Online Journalism

Guest Speaker: Mandy Jenkins

February 10th, 2011 · Comments Off on Guest Speaker: Mandy Jenkins

MANDY JENKINS, SOCIAL MEDIA PRODUCER FOR TBD (a local news site), visited my Communications 361 class (Online Journalism) today to share her experiences in her field. I appreciate what she had to share with us and attained some useful advice. In College Jenkins said that “reaching out and connecting with people individually” helped her land jobs early and I plan to emulate her actions. She showed her interest in other peoples’ careers by asking questions, sharing her own work with them, and therefore making connections. Jenkins has worked for TBD for 6 months now, where her duties include keeping track of news tips on Twitter and writing some news pieces. Starting a Twitter account in 2007 (although without much of a grasp of it yet) before it was popular, Jenkins had a hunch that social media was going somewhere for her as a journalist- in fact she created her own position as “Social Media Producer” at TBD. What I found impressive about TBD was that there are 200 + bloggers affiliated with TBD but there are only 15 professional journalists working there; it really says a lot about the changing landscape of journalism. Blogs are making their mark in journalism history, and what would traditionally be considered competition is now a resource. Jenkins herself said that today “social media can really, really help you as students,” and I can’t help but agree; what better way to profile your journalistic skills than to demonstrate your abilities and knowledge of social media in a blog?

Thanks for sharing, Mandy!

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Chapter one: We are all web workers now!

February 10th, 2011 · Comments Off on Chapter one: We are all web workers now!

I have taken three classes with Professor Steve Klein, one for every semester I have been at Mason and the one thing that has stuck with me all this time is that he has always emphasized the FOUNDATIONS of writing for journalism. Whether it may be writing a story, doing carpentry work or climbing a mountain, one cannot rise to the top without knowing the basics.

In Mark Briggs‘ chapter one, his focus is on those basic foundations themselves. Here is a list of a few he mentions:

  • Knowing the difference between bits and bytes.
  • Knowing how web browsers function.
  • Knowing what the hell an RSS feed is — and what it stands for.
  • Knowing how HTML, CSS and XML work — don’t even bother knowing what they stand for.
  • Knowing how to use FTP to transfer large files over the web.

The chapter is titled “We are all web workers now.”

What the heck does that mean?

Briggs is referring to the idea that everyone in this age is destined to utilize the web at some point in their life. Even my mother, who does not speak perfect English and had never used a computer in her youth, is addicted to Facebook more than I am. As for the young ones, they are even smarter and better at technology than me. My three-year-old nephew is working the web searching for games. The boy can’t read but he sure does know how to get to Nick Jr.  Just like the of us, he is, after all, a web worker.

Happy reading folks.

The many web browsers to choose from....

Tags: briggs · Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Briggs Review 3: Connecting With Your Audience

February 10th, 2011 · Comments Off on Briggs Review 3: Connecting With Your Audience

IN THIS CHAPTER I LEARNED more about audience participation in contemporary news organizations and blogs. Crowdsourcing is when journalists give audiences tasks (sometimes paid and sometimes not) just like a professional reporter. For example, if a scandal occurs involving, lets say, mortgage rates, then the community affected will be able to give more vital information than a few reporters might be able to uncover. Of course there is a limit to crowdsourcing; you should use it to help your organization or blog improve, but according to Briggs there is a greater chance of failure if you rely solely on crowdsourcing to power your news. Another way to rely on readers is to use open-source reporting, which means that an organization or blog can put out their ideas for their stories up early so that they can attain feedback, sources, and other advice from their readers to help build the story. Yet another form of reporting is beatblogging: I wasn’t too sure about what it was from the book, but I looked up more information on and found that it is a blog that focuses on one topic and allows anyone to comment, debate, discuss, etc. Pretty simple. Pro-Am Journalism I already knew about through CNN’s iReport. With Pro-Am users post their own content directly to an organizations website.

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Briggs Review 2: The Essence of Blogging

February 10th, 2011 · Comments Off on Briggs Review 2: The Essence of Blogging

I DIDN’T KNOW too much about blogs except that they seemed like personal diaries which I didn’t see as having much of a place in journalism. After reading the second chapter of Briggs’ book, however, I realized that blogs are opened for doing anything and everything you want with them (depending on the context of course) and they are a resourceful tool when in comes to interacting with readers; after all you can’t make good news if you don’t know what your audience wants to hear. I would like to find an audience for myself as well because as a journalist I need feedback to know whether my writing is captivating and informative enough. Through this blog I hope to find my “blogging voice,” which Briggs said you find after time with practice. The book also had me explore different blogs to find out for myself the diversity among them. Not surprisingly I found the number one blog as ranked by, The Huffington Post, to be my favorite. In fact I was delayed in making this blog post because I got so caught up reading Huffington Post articles!

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Briggs Review 1: Basic Coding

February 10th, 2011 · Comments Off on Briggs Review 1: Basic Coding

BRIGGS’ FIRST CHAPTER DABS in HTML and other computer terms that I was not very familiar with, and so I have compiled a list summarizing them:

  • RSS: I’ve known for a long time that RSS feeds existed, but I didn’t know much about what they were. RSS feeds are short summarizing paragraphs of news or other information of your choosing sent to an RSS reader with a permalink to the article. RSSs are updated daily and seem to be an efficient way of obtaining news and other information, however I find that Twitter is even more efficient since you can have a live stream of information.
  • CSS: HTML that makes webpages fancy.
  • FTP: File Transfer Protocol “is a simple process for moving those big files that e-mail can’t handle.” They’re useful when you want to transfer a file larger than 1 MB to another server or computer. You simply download an FTP program, obtain the host address that you want to send the file to and wala!
  • HTML: A little more complicated a subject is HTML which is the code that makes up a website. I tried to make a webpage with HTML code, copying the directions in the book and the best I got was this:

I did exactly what the book said and that’s what happened. I tried adding photos too and the same thing happened- all that showed up on the website is code… I didn’t even bother trying the instructions for CSS to be honest, but hopefully I’ll be able to figure out what went wrong in the near future. Webmonkey, a site Briggs recommended in his book for HTML advice and tutorials, seems to be useful and so I’ll browse that site to see if anything helps.

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts