JOUR 6002.03 Audience & Content Strategies

 

 

Tuesdays & Thursdays: 10 a.m.-noon
June 7, 2011 - July 14, 2011
Computer Lab 3

Instructors:
Tim Currie
tim.currie@gmail.com
@tscurrie

Maureen Googoo (occasional)
@radiogoogoo

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.

The course will take the form of a seminar/lab, during which we discover the changing media landscape together. The reading list will be based on current 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.

Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to:

  • Evaluate social media activity
  • Build a social media strategy
  • Identify best practices
  • Use social media effectively

Readings

Assessment

Assignments:

  • 20%: Social media assessment.
    In-class presentation - approx. 15 min.: Students do 1 of these 3 assignments (in groups of 2 or 3):

    1. Assess the website comments of a major news organization. Read the comments on at least 5-10 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.
      • 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?

        Presentation date: June 21, 2011

    2. Analyze the Faceboook presence of a major news organization. Examine a week or two of stories on their Facebook.com fan page.
      • 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 encouraging interaction?
      • What can they improve?
      • How does it fit with what other organizations are doing on Facebook?

        Presentation date: June 23, 2001

    3. Assess how a major news organization such as The Huffington Post uses social media sharing tools on its own website (not Facebook.com).
      • What type of integration happens when you connect (log in) with your Facebook account? Your Twitter account?
      • How are they using Facebook/Twitter/Google/email/ 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?

        Presentation date: June 28, 2011


  • 5%: Storify assignment:
    • Tell a social media story using Storify.

      Due: June 30, 2011 Publish and email URL to Tim [address at top]


  • 20%: Interviews on Twitter Use:
    Best practices on Twitter are still emerging. In groups of 2 or 3, examine an aspect of Twitter use by interviewing 6-9 journalists who are active users. How do they use Twitter? Do they have a personal ethical approach they follow? Write a feature story (about 1,000 words, incl. links to specific tweets where necessary). Be sure to get a headshot (JPG) of each person (can be Twitter photo if it's at least 200 x 100px). We'll post the stories online and discuss the findings in class. Possible topics:

    • Personal vs Professional: How much of their personal life do they reveal to their followers? Do they worry about being impartial or neutral on some subjects? (Might differ depending on whether they are a columnist or reporter. Interview a mix).

      Completed assignment: How much personality to put on Twitter? Depends on the audience: journalists (July 11, 2011)

    • Working in real time: How do they tweet breaking ne ws? Do they? What have they learned? How important is it to be first? Do they regret any tweets? How did they handle these situations? How do they handle corrections?

      Completed assignment: Journalists on retweeting: use reliable sources, correct when necessary (July 11, 2011)

    • Engagement: How much time do they spend on Twitter each day? How important is it to interact with people who ask questions/make comments? How do they use their followers? What have they learned from them?

      Completed assignment: 'I've learned a lot from my followers' (July 11, 2011)

      Present in class and submit for online: July 7, 2011


  • 30%: Case study assessment of a news organization's 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 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 Foursquare/Tumblr? Critically analyze the site you have chosen, in any way you can -- perhaps bringing in other blog posts as supporting research.

    Due: July 14, 2011 (email a Microsoft Word file or share a Google Doc with Tim)

  • 15%: Twitter participation - Minimum 5 tweets a week introducing new material or commenting on others.

  • 10%: Professionalism (in-class participation, attendance, collegiality)

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. They are expected to display a level of collegiality that would be present in a newsroom.

Class topics by week:

June 7, 2011 : Introduction & Overview

  • Introductions
  • What the course is about
  • Twitter basics (PPT)
  • Top 10 journo Tweeters to follow
  • For next class:
    • Get set up on Twitter (if not already)
    • Follow me on Twitter (@tscurrie) - I'll add you to my class list: @tscurrie/mj11
    • Get Shirky text

June 9, 2011 : Changing Environment:

June 14, 2011 : Defining Engagement

June 16, 2011 : Website Comments

June 21, 2011 : Social Media Storytelling

June 23, 2011 : Mobile & Geolocation

June 28, 2011 : Facebook

June 30, 2011 : Social Media Analytics

  • Guest: Sarah Carver, Radian6 (social media monitoring company)
  • Website metrics & using Google Analytics
  • Due: Storify assignment

July 5, 2011 : Crowd-sourced participation

July 7,  2011 : Best practices for Twitter use

  • What heavy Twitter users in the news media can teach us. Class presentations of individual interviews
  • Building successful communities. What community managers do.
  • Readings:
    • Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 8: Solving Social Dilemmas (pp. 188-211)
    • Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 9: Fitting Our Tools to a Small World (pp. 212-232)

July 12, 2011 : Building a social media strategy

July 14, 2011 : Wrap-up

  • Due: Case study analysis

 

 

Grading rubrics

The following criteria will be used to grade the social media assessment presentations, the Twitter interview assignment 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 only one or two 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 three or four sources from at least two social media services, but may fail to include a key figure. The majority are relevant sources. Uses more than four sources from a range of social media services, all them important and relevant to the narrative. Narrative has five to eight 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).

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).

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).

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).

The following criteria will be used to grade the out-of-class Twitter use/discussion.

Fail

Adequate

Good

Exemplary

Adds value to discussion: 25%

Fails to add meaningful context to the course themes. Tweets reference articles that are old, obvious or irrelevant to the subject matter. Opinions display weak understanding the material or repeat well-known observations. Tweets display inability to tie new events and ideas with course themes. Points are muddled or text contains serious spelling or grammatical errors.

 

Tweets reflect a grasp of key course themes. Tweets introduce articles or commentary for discussion but these may occasionally be from familiar sources or reflect well-established viewpoints. Tweeted comments display ability to synthesize new events and ideas with course themes but may fail to address a key idea. Tweets contain some spelling or grammatical errors, or broken links.

Tweets provide original and insightful analysis that relates to course themes. They introduce relevant news articles or commentary for discussion. Tweets effectively synthesize current events in terms of course themes but may occasionally repeat well-established viewpoints. Personal anecdotes add meaningful context to abstract ideas. Tweets are clear and direct with minor spelling or grammatical errors, or broken links.

Tweets present original, thoughtful reflection on the course subject matter. They reference timely, relevant news articles or commentary — especially from new sources. Tweets demonstrate a superior ability to identify key elements of current news and opinion, and tie them to course themes. Personal anecdotes add important context to abstract ideas. Observations challenge established opinion or practices, and provide suitable justification. Tweets themselves are concise and make a single, clear point. They contain flawless spelling and display command of grammar.

Stimulates dialogue and commentary: 25%

Tweets take the form of pronouncements, not elements of a conversation. They display scant intent to engage. Attitude is disrespectful or overly critical. Tweets don’t acknowledge original authors or retweeters. They fail to provide links or quote key phrases from source documents.

Tweets spur further discussion with some attempt to engage and reference previous messages. Tweets occasionally include questions but frequently are statements. They occasionally cite original authors and key phrases in source documents. Tone is civil but not overly welcoming of engagement.

Tweets regularly invite participation and reference earlier messages through use of mentions and retweets. Tone is respectful and disagreement is polite. Tweets provide links, highlight key phrases of source documents and credit original authors.

Student shows strong leadership in advancing the conversation. Tweets drive the discussion in new directions prompting further participation.  They frequently use retweets and mentions to build upon past messages. Tweets ask questions and actively invite comment. They offer respectful criticism and disagreement. They provide links, highlight key phrases of source documents and credit original authors.

Replies : 25%

Never replies (publicly) to tweets

Occasionally replies (publicly) to tweets usually with short statements such as  “I agree” or “I disagree”.

Often replies (publicly) to tweets, occasionally offering extended comment and additional links.

Frequently replies (publicly) to tweets. Offers personal anecdote, respectful argument or additional links.

Quantity: 25%

Falls short of minimum number of Tweets per week

Meets minimum number of Tweets per week

Exceeds minimum number of Tweets per week

Greatly exceeds minimum number of Tweets per week

Twitter Use adapted and used with permission from Karen Franker
Original at: http://www2.uwstout.edu/content/profdev/rubrics/Twitter_Rubric.html

Statement on Accommodation:

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, quizzes and exams should make their request to the Office
of Student Accessibility & Accommodation (OSAA) prior to or at the outset of each
academic term. Please see www.studentaccessibility.dal.ca for more information
and to obtain Form A - Request for Accommodation.

A note taker may be required to assist a classmate. There is an honourarium of
$75/course/term. If you are interested, please contact OSAA 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 so that
students who require their usage will be able to participate in the class.

Academic Integrity

The School of Journalism vigorous enforces the highest standards of academic integrity.

Plagiarism is the duplication in whole or in part of work created for another purpose. This can be work done by another student, published work or even a student’s own work that has been re-purposed for a class. Plagiarism can be reflected in actual language, or in the duplication of an idea or a sequence. Do not cut and paste information from the Internet. If you have any doubts about what constitutes plagiarism, consult your instructor. All cases of suspected plagiarism will be dealt with according to the policy.

Academic integrity issues will be dealt with by the Academic Integrity Officer of the University of King’s College, the Faculty of Graduate Studies and the Dalhousie Senate, as outlined in the King’s calendar and the Dalhousie University Graduate Calendar.

As well, the School of Journalism has a statement of ethics and professional standards that must be followed. Please read this material carefully.





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