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TOW 13

  1.   Read other student blogs
  2. Have another student read your blog
  3. Have checkpoint dates for deadlines in your calendar
  4. Communicate with your professor about deadlines
  5. Show your personality in your writing
  6. Become a better proofreader
  7. Have fun!
  8. Don’t feel overwhelmed
  9. Take it one bite at a time
  10. Turn in assignments early!

I had never written a blog post before I took Professor Nixon three semesters ago.  Actually, I had hardly even read a blog post.  At that time I wouldn’t have known it was a blog post if it was right in front of me.  But now, I can appreciate blogs a little more – actually, a lot more.  I wish I had taken the time to get a theme that appeared to match my personality a bit more.  But the theme I initially chose three semesters ago ended up being what I stuck with these past three semester for blogs.  Once you find a theme that works well for you, why change it?

Sometimes, you may want to jot down blog ideas while you’re off campus.  I usually think of interesting things when I get in new surroundings.  I can use my iPhone, but a note pad would work just fine.

Next, try to say something worth while when you’re trying to meet a word count.  Every class seems to have a project that must be a certain number of words.  I know, it feels contradictory to require a certain amount when you think you can be effective and precise with half the amount, but the number can serve as a way for you to stretch your mind to new levels.  At least, that’s one way I think it’s helped me.  I’ve fought with many a word count requirement in my day.  You may think I’m doing it right now, but I’m actually not…(promise).

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TOW 12

I covered a private event; a Twilight marathon.  Because Breaking Dawn will come out soon in theaters, I felt doing this would be a fun way to connect with some friends while home for the weekend.

5 Tips for CoverItLive:

1. Try to find a local event.

2. If there are no local events going on, cover a live event on television.

3. Don’t procrastinate.

4. Include media if you can (make sure your friends are ok with their pictures being posted on your blog).

5. Search the CoverItLive site for helpful tips when using the software.

Twilight Marathon” CoverItLive story.

7:41
Yes, I have a friend who previously refused to watch Twilight. Guess what? They’re watching it. now. I win.
7:43
We’re watching New Moon, by the way. I had them watch the first installment of the series a while back. Yes, this is meant to be comical.
7:51
This seems to be valid preparation for the Breaking Dawn premiere.
8:01
Dessert is served.
8:32
Raffles always seem to be a good idea at a party.
9:18
And now, Eclipse!
10:30

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This post is fully by Steve Outing of Poynter.  This is an excerpt from his article The 11 Layers of Citizen Journalism.

Citizen journalism.” It’s one of the hottest buzzwords in the news business these days. Many news executives are probably thinking about implementing some sort of citizen-journalism initiative; a small but growing number have already done so.

But there’s plenty of confusion about citizen journalism. What exactly is it? Is this something that’s going to be essential to the future prosperity of news companies?

In my conversations and communications with editors, I sense plenty of confusion about the concept. There’s enthusiasm about experimenting insome quarters — about harnessing the power of an audience permitted for the first time to truly participate in the news media. But mostly I hear concern and healthy skepticism.

This article is designed to help publishers and editors understand citizen journalism and how it might be incorporated into their Web sites and legacy media. We’ll look at how news organizations can employ the citizen-journalism concept, and we’ll approach it by looking at the different levels or layers available. Citizen journalism isn’t one simple concept that can be applied universally by all news organizations. It’s much more complex, with many potential variations.

So let’s explore the possibilities, from dipping a toe into the waters of participatory journalism to embracing citizen reporting with your organization’s full involvement. We’ll start out slow and build toward the most radical visions of what’s possible.

1. The first step: Opening up to public comment

 

For some publishers skittish about allowing anyone to publish under their brand name, enabling readers to attach comments to articles on the Web represents a start. At its simplest level, user comments offer the opportunity for readers to react to, criticize, praise or add to what’s published by professional journalists. If you look at news Web sites that allow user comments (and at this writing, it’s still a small minority of all news sites), you’ll see a mix of user reactions within article comments. But almost universally, you’ll see occasional reader comments that add to what’s published. Readers routinely use such comments to bring up some point that was missed by the writer, or add new information that the reporter didn’t know about. Such readers can make the original story better.

Which content should be open to reader comments? Blogs traditionally have included reader comments (though even some of the most popular independent blogs eschew them; e.g., Instapundit), so that’s a no-brainer. Some sites — including Poynter Online, where you’re reading this — support user comments on all articles. Do that and you’re on your way toward the citizen-journalism experience.

But why not go further; think outside the box a bit? Consider allowing reader comments on things like calendar listings, obituaries, letters to the editor, even classified ads. Let’s think about this: Why does a letter to the editor from a member of the public have to stop with that letter? Why not allow it to spark an online conversation? Comments on a calendar listing might attract citizen reviews from people who’ve seen a speaker or performer before (an interesting and useful public service). Obituary comments will draw remembrances from people who knew the deceased.

Even allowing comments on classified ads — especially if they are in categories where sellers don’t pay for the ad — can be a fascinating exercise and a potentially good public service.

A few words of caution: Some news Web sites have had trouble with readers posting objectionable content in comment areas. This can be at least partially avoided by requiring users to register with the site and submit their names and e-mail addresses before being allowed to post comments, and by establishing a system that makes it easy for site users to report objectionable comments.

I don’t want to paint this as easy. As media Web sites that allow comments have learned, you do need to watch what people post. The key may be to realize that opening up to reader comments requires vigilance, even if the number of problems you are likely to encounter may be slim.

Still, many publishers seemingly remain reluctant to take this first step into citizen journalism. Even The Northwest Voice, a stand-alone citizen-journalism Web site and newspaper owned by The Bakersfield Californian, which I’ll mention in the layers below, doesn’t allow reader comments. Two-way conversation is an imperative characteristic of most citizen journalism, yet it appears to remain threatening to many people in the journalism and publishing professions.

Examples:

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TOW #10

I didn’t realize that the search results that show up on Google were different from one person to the next.  I think that it would be nice to have the choice to opt out of various search filters, but at the same time, I appreciate the time saved from sifting through information that doesn’t interest me.

Who should decide what is considered culturally broad in search results?  What if it offends someone?  Should we negate facts based on their ability to offend?

What did you think about this video?  What concerns arise for you personally?  It’s important to start deciding which lines we don’t want crossed by the media, because they are pushing the limits.  We need to be prepared to say yes or no when necessary.

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Been There, Done That

9SEP

I’m a senior at Southeastern University, which is quite a feat. Not many people seem to last all four years as a traditional student, full-time. How did I do it? Here’s my top 10 list on how to succeed at this wonderful university:

 10. Play Intramural Sports
It’s fun, it’s free, and its good for your health. You’ll make friends too!

9. Don’t Over-do It
Learn how to say no. It’s hard enough to balance schoolwork with your social life, so be careful when adding on extra responsibilities such as a job, a volunteer project, or an extracurricular activity.

8. Find a Professor Mentor
When the tough times take hold (and at some point they will), you will need someone experienced to talk to. Find a professor who will give you advice on how to succeed in your current situation and even the future.

7. Take Initiative
Even if you don’t have much experience, join academically-based on-campus groups (SIFE, SEU Publications, Theatre). Through this you will be able to gain confidence in your abilities, learn skills from upperclassmen, and meet people who you will be in classes with for the rest of college.

Tuscana Ristorante: Not As Good As Mom’s Cooking

6. Don’t Need It, Don’t Buy It.
Not having money is a terrible feeling. Therefore, if you really don’t need it, don’t waste your money. Shampoo and toothpaste are far more important that that DVD that just came out, and I learned that the hard way.

5. Make Chartwells Work For You.
During my first year at Southeastern, I read a great article in the Southeastern Times on how to bring a little spice to your cafeteria experience. The article inspired me to get creative! Spaghetti and meatball day getting a little lackluster? How about taking some meatballs and sauce, then using those to create a toasted meatball sub at the sandwich line. Add some flair by sprinkling on a little cheese from the salad bar. The combinations are endless.

Chicken and Waffles: It’s Better Than You Think

4. Find a Church. 
A church gives you the opportunity to serve others, which is what Jesus called us to do. In addition, church can give you a sense of family, which you may be missing out on if you’re an Ohioan like me.

3. Work First, Play Later
One problem I always face is that I’d much rather have fun with my friends than do my schoolwork. For example, I’ll play volleyball in the Student Activity Center until close, then I’ll be invited to grab some chicken and waffles at IHOP afterward. Once the fun starts, it doesn’t stop until your head hits the pillow. And if your friends are persuasive like mine are, it’ll be hard to say no. Therefore, make sure you get your work done before you start socializing.

2. Quiet Time Is Crucial
There is always something happening on campus, from concerts to study sessions to sporting events; however, make sure you plan in some time to take a step back from all the chaos to reflect on your calling and walk with Christ.

1. Go To Chapel!
Unless your parents forced you, you came to Southeastern University for a reason, and that reason was because you wanted to grow in your relationship with Christ. Traditionally, each student must attend 35 services a semester, so why waste hundreds of dollars in missed chapel fines when you have a priceless opportunity to let passionate men and women of God speak into your life. It’s common sense.

*This post is from the blog of Amanda Furmage.  All content is that of Amanda Furmage and not myself.  Amanda is awesome.*

TOW #8

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TOW

Ok, so Storify seems pretty mainstream with what’s “happening.”  Some of the first things I noticed when I went to the site included Steve Jobs tributes and articles.  The name Storify seems pretty close to Spotify, which is a new application quite a few of my friends are using to stream music.

Storify can give you some pretty cool ideas for writing stories.  Let’s face it, sometimes it’s hard to come up with ideas.  You might be drawing a blank when it comes to getting started, or whatever example you may have go give.  This is a simple way to gather what you need to get started.

One of Storify’s main draws is the fact that it’s linked to Twitter.  So many people are using Twitter these days that many applications are linking to it in hopes that Tweeters will use their software.

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TOW #6

Headlines are a writer’s version of a first impression.  If you mess up on a headline, someone may not even bother reading your article.  Ouch.  With this in mind, we realize that a headline must be catchy, informative, and quick!

1. Be relevant.  If your headline has nothing to do with your article or story, it won’t make sense to your readers.

2. Make Connections.  Your headline doesn’t need to be obviously connected to your story, but it needs to make sense.

3. Get people’s attention.  If something stuns someone, they may be more likely to follow through and read the story.  However, make sure you don’t oversell something you can’t deliver in your story.

4. Don’t make your headlines too long.  Don’t try to include every facet of your story in your headline.  They can get more information by reading your article.  The job of the headline is to build interest.

5. You guessed it; don’t make your headlines too short.  “Read” may not be enough for a headline, while “Read Me” may have a humorous undertone depending on your article.

6. Look out for typos.  People will assume your article is written badly if you have typos in your headline.  Judgements are made when typos are present, so do your very best to edit accordingly.

7. Cater to your audience.  A headline about Disney World may attract readers who are interested in researching Havacation locations, but it might not be relevant for a high school class researching locations for visiting nursing home residents.

8. Make it interesting for your readers.  Ask yourself if your headline would be interesting if you were reading an article for the first time.  If you don’t trust your own opinion, you could ask a friend.

9. Brainstorm with colleagues.

10. Give yourself plenty of time to figure out a headline that fits your story.  Having a good headline is worth the time you put into thinking about it.

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