflict of interests. For example, if you are the Student Government President, you cannot cover student government as a journalist. Or, if you work in a particular industry, you cannot cover that industry as a journalist.

EXAMPLES OF PAST STUDENT BLOGS
Eat Play OCNJ: What makes Ocean City, NJ the best beach in America
Philly Curated: A collection of Philadelphia’s most interesting museums
The Beauty Capsule — Streamline your beauty and fashion knowledge in just one click
En Vino, Let’s Get Lost — A love of wine and what South Jersey has to offer
Gluten Free and Fabulous — A lifestyle free of gluten
Philly’s Latin Phever – Your Guide to Latin Dancing in the Heart of Philadelphia
Road to the Winner’s Circle – The equestrians guide to the South Jersey show circuit
A View of Runnemede – Local events and education issues
FIT-nique – Unusual fitness classes, products and extreme sports
For the Record – Everything from tubes to turntables in Southern NJ
Rescue Me – Animal rescue and adoption in central New Jersey
The South Jersey Rialto – South Jersey community theater
A Flash of Light – Lightning awareness in NJ
40 Years and Counting – A chronicle of marriages that last a lifetime
Second Hand Beat – Used bookshops in South Jersey/Philadelphia
Campus Lookbook – Current fashions on Rowan’s campus
Cherry & White Huddle – Providing inside access into the Temple University Owl’s
Woodbury Pride – Covering the Junior Woodbury Steelers football team
DIY Food – South Jersey’s slow, small and sustainable food
SJ Taco Time – The good, the bad, and the ugly of Mexican cuisine in South Jersey

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Welcome To Online Journalism—Fall 2017

COURSE DESCRIPTION:

This course examines the online news landscape. Students learn which principles of traditional journalism can and should be applied to the web, and what makes online journalism unique. Students gain this knowledge through reading assignments, class discussion and activities, and a series of reporting, writing and multimedia production assignments.

COURSE OBJECTIVES:

  • Explore the unique challenges, opportunities, ethical and legal issues of digital journalism.
  • Author a news-oriented blog on a well-defined beat or coverage area.
  • Write blog posts with effective headlines, writing, structure, links and key words.
  • Use social media as a tool for reporting and audience engagement.
  • Become proficient in basic multimedia reporting and production, including how to tell a story using text, links, photos, audio and video.
  • Produce an online publication with original reporting and multimedia content that is suitable for internship, freelance and job applications.

TEACHING METHODS:

Students will practice online journalism in this course. Practice, in this case, means actually developing journalistic skills to cover a topic for a real audience—not just fulfilling a school assignment. Students will select a topic or beat to cover for the semester. Each student will create a blog and then report, write and create multimedia content to cover the topic. All assignments will be posted online for anyone to read. Students will build an online audience. I will serve as an editorial advisor and give the same responses, instruction and suggestions that I would give to professional journalists. This course stresses journalistic ethics, writing for online media, and basic multimedia reporting and production.

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End Of Semester Deadlines

Here it is…the end of the road 🙂 Below are the final deadlines you need to keep track of between now and the close of the semester. I extended a few things by a few days:

Assignments:
Blog Presentations will be on Tues. the 25th and Thurs. the 27th in class
Post 11: Video due Sun., April 30 at 10 p.m. (80 points)
—Post 12: Final Project Due Fri., May 5 at 5 p.m. (200 points)
—Post 13: Farewell Post Due Fri., May 5 at 5 p.m. (30 points)

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Week 10

In Class:
–Bring camera, video recording device, connection cords and headphones to class
—So, what makes web video unique and powerful?
—Here are some tips on shooting quality web video
—And here are some specific tips for shooting video on your smartphone
In class video exercise

Assignments:
Extra Credit Quiz 2 Next Tuesday
Blog Presentations will be on Tues. the 25th and Thurs. the 27th in class
Post 11: Video due Fri., April 28 at 10 p.m. (80 points)
—Post 12: Final Project Due Thurs., May 4 at 10 p.m. (200 points)
—Post 13: Farewell Post Due Thurs., May 4 at 10 p.m. (30 points)

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Week 9

In Class:
–Bring camera, audio recording device (your phone), connection cords and headphones to class
Audio Reporting
Audio Editing with Audacity
Step-By-By Guide: Getting audio from recorder to your WordPress Blog
—Finish In-Class Audio Exercise

Some great audio segments from previous students:
—Tammy Decker talks about Aqua Spin Classes
—A brewer from Yards tells his story
—Rowan’s dietician explains how to eat healthy
—Rowan’s Temple Jordan talks about intersectional feminism

Assignments:
Post 8: Profile of Another Blogger due Monday, Mar. 27 (50 points)
—Post 9: Audio Interview With Photo due Monday, Apr. 3 (60 points)

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Week 8

In Class:
–Bring camera, audio recording device (your phone), connection cords and headphones to class
—Listen to this great segment from This American Life
—Listen to this haunting segment from WNYC’s Snap Judgement
Audio Reporting
Audio Editing with Audacity
Step-By-By Guide: Getting audio from recorder to your WordPress Blog
In-Class Audio Exercise

Some more great audio segments:
—A story about a man trapped inside his own body
—What’s waiting out there in the dark?
—Story about a raccoon gone mad!
—So who exactly is that boy in the photo?

Assignments:
—Post 7: Photo Gallery due Monday, Mar. 13th at 10 p.m. (50 points)
Post 8: Profile of Another Blogger due Monday, Mar. 27 (50 points)

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Week 7

In Class:
—Finish In Class Photo Assignment
—Why friends and family aren’t good sources
Tips for your photo gallery post
—Discuss Post 7: Photo Gallery
—Listen to this great segment from This American Life
Audio Reporting
Audio Editing with Audacity
Step-By-By Guide: Getting audio from recorder to your WordPress Blog
In-Class Audio Exercise

Assignments:
-First ***EXTRA CREDIT QUIZ*** Thurs., Mar. 2nd
-Post 6: Free Choice due Monday, Mar. 6th at 10 p.m. (25 points)
-Post 7: Photo Gallery due Monday, Mar. 13th at 10 p.m. (50 points)
Post 8: Profile of Another Blogger due Monday, Mar. 27 (50 points)

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