JOUR 6002.03 Audience & Content Strategies

 

 

Older Course Outlines : 2011 | 2012

Mondays & Wednesdays: 1–3 p.m.
June 3 – July 10, 2013
Seminar Room 2 (basement Link) & Computer Lab 2 (3rd floor A&A)

Instructor:
Tim Currie
tim.currie@gmail.com
@tscurrie
902-222-1182 (mobile)

Overview

This course invites you to explore the ways in which new technologies and evolving social media practices are changing the relationship between news providers and consumers.

Students will examine strategies for promoting user-generated content — from social media conversations to website comments and photos — in an effort to understand how news organizations are using emerging tools to build engagement with their audience, and how these organizations can strengthen this relationship. Students will look at how individual journalists are using Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Instagram and others and identify best practices.

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

Class discussions will be supplemented with the sharing of ideas and articles on Twitter between classes. The goal will be to strengthen our own interaction as we learn about broader communities.

Guest speakers will be occasional contributors to in-class discussions.

Students are expected to have digested the readings prior to class and to participate in the discussions — in class and out.

Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to:

  • Understand the why people share
  • Write for social media
  • Use various social media effectively
  • Analyze and evaluate an organization's social media activity
  • Identify best practices
  • Grasp the fundamentals of curation
  • Build a social media strategy

Assessment

Assignments:

  • 30%: Storify a news event:
    • Tell a social media story using Storify


  • 35%: Social media assessment
    In-class presentation - approx. 15 min.: Students choose 1 of these 3 assignments (in groups of 2):

    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 Faceboook 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 2 major news organizations (such as The Huffington Post) use (or don't use) social media sharing tools on their own websites (not Facebook.com)
      Some questions you may want to investigate (add your own too):
      • What type of integration happens when you connect (log in) with your Facebook account? Your Twitter account? Other social services?
      • How are they using Facebook/Twitter/Google+ on their site?
      • What is the ratio of sharing among these tools?
      • What other integration are they promoting on their site?
      • What are the advantages/disadvantages?
      • What can they improve?
      • How does it fit with what other sites are doing?


  • 35%: 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 readings 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.

    • 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 integrated are they with Facebook?
    • Are they doing any live events in services like CoverItLive? What is the response?
    • What is your opinion of the level of conversation happening in these social platforms?
    • Are they active in Tumblr or Pinterest?

Critically analyze the sites you have chosen, in any way you can — perhaps bringing in other blog posts as supporting research.


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 accomodation 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. An error will result in loss of a letter grade. A significant error may result in a failing grade.

Students will be on time for each class and come prepared to contribute to discussions and assist fellow classmates in a collegial manner.

Class topics by week:

  1. June 3 : Introduction & Overview
      • Get set up on Twitter (optional)
      • Follow me on Twitter (@tscurrie) — I'll add you to my class list: @tscurrie/mj13

  2. June 5: Facebook / State of Social News
  3. June 10 : Curating the News
  4. June 12 : Making Content Social (1)
  5. June 17 : Making Content Social (2)
  6. June 19 : Image-driven social apps: Tumblr / Instagram / Pinterest
  7. June 24 : In-class presentations
    • Group #1 presentation: social media assessment
    • Group #2 presentation: social media assessment
  8. June 26 : In-class presentations
    • Group #3 presentation: social media assessment
    • Group #4 presentation: social media assessment
  9. July 1 : [Canada Day: NO CLASS]

  10. July 3 : LinkedIn / Research Methods
  11. July 8 : 'Other' social networks
  12. July 10 : Building a Social Media Strategy / Your Professional Presence / Ethics / Wrapup
* This outline is a map of the course with destinations and signposts. But 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).

Grading rubrics

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

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 story 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.

The following criteria will be used to grade the Storify assignment.

Fail

Adequate

Good

Exemplary

Number & suitability of sources: 50% Uses fewer than 8 sources from a single social media service. Some of sources are irrelevant to the narrative. Misses a key element of the social media commentary on the chosen subject. Uses 9-12 sources from at least two social media services, but may fail to include a key figure. The majority are relevant sources. Uses 13-20 sources from a range of social media services, all them important and relevant to the narrative. Narrative has more than 20 sources from a range of social media services, all them contributing important and diverse parts of the narrative.

Clarity & crafting of narrative: 50%

Narrative misses key pieces of information, is incoherent or contains major spelling or grammatical mistakes (in the text you write yourself). Text introductions and transitions do not explain and support the social media material.

Narrative may omit a single piece of key information but is clear and easily understood. May contain at most two minor spelling or grammatical mistakes (in the text you write yourself). Text introductions and transitions weakly explain and support the social media material.

Narrative has all the sources one would expect. It's engaging and easily understood without any spelling or grammatical mistakes (in the text you write yourself). Text introductions and transitions are missing not more than one key element for understanding the narrative.

Narrative has all of the key sources. It's lively, compelling and makes extensive use of the medium without any spelling or grammatical mistake (in the text you write yourself). Text introductions and transitions fully explain and support the social media material.


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 http://ethics.kingsjournalism.com

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.

Academic Performance

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.



[Credit: Borrows some readings & assignment ideas from @smussenden, @sree. Thanks for sharing.]