Redefining the news

JMC grad student and blogger Ryan Sholin spends a lot of time thinking about the future of journalism and online news. In a recent blog post, Links that redefine news, he gives several examples of “online news sites and projects that stray from the traditional definition of news” and offer intriguing ideas about the future direction of online journalism.

Your assignment (due March 1) is to check out a few of these links, then write a blog post (title it “Redefining News”) on the link you find most interesting. What do you find most interesting about it? Do you think it holds promise for online journalism? Why or why not?

Be sure to look at the comments section for this blog post too — you’ll find more links to interesting experimental news-related sites and online mash-ups.

You might also want to read Sholin’s previous blog post, Inventing Journalism.


Get me rewrite!

A couple of you have asked me about doing rewrites. If your assignment has significant problems, I usually tell you to rewrite it. But even if I don’t ask you to do a rewrite, you may want to consider it.

In fact, I can think of two really good reasons for you to rewrite an assignment that didn’t come off as well as you (or I) had hoped:

  1. Rewriting is the best way I know to learn from your mistakes and continue to improve your writing skills
  2. Rewriting is a good way to earn back some points on lower-grade assignments

As a general rule, if you get less than a B on an assignment, I recommend that you rewrite it. If you do a strong rewrite, you can earn back up to half of the points you lost the first time around. For example, if you originally got 7 out of 10 points (a C-), a rewrite could bring that up to 8.5 (a B).

If you do a rewrite, please do not delete your original assignment. Instead, put your revision in the same blog post above your original version. That way I can compare them.

To make sure I can find your rewrite, please add the word “Rewrite” or “Revision” to the title of your blog post. It also helps if your blog shows a list of “recent posts” in the sidebar, so I can easily scan your recent posts and spot any that have been revised. (If it doesn’t, in Blogger you can add that feature by going to the “layout” tab and clicking on “add and arrange page elements.”)

You might also want to consider signing up for the News University tutorial, “Get Me Rewrite: The Craft of Revision.” This online class is free — all you have to do is register.

Stalking the elusive AP style exercise

It’s become clear that my emails are not getting through to everyone. Some of you have contacted me, noting that you never received the first AP style exercise that I emailed a week ago…which explains why so few of you have posted that assignment on your blogs.

After a bit of noodling around, it’s become clear to me that there’s a glitch in my group email for this class. I’m getting an error message, but the source of the problem is unclear. I’ll try to sort that out this weekend…but in the meantime, I’ve uploaded the first two AP style exercises as PDFs and added links to them on the Class Schedule. Click on the link and the PDF will automatically download to your computer. Then you can highlight and copy the text of the exercise, open up your blog and paste it into a blog post, and edit it for AP style errors.

You’ll need Adobe Acrobat Reader to open these PDF files, but it’s available online for free. If you don’t already have it, you can download Adobe Acrobat Reader here.

Because of the glitch, you can have until 6 p.m. Sunday post the AP style assignments.

It’s time to Copy Edit the World!

What’s “Copy Edit the World” you ask? It’s an assignment designed to help you sharpen your proofreading and editing skills. Your task: To find and correct errors in published materials distributed to the public, including typos and errors in spelling, word use, grammar and AP style. Everything is fair game… from green sheets , brochures and restaurant menus to posters and signage.

You are required to find 25 points worth of Copy Edit the World errors for this class. Your first 10 points worth are due next Saturday, Feb. 23; the next 15 points worth are due Sat., March 16. Make sure you describe the error and how to fix it. See the link above, or the one on the Class Schedule page or the List of Assignments page, for the specifics of this assignment, including how many points the different kinds of errors are worth.

Typo Two-ferOnce you start spotting errors, it can be hard to stop. When I spotted these (one banner, two typos…a “typo twofer”), I made my husband stop the car so I could take a photo. It was just too good to pass up.

Last semester, one Jour 61 student did me one better. She came up with a typo trifecta. You can check it out here.

To submit your AP style errors and other typos, you can photograph them and post them on your blog, or scan them in and post them. If you find errors online, you can describe the error and how to correct it in your blog post and include a link to the web page that has the error. Or take a screenshot and post it, then describe how to correct it in your blog post.

If none of these options will work for you, you can put your error-ridden print materials in an envelope and drop it by the JMC office (DBH 105); ask one of the JMC staff to put it in my mailbox. Or mail them to my attention at:

School of Journalism & Mass Communications
San José State University
One Washington Square
San José, CA 95192-0055

Help…my blog post didn’t publish!

A couple of you have run into problems getting your assignments to publish on your blog. There is a trick to it. Here’s how Blogger works: The first time you save a blog post, clicking on the “save now” button only saves it as a draft. It does not publish it. To publish a blog post, you have to click the “publish post” button.

However, once a blog post has been published, clicking the “save now” button saves it and republishes it.

Here’s how that works. Say, for example, you publish an assignment, then click on the “view site” link to give it one final review and make sure it really published (a practice I highly recommend, by the way). When you look over your assignment, you notice an AP style error and, of course, you decide to fix it. To do that, go back to blog’s dashboard, click on the manage “posts” link, then click on the “edit” link for that blog post. (Or click on the “back” button in your browser to get back to the post management area of your blog, and click on the “edit” link from there.) Make your edit, then click on “save now” or “publish post.” Your corrected blog post replaces the flawed original. You’re happy, I’m happy. Life is good.

If you run into blog problems, let me know. Another good resource is the help page. Here’s the URL: If you’re using a WordPress blog, the WordPress Lessons page is equally helpful.