The final assignment: Curating content and some final thoughts

2 Oct , 2015  

OK, this is it! The final assignment for our “Crowdsourcing Journalism” class. We’re excited about the the solid content you’ve created on your own Ram Pages site — now it’s time to collect that, along with some of your own work, into something easily “digestible” for online consumers; this is called “curation.” We’d also like you to write a little about your thinking and doing in this class. Finally, you’ll read and comment on some of your classmates’ work and thoughts. Read on for the details. More…

Assignments, Class Announcements

VCU is counting on YOU to provide content for the ‘Great Bike Race Book’

19 Sep , 2015  

Good morning, crowdsourcing journalists. Welcome to the first full day of the UCI race.

VCU plans to pull together the content you produce (photos, tweets, stories) for a book. Wow — this is a huge opportunity. Below is an email that Dr. Gardner Campbell, the vice provost overseeing this project, sent to instructors teaching bike-race-related courses. Check out the “best practices for interviewing”; they echo and reinforce things we’ve covered in our class and our journalism curriculum.

The key takeaways for us:

* Wear your Bike Race T-shirts when you’re out gathering content.

* Tag every tweet with #TheWorldsAtVCU … and #Richmond2015 and #vcubrb if you have room … so they will be easy for VCU to find. (I should have mentioned this when I sent out the race-week assignment yesterday.)



Assignments, Class Announcements

Race week assignment: 10 tweets, 10 photos (including 1 Q&A)

19 Sep , 2015  

Hi, all. Here is your assignment for the UCI World Championships. Between now and Sept. 27, you must:

— Send out at least 10 tweets about the event. But space them out: You must tweet on at least three days. Remember to use hashtags (#TheWorldsAtVCU on every tweet; #Richmond2015 and #vcubrb if you have room). Also use Twitter handles — the names of people or institutions using Twitter.

— Retweet at least five of your classmates’ tweets. We’ve listed everybody’s Twitter handles toward the bottom of this page. So follow your classmates; look for something interesting they’ve tweeted; and then retweet it to amplify its reach.

— Shoot 10 photos from the race. Follow Tim’s tips for effective composition. Post your photos on your Rampages blog. Each photo must include an informative cutline/caption. You can use the photos in your tweets as well.

— At least one of your photos (and it could be several) must focus on a person who has come to watch the bicycle races. Ideally, this would be a tourist from another country. But if you can’t find an international visitor, maybe you can find somebody from out of town. Ask your interview subject, “Can I take a picture of you for a class project I’m doing for VCU? Is it OK for us to publish this on our website?” Assuming the person says yes, ask these questions (and any others you think of): More…


Best practices — & an assignment — for cell phone pics

12 Sep , 2015  

We’ve all taken a ton of photos with our cell phones–some beautiful like postcards and  others so bad we hope no one ever sees them. In 2015 it’s expected that worldwide we’ll take a trillion…with a T!…photos with our cell and smart phones.

There’s also a debated stat out there that 90% of people have only EVER taken a photo with a camera phone, as opposed to a real phone. (Not sure I’m buying that.)

This outlines some best practices…and an assignment…for taking better cell and smart phone pics. After this not only will you be ready to take some great pictures connected to the UCI Worlds, but what you post on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter will get more traffic…no kidding! More…


Best practices — & an assignment — for tweets

9 Sep , 2015  

Most if not all of you probably have a Twitter account. We need to get your Twitter handle (mine is @jcsouth and Tim’s is @mediacabbage). So please provide that here. (I’ve got the handles for: Angela Judson, Audry Dubon, Benjamin Weiner, Niyah White, Rodrigo Arriaza, Samantha Federico and Travis Ellison.)

Before we examine how to use Twitter, let’s consider why journalists use Twitter. Here’s a PBS video that provides this context: More…


Assignments through the weekend

3 Sep , 2015  

Hi, folks. Thanks to (almost) everyone who provided the URL for their Rampages blog. I’ve now aggregated all of your blogs on our class blog — so your latest entries will be displayed on our home page. That helped me learn a lot about each of you. What an eclectic group: a pre-med major who was a standout high school journalist and runs Brownies Production Company on the side … a social justice and econ major who leads a high school ministry called YoungLife … a broadcast journalism student who’s backpacked alone all across Europe and Asia, mostly to eat spicy food … a member of the punk band Partition (hey, I found you on Bandcamp)  … The list goes on.

So where do we go from here? First, we want to give everybody a crash course in journalism — so we’ll all know the basic ethical values and skills for being a reporter. So make a free account at — a journalism training program funded by the Knight Foundation and the Poynter Institute (a media think tank in Florida). Then complete these training modules:

Journalism Fundamentals: Craft & Values — (Be sure to do the segment called “Your Turn: Try Your Skills.”)

News Sense: The Building Blocks of News —

The Lead Lab —

Next week, we’ll get into creating content for social media platforms.


Assignments, Class Announcements

A panda for Aubrey; get your Rampages site up and running

2 Sep , 2015  

We have a winner — Audrey Dubon!

Audrey was the first member of our class to give me the URL for her Rampages site:

I love the look …


… and her “About” page is spot-on for the breezy but professional tone we’re looking for.

For being the first to complete this assignment, Audrey wins a panda bear paper clip: More…


Assignment #1: Go on a Rampage

29 Aug , 2015  

Our course will focus on how journalists and citizen journalists use digital technologies. So we’re going to use these technologies in teaching the course. We’ll follow a pedagogy called “connected learning“:  We — meaning all of us — will collaborate online, posting relevant information on the open Internet (as opposed to, say, Blackboard). In this way, you will “narrate your learning” and make it visible. As a result, other people (your classmates, the general public, the instructors, etc.) can benefit from your contributions.

To make this work, everyone must create a site on VCU’s WordPress platform called Rampages. The URL is  It’s pretty self-explanatory, and a lot of you probably are familiar with WordPress (which itself is a valuable skill to have in communications and other career fields today). If you need help, you’ll find tutorials at  Or ask Tim or me for help. Your site doesn’t have to be pretty or unique; just get it started, and we’ll go from there. One of the great things about WordPress is that you can always change the theme (the look, the feel, the layout, the colors) without having to redo your posts and other content. More…

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