Website Design

A website design course at the University of Wyoming

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Journalism for the Web

Back to learning how to write for the web…

The following information is adapted from Ch. 5 and Ch. 6 in the textbook.

What Should I Do When I Interview Someone?

  1. First, realize that your interviews are essential to the story. Without strong interviews, you got nothing!
  2. Be prepared: Inform yourself about the topic, source, and/or interviewee. Do some background research on the story and educate yourself. Informed questions are the best questions.
  3. Practice your interview questions beforehand if you’re nervous or want to feel better-prepared going into the interview. It never hurts to practice. And practice being curious-sounding, professional, and clam rather than accusatory, aggressive, or a know-it-all.
  4. Make small talk before the interview. It relaxes you and the interviewee. And begin the interview with a softball question that you may not care too much about. This will relax the interviewee and yourself.
  5. Keep it conversational. Don’t ask one question after another with no casual feedback and discussion. You want to have a give-and-take, turn-taking conversation, rather than a firing-squad style conversation.
  6. Listen. Really listen to your interviewee talking as you take notes. Think about if you have any follow-up questions about their statements. If you don’t, then move on to the next prepared question.
  7. Prepare a basic outline of questions, but avoid reading them word-for-word. Again, you want to know your questions enough to ask them in a casual way to your interviewee. And you want to ask them when it’s appropriate to in the conversation.
  8. Don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions. You want to understand the interviewee and the story well. You want to clarify things so you can clearly explain things to your audience.
  9. Ask the “do you have anything else to add before we finish” question. You never know what helpful information will come out!
  10. Allow silence. Silence is awkward. People fill silence with additional banter. It may be helpful banter for your story.
  11. Make eye contact, smile, and nod to show your interest. Try not to make the “uh huh” and “go on” noises. This is a bad habit and will ruin audio interviews if you engage in those behaviors.
  12. Also during the interview…Watch, look, and listen to the environment around you –> Reporters and storytellers are excellent observers and listeners. They are socially aware.
  13. Any other suggestions from you and your classmates?

What Tips Do You Have For Writing A Story?

  1. Write for the specific story angle, not the general story topic.
  2. Make it clear why the audience should care early in the story.
  3. Write a strong lead to pull readers in. Then expand on the lead in the rest of the story.
  4. Set the scene early in the story. Use anecdotes (short stories from your sources).
  5. In the middle, thoroughly explain the issues. Keep emphasizing the importance, so what, and impact of the story.
  6. Stick to facts as much as possible. If opinion is in your story, it should be your sources’ opinions, not your’s.
  7. Write with active, descriptive verbs whenever possible. Good example: Dr. Landreville teaches tomorrow. Bad example: Dr. Landreville is going to teach tomorrow.
  8. Save the most interesting and descriptive quotes for direct quotes in your story. Direct quotes that merely state simple facts, that are poorly worded, or that are boring are not helpful. Paraphrase that information.
  9. Let the subjects speak. We want to hear what the sources, not the reporter, have to say about this story. Facilitate this connection between the subjects and the audience by using a lot of quotes and descriptions (or if a visual presentation, showing the subjects).
  10. Transition well. Avoid jumping around. Avoid incomplete thoughts and unclear associations of story elements.
  11. Proofread! Be your own editor. Cut unnecessary words. Use the active voice. Clean up comma errors. Correct misspellings. Keep an eye out for grammar errors (e.g., its/it’s).
  12. Close the story with a resolution by saying what’s next or summarizing the outcome or providing an interesting or strong quote.

OK, OK, you now have those tips drilled into your head. What’s next to know about writing for multiple platforms? Well, it’s important to understand reading trends.

What kind of readers are out there?

There are three types of readers. You need to write for all three in a story.

  1. Comprehensive readers (read the whole story)
  2. Samplers (read the lead and parts of a story before quickly moving on)
  3. Scanners (read headlines, labels, captions, fact boxes, graphics, and other quick reads)

How should I write for all three types of online readers?

  • Online reading is 25% slower than print reading.
  • We scan more online.
  • We construct our own nonlinear reading experience online.
  • Thus, you need to use concise, informative headlines, summaries, and hyperlinks to more resources about the story.
  • Each paragraph should have no more than 2 or 3 short, simple sentences.
  • A direct quote should stand out in its own paragraph. Do not bury direct quotes in the middle of a paragraph!
  • Attribution side note. Good Example: “Attribute correctly,” said Dr. Landreville. Bad example: Dr. Landreville said, “Attribute correctly.”
  • Use subheadings in your story –> Otherwise known as “chunk” titles.
  • Bold the chunk titles.

Checklist for Blog Post 3

Keep your mind on these requirements and best practices while reporting and writing:

  1. Number of Interviews (3 minimum, face-to-face, unless otherwise given permission)
  2.  Minimum of two relevant photos (if not your photography, then attribute to the photographer)
  3. Two relevant links (at minimum)
  4. Story Structure
    1. Appropriate headline
    2. Sentence length.
    3. Paragraph length.
    4. Reporter presence and voice.
    5. Use of bolded chunk titles.
    6. Transitions between ideas.
    7. Minimum of 750 words
  5. Attribution and Quotes
    1. Paraphrased information vs. directly quoted information.
    2. Location of direct quotes (should be at the beginning of paragraphs)
    3. Frequency of direct quotes (every few paragraphs)

The Next Two Classes…

We will be writing our stories and peer editing our stories. Ideally, you would use Wednesday’s class for finishing writing your story, with having questions prepared for me and Cassie. You shouldn’t be just starting to write your story on Wednesday. Make the most of your time with these in-class workdays and be prepared on Wednesday.

Have a completed draft ready for FRIDAY’S class. We will be peer editing each other’s work.

As always, ask questions if you have anything that you’re confused about or not sure what to do. Best of luck!

Remembering the Groundwork of Journalistic Writing

Your First Journalistic Web Writing Assignment

We’ve covered a lot of multimedia reporting concepts. Now it’s time we venture into our first writing assignment that is web-focused. You can view the assignment instruction here: blog-post-3-journalistic-web-story

Today will we remember the groundwork — the basics — of journalism. This is adapted from Ch. 5 from your textbook.

All of you have some experience with these basics from COJO 2100 (Newswriting and Reporting). It never hurts to refresh our memories about some key concepts of journalism, writing, and reporting.

Brainstorming for news ideas and finding your story focus can be difficult. But, it is necessary before you jump into a story.

How Can I Think of Story Ideas?

  1. Feature story about interesting people, professors (read faculty bios on various department web pages), or organizations that the community might want to know more about.
  2. Events calendars:—
    WyoCal
    —Albany County Public Library Events
    Albany County, Wyoming Government
    City of Laramie Events (LaramieLive)
  3. What are people talking about on social media websites? Is there a story idea there?
  4. Bulletin boards. Always read them for interesting events, speakers, and meetings.
  5. Problems, controversies, or major issues going on in students’ lives or the community.
  6. Anniversaries and trends
  7. Profile on a business or organization you find in the Yellow Pages.

 

Don’t Suggest a Topic. Suggest an Angle.

What would you rather read about? (1) Student stress during finals week or (2) How a student organization offers massage, pet therapy, comedian performances, and healthy food during finals week to ease stress?

I bet story #2.

Story #2 has a strong angle, where story #1 is a general, vague topic.

I want you to write a story with a strong, specific angle.

 

Where Can I Find Sources?

  1. Expert sources: UW has a vast sea of experts in areas. Check out faculty members’ web pages in various departments.
  2. Journalistic sources: Consulting other media outlets’ past articles and issues can be helpful to locate sources and get ideas.
  3. Institutional sources: Social, cultural, professional, bureaucratic, or political organizations with particular special interests. Examples include political parties, government data, community volunteer groups, student groups, and sports clubs. You can find human sources as well as data from these sources.
  4. Scholarly sources: These are oftentimes highly credible and respected sources, and they are oftentimes undervalued and underused sources as well. Universities, scholarly research from the library, and medical and scientific research centers are examples. Detour –>Let’s learn how to find scholarly peer-reviewed research from the library! 🙂
  5. Informal sources: Observations about your surroundings. Take notes about what you and your subjects see, hear, smell, feel, experience.
  6. Sources to beware of: Wikipedia and other wikis, lesser-known blogs, and convenient sources like friends, neighbors, and family. Why?

 

Brainstorming Session

Below are six beats (i.e., topical areas). Story topics are below beats. You can pick a story topic I suggested or come up with your own. Remember that you need a specific, detailed story angle for your final story. Please be sure to run your story by me first.

Arts & Entertainment

  • Art shows
  • Music performances
  • Ballet and dance studio work or performances
  • Plays and theater
  • Movie openings or screenings

 

Recreation & Sports

  • Hunting
  • Adult sports leagues
  • Youth sports
  • Snowy Range Ski Area
  • Vedauwoo cross-country skiing
  • Ice rink
  • Other winter recreation

 

Health & Wellness

  • Healthy eating and nutrition
  • Stress management options and activities (e.g., yoga)
  • Wintertime activities to stay healthy
  • Counseling and mental-health related issues
  • Schools, childhood obesity, exercise, school lunches

 

Local Businesses

  • Profile of a particular business
  • Downtown Laramie shopping
  • Competing with Wal-Mart and chain stores
  • Using social media and new media for local businesses

 

University-Related

  • Budget and fiscal crisis
  • Profile on a professor
  • Profile on an interesting student
  • Synergy program
  • Outreach program
  • Study abroad programs
  • Alcohol awareness programs
  • Student organizations (e.g., religious student orgs, non-traditional student orgs)

 

Volunteering

  • School and tutoring-related
  • Soup kitchens and poverty-related
  • Elderly and nursing/retirement home related
  • Volunteering overseas
  • Religious-motivated volunteering

 

As I go around the room and visit with each of you personally, I want to hear your story ideas and angles now.

 

 

Introduction to Multimedia Production

Welcome!

About Me

(Education, Professional Goals, Hobbies, Family)

About You

(Name, Major, Year, What do you hope to learn in this course?, What’s something fun you did this summer?)

Why This WordPress Blog?

We’ll use this class blog to post course materials and students’ work. Course materials include assignment guidelines, rubrics, and the syllabus. See our page, COJO 3530: Fall 2016 on the sidebar.

We will also use WyoCourses for grades and quizzes, in addition to the assignment instructions and rubrics.

Plus, I require YOU to keep a blog, so I should keep one as well for our class.

What Will We Do?

Let’s take a look at the syllabus and find out.

What Do You Know?

Let’s get started. First, a fun news quiz. Let’s see how much you know about local, state, national, and international current events. And no peeking for answers on the Internet.

What Should You Know and Why?

Second, visit The New York Times multimedia page to get a taste of what the future of journalism looks like. Take 10 minutes (I’m timing you) and explore anything that grabs your interest.

What did you explore? What was interesting and engaging ? Did you quickly leave the story, or did you spend a long time on the story? Why?

These are the critical questions you need to be asking yourself whenever you read ANYTHING now, especially when you engage with multimedia stories. If you want to be in the business of telling and selling stories, then you need to develop the critical thinking skills to understand what makes me (the reader/user) keep reading.

In this class, you’ll begin to learn the basic skills that are needed to succeed in multimedia communication. I say “communication” in addition to “journalism” because I strongly believe that even if you aren’t a journalism major, you will learn from this class. If your career interests lie in public relations, marketing, advertising, or public affairs, you will learn key skills in multimedia that will help you get a job.

Multimedia Production on Your Blog

In order to promote your media career, I require students to maintain a professional blog throughout the semester. You can show potential employers your multimedia work through this platform. Please visit former COJO 3530 student blogs (see left-hand column) for ideas about your own blog. You’ll also see what kind of storytelling that you’ll be engaging in during the semester.

This class is a big step in the right direction for your journalism or media career. I hope you’re excited!

So let’s set up your WordPress blog now. You need to submit your Blog Post 1 and About Page Setup by next Thursday.

***A Word of Advice: Proofread your writing. Like, seriously proofread. Writing that has spelling, grammar, typographical (e.g., typing a word twice or writing “if” instead of “it”), or capitalization errors (e.g., writing “i like news”) is not “A” work (see the grading rubric–a “B” is the highest grade you can get if any of these errors is made). Your multimedia story may be fantastic, but if your blog post writing has any of these errors, you lose credibility with your audience. Thus, I read your writing VERY carefully, and I’m always looking for these errors. Don’t make them, please. ***

Western Confluence Magazine – Call for Story Ideas

I am seeking article ideas for issue 07 of Western Confluence magazine, out in January 2017.

The theme is the science behind our new energy future. What are the most significant energy challenges of our time, and what research is addressing them? What technological, social, policy, or management breakthroughs could lead us into a new energy future? What must we do as a state and as a society to prepare for changes in how we produce and use energy?

We’ll also consider story ideas about any subject relevant to natural resource management in our region for our Field Notes and Science Briefs sections.

To be considered for the upcoming issue, please submit your pitch to editor@westernconfluence.org by noon on Wednesday, June 1, 2016Western Confluence editors and advisors will meet in June to discuss. We’ll answer all pitches by early July.

Western Confluence Call for Stories – Download this PDF for instructions.

Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Thanks,

Emilene

Emilene Ostlind
Editor, Western Confluence

Ruckelshaus Institute
University of Wyoming

(307) 766-2604
www.westernconfluence.org

Summer Journalism at NYU

Summer Journalism at NYU is an experience you won’t forget. We have a variety of classes for pre-college and college students, and one graduate multimedia production course, which is the course we are highlighting this week.

The Story We See is a four-week intensive multimedia class that is perfect for anyone wanting to improve or solidify their skills. You’ll report, shoot, edit, and publish a complete multimedia story. Two, actually. Taught by the highly experienced Adrian Mihai, it’s faced-paced, hands-on, hard work and–by student accounts–very memorable and rewarding.

Regarding other courses, this summer we’ve added three new ones to our already diverse line-up–Sports!, The Profilers, and a classic from our regular academic year, The Beat, with a long-time favorite professor, Frank Flaherty, which runs as a special 9-week course. First session courses start May 26 and second session courses run from July 7 to August 13.

Visit our website for a list of all the courses offered and to find out more about the program. Still have questions? Check out our FAQs, contact us at summer.journalism@nyu.edu, or connect with us on Facebook! Like our page to interact with current and prospective students, ask questions, and to keep up with the latest news about Summer Journalism.

Environmental Journalism & Science Writing Workshop at the Haub School

This summer, former Outside magazine editor Abe Streep is offering a four-week workshop on the ins and outs of environmental journalism and science writing. During the course, students will find, pitch, report and write a piece of narrative environmental journalism. Daily assignments will include readings and critiques of students’ work, and guest speakers will include editors at national magazines. This summer course will meet May 26 – June 19, Monday through Thursday, from 9:10 – 11:35 am.

Interested students should submit an application consisting of two paragraph-long synopses of environmental stories they think they might like to cover, as well as a brief description of an environmental book or story they’ve found influential. Applications should be submitted by March 1. Click here for details.

Narrative Magazine Writing Content

Narrative Magazine

The Winter 2015 Story Contest is open to all writers, and all entries will be considered for publication.

• $2,500 First Prize
• $1,000 Second Prize
• $500 Third Prize
• Ten finalists receive $100 each

See the Guidelines.

Read prior winners, and view recent awards won by Narrative authors.

For more than a decade, Narrative has proudly published emerging writers alongside established authors, and we continue to look for exciting, meaningful new writing.

Narrative reaches a worldwide audience of 200,000 readers, and our contest winners and finalists have seen their exposure in Narrative bring great attention to their work.

Works from Narrative often appear in collections such as the Best American Short Stories, the PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, the Pushcart
Prize series, and many others.

Summer Journalism Institute at NYU

Summer Journalism at NYU provides both for an experience you won’t forget. We have a variety of classes for pre-college and college students, and one graduate multimedia production course.

This summer we’ve added three new courses to our already diverse line-up–Sports!, The Profilers, and a classic from our regular academic year, The Beat, with a long-time favorite professor, Frank Flaherty, which runs as a special 9-week course. First session courses start May 26 and second session courses run from July 7 to August 13.

Visit our website for a list of all the courses offered and to find out more about the program. Still have questions? Check out our FAQs, contact us at summer.journalism@nyu.edu, or connect with us on Facebook! Like our page to interact with current and prospective students, ask questions, and to keep up with the latest news about Summer Journalism.

— Andrea Rosenberg

Multimedia and Study Abroad Opportunities

If you are interested in multimedia and would like to study abroad, check out this program. There are opportunities in Ireland, Turkey, Italy, Israel, Spain, and more. Some of these opportunities sound like great experiences!

Be sure you consult with the UW Study Abroad Office if you’re interested in studying abroad.

Social Media Apprenticeship Opportunity

Bright Agrotech, LLC is looking for a volunteer intern to assist with social media. Check out the details.

 

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