Online Journalism: Fall 2009


Just another weblog

stuff from today

Here’s a link to the Kutiman “deep dive” page I demoed in class today. Want to see the source? It’s as simple as View>Page Source in Firefox.

And here’s a link to the gibberish example page I built in class. Again, View>Page Source, or Firebug, is your friend.

A word of encouragement: HTML is confusing and CSS is confusing and together they are massively confusing. But I promise you: they make sense, once you understand their internal logic, and every minute you spend frustrated in front of a monitor pays off as the curious logic begins to unfold in front of you. And, once it does, it gets exponentially easier.

Another word of encouragement: The same way you’re not expected to memorize the entire AP style guide, you’re also not expected to memorize a hundred different HTML tags or CSS properties, especially the esoteric ones. You just need to know where to look. First stop? HTML Dog. Second Stop? Google. Third stop? Me.



Filed under: class stuff

Readings, links, + reactions 10-30-09

Two readings today, about local news.
What Newspapers Still Don’t Understand About The Web
The Chicago News Collaborative that’s just been announced.

And one link, at a pretty amazing “deep dive” created by WTTW’s Chicago Tonight:
Facing the Mortgage Crisis. Make sure to dig into the many aspects of this deep, deep site.

Filed under: Readings

Your Work for Next Week

A busy week! Three things:

1) Prepare and test a paper prototype for your group site. This is a group project, so divvy up the work equitably. You need to:
–build the prototype and test it on three actual users of your site (not just your roomates).
–between each user testing session, refine the prototype according to feedback from the previous test.
–document all the testing sessions with video and upload a video of the testing to YouTube.
–write a brief report documenting what you learned from testing and how you’re proceeding with the site concept and design (250 words).

2) Hand-code a deep-dive web page on a subject of your choosing. This page needs to:
–demonstrate your understanding of both basic HTML and CSS.
–show a deep understanding of the subject you’ve chosen.
–as with the example we looked at in class, it should have an introduction and three distinct topic “dives” consisting of multiple links.

3) We’ll have a mid-term check-in on the blog you’ve been keeping since week one. Please make sure it’s up-to-date.

Filed under: Homework

HTML and CSS reference guides

The best reference site that I’ve found to help you with grasping both basic and advanced HTML and CSS is a site called HTML Dog.

It not only includes a number of very good tutorials for people working at beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels, it also includes a complete reference for both HTML tags and CSS properties, complete with examples of use.

Bookmark it, and use it regularly. The best way to learn this stuff is to simply try it out and look at how other sites do it using a tool like Firebug.

Filed under: class stuff

lecture links 10-23-09

Party like it’s 1994: The original website for Mosaic, the browser that changed everything.

Firebug, the Firefox add-on that lets you dig into site structure and design.

Bespin, the online text editor. Free and great

CSS Zen Garden an incredible resource for downloadable CSS-based site designs. Don’t just take it out of the can, but look at what they’re doing and borrow code to tweak and customize and learn.

Color Picker a very intuitive web app to pick HTML-ready colors.

Filed under: Lecture Links

Your work for next week

Your teams have been assembled. Now you need to get together and start making plans on how to move forward. You have a very important document due next week, an audience & editorial plan for your site. This plan needs to include the following and must be signed by every member of your team:

  1. A detailed description of your site. It is OK, at this stage, if the site idea has changed from the initial pitch, either subtly or dramatically. This should lead with a clear one-sentence description, and then build with a paragraph explaining the site & idea in more detail.
  2. A clear description of the audience for this site.
  3. Interviews with three actual members of the audience/community you’re targeting (new folks, not the same faces), about the space your site is operating in, not the site itself.
  4. Informed by these interviews, a discussion of the type of content you would like to do and at least ten specific content ideas.
  5. A plan for the integration of tools and media beyond simple text/blogging.
  6. A basic plan for marketing your site: How do you connect with the communities that are already out there?
  7. An overall plan for the equal distribution of labor: How will you share the reporting work? The data entry? The coding? The images/video/audio? The marketing?

Please post your reports here, but also bring in a hard copy that–everybody now–has been signed by every member of your group

Filed under: Homework

readings, links, + reactions 10-23-09

In class next week, we’ll be getting our hands dirty with code. Here are two good reasons why:
Why Journalists Should Learn to Code
Be Not Afraid: Journalists Should Learn Code

Additionally, we will start our weekly discussion of topics in online journalism. We’ll talk about social media and journalism next week. Please read this story: NPR to Social Media: Bring It On (be sure to click through on the links in the article as well).
And visit these three Twitter accounts: LA Times Fires | Planet Money | Colonel Tribune


Filed under: Readings

What’s a persona?

It is always easier to create a site when you’re creating it for someone.

For many developers, this means creating a few personas, fictional stand-ins for the many real people you speak to when developing the site. These stands-ins need to have enough reality behind them to push your ideas toward real people, instead of stereotypes. As a result, your personas should have:

Relationships (or lack thereof)
Attitudes towards technology
A reason for coming to your site/goal to achieve there

Please think of three different personas that are rooted in reality (can and should base them on interviews you conducted—they can be amalgams of multiple people, if there are through-lines that connect them. They should have varying levels of computer literacy, and varying interest in the topic your site is built around. Think in terms of a “super user” a “casual user” etc.

For more about personas, you can read here and here

Filed under: Homework

Your Reports for Next Week

In addition to your pitches, you will be turning in a report. It should cover the following:

1) Have a name for your site
2) Give a clear and precise two-sentence description of the site
3) Outline the audience for this site.
4) Discuss the social media strategy for engaging that audience.
3) Give a description of a three personas—analogues for some of the real users you have talked with—following the guidelines set out in the class blog.
4) Write a brief narrative of how these personas interact with your site. They may do so in different ways (a “super user” for instance, may access and work with your site in a different way than a “casual user”).

Filed under: Homework

Your pitches next week

Your pitches next week should be NO LONGER than two minutes and should consist of NO MORE than two slides. Here’s the breakdown of what you need to cover:

Slide one: The Idea
1) What’s the idea? BE SUCCINCT.
2) How does it manifest itself online?
3) What does the site accomplish?

Slide two: The Audience
1) Who’s the audience for your site?
2) How do you engage them? (“WITH GREAT CONTENT” IS NOT AN ANSWER)
3) What’s your Social Media strategy?

In addition, you will be turning in a written report (explained in the next post). Your grade will be for both the presentation and the report.

Filed under: Homework

class documents

other online journalism news