An earlier post provided a quick introduction to writing FAQs, and how they can be used to apply several concepts of online news writing.
The students in Public Affairs Reporting for New Media have posted their FAQs. They’re a good example of explanatory journalism and online news writing. They’re also the kind of evergreen content that can be re-used when there’s a strong news peg for the topic.
Our next step? User-generated content. More on that tomorrow.
Last week, Richard Hart of MDC, Inc., kindly came to speak to my Public Affairs Reporting for New Media class. He led us through an illuminating conversation about the nonprofit’s recently released report on the Triangle’s “Disconnected Youth.” (PDF)
At the end, I raised this question: If government is already publishing a lot of raw data online, and if organizations like MDC are already put together in-depth, relatively objective analyses of public policy issues like this, then what does he — as a former journalist and the nonprofit’s communication director — think is the role for journalists? How do we fit in to his overall communication strategy for this report, I wondered.
That was a good question, Hart said. He noted that his primary focus now, after an initial and relatively small media hit, was convening small groups of influential and interested area leaders from various sectors to discuss how to implement some of MDC’s recommendations.
That made me wonder: Should journalists be doing that? Presuming we think that the subject of high school dropouts is an issue that is relevant and important for our audience, how much effort should news organizations be putting in to creating conversation around content that is created elsewhere? Should journalists be conveners?
Continue reading “When Everyone’s a Publisher, Who Will ‘Convene’ The Public?”
After extolling the virtues in post after post of UNC’s computer based training as a wonderful resource that’s free to every student, the University announced today that it would be shutting the site down on Feb. 28.
The move was done “in order to achieve the level of budget cuts currently mandated.”
The full announcement and address to send letters after the jump.
Continue reading “Budget Cuts Begin to Hurt”
Our Public Affairs Reporting for New Media class is transitioning from the first to second phase of the semester, and I’ve blogged about it a bit more over at https://www.ibiblio.org/newsdesk/apples/sp09/blogs/ryan-thornburg
In the first phase, we’ve been cramming on learning more about the topic of dropouts in North Carolina and also cramming on learning the tools and techniques of online journalism. We’re now starting to think about some of our initial content creation.
In two blog posts, I summarize our critiques of other online news projects as well as our initial brainstorm of story ideas.
The newspaper partners for our Public Affairs Reporting for New Media class joined the students and I in Chapel Hill this week for a discussion about how a collaboration would work. I was interested in hearing about content ideas as well as logistics. I think we had an incredibly engaging and informative conversation about story ideas. Logistics seemed to be less of a concern.
Here are some of the angles to the dropout issue that our partners were interested in pursuing:
Continue reading “Cooperating Across Newsrooms”
I start every semester in my online news classes teaching students the fundamental concepts of HTML. Not primarily because I want them to know the technology, but because I want them to appreciate that for all the bells, whistles and buzzwords it is the lowly link that makes online journalism fundamentally different than offline journalism.
If journalism is a conversation, I tell them, the first key to being a good conversationalist is being a good listener. You’d never walk in to a party and just hijack the first conversation you come across. You listen, wait and figure out what you can add and how you can move the discussion. Putting this analogy in to practice with links from your site to another site is the first step in developing authentic conversational leadership.
After all, the man who invented the hyperlink also hypothesized this role for journalists.
This semester, we are putting this concept in to practice in the site we’re building for Public Affairs Reporting for New Media. Using Publish2, the students are getting to practice “link journalism.” The site is now live, and here’s how we’re starting to build it out.
Continue reading “Case Study: Link Journalism With Publish2”
Perhaps my biggest fear about the subject for this semester’s Public Affairs for New Media class is the danger of mission creep. We’re going to be covering the state’s dropout rate, which anyone who has spent any time with the issue will tell you is not a problem isolated to single moment in a child’s life.
Reading up on the issue, it seemed that people tackled the issue in one of two ways — either as a trailing indicator with roots in pre-kindergarten or as a leading indicator of difficulties that a person will have throughout his or her life staying out of jail, holding down a job, and maintaining a family.
So we run a real danger of trying to wrap our arms around a topic that seems to be correlated to lifelong problems that begin at birth persist throughout life.
On Monday, we’re hosting our newspaper partners in Chapel Hill. We’ll find out then how they see the issue playing out in their communities. But as I educate myself on the topic and have been discussing it this week with students, here are some of the questions I have.
My question to you: What would you like to know about North Carolina’s diploma dilemma? How would you like to see us cover the issue. I welcome your comments.
Continue reading “How to Cover the Dropout Issue”
Things were a little out of rhythm all day today, with a weird snow storm that couldn’t decide whether it did or did not want to close down UNC today.
The bad news is that I didn’t get a chance to have MDC’s Richard Hart host a discussion about the N.C. dropout rate. The good news is that I had a chance to run two good live experiments in online journalism.
Continue reading “Online Class Discussions and Twittering Breaking News”
The other class I’m teaching this semester is “Newsdesk,” a capstone convergence lab class for journalism students at UNC. Here’s the syllabus.
The idea of creating an online newsroom from the ground-up has been a bit of a tough sell. I have four takers this semester.
I’m most excited about the possibility of collaborating with other classes and other local media. There is also one national partnership I’m looking forward to announcing here soon.
We kicked things off today with a discussion of how people read news online and how it is different from the way they consume news in print. I’ll be blogging more about it over the next three months. You can follow along here.
The new semester kicked off this at 9:30 this morning in CA 132 with “Public Affairs Reporting for New Media,” a new APPLES service-learning class I’m teaching.
The goal: Partner with N.C. news organizations to create a set of multimedia, interactive news reports about the state’s high school dropout rate. And since part of the class’s mission is to be a public service, I’ll be blogging from now until May 2 about the lessons we learn.
Here’s the syllabus and here’s how the first day went …
Continue reading “Public Affairs Reporting for New Media: Day 1”