Wrapping up before spring break

You have two deadlines before leaving for spring break. They are both at midnight this Friday, March 1, though of course you may finish your work well before then.

1. Your video project. It looks like all of you are well on your way to making a good three- to five-minute news video. Many of you are close to being done and could finish in class on Friday. By deadline, please finish your video, publish it to YouTube (we’ll go over that in class), embed the video in your blog and write a brief post about it.

Our lab is open on Friday from 2 to 5 p.m. If there is any demand for it, I will keep it open when I get back to Northeastern at 5 and allow people to continue to work. I can do on-the-spot critiques as well.

2. Your blog. I will be giving you a first-half blog grade over spring break. This will be a comprehensive assessment taking into account everything we’ve talked about so far. As you know, the goal is to write two or three posts a week, which includes posts related to your beat as well as class assignments. They don’t all have to be 250- to 350-word show-stoppers. Some can be quite short. I will be looking at the following in determining a grade:

  • The ability to seek out good, interesting topics for your blog, especially in posts related to your beat.
  • Quality of writing, including grammar, spelling and consistency of style. If you are someone who needs help writing clear, grammatical English, then please seek it out. By “consistency of style,” I mean that if you are not following AP style, I at least expect to see a consistent approach to such things as the names of television shows, abbreviations and the like.
  • Strong headlines. We’re not worried about search-engine optimization in this class except to acknowledge that it exists. Aim for interesting, informative headlines. “Class Assignment: Mary Knox Merrill” is not an interesting headline. (I’m just making that up. If any of you actually wrote that headline, I’m not picking on you.)
  • Good linking practices. I can’t imagine writing a blog post without at least one link, and I would think you could manage three or more in most of your posts. Remember, your aim is to act as a trusted guide for your audience on whatever your beat happens to be. Aggregation and curation means that you are going out and finding stuff.
  • At least one category and several tags with every post — no exceptions. Categories are how you organize your blog. Tags are how Google finds your posts.
  • Use of art. Finding pictures related to your posts that you are legally free to use makes a blog much better than one that’s mostly text. Be sure to give proper credit when using photos from Wikimedia Commons and Creative Commons.
  • A blogroll with at least five links to sites that you use in order to blog about your beat.
  • Appearance. That doesn’t mean I’m going to critique the WordPress theme that you chose. It does mean that I’m going to look at the general execution. If the formatting has gone wrong, if pictures look lousy, and you don’t know what to do about it, ask me before I start my assessment.
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