Online Journalism: Fall 2010


Just another site

Reports for next week

In addition to your pitches, you will be turning in a report. It should cover the following:

1) Have a name for your site (make sure this name is not already being used)
2) Give a clear and precise two-sentence description of the site
3) Outline the audience for this site–leverage your real-world audience research, give a complete sense of who these people are and what needs you’re fulfilling with your site.
4) Discuss the social media strategy for engaging that audience.

The report should be 500-700 words and pasted into the comments of this post.


Filed under: Homework

7 Responses

  1. My website about living gluten free in the city will be called, Gluten Free Chicago. It’s purpose is to compile all of the available information that already exists on the web about being gluten free in Chicago. The site will function as a portal that directs people to where they need to go to find what they’re looking for in categories like events, restaurants, grocery stores, meetings, support groups, blogs, doctors, caterers, bakeries and important gluten free resources like the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center.
    The Celiac Sprue Association says that 1 in every 133 person in the United States has Celiac disease. So out of the 2,833,321 people living in Chicago, according an estimate by the Census Bureau in 2006, roughly 21,304 of them are living gluten free. Those people make up the audience of Gluten Free Chicago. They are those living in the city and the surrounding suburbs that struggle everyday with trying to find safe restaurants to eat in, convenient places to grocery shop and as much information and access to resources as possible. My audience is people like me, people who spend hours on Google sifting through a sea of unorganized information which could easily be collaborated and distributed in an accessible way. Also, being gluten free is ageless, so people of all ages would find this site relevant.
    A few of the big names in the gluten free world of Chicago, Betsy Thompson, who runs the most comprehensive gluten free blog in Chicago, Gluten Free Betsy, and Jennifer Cafferty, who is the founder of the Gluten Free Cooking Expo in Chicago and president of an excellent website called Gluten Free Life, have expressed a strong belief in the need for a comprehensive gluten free site. Cafferty, who runs several GIG (Gluten Intolerance Group) groups in Chicagoland, said that her members are always asking about information and if there is a place to go to find out about restaurants, stores, bakeries, etc., in the city. So far, the only answer she can give is to Google it. There is not yet one place online that incorporates all the major information available to those living gluten free. Cafferty has recently started working on a newsletter for her GIG groups that will feature, little by little, some of this relevant information, but she doesn’t have the resources or the time to turn this newsletter into an online presence.
    I believe that this needs to happen now and that our class has the ability to do it. The site will include an array of information that needs to be organized in an easily accessible way. People have suggested breaking it down into neighborhoods and suburbs and restaurants that offer specific gluten free menus or those that just cater to allergies. Also, I plan on using maps, restaurant reels and forums to help guide people through the website quickly and easily. Forums and reader comments are one of the social media tools I feel will effectively boost the site’s credibility and helpfulness. It’s impossible for us to know everything that’s going on in the city, so we can rely on readers to be our ears and eyes. Plus, they will be able to review everything from restaurants to blogs to doctors. User reviews are always something people look at so they don’t have to only take our word for it. The gluten free community is one that is very willing to share their knowledge and experience with others, so I believe that this forum/comments aspect will draw more users in.

  2. Susanne says:

    Reporting Rookies will function as a place where students (and this would be limited to only students or journalism alumni to create a space for those being trained specifically in the journalism industry) can publish journalism work done for classes and freelance work. This website would operate on a local scale – within the city and categorized by school (although ALL material from every region would be accessible to members). The site itself would be monitored by student editors – and it would be up to the discretion of these editors whether or not a story will be posted – is there a source contact list? Do the numbers and facts check out? Is the story inappropriate in terms of Journalism Ethics? Students who submit work would need to click to a term agreement before submission that states the stories are indeed accurate, true and original in addition to providing a contact list.
    This idea was spawned in a previous class when we discussed the limitations of student journalism. The entire class felt frustrated at not being able to get a foot into the “real world” of journalism. As student journalists, we write numerous articles for classes every semester, many of which meet a professional standard of work. Yet students never seem to succeed in pitching theses stories or never attempt to try. In my survey results, students continually said that they would like to see their work being utilized outside of class, but don’t have the time (or experience) to pitch to various publications. Only two of the students surveyed have actually even pitched class work. Reporting Rookies would become a foundation for students to post stories without the pressure of pitching. And, even if the story never gets picked up by a media outlet, incorporating it into your online portfolio is much more preferable to leaving it in a Magazine Article Writing folder in your book bag.
    Similar websites like ChicagoTalks already allow community members to post their own original stories, but there is no sense of engagement. Why should students post their work here? Students who have spent their college careers studying the art of journalism are sharing space with amateur bloggers on community sites such as this. Reporting Rookies would engage our audience with social networking skills on a professional level. Once signed-in, the user has access to their complete profile – they can post a resume, list previous experience and work, and create an online portfolio that displays all of their clips and postings. The member also has access to a forum where employers list internships and job opportunities for the area the member chooses (e.x. Chicago, New York, San Francisco, etc.). Stories would be rated by readers – which means they would be top priority on the page when you first come to the website (based on your news feed categorization). If a story is weak or poorly written, chances are it will not be seen by a large audience of people to the website. Major publications and news outlets within the area would be attracted to Reporting Rookies for the free work. Scouting out new writers, especially students who are willing to work as unpaid interns and gain as much experience as possible, should be very important for publications today especially in hard economic times. Media groups would also be able to post job opportunities and internships to a community of practicing journalists who have gone through or are currently completing college level work in the field of journalism.
    Members of Reporting Rookies will have a variety of social media tools to work with on the site – it will not just be a blog of content like ChicagoTalks. Each member will have a complete profile with a resume and background information. They may also list interests or areas they tend to cover. They will have the ability to create a complete portfolio that would showcase all of their clips and articles written for class, projects, internships, etc. Members could browse other profiles and view profiles of contributing writers – this will hopefully create more collaboration between student journalists. After all, networking in the journalism world is essential to success, and this includes your student peers. Reporting Rookies will be run by students for students – a place where student work can be displayed and journalistic skills taken seriously by both students and professionals.

  3. My website is A website geared towards aspiring actors in Chicago, that includes audition dates, show times, a personal portfolio to build contacts and an email account to talk with talent agencies with access to your portfolio. All of this with Actor Help Chicago guiding you every step of the way. The website will be tailored for the actor including all aspects from TV, movie, stage and even voice over. The website will be the first free universal site to include everything needed for the aspiring actor. A spot for monologues categorized by genre will be given as well as video to show how to properly perform the monologue. A section will be given for all the available audition dates for actors within the Chicago area with details of the audition. Talent agencies and scouts will be connected to the site to see your resumes and online video portfolios. There will be a sign in page with a password where you can upload your acting work whether it be a monologue on tape or you in a play or commercial, anything that will showcase your talent. Also a major part of acting is seeing it for yourself so there will be theater play dates of shows and of other acting plays going on around Chicago. It will provide the date, time, price, and location of each show. The social media strategy will be to have the online portfolio that will be looked at by talent agencies and other talents. The companies will have direct access to talents on the site with their contact information and email address if an agency wants to hire you or ask you for an audition. The other talents on the portfolio site can give feedback in an instant messanger and help you build connections, ever so important in the industry. The audience will be Chicago based actors searching for help with auditions and a place to find places to go and talent agency information with a place to put up your work including step by step guides on how to get the role. Anyone who wants to become an actor in Chicago would benefit from this site.

  4. Frank says:

    MMA has become one of the fastest growing sports in the world. Our very own city has dozens of fighters taking part in many events, and yet information on all of this is hard to find. And what sites DO already exist are difficult to navigate. My idea,, will attempt to change all this.
    The goal is quite simple; a site focusing only on the fighters, gyms, and events in the Chicagoland area.
    I’ll be honest that I don’t know how large the hardcore audience is in Chicago, but so far almost everyone I’ve talked to has at least a general knowledge of what MMA is, which is actually a vast improvement considering only 8 years ago many people were unaware the sport even existed. Now there were a few very important topics that I discussed with people. The big problem with MMA is that there are only a handful of leagues that actually have the money to extensively advertise their events. What this ultimately has done is given UFC a kind of monopoly on the sport, leaving other leagues lost in the shadow of a colossus, so to speak. Tickets to these events are incredibly expensive, and even then odds are you may only see a UFC event come to Chicago once a year. Pat Dewey, a fan of the sport I had this discussion with, believes this is what will always hold the sport back from hitting the “mainstream.” Hockey, baseball, football, and many other sports are held regularly in almost every major city in the nation, and are very affordable to watch on top of that.
    From this talk I formulated a few questions to ask people how accessible they felt MMA was. And go figure, the average response was that they get to watch UFC once or twice a month, and that’s it. This also led to them really only getting their information about fighters from the UFC website. Everyone however, said that they would show at least a little bit of interest in looking into something dedicated to their city.
    So now that we have that out of the way, how will the site work? First and foremost, it needs to be easy to navigate. The section dedicated to all the individual fighters can either be broken down alphabetically or according to their weight class (or maybe some amalgam of the two). It would contain raw information like their statistics, age, preferred style of fighting, win/lose record, etc. The section dedicated to events will most likely be divided between the leagues around the area and the gyms (gyms hold a number of small skirmishes and sparring exhibitions). Click on a league, and *boom* you get info on the next show. The homepage will be dedicated to the actual news of the sport, maybe updating people on who is doing what and where it will happen. Afterwards this news can be simply archived into the fighters’ page or the league/gym section, so that people can track news according to their interests a bit easier. I highly doubt someone would want to scroll through one huge blog-like list of news updates just to find a specific bit of info they’re looking for.
    I believe the strategy for engaging the audience should be done every way possible. Facebook and Twitter? Go for it. But honestly, I am not opposed to going places and putting flyers advertising the site on walls if need be. Maybe asking fighters featured on the site to spread the word would help the most.

  5. Chelsea says:

    Today, being both health conscious and “green” are two growing issues that are prominent in national dialogue. It is certainly a very crowded field on the Internet too, but a lot of this information is very spread out, outdated, or not easily accessible or user friendly. People like local farmers aren’t always the most tech-savvy.
    I propose a simple and user friendly website called Locavore Chicago that will focus on the local eating aspect of this lifestyle. This website will be specific to the Chicagoland area – but since this is an urban area (and we’re dealing with farming) it will include the outlying farming areas as far as Wisconsin and Michigan that already frequent the city.
    There are a few main features of the site that I am interested in building. The first is a simple, searchable farmers market locater. Type in your zip code and a listing of the nearest markets will be available. Along with this there would be a collection of short descriptions of each farmers markets so users who are looking for something specific can find what they need in a different way.
    The second feature is a forum feature – conversation and connection is really important and this will be a great way to help that. People who are new to this idea will be able to ask questions of people who are experts – and get real, sound answers here. News about local eating can also be brought up and discussed here. Recipes can be posted here as well, and there will be a recipe of the week picked from suggested recipes collected here.
    The third is a CSA connection section. A CSA is essentially a share of a farm that a consumer can purchase, and so this would be similar to the farmers market listing, where people can find what CSA would be best for them based on location, their preferred method of retrieval, organic/non-organic, etc.
    Of course there is more extensive information out there that is relevant and helpful to the user as well as what our site offers, so we will link out to these sites whenever possible. The Local Beet, another website dealing with this topic has some blogs that we could link to for more conversation.
    The last feature is a listing of year round markets and grocers that provide locally grown products. Again, similar to the other searches, here you can find an interactive list of places near you that cater to this eating habit and lifestyle.

  6. Nick Myers says:

    Nick Myers
    Online Journalism

    Website Pitch: Chicago Honorary Street Signs

    The website I would like to pitch would be called Chicago Honorary Street Signs. The site would be a searchable database of all honorary street signs in the city with a history and background on each person or institution honored. The site would encourage user interaction with a comments box for each entry, which would allow outside information contribution for further updates to each entry similar to a Wiki forum.

    The main audience for this site is Chicago history enthusiasts and experts. Through my research I have found that the overall response to such a site is positive. In order to keep the information sources credible, the site would likely be paired up with a city of Chicago municipal department and/or a local historical institution. This would help with verification of information in each post. However, as per recommendations I have received and from researching other Chicago history blogs and sites, there would be various forums for user interaction and input on the site. This would include a comments box for each post and a comments box for the main page of the site for general feedback. Information contributions could be submitted and once verified would be added to the information posted similar to a Wiki site. Chicago Honorary Street Signs would also have a Twitter and Facebook account to further community of interest interaction.

    Chicago history enthusiasts would find this site a unique, engaging tool and source of information. Such a site, database, or even a simple list of the honorary street signs has never been available, and there is an interest if such a database existed. It is a forum promoting user interaction that would be another tool for connecting its’ community of interest and promote the sharing of information. The main hurdle would be the verification of information on the site as correct and from credible sources.

    Chicago history enthusiasts have many online sites and blogs for information at present. This site would link to these other sites and therefore have a level of interconnectedness with the community of interest. Chicago Honorary Street Signs would be a site where Chicago history would exist in the present and bring relevance to the user as each sign exists in the present, yet has a story behind it. This site would fulfill a need for a database of these honorary streets as one has never been attempted before. It would bring this information out of the Chicago municipal archives and allow it to exist in the open for the public. This is fulfilling a need for information- a consistent concern for any Chicago history enthusiast.

    The site would use social media tools by containing relevant links and promoting user interaction through comments boards, Wiki-style user contributions and Facebook and Twitter accounts. The links would be very important as other local blogs and sites dedicated to Chicago history would be linked to from the information posted on the database. This would help with page rank in searches and further foster the online Chicago histoProxy-Connection: keep-alive
    Cache-Control: max-age=0

    community of interest.

  7. Stephanie A. Caspelich says:


    SITE DESCRIPTION: Farming in Chicago will address the growing need and demand for nutritious and sustainable food sources by reporting on urban farming and gardening techniques that are already helping change the city’s food landscape. The site will provide urban agriculture enthusiasts-beginners and experts alike-with the information, resources and networks necessary to support the growth of this trend especially in Chicago’s underserved neighborhoods (“food deserts”).

    Farming in Chicago’s target audience will consist of experienced urban farmers/gardeners, the local food industry (restaurant owners, farmer’s markets, etc…) and just about anyone interested in creating sustainable food sources in an urban environment. The site hopes to attract local government, local advisory councils, community activists, community organizations and neighborhood support by featuring existing urban farms/gardens (e.g. City Farm in the Cabrini-Green, Gold Coast area) and the people (e.g. Will Allen, founder of Growing Power Inc.) and business establishments (e.g. Rick Bayless’ Frontera Grill and Topolobampo) who endorse and promote them; site reporting will also focus on the economic, ecological and health benefits of urban farming/gardening.

    Most of the people I interviewed were concerned about the lack of nutritious food sources in their West Side and South Side neighborhoods. According to Carolyn Thomas, founder of the urban farms and gardens in Roseland, Englewood and the South Side area called God’s Gang, residents are tired of the usual fast food and are looking for places other than Wal-Mart or their local food mart to shop for food. A study by Mari Gallagher shows 23 neighborhoods in Chicago (mostly in the West Side and South Side) have been designated as “food deserts,” places with no or distant grocery stores but an abundance of fast food restaurants and other retail outlets offering little or no nutritious food. Thomas was concerned that since there is a lack of consolidation among urban farming/gardening groups, people in Chicago are generally unaware of places (e.g. Austin, Englewood, etc…) that need urban farms/gardens.

    Seamus Ford, founder of Root-Riot and co-founder of the Harambee garden in Austin, said people in his neighborhood of Oak Park and Austin are generally interested in food and the process of growing it themselves, but are apprehensive about starting a farm/garden because they don’t know how. Ford said it is important to make people aware of urban farming/gardening initiatives because it helps bring communities together in a way that will be beneficial to all. Ford believes urban agriculture will provide communities (especially in underserved areas) with a sustainable source of food and a good source of income.

    Based on information retrieved from existing urban gardens and farms, urban agriculture educators and residents, I decided the site should incorporate the following information: training and resources for everyone interested in urban agriculture (e.g. links to websites of existing gardens, blogs on urban agriculture, articles or sources of scientific information on farming, etc…); networking features that will address the basic startup needs of underserved community members by putting up a message board or link for people to share gardening tools (or land) in order to start an urban garden or farm; reporting that will feature updates on ongoing farming/garden projects and innovative farming and gardening techniques in the city.

    The site’s social media strategy would be to try to advertise its presence on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and link to as many existing local urban gardening/farming websites or blogs as possible. I would also submit stories to local newspaper sites online like Chicago Journal, Austin Weekly News, Southtown Star, etc…in order to attract attention from the local communities. It would also help for key players/figures in the local urban agriculture scene to cite Farming in Chicago in their blogs or articles.

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