Online Journalism

Madny Jenkin

March 9th, 2011 · Comments Off on Madny Jenkin

Mandy Jenkins spoke to our class about fair usage. A few things I learned

  • Fair use allows us to use work without permission but must follow a certain criteria
  1. Purpose and character
  2. Nature of work
  3. Portion used
  4. Effect of the use on the potential market
  • Copyrights are more protected than trade mark.
  • Trademarks renew more frequent than copyrights and can also be lost easier.
  • You must always give credit to whomever you borrow from.

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

C-Span Governor George Allen

March 9th, 2011 · Comments Off on C-Span Governor George Allen

Former Virginia senator George Allen joined students participating from the George Mason University Video Studio along with Steve Scully, the political editor for the C-SPAN networks, and students from the University of Denver.

In an open forum Allen answered student questions ranging from sports to foreign policy.

Allen took a hard stance that federal government should limit its attempts to control the states, and went further to state the “federal government exceeds authority.”

With regards to foreign policy his stance was “defense wins and protects our liberty. He also spoke about the crisis in Egypt.

Although he did not provide a plan for Egypt he concluded the four pillars ofa just society include:

  • Freedom of religion
  • Freedom of expression
  • Private ownership of property
  • Rule of law

He ended by answering questions about his book entitled “What Washington can Learn from the World of Sports.” In which he explains the similarities bewtwwen politics and athletics.

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Tech Blog #7: STAR Lab Workshop — Microsoft Word 2007 Intermediate

March 9th, 2011 · Comments Off on Tech Blog #7: STAR Lab Workshop — Microsoft Word 2007 Intermediate

The Microsoft Word 2007 Intermediate course offered by George Mason University covers a variety of user topics such as:

  • inserting dates
  • inserting symbols
  • adding Quick Parts (allows you to store a heading, title, certain piece of info, etc. and allows you to open it on various blank documents)
  • using AutoFormat (formats a document as your type by analyzing your text)
  • setting up, navigating and entering text into a table
  • inserting a blank line
  • hiding/showing gridlines in a table
  • converting existing text into a table
  • inserting Quick Tables (already-formatted tables for things such as calendars)

For me, the most helpful lesson out of all of the things we touched base on was learning about how to create a table. I have always had trouble getting the tables I make to come out correctly with the right number of rows and columns, however the instructor made it easy to set a table up. All you need to do is go to the “Insert” page, click on the “Table” button, and select the dimensions for your table. By then clicking on the “Design” button, you can create a design for your table and color-code it according to specific categories.

You can even convert your written text to a table automatically by highlighting the text and then clicking on the “Convert Text to Table” button. This is an easy option if you don’t know how many columns or rows you are going to have at the start of your table project.

For more Microsoft Word 2007 help, visit Word’s Help and How-to website or their Training website.

(Johnson Center, Room 311B)

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Tech Blog #6: STAR Lab Workshop — Zotero 101

March 9th, 2011 · Comments Off on Tech Blog #6: STAR Lab Workshop — Zotero 101

Zotero is a free citation management program that was originally created here at George Mason University in the Center for History and New Media. The program allows you to “collect, organize, cite and share” your resources for various research projects and note taking.

Many college students may find this program useful as it allows you to:

  • capture data
  • search databases
  • cite resources
  • share Zotero libraries
  • create timelines
  • store files
  • publish findings
  • browse from mobile devices

Since most people do not do research on just one computer, you can create a Zotero username and interface that allows you to access your previous work so that you can sync with it and access it anywhere, even on a global scale.

However, when using a public computer, make sure that you log off after each time you access your Zotero account to prevent other users from uploading to your document library.

There are several different formats you can use when doing citations, for example Chicago Manual of Style, APA, MLA, etc. Every time you export, you can choose which citation style to use for easier exports.

You can also use Zotero to insert a bibliography citation directly into a Word document if you are using a ‘Works Cited’ page.

(Fenwick Library, Room A214)

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Google changes algorithm to fight content-farms

March 9th, 2011 · Comments Off on Google changes algorithm to fight content-farms

Summary: With the rise of low-value Web sites who sell links to raise the search rankings of other Web sites, Google changes its algorithm to preserve their reputation as a search engine.

Reputation is everything, and Google is adjusting its search algorithm against sites that sell their links to firms seeking to raise their search ranking, according to a Silicon Valley Mercury News article.

Google’s action comes as a response to outside observers, one of which is Michael Arrington, the founder of the blog Tech Crunch.

Google is not the only search engine company facing this problem, as Microsoft’s corporate vice president of search product development Michael Shum adds “We really need to take search quality very seriously; otherwise, we are all going down the toilet.”

Vanessa Fox of Nine by Blue adds, ” I think the spammers are getting smarter.”

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Why paid links will become a waste of money

March 9th, 2011 · Comments Off on Why paid links will become a waste of money

Summary: Search engines are introducing new tools to help users get exactly what they are looking for while offering options that can blacklist sites that users find irrelevant.

Image provided by

In Vanessa Fox’s article “Paid links don’t pay off” the SEO expert reports:

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Digital marketing 101

March 9th, 2011 · Comments Off on Digital marketing 101

Quality content published in some significant quantity, and engineered to be easily found in search engines is a recipe for a successful digital publishing business.

Throughout the course of my blog, you have learned how tweet, how to use photography, how to vlog, and how to maintain your comments area. The last thing you need to know to be fully prepared for the real world of blogging is how to market yourself.

The one phrase you need to remember as you strive for efficiency and marketability in your blog is search engine optimization. This phenomenon is the process of writing your articles in a way that will be easily recognized by search engine spiders who search the Internet for new websites or information.

According to Briggs, “content is king” for SEO because the better the content you have in an article, the more likely a robot or spider will be to pick it up for indexing. “Linking is queen” because if other websites recognize that you have linked to them, they may return the favor, increasing your authority with search engines.

Along with content and linking, there are also several other ways to increase your “Google cred.”  The first way is to use clear title tags because search engines look at headlines before anything else. The second way is to use HTML meta tags, or tags that provide information about an article, even though a viewer cannot see that information.

After you get your blog up and running and begin acquiring an audience through search engines, you will likely want to know how your website is doing.

The following is a list of the bakers dozen, or items that you should be regularly tracking so you have an idea of how well your website or blog is performing.

  1. Total news stories per day
  2. News stories by topic or section
  3. Total blog posts per day
  4. Blog posts by specific blog
  5. Slideshows per week
  6. Video stories per week
  7. Podcasts or other audio stories
  8. News updates
  9. Breaking news e-mail alerts
  10. SMS or other mobile news alerts
  11. E-mail newsletters that are not sent automatically
  12. Twitter, Facebook or other social network posts
  13. User-generated content

Along with the bakers dozen, you should also track the big three of web traffic: pageviews, visits and unique visitors compared, and engagement and referrers. These things are more difficult for an individual to track, but never fear, there is plenty of software out there that can track these things for you. One of the most popular websites for web analyzation is Google Analytics, a free program offered by none other than Google.

Once you see how your website is performing, you will be able to make goals and adjust your current business plan. As Briggs so eloquently puts it, “track. Measure. Adapt. It’s the way the Web works.”

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Briggs Ch. 11

March 9th, 2011 · Comments Off on Briggs Ch. 11

Although most of the Briggs book focuses on aspects of digital journalism that display its strengths versus print, this chapter acknowledges something both good and bad for aspiring journalists: while print was at one time the only real legitimate news source, there are countless news sites online and it’s much harder to compete for an audience than print in its heyday.

Here are some tactics one can use to increase readership:

  • Tracking your site content as well as page views and reader response. Briggs suggests setting benchmarks based on these figures.
  • Optimize your site for search engines.
  • Write effective headlines and stories for the Internet audience. That goes just as much for robots as well as regular readers.
  • Distribute and advertise via social media.
  • According to Monica Wright, the most important tip is:

Above all–good writing still prevails. Quality, relevant, in-depth content will not only attract the bots, but will capture new audiences as well.

Mike Starr - Getty Images

As a test, I did a Google News search on recently deceased Alice in Chains bassist Mike Starr to see which results were the most prominent. While the news of his death is clearly the biggest part of the story and probably what readers are most interested in, it’s interesting to note that only three of the top five entries (as of this writing) are reports of that while the other two are about fan reactions and comments from Starr’s fellow “Celebrity Rehab” cast members. Those two articles are both courtesy of MTV, which says quite a lot about their position in the blogosphere. Check out “Man in the Box” from Alice in Chains’ debut album, “Facelift.”

Click here to view the embedded video.

Tags: briggs · Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Soldier Transition Project

March 9th, 2011 · Comments Off on Soldier Transition Project

For my online journalism course with Professor Steve Klein, I am required to create a multimedia project with several other classmates. We are able to chose our topics and choose our teams, keeping in mind stories that work well over multiple media outlets and keeping in mind the need for multiple skill sets.

Several weeks in to the semester, one of my classmates gave a presentation about her project idea. She hoped to follow army soldiers as they transitioned from a life of war in Iraq and Afghanistan to a civilian life at George Mason University. If the project went as planned, she explained, it could potentially be featured on the ACAP, or Army Career and Alumni Program, website.

Intrigued by the idea, and excited about the potential benefits coming from the project, I decided to join Tony’s “Soldier Transition Project,” as we have now come to call it. My other teammates include Brandi, Jen, Ethan and Aisha.

Together, we hope to create a sleek website that involves multiple pages. One tab off of our main page, will include the actual stories that our team writers have worked on. This page will also likely involve slide shows of a particular soldier, and his or her actual interview. Another part of the website will include resources that future soldiers can use to help them transition in to college life.

My main part of the project will be the social media page. On this page I hope to integrate an RSS feed from ACAP and other soldier resources. I also hope to have a feed that will feature useful tweets for our audience. These tweets will likely involve the G.I. Bill. If I get approval from our subjects, I also hope to connect with them through Facebook and feature some of their statuses that will capture how emotional the war and the transition has been.

Over spring break I plan to gather up sources, and get information on our interviewees so I can see about my plans for Facebook. As the project goes on, I will update this post so you all can keep up with our progress up to the finished project!

Tags: Comm361 · Facebook · Student Blog Posts

‘Journalism Next’ Chapter 11 Summary

March 9th, 2011 · Comments Off on ‘Journalism Next’ Chapter 11 Summary

There is an age-old question popular in philosophical circles, and TV, that goes along the lines; “If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it still make a sound?” Well in Chapter 11 Mark Briggs asks: “If journalists produce great stories and no one reads them, how can news survive?” […]

Tags: Comm361 · Student Blog Posts