Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Welcome to our class blog

Hello everyone, and welcome to the class blog for Clay Carey’s section of Journalism 231a (News Writing). I hope this blog will become a place where we can read, discuss and learn from excellent journalism.

For that to happen, the class must populate it with good stories. I want those stories to come from a variety of sources, and I hope that in the process of seeking them out we all discover high quality news sources that we didn’t know about prior to this class.

In this post, I will share some of the outlets that I turn to for good journalism. I will also set up some ground rules for blog posts that should keep all of us on the same page as we look for stories to post.

Sources I want you to use

Newspapers: You should get in the habit of reading them every day. Read The Columbus Dispatch, and the metro daily from your hometown (for me, that is The Tennessean in Nashville). Read The New York Times and other major newspapers such as The Los Angeles Times or the Miami Herald.

Magazines and alternative weeklies: Magazines such as Time and Newsweek sometimes offer outstanding journalism. So do alternative weekly newspapers (such as the Nashville Scene from my hometown), although they typically write in a different style. Impressive articles from other magazines are also welcome, as long as they focus on news events or current social issues.

Web-only outlets: Sites such as Slate and ProPublica do great work. So do smaller local nonprofit news organizations such as Texas Watchdog and Voice of San Diego. Feel free to post stories from these sites, but make sure the articles you post are news, not commentary or blogs (more on this later).

Sources I don’t want you to use

Blogs: If a blog post directs you to an article produced by an established news outlet, feel free to post and discuss that article. Bloggers sometimes produce quality work, but I do not want you to post blog entries for our discussions.

The local newspapers: By “local,” I mean the newspapers that cover Athens – The Post, the Athens News and The Athens Messenger. They sometimes produce good work, and you should read each of them. But the point of this blog is to expose your classmates (and me) to journalism we might not otherwise see. Most of us should see the stories in those three papers anyway.

Editorials and Commentary: We will focus on straight newswriting in this class, so I want our Thursday discussions to focus on straight news stories.

Some things to remember

Use Twitter: I follow several organizations and individuals on Twitter who post links to great stories. In addition to the news organizations I’ve already mentioned (especially @nytimes), I recommend @longreads, @niemanstory, @briefreads and @poststorylab. There are many more – if you find a great one, please share it here.

As you become fans of particular writers, you should also follow those writers if they have Twitter presences. Writers whom I admire and follow include Todd Frankel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and John McIntyre of The Baltimore Sun.

Think stories, not just articles: We will spend a lot of time talking about writing in this class, so we should spend a lot of time talking about writing on this blog as well. But when you post articles that have well planned and executed multimedia components, please discuss those as well. Think about stories as a combination of text articles and multimedia, and discuss ways in which each element adds to the overall story.

Provide links: Obviously, you should provide hyperlink to the stories you want to discuss here. You should provide other links that provide additional context as well. The more links a blog has, the better it serves its readers.

With that, I will stop. I look forward to reading and discussing great stories here!

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