Official blog of Clark's Blogging for Journalists class, Mass Communication department

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Suggestions for next semester

Do you have recommendations  for changes to next semester's class?
Additions, subtractions, other ideas?
Comment below today pleas.e

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

"9 o'clock sharp"--To blog or not to blog

"I'll be there at 9 o'clock sharp," she e-mailed me yesterday.
She, a UCO student I didn't know, had asked to interview me on a news story about ten reasons to blog, for the student newspaper, The Vista.
I told her my office hours were from 9 to noon today, and that was her reply--which got my attention.
A student who wants an "early" appointment? A student who says "sharp"?
And at 8:59.30 this morning, she comes down the hall.
After shaking hands, firmly, and as she puts down her backpack and takes out a notebook, I begin my usual barrage of questions: "What's your major?" "What do you want to do for a career?" "Where are you from?" "Do you blog?" and so on. 
(She's a sophomore from Edmond, likes to write, and radio, but doesn't want to be in front of a camera, and still doesn't know exactly what she wants to do.)
Then in response to her question about ten reasons to blog, I tell her
"I've never had that question before," She smiles. 
"I don't know," I say, and the smile wavers.
"But you got me to thinking, and here is a list of reasons to blog and not to blog," and I hand her the list below.
In the next 20 minutes she keeps taking notes as we talk about my blogging class, twitter, journalism and more. Her questions are quick, specific and direct, sometimes asking me why I answered a certain way.
At the end she asks if she can contact me if she has more questions, and the answer is "Of course."
She gathers her backpack, we shake hands as she smiles, and she's on her way.
"Nine o'clock sharp," and she was.
Kateleigh Mills made my day. 
Thanks to her, here's the list of Clark's reasons to blog or not to blog:
“Content is king—technology is the servant”—Terry M. Clark

  • Six reasons to blog--

  1. You need a quality digital “footprint” to get a start on a career in the highly competitive communication field. A blog can be part of that—I have former students whose blogs helped get them jobs.
  2. You have a passion and something original you want to say that can be sustained over time.
  3. You can write grammatically correct sentences,  enjoy writing and can organize your thinking.
  4. You are willing to work at it because quality blogging takes a lot of preparation and time.
  5. You enjoy learning and change because blogging is always changing.
  6. You have an eye for effective design and readability.

  • Six reasons not to blog--

  1. You can’t write a grammatically correct sentence punctuated correctly.
  2. You only want to rant, gripe or whine about a specific subject.
  3. You have no passion or nothing to say.
  4. You are just blogging because you think you should.
  5. You’re lazy and don’t want to put in the time.
  6. You don't really want a career in communication.

Your assignment:  Add one reason to blog, or not to blog in a comment below, by 12:20 p.m. today!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Class dismissed Oct. 22

Presentations start next week

Grading your presentation

2015 Blogging/ Name__________________
Blog reviewed ______________________________________________
100 points
URL ________________________________________
5 points--1.     History of blog How long blogging? Why? Changes? Growth? 
1          2          3          4          5
15 points--2.     Facts of the blog Who is the blogger? (Age, profession, etc.)Purpose, Does it make money?   Geographic location? 
1          2          3          4          5
10 points--3.     Statistics  Followers, hits. etc.
1          2          3          4          5
10 points--4.     Unique In what ways?
1          2          3          4          5
10 points--5.     Strengths, weaknesses
1          2          3          4          5
10 points--6.      Advice of blogger (-20 percent if not contacted)
1          2          3          4          5
10 points--7.     Influence and ideas
How influence your blogging?
What ideas did you get?
5 points--8. Scroll through screen, illustrate
5 points--9. One page outline, including your name, blog name, url  to class,
15 points--10--3 page summary paper to Clark and post your paper on your blog, under, What I've learned
5 points--11. Overall presentation quality, time

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

What should you gain from a university?

Read this New York Times column today, from David Brooks, The Big University.

What is your reaction? Do you get that here at UCO? Should you? Comment below today.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

End of semester calendar

No class--Oct. 8, Oct. 13, Nov. 12, Nov. 26.
Last day of class--Dec. 3
Presentations begin--Oct. 27
No class Oct. 22
Oct. 27--Taylor,
Oct. 29--Jensen, Kristen, Ryan
Nov. 3--Blaze, Breanna, Rylee
Nov. 5--Matt, Aaron
Nov. 10--Ashley, Timothy
Nov. 17--Allie, Candice
Nov.19--Blakely, Melissa
Nov. 24--Grace, Addam

Ethics paper guidelines

Here is your assignment:
Attend  the Media Ethics sessions Wednesday or Thursday next week.
What did you find that applied to you and blogging media?
Turn in a 200-250-word paper by Oct. 13--paper only , no email

  1.  Two sentence summary of subject. List session attended
  2. Is there any application of the subject to blogging media?
  3. Why or why not? Should there be? Explain and defend your position?
  4. What was the strongest part of the sessions you attended? The weakest? Why?
Guidelines: Stapled, name on top. No fancy covers.
Double spaced, use a serif font.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

International festival

Due to the size of the international festival over the past couple of years, we have outgrown the UCO ballrooms and will be moving the festival to the Edmond Farmers Market this year. We are also inviting the Edmond Public Schools culture clubs and international students from Oklahoma Christian University to participate this year to make the festival even bigger. The festival will take place on November 12th from 3:00-7:00 PM.

Blog essay due

Tuesday, Oct. 13. On paper. No email.

Media ethics conference

The conference is Oct. 7-8. Here's the schedule.
Check it today--which session will you attend? You will report your reaction to, or summary of, on it, either in a 250 word  paper, or on your blog by Oct. 13.
Comment below today, which one you intend to attend.

Why a journalism degree is still a good idea?

Scroll to page 2 of this link and read Jeff Funk's column. Agree, disagree? Why? Comment below.
Oklahoma Publisher

Monday, September 28, 2015

Blogging job

The Dallas Morning News is looking for a new Oklahoma sports blogger to cover football and men’s basketball for
The job entails covering all aspects of the team, including aggregating local and national content, transcribing radio interviews, providing analysis and covering games and breaking news.
The ideal candidate is an Oklahoma student or recent grad who has a strong grasp of AP style and news judgment. A flair for writing clickable headlines is a must, as is fair and balanced reporting. Deadline writing and the ability to turn around breaking news quickly is an essential requirement of the job. Candidates must be willing to blog during weekends and nights and attend media availability.
The blogger, who is expected to write about 30 articles per month, will begin in early October, and work through May 31, 2016. Pay is $300 per month. There also will be opportunities to have stories featured in the print edition of The Dallas Morning News.
Email cover letter, resume and a variety of writing samples by Sept. 30 to Tommy Magelssen at

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Grading your posts

Each of your blog posts are evaluated based on the following criteria:
1. Minimum of 15 for a C
2. Consistency--at least one or two a week (up to 20 points each)
3. Original content, not just cut and paste (60 percent)
4. Writing quality(10 percent)
5. Length--just a few words and or photos and minimum effort are not sufficient (25 percent)
6. Timeliness (5 percent)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Tools for your blog

Things to consider. Browse Today

Blog writing--show, don't tell

Clark's Advice
       Know the reader

       Grab his attention

       Make it interesting

       Short sentences, paragraphs

       Organize with reader in mind

       Write to express, not impress

       Tell a story

       Have fun

       If I wrote my story without notes, what would it say?

       Concise structure

       Goes for drama

       Specific details


       Paints pictures

       Varies sentence strength

       Paragraph control


       If the reader took a test, what do I want him to remember?

How does your blog writing measure up?
Read Show, Don't Tell, and comment below something you learned that will improve your writing.

Thursday, September 17, 2015


1. First paragraph of blog essay (including thesis statement), handed in at 12:30, next Thursday Sept. 24.
2. Contact made  with blog adoption, checked in class Tuesday, Sept. 29

On the future of journalism, by a master

 David Carr of the New York Times died earlier this year. Read this story:

Here's his Boston University  syllabus. 

Comment below, briefly.

1. Any advice resonate with you?
2. How is his syllabus different from what you're used to?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

What have you learned so far?

What stands out about what you've learned about blogging so far? One sentence comment below. Today.

How much you will earn

Choice of college affects earnings
Read this from the NY Times, if you wish

Blog terms to know part 2

  1. guest blogging
  2. header
  3. hit
  4. home page
  5. html
  6. hyperlink
  7. keyword
  8. imbed
  9. link
  10. link bait
  11. lurker
  12. microblogging
  13. multiuser blog
  14. newbie
  15. niche
  16. page view
  17. permalink
  18. podcast
  19. post
  20. profile

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Blog terms to know

To be a blogger, you have to speak the language.
Do you know about Webopedia?
Here are the first of several terms you need to know (testable). Look them u.
  1. Archive
  2. Attribution
  3. Blog
  4. Blog carnival
  5. Blog host
  6. Blog post
  7. Blog statistics
  8. Blogger
  9. Blogging software
  10. Blogosphere
  11. Browser
  12. Blogroll
  13. Comment moderation
  14. Comment policy
  15. Dashboard
  16. Domain Name
  17. Feed
  18. Feed reader
  19. Footer
  20. Forum
  21. FTP

You Tube on your blog?

Read if you wish this link

When blogging becomes a slog

Read this New York Times article

Comment below, today

1. What did you learn about blogging from this article?
2. What is the importance of passion and love in blogging?
3. Your suggestions on how could the problem be avoided? 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Getting "ahead" in blogging, and labels

When I started writing a monthly newspaper trade column almost 20 years ago, the Internet was relatively new, as was email. There were no blogs, no Facebook, no Instagram, no twitter. Digital cameras were high priced. 

I remember teaching headline writing in classes and for the Oklahoma Press Association.  At the time, I always said the headline was the most important element on a page, because it accomplished four different chores at once. They grab attention, tell the story, rate the news, and help dress up your pages.

Today, there are still headlines, and all of that is still true. 
But while the way we write headlines has changed dramatically with digital type—rather than having to “count” spaces, we just tap a key to reduce or enlarge sizes to fit, they’re more important than ever.

In fact, they accomplish even more. Ever hear of SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?  Of course you have. 
Tell me,  isn’t that what a good headline has always been?
(That's also why you need to put labels after each post...they help your readers search for your ideas, and increase SEO) 

And today, as our attention spans get shorter and shorter thanks to digital media and the explosion of speed delivering news in all media, they’re crucial to attracting impatient, hurried, distracted-by-other-media readers.

I just “read” the New York Times this morning. How? By scanning the headlines on the computer.  Check any other news outlet on line. People scan the headlines and expect to come away with a general sense of what has happened. We’ll go back and read the ones we want more information in later. All the Internet search engines spend lots of money trying to come up with catchy headlines to attract you to their pages, and thus boost ad hits. 
Nothing new, is it, except the media and the speed?

 I’ve found I need to teach my blogging students how to write “headlines” on their blog posts. I took it for granted until I found my blog traffic going up depending on the words in the headlines, and that most of my students had no clue. 
All those old headline practices and tips that I’ve taught, or written about in the past have changed with the digital world. To me, there are only two rules in headline writing these days: 
Be accurate. Don’t be boring.

They are one important key to attracting readers to your posts.

So, here’s a brief how-to checklist on writing  headlines, in any media, especially blogs.

  • What’s the key point of the post?
  • What will most appeal to your readers?
  • Make a list of the strongest, most concrete nouns and verbs
  • Have you chosen words that are trending in search engines?
  • Use action verbs when possible
  • Use short words   
  •  Look for anything unusual 
  •   Is there any play on words you can use to heighten interest?
  • Use the shortest words possible 
  • Use the biggest type you can (for print version)
  • Use consistent legible type (no fancy fonts)
  • Get to the point early
  • More label heads are ok—one or two strong words—with or without a verb (Let a subhead add essential details)
  • Edit—ask yourself if you can write it more briefly
Students: check the headlines on your posts and see how they measure up.
Below, comment on one thing you will improve.
(A version of this article appeared in The Oklahoma Publisher, the statewide newspaper of the Oklahoma Press Assocaition, under "Clark's critique).

Your blog adoption guidelines

This assignment is not related to the blog essay

By 5 p.m. Monday, search and  post below the names of two blogs, and urls that you might adopt. For discussion in class  Tuesday, I will ask you "Why?"
Blog adoption guidelines for second half of semester (100 points, 10% of grade):

“We want a sense of what makes this blog effective, and to learn from the blogger’s experience.”

Presentations will start Oct. 22--we set presentation schedule Oct. 6,

  • You must show the blog visually in your presentation, scroll through it and discuss.
  • You must interview the blogger, by email or on the phone. I recommend you contact them soon to make sure they know what you're doing. Last minute, "they did not respond" doesn't cut it
  • If you cannot make contact, you will need to choose a different blog.
  • One page outline of main points handed to every member of class and professor (23 total) while discussing it:
  • List the Name and url of the blog.

1.     History of the blog—

a.     How long blogging?

b.     Who is the blogger? (Age, profession, etc.)

c.      Purpose?

d.     Geographic location?

e.     Number of followers?

f.      Does it make money?

g.  Why do they blog?

2.     What makes this blog unique?

3.     What are its strengths?

4.     What are its weaknesses?

5.     What is the advice of the blogger?

6.     What do you like and dislike?, and why

7.     What did you gain that influences you and your blog?

  • You will post your presentation outline on your blog, with a screenshot of the blog.

Your blog essay begins

By the Wednesday at 5 pm--select two possible ideas for your midterm blog essay for discussion in class Thursday. Post below.

1. Then, you will choose a topic  and you will have completed the following sentence and commented below.

This is an essay about (Subject) and it is interesting because ____________________. My thesis (the main point of the paper that I'm supporting with my sources) is__________________________. Post below by end of class.

2. Also: list three probable links as sources and be ready to explain them in class  by 5 p.m. Monday, Sept. 14.

Potential organization (outline) :
1. Introductory paragraph, what the subject, problem, focus is. ending with your thesis statement.
(Example: "Blogging has changed the way newspapers have covered the news.")
2. Two or three paragraphs, citing sources to back up your thesis. 
3. A short concluding paragraph
4. List of links for your sources

Essay will be due Oct. 6. 100 points (10 percent of grade)

    Blogging right along

    Explore these links. Spend at least 10 minutes on each site. Find something new about blogging that interests you and comment below, by end of class today.
    (If you're serious about blogging, join blogoklhoma.)

    Thursday, September 3, 2015

    Follow this blog (for ideas, don't buy anything)

    Sue's Successful Blogging Blog

    Next week

    Your blog paper
    Your blog adoption

    Why journalism skills are more important that ever

    Read and follow this blog:
    Gannett Newsroom of the Future

    Find something that is applicable to you, and comment below, or write about on your blog today.

    Improving your blog

    10 Ways to Make Your Blog Shine

    Read this article on blogging. How does yours measure up? Comment below today.

    Blogging advice from former students

    Blogging and your future

    I got this Facebook message earlier this year:

    Dr Clark, just wanted to pass along some info I think your students might want to know. If you're still doing the blogging class, I found another reason it is important. 
    First though, let them know they can start writing for cash right now. Freelancer, oDesk, eLance and such do pay the inexperienced like me. I started at $5 for 500 words, but was up to $15 for 500 in under 6 months. Through my Freelancer job, I got an offer to write for Mojo Motors, $30 an article. Not a bad rate for something that I enjoy and takes a little over an hour. Then, based on my work at that job, last week I got an email from Jalopnik (Gawker Media). They've asked me to work with Volvo on a series of articles promoting new cars. $250 each. I can deal with that. 
    I almost didn't get the assignment, because I don't have a blog up of my work, and she couldn't find me online. Please stress to them the importance of getting their presence out there now. And they can write for cash now, if they're willing to work for peanuts at first.
    --Andy Jensen
     I got this email earlier this year:

    Dr. Clark,

    I wanted to take a moment to thank you for the comment you posted on my NewOK story and for tweeting out my success. Being published on the largest local forum meant a great deal to me, and I give much credit to you for helping me achieve it (You don't know how my inner dialogue screams 'Verbs! Verbs!' at me whenever I write!).

    So, again, thank you.

    I also wanted to share something interesting with you, that maybe you can pass on to to future blogging classes.

    Like I'm sure many people wonder while taking a class based around blogging, one of the biggest questions I had was 'How can this skill actually help me make money?'  I got my answer by accident, actually, when I was looking to get my foot in the door at The Oklahoman and stumbled upon the job I now have.

    "Content Marketing," the ad read.  I thought I'd give it a shot, hoping to meet the right people that could get me into news.

    When I interviewed for the position, I was a little freaked by how much of my online history had been analyzed (a good lesson in how important Facebook and Twitter etiquette can be).  Old blog posts, website contributions and a bunch of other online traces of me were brought up.  The good thing, though, was that because I'd done so much of that (in a clean manner), the interview was more like a recruiting session -- they felt they had to have me more than I needed them.

    Now, my job mainly consists of blogging -- blogging for clients, blogging to build lesser-known websites, blogging for myself even. And I'm nowhere near alone in this. The department I work in employs about 10 people like myself, as well as four or five specialty bloggers. To put it lightly: blogging is huge.

    So, I wanted to share this with you in case that cliched "When am I going to use this in the real world?" question ever came up. You can tell them 'em that, odds are, they'll use it a lot.

    Thanks again -- for everything.

    George Darkow

    Tuesday, September 1, 2015

    Type Wars

    Face off!
    Font Fight!

    Blog checklist

    By now, your blog should have
    1. Title
    2. explanation (what this blog is about--optional)
    3. Your photo
    4. Your bio
    5. Blog archive
    6. Date of each blog post at top of post
    7. Introductory blog post
    8. Starting on this week's blog post--talk about the type you're using, or?

    Are you my type?

    Doesn't matter what you post if people can't read it, or if it's hard to read. Your job is to make it easy.

     Read today, for Thursday class:

    Also check

    2. How does the type measure up on your blog? One good thing, one weakness? Comment below by 5 pm Wednesday.

    Read  this:

    Clark’s Guide to

    Readable Typography for Blogs

    (Or anything, for that matter)

    1.         Serif—Easiest to read
    2.         Sans Serif—harder to read the smaller it is or the more of it there is
    3.           Most body type should be about 12 point in size

    4.           Script is hard to read--invitations only

    5.           Italic is hard to read


        Only Center Type
    on invitations
    and titles,
    not on body copy


    8.                  REVERSE TYPE 
    should be at a
    And bold
    And small san serif 
    is hard to read
    As is colored type
    on reverse  
    10.             Screens can make type hard to read

    Especially over sans serif

    Or heavy and colored screens

    11.               Weak colors disappear

    12.               Colored type isn’t as effective
    As black type, or dark type on a light background

    13.      Don’t  Mix Lots of Type Faces

    14.            Stick with a few
                      that are compatible