JOUR 6002.03 Audience & Content Strategies

Older Course Outlines : 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011

Tuesdays & Thursdays: 9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
June 7 – July 7, 2016
Seminar Room 2 (Link Basement, King's A&A)

Instructor:
Tim Currie
tim.currie@ukings.ca
@tscurrie

This course:

Overview

This course invites you to explore the changing relationship between providers and consumers of news.

We will examine the strategies that news organizations are using to strengthen the relationship with their audience — both online and offline. We'll look at how we can encourage more people to interact with our content — by sharing and commenting. And how we can listen to our audience members to serve them better. We'll look at how news organizations are using social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat — and what their best practices look like.

The course will take the form of a seminar, during which we discover the changing media landscape together. The reading list is based on topical articles relating to the issues that news organizations are grappling with.

This outline is a map of the course with destinations and signposts. We might take some detours and we might exceed — or lag behind — the posted speed limit. Class topics might change. Readings might be added (with advance notice).

Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to:

Assessment

Assignments:

  1. ASSIGNMENT #1 (10%): Share 3 news stories using one of the 5 following strategies:
    1. Nugget of social
    2. Casual language
    3. Curiosity gap
    4. Call to action
    5. Asking questions

    • Must be a public post
    • Use the hashtag: #j6002

  2. ASSIGNMENT #2 (30%): Social media assessment
    In-class presentation - approx. 20 mins: Students choose 1 of these 3 options:

    1. Assess the website comments of 2 major news organizations
      Read the comments on at least 10 stories on each site to get a sense of discussion. You may need to create a username and log in to see the full site functionality. Some questions you may want to investigate (add your own too):
      • What is the general level of conversation? Are people talking to each other?
      • How are people identified? Are commenters anonymous?
      • What kinds of stories are getting the most comments? Which stories had comments disabled?
      • What functionality (if any) does the site have for promoting comments or commenters?
      • What functionality (if any) does the site have for flagging inappropriate comments?
      • What evidence is there of policing for hate or uncivil behaviour? Have any comments been removed?
      • Are reporters or editors commenting?
      • Can you discern the attitude of commenters toward the news organization? Do they seem engaged or frustrated?
      • What can they improve?
      • How does it fit with what other sites are doing with their comments?

    2. Analyze the Facebook presence of 2 major news organizations
      Examine a week or two of stories on their Facebook.com pages. Some questions you may want to investigate (add your own too):
      • What kinds of stories are they posting?
      • How often?
      • What time of day?
      • Which stories are getting the most comments? Why?
      • Are the stories with most comments the stories with the most Likes?
      • What does the presence of the Like button say about the kind of stories chosen?
      • What format are the stories in? (video?)
      • How are they using images?
      • How does their Facebook presence compare with their website presence?
      • How are they encouraging interaction?
      • How does it fit with what other organizations are doing on Facebook?
      • What can they improve?

    3. Compare and contrast how staff members at 2 major news organizations are using Twitter.
      Some questions you may want to investigate (add your own too):
      • What are staff doing on their own accounts? Are they business-like? Are they showing personality?
      • When and what are they tweeting?
      • How much are staff interacting with each other?
      • How much interaction with the audience?
      • What is the organization's institutional account doing?
      • What can they improve?

  3. ASSIGNMENT #3 (30%): Case study assessment of a news organization's all-round social media use
    (Individual assignment): 2,000-word critical analysis of a major news organization's efforts at audience engagement. Place it in context of the course themes and discussions.

    Look at the whole bundle: The organization's Twitter/Facebook/other-social-media presence but also the efforts of individual reporters and editors. Critically analyze the sites you have chosen, in any way you can — perhaps bringing in other supporting research.

    • What are they doing well/not so well?
    • What kind of conversation is going on in their website comments? What level of engagement? What kind of social media tools are they using?
    • How are they using Twitter & Facebook? Other platforms?
    • Are they doing any live events online or offline? What is the response?
    • What is your opinion of the level of conversation/engagement/outreach happening in these social platforms?
  4. ASSIGNMENT #4 (30%): Community report
    This is an exercise in listening to the community. Pick an underserved community (geographic or interest-based). Interview 3 people. Write a 750-1,000-word report. What are their needs? What journalism would be useful to them? And how would you reconcile their needs with your role as a journalist? What would those stories look like? At a minimim, your report should answer:
    • Who are the three people you interviewed?
    • What are three challenges facing the community?
    • What are three original story ideas you can report on?

      Flesh it out with any of…
    • What are their opinions of existing media coverage of their community?
    • Where do they gather online? (Facebook group, hashtag)
    • How big is the community?

    • It may be useful to consider this assignment within the framework of solutions journalism:



Grading Scale:

A+ 90-100
A 85-89
A- 80-84
B+ 77-79
B 73-76
B- 70-72
F <70

Students must achieve a B- in all classes.

Late submissions are penalized a letter grade a day, unless an accommodation is made with the instructor.

Disputes over academic performance and assessment will be dealt with according to the Academic Regulations of the School of Journalism. Students may appeal decisions of the Journalism Studies Committee to the Faculty of Graduate Studies. For more information, see the King’s calendar and the Dalhousie University Graduate Calendar.

Detailed grading rubrics are below.

In-class presentations are due on the presentation day. Any written assignment that accompanies that presentation is due via email by midnight. An assignment not submitted gets a grade of F unless an extension has been given. An extension will not ordinarily be given unless accompanied by a doctor’s note or granted due to serious family circumstances.

Students are expected to submit work that is free from spelling, grammatical or factual error. Repeated minor errors can result in loss of a letter grade. A significant error may result in a failing grade.

Class topics by week

  1. June 7 : Introduction & Overview
  2. June 9 : Why & What We Share
  3. June 14 : Making Content Social (1)
  4. June 16 : Making Content Social (2)
  5. June 21 : In-class Presentations
    • Due: Social media assessment: Presentation #1-4
    • Alex, Mel, Payge, Francella

  6. June 23 : In-class Presentations
    • Due: Social media assessment: Presentation #5-8
    • Nicoletta, Guillaume, Sarah, Simon

  7. June 28 : In-class Presentations / Website Comments
    • Due: Social media assessment: Presentation #9-12
    • Mikkel, Sandrinette, Kathleen, Lisa

  8. June 30: Building Engagement Online & IRL

 

Grading Rubrics

The following criteria will be used to grade the social media assessment presentations, the major case study assignment and the community report

 

Fail

Adequate

Good

Exemplary

Level of research: 40%

Fails to use a range of sources or chooses poor subject material for analysis. Fails to identify the key issues and themes in the material. The assignment lacks information that is crucial for adequate analysis.

Uses a range of sources or chooses subject material that exhibits most course themes. May not fully consider the context of the material. The assignment is missing no more than two minor pieces of information needed for adequate analysis.

Uses a broad range of relevant sources or chooses subject material for analysis that fully demonstrates course themes. Identifies key issues but may exclude an important point. There are no major gaps in research material required for adequate analysis.

Uses a broad range of unique sources or chooses subject material for analysis that exhibits a wide range of course themes. Identifies key issues and introduces material that exhibits a superior understanding of its context. Research includes all relevant material and draws in uncommon sources.

Depth of analysis: 40%

Fails to explain how issues relate to each other or the problems posed. Ignores important context. Fails to adequately support story focus or argument.

May not fully explain the problems and challenges involved. Uses research material to support focus or argument, but fails to explore a single piece of important context.

Identifies problems and challenges, and explains how they relate to each other. Story focus or argument is clear and well supported by the research material. Related sources are placed in context to the issue studied and explores implications for the future.

Identifies problems and challenges -- how they relate to each other, how they came about and implications for the future. Research material is used to explore secondary tension or conflict in the issue studied. Story focus or argument is clear. Identifies and explains broad or theoretical issues inherent in the subject matter.

Quality of presentation: 20%

Written work is unclear, too long, too short or has major grammatical errors. In-class presentations run far beyond the scheduled time and presentation materials are unclear, poorly organized or cluttered. Oral presentation is disorganized and does not emphasize key points.

Written work is clear and of the appropriate length. It may be slightly wordy and have a few minor grammatical errors. In-class presentations are of the appropriate length. Slides, videos and other presentation materials are original, but may be cluttered or occasionally unclear. Oral presentations may stray from key points.

Written work is clear, concise, well structured, of the appropriate length and free from all grammatical errors. In-class presentations are of the appropriate length. Slides, videos and other presentation materials are clear and original, but may not be well structured. Oral presentations may stray from key points.

Written work is elegant. It is clear, concise, well structured, of the appropriate length and free from all grammatical errors. In-class presentations are of the appropriate length. Slides, videos and other presentation materials are clear, original and well designed. Oral presentations emphasize key points. If class discussion is involved, the presenter has prepared material to lead the discussion.


Ethical Conduct

All students are expected to familiarize themselves with and abide by the School of Journalism Code of Ethics, which can be found at kingsjournalism.com/ethics-code

Academic Integrity

Violations of academic integrity at the graduate level are taken very seriously. The punishment for plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity can range from receiving a zero on the assignment, to failing the course, being suspended or expelled from the university. If you have any doubt about proper citation for an academic paper or proper attribution in a piece of journalism, contact your instructor or the Writing Centre at Dalhousie University. For more information, consult the calendar of the University of King’s College.

Accessibility

Students may request accommodation as a result of barriers related to disability, religious obligation, or any characteristic under the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act. Students who require academic accommodation for either classroom participation or the writing of tests and exams should make their request to the Advising and Access Services Center (AASC) prior to or at the outset of the regular academic year. Please visit www.dal.ca/access for more information and to obtain the Request for Accommodation – Form A.

A note taker may be required as part of a student’s accommodation. There is an honorarium of $75/course/term (with some exceptions). If you are interested, please contact AASC at 494-2836 for more information.

Please note that your classroom may contain specialized accessible furniture and equipment. It is important that these items remain in the classroom, untouched, so that students who require their usage will be able to participate in the class.

Appeals

Disputes over academic performance and assessment will be dealt with according to the Academic Regulations of the School of Journalism. Students may appeal decisions of the Journalism Studies Committee to the Faculty of Graduate Studies. For more information, see the University of King’s College Calendar and the Dalhousie University Graduate Calendar.

 

 

Credits:
Course outline borrows some readings & assignment ideas from @smussenden, @sree. Thanks for sharing.
Banner image: Garry Knight