Online Journalism: Fall 2010

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Presentations & Report for Friday!!

As we approach the end of class, it’s important that we check in on your site as you prepare to populate it with content (or, in the case of the content that’s already there, evaluate its value). It is also a time to strongly consider the presentation of the site itself, and to fine-tune the look & feel, because content is only as good as the site that showcases it. And it’s also crucial, of course, that you consider audience at every juncture as well.

The format for this presentation will be similar to our last, with slides and a group presentation. However at this point you should also be able to walk us through various aspects of your site itself, and be able to answer questions about the content and the look/feel of the site overall. Because of this, we will reserve the end of your presentation for a walkthrough of the site–the actual site itself, NOT a prototype. Prepare one of your team members to “drive” this walkthrough, taking over the projection computer. Map out what it is you want to talk about and highlight, however, so that your presentation remains professional and succinct.

As with last time, you will give both a presentation and hand in a report, signed by all group members.

presentation & report

The Site Idea and its Relationship to Content
–Be as succinct and clear as possible. Start with a one or two-sentence description of the site.
–Succinctly, how does content fulfill that mission?
–In other words: why are you featuring what you’re featuring?

The Content Itself
–What types of content do you see regularly appearing on your site? And why?
–What kinds of media will you employ for this content?
–Social media: What’s your strategy? Why? How?
–How do you plan on grouping the various content types?
–In other words, what are the various sections or categories on your site?
–How do these categories work to clearly state at a hierarchical level what your site is all about?
–Give seven specific examples of content currently on your site and ten specific examples of content still to come.

Content and its Relationship to Audience
This is important, so I will bold it: invite five members of your targeted audience to preview your site. Get as much feedback as you can from them regarding the content. For this section include bios/info about the people you talked with for the report and give their specific feedback there. In your presentation include photographs of these people interacting with your site.
–Who is the audience you are targeting and why? BE SPECIFIC.
–What content do you think they are looking for online, and why would they come to you to get it?
–How did you come to this conclusion?
–When you previewed your site to audience members, what was their reaction to the content?
–How did they feel it could improve?
–What other content did they feel could go in the site?
–What other feedback did they get?

Look & Feel
–Why does your site look the way it does?
–How does your site classify and display content?
–How can a user access the various pieces of content–is there a menu system that makes sense?
–How does the way your site looks compliment the content?

Walkthrough

The walkthrough of your site should highlight the following:
–demonstrate the way that a user would access various content types
–highlight some of the unique ways your site is presenting its content
–show off your site’s look & feel and explain why it works the way it does
–demonstrate the categories your content falls into

Slides

Your slides should correspond to the major sections of your presentation. Create as many as you see fit.

Your presentation should be no longer than 10 minutes, including the walkthrough.

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Filed under: Homework

Call To Action Reports!

Please put your Calls to Action in the comments of this post.

To review: 3 main calls to action, written 3 ways.
3 secondary calls to action, written 2 ways.

Filed under: Homework

For next week: Kill “hello world” with real content!

So you’ve all been given the keys to the WordPress car, and just enough gas to get you rolling. So roll! You need to accomplish a few things next week:

1) Kill the default settings: get a theme that works for your site installed, kill the “just another wordpress blog,” switch the view over to a static page if that makes more sense for your content (it probably does), install plugins that flesh out your page. Tweak CSS. Make things happen.

2) Kill the default content with REAL CONTENT for your site. Starting this week and rolling through the next few weeks, you’re required to produce FOUR pieces of content for your site a week (that’s for groups of 3… our lone group of 4, you needs FIVE pieces).

Filed under: Homework

Group Work: Data & Audience reports

All three of these sites live and die by the data they can collect. Whether it’s street signs, urban farms, or gluten-free locations, there is data and information that is crucial to your audience. How are you going to collect that data, in a way that’s going to be sustainable and achievable? What methods can you use? Where can you turn online? Where can you turn in the real world? Explain what your primary data is, what it consists of, and how you collect it and maintain it.

Also, all of your sites facilitate the obsessions of your users, but in different ways. You need to be able to engage with them in a way that will keep them coming back and will create the core discussions you want to foster. Who are the people that are coming to your site–-no more ifs, who are they really and what do they do when they get on there, how do they interact with each other, and what value do they add to the site and does the site add for them? What keeps them engaged and coming back?

Answer these two questions fully and completely in a report to be turned in next week. All of your team members must sign this report.

PS. Don’t forget your Twitter report and your deep dive!

Filed under: Homework

Next Week: Deep Dive Assignment is Due!

As we discussed in class on October 29, the idea of a “deep dive”–a story that includes a series of links to additional reading and broader topics–is an important one when thinking about presenting journalism on the web. The idea of the journalist of curator of the vastness of the web is an important one.

Your Deep Dive page needs to be about a topic currently in the news, needs to incorporate a paragraph or two introducing/explaining the subject–this is original writing by you–and then needs to include at least three additional “dives” into the subject matter, dives built by links to additional stories/information/pages. It goes without saying that it should be coded in HTML and styled with CSS.

Here’s an example of the Kutiman deep dive I demoed in class: http://pastie.org/1275223

Also, incorporate some widgets/code from external sites to flesh out and bring dynamic content to your Deep Dive. Here’s a link to the example page we built in class: http://pastie.org/1258837

As with the first hand-coding assignment, please use Pastie to capture your code. Paste a link to that pastie URL, along with a few sentences introducing your dive, into the comments of this post.

Filed under: Homework

Presentations, Hi-Rez Prototypes, & Reports for next week!

NEXT WEEK is our first of two graded check-ins on your group site. This check-in will accomplish two things: introduce the idea and the audience/community for your site, and demonstrate a hi-rez prototype of some elements of the site. These presentations will be to your classmates and to an invited panel of industry experts.

You will give a presentation to the panel and turn in a report to me. Your report and your presentation should encompass:

presentation & report

Who is the audience you’re targeting?
— what age/gender/etc are they?
— what do they do, both for a living and also for fun?
— what are their hopes/dreams?
— why are they interested in the things they’re interested in?
— where do they go? (both in real life and online)
— why are they a part of the community(ies) they are a part of?
— what will they gain by visiting your site?
Give three specific examples of real people, complete with photo documentation. For your written report, write a short profile of each person.

Where is the community that already exists around your site’s topic?
— where do they go online?
— where do they go in the real world?
— what do they do when they’re there?
For both locations, please cite three specific examples of each (both virtual and real), explain the motivation your audience/community has in going to those places, their activities once they are there and what you can learn from these things to apply to your site. For the real-world place, please include photo documentation of your visit there: show us your community “in the wild”.

What sites are working in a similar space?
— how are you different?
— what are they doing right?
— what are they doing wrong?
— how do you plan to work with and among those sites?

Bring it all together
With all this information about your audience/community, explain how you will reach them and engage them with your site.
— three specific online examples
— two specific real-world ideas

Your report will be handed in, be sure that every member of your team signs the report.

Slides

Your slides need to cover:

  1. Intro to your site with a one-sentence description
  2. Your audience defined, with photos
  3. Their community defined, with images of them in the locations you identified
  4. Other sites in your space
  5. A slide for your conclusion

Your slides can contain as much information as you want (though remember our discussion in class today: less is often more, you will be talking along with them), but need to cover these five points.

Walkthrough

In addition, you will also present a guided walkthrough of a high-rez prototype of your site. Similar to your work in the Student Communications project, you should craft a mockup of your site in a presentation program of your choosing, with enough detail to get the site idea across, and enough active links to be able to show us some basic functionality.

Presentation specific notes

–Your group’s presentation should not last longer than 10 minutes, that will leave plenty of time for questions from the class and our panelists. If I had to offer a breakdown, that would be probably 7 minutes for the presentation and 3 minutes for the walkthrough. But that’s just an estimate–your time is your own.
–Plan your presentation and walkthrough out in advance, and make sure everyone’s practiced it as well. Rambling doesn’t help anyone. Neither does going long.
–Be prepared to answer questions with further detail about your site and your strategy. Prepare also to hear criticism. Being argumentative does not help you in any way, shape, or form. Criticism at this stage is crucial to building a viable site.

Filed under: Homework

Your Group Prototype Tests

Paste your documentation videos and reports into the comments of this post (see previous post for explanation/expectations.

Filed under: Homework

Your Work for Next Week!

**updated to correctly reflect the HTML/CSS assignment**

A busy week! Three things:

1) Prepare and test a paper prototype for your group site. This is a group project, so divvy up the work equitably. You need to:
–build the prototype and test it on three actual users of your site (not just your roomates).
–between each user testing session, refine the prototype according to feedback from the previous test.
–document all the testing sessions with video and upload a video of the testing to YouTube.
–write a brief report documenting what you learned from testing and how you’re proceeding with the site concept and design (250 words).
–stick the report and video in the comments of the post dedicated to it.

2) Hand-code a bio page about yourself:
–demonstrate your understanding of both basic HTML and CSS.
–introduce yourself, your background and interests
–integrate all the basic HTML tags we discussed, along with a picture of yourself.
–paste your code into Pastie. Post a link to the code along with a sentence that introduces your dive into the comments of this post.

3) We’ll have a mid-term check-in on the blog you’ve been keeping since week one. Please make sure it’s up-to-date.

Filed under: Homework

Your Team Work For Next Week

Your teams have been assembled. Now you need to get together and start making plans on how to move forward. You have a very important document due next week, an audience & editorial plan for your site. This plan needs to include the following and must be signed by every member of your team:

  1. A detailed description of your site. It is OK, at this stage, if the site idea has changed from the initial pitch, either subtly or dramatically. This should lead with a clear one-sentence description, and then build with a paragraph explaining the site & idea in more detail.
  2. A clear description of the audience for this site.
  3. Interviews with three actual members of the audience/community you’re targeting (new folks, not the same faces), about the space your site is operating in (that is the concepts around it), not the site itself.
  4. Informed by these interviews, a discussion of the type of content you would like to do and at least ten specific content ideas.
  5. A plan for the integration of tools and media beyond simple text/blogging.
  6. A basic plan for marketing your site: How do you connect with the communities that are already out there?
  7. An overall plan for the equal distribution of labor: How will you share the reporting work? The data entry? The coding? The images/video/audio? The marketing?

Please bring in a hard copy that has been signed by every member of your group

Post any questions in the comments of this blog.

Filed under: Homework

Twitter Assignment: 21 days

Twitter is a lot of things. One of them is that it’s very hard to explain. There’s one thing that is true though: It’s a new paradigm for communication and community, and it’s reaching critical mass.

Because of that, we’re going to do a deep dive into Twitter. The thing about Twitter is that it takes a little time to “get it” (and, even more importantly, what that “it” is will be different for each person). As a result, we’re going to follow the “21 days” concept: It takes 21 days of doing something regularly for it to become a habit.

So let’s form Twitter habits:

  • Starting by October 18th, you’ll need to sign up for an account on Twitter.
  • Follow me. My Twitter page is here. I will follow you back–though drop me an @ reply on twitter (that’s @dansinker) so I know you’re there, otherwise you may get lost in a new follower shuffle.
  • Also, post your twitter user name in the comments of this thread so that your classmates can find you.
  • You need to post to twitter at least 3 times a day. In addition, you need to @ reply to someone at least twice a day. That’s a MINIMUM of five tweets a day.
  • Follow new people every day. Here’s 10 good folks to get you started. Use Twitter Search to find other interesting people to follow (type in keywords of things that you find interesting, for example). I also find Google a great tool for finding people simply typing in their name followed by “twitter” tends to surface their Twitter account.
  • Every 3 days, in 140 characters, sum up what you’ve learned and include the hashtag #onlinej10 in your tweet. For example: retweeting can really spread a message quickly #onlinej10
  • Follow your classmates’ revelations by doing a twitter search for that hashtag
  • We’ll have a pretty good list of things we’ve learned on Twitter at the end of this experiment. Plus, you’ll have developed a pretty healthy Twitter habit by then.
  • At the end of our 21 days, write a 500 word summary of your time on Twitter, what you think it’s useful for, and how you see Journalism intersecting with it. That report will be due Friday November 12.

Another great thing about Twitter is that there are any number of ways to access it outside of the homepage. There are some great applications for accessing your tweets, like:
Tweetdeck
Tweetie
Twhirl
Twitteriffic

Twitter itself (and other people) makes excellent Apps for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry phones–check the respective app stores for those!

There are an almost countless list of interesting Twitter apps–The “app store” One Forty is fantastic for finding them.

Finally, one thing about having only 140 characters is that it makes it hard to paste in a real link. You’re going to need a URL shortener to do so. Personally, I like bit.ly, but people also use tinyurl and others.

For those just getting started on Twitter, there is an excellent guidebook published by Mashable. It’s online here.

See you on Twitter!

Filed under: Homework

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