Students and faculty at West Virginia University’s P.I. Reed School of Journalism aren’t just talking about the future of their profession – they’re helping to redefine it.
A new class, Blogging and Interactive Journalism, is giving students the opportunity to explore and experience the impact of Web 2.0 and user-generated content on journalism. Using a variety of social media tools and web-based applications, students will learn to become effective online journalists, facilitating news as a two-way conversation rather than a one-way transmission.
“Once you write a blog post, it doesn’t end there,” said Dr. Bob Britten, assistant professor of visual journalism. “Others respond, you respond to them and information grows. Students will realize the work they are doing is just a starting point for that conversation. They will build a web of information with their blogging and social media work as the connective tissue.”
During the course, students create personal blogs on a variety of topics. The exercise will teach different approaches to writing professional online content and provide the opportunity for students to publish their work. Students will regularly update their posts, moderate comments and create web-based connections in an effort to maintain a public presence.
Students will also work in groups to serve as “mini-newsrooms” and manage and maintain a Morgantown-based blog of local interest. Students will produce original reporting for the sites, make community connections and integrate associated links useful to the readers.
According to Britten, blogs have become much more mainstream now that traditional media are using them to gather and share information with their audiences. As a result, blogging is a skill that students will likely need in the newsrooms of the future.
“There aren’t many [journalism] schools that are teaching blogging,” said Britten. “Colleagues tell me part of the reason is that some believe blogging and social media aren’t journalism. These students will show how they can be. When you see so many people using this new form of communication, it’s difficult to ignore its potential.”
As a final project, students will produce proposals for the 2011 John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s News Challenge competition. Part of the Knight Foundation’s Media Innovation Initiative, the competition is providing $25 million in funding over five years to select innovative projects that help to inform and transform community news and social media experiments. Next year will be the fifth year of the competition.
Class content and student blogs are accessible through the course site at http://interactivejournalismwvu.wordpress.com/.
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CONTACT: Kimberly Brown, School of Journalism
304-293-3505 ext. 5403