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

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Blog essay assignment

When you're not blogging, or looking up terms today:
Work on your blog essay.
Your first paragraph is due Tuesday, handed in.
Post three online sources for your essay as comments below, by end of class today.
What is first sentence of your essay?
We'll also review your blogs today.

Blog terms, part 3

 More terms you should know:

Term not listed before or below: clickbait
  1. Reverse type
  2. RSS 
  3. SEO 
  4. Search engine
  5. Search engine optimization 
  6. Serif 
  7. Sans Serif
  8. Sidebar 
  9. Spam
  10. Subscribe
  11. Tag
  12. Technorati 
  13. Template
  14. twitter 
  15. Typography
  16. URL
  17. Vlog 
  18. Wordpress

Monday, February 23, 2015

Weather day--Read this.

UCO doesn't open until 11 am tomorrow.
But Bloggers--many of you commute a long way to UCO and the roads may still be hazardous.
I will not take roll tomorrow. You do not have to be in class. All you have to do is post something on your blog by 11:30. I will be reading and checking. You are free to do this from home or wherever.
I will be in class for those of you who want to come and can't stand not to share my wit and wisdom.
You are also just three weeks from having your blog essay done, and you should have contacted your blogger you're going to adopt by now.

Incidentally, several of you have already lost points that cannot be made up because you have not posted enough. While this is a laid back class, I do read and count your posts. I don't babysit and won't nag you.

Be safe

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Blog terms, part 2

Do you know these? Look them up today (testable).
  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

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Thursday's agenda

1. Review and critique of your blogs
2. More blog terms

On the future of journalism, by a master

"The ability to do journalism, to reach audiences, has never been better. I like your odds. I do,” David Carr said, while giving the 2014 commencement address at the University of California, Berkeley, Graduate School of Journalism. Photo by Kevin Hume, New York Times
David Carr, media columnist for the New York Times, died last week...a huge loss.
Here's a posthumous column written about him and his advice to students, plus his syllabus at Boston University, where he was a guest professor.
Read this today.
The Media Equation
Click on his syllabus.
Press Play syllabus
Comment below, today:
1. What about his advice  resonates with you?
2. What is your reaction to his course syllabus? How is it different from what you're used to?

Blog terms, part 1

To be a blogger, you have to speak the language.
Here are the first of several terms you need to know (testable). Look them up today
  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

Blog interview guide

In your email to your blogger,  I suggest some form of the following:

I'm a senior (major) student at the University of Central Oklahoma studying blogging in media.
For my class assignment, want to report on your blog and would appreciate it if you could answer a few questions for me.
I have a few questions I'd like to ask you, and your answers are vital to  my class presentation later this semester. The questons I'd like to ask follow. Would it be possible to have your answers by (date)?

Please let me know by (date) if you can do this.

Thank you very much,

Essay Requirements

  • Organization:
  1. Intro, thesis statement
  2. What your views are, citing weblinks.
  3. Conclusion

  • To be typed in 12 point, Times New Roman font. double-spaced. One side of the paper.
  • This essay is worth 100 points.
  • Warning--A misspelled word costs you 50 points. If I find one, I quit grading, give you a 50 and an F.
  • Grammar, punctuation, other errors cost five points each.
  • No fancy covers. First page, your name, Title of paper, and start writing. Staple pages together. List links and other sources separately at end of essay.
  • You will also submit the paper as an attachment to, so that I can submit it to for plagiarism check, if I think necessary.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

When blogging becomes a slog

Read this article from the New York Times,  on this link: When Blogging Becomes a Slog

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, February 10, 2015

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.)

Monday, February 9, 2015

Blog adoption guidelines

1. By 5 p.m. Wednesday, search and  post below the names of two blogs, and urls that you might adopt. For discussion in class  Thursday, I will ask you "Why?"
2. Blog adoption guidelines for second half of semester:

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

Presentations will start March 31

  • 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 (24 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

1. By 5 pm Wednesday, Feb. 11, 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__________________________.

2. Also: list three probable links as sources to your essay.

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

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Next week's assignments--Be thinking

By the end of next week...
  1. You will have chosen a topic for your midterm blog essay
  2. You will have chosen a blogger to "adopt" and report on the second half of the semester.
These two assignments are not related.
Guidelines soon on both.
The syllabus says:
  • 500-word essay on blogs in today’s world.
  • Following an professional blog in your area, with blog report, presentation.
Plus--we will be reviewing each blog .

Making your blog shine

Read this article on making your blog shine.Ten Ways

Comment below, today, one thing you learned

Blogging and your future-- Comments from students

I got this Facebook message recently

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 last 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

Getting "ahead" in blogging

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?

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?

 Ive 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 article?
  • 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 will appear in the February, 2014, issue of The Oklahoma Publisher, the statewide newspaper of the Oklahoma Press Assocaition, under "Clark's critique).

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Must reads on this link

For Thursday, Bloggers:

Writing for your blog

Your attention span is about this

So writing for a blog should be too.
Otherwise your readers' eyes will go

So how do you write well for a blog?
Nothing new, just more emphasis.

  • Short words, 
  • Short sentences, 
  • Short paragraphs.
  • Grab readers' attention with a strong first sentence
  • Get to the point
  • Break up longer blogs of copy with things like bullets, or caps, or bold face type
  • Be specific with details
  • Have fun (did you ever see that point in previous instructions on writing?)
Ask yourself:
  • What am I trying to say?
  • What words will be express it?
              (George Orwell, Politics and the English Language)
  1. Read these 12 tips from Writers' Digest
  2. Read this in depth analysis from ProBlogger
  3. Read tips from author of Blogging for Dummies about:
Today--Post something on your blog, about how you're going to write for your subject, addressing your readers.
Comment below the most important thing you learned from these articles/links: