This challenge is due at noon Monday, Feb. 18.

Description

For this challenge, you will identify several blogs of interest and add them to your blogroll and Google Reader RSS feeds. Also, you will prepare for next week’s guest speaker, Brian Donohue, host and producer of Ledger Live, the Star-Ledger’s video blog.

Explanation

Preparing for Brian Donohue’s visit:

  • Follow him on Twitter at @briandonohue. Review his recent tweets.
  • Take a look at his LinkedIn profile.
  • Watch the video “Meet Brian Donohue” at this link.
  • Look at some of the recent stories and videos at Ledger Live.
  • Come up with at least two good questions that you are prepared to ask him next week.

Finding and following four blogs related to social media, journalism, PR, and/or advertising:

  • Find four good blogs that address journalism, public relations, advertising, social media, or some combination of these topics. The TOPIC of each blog must be journalism, PR, advertising, or social media. In other words, a political blog, a sports writer’s blog, a corporate blog, or a nonprofit’s blog DON’T count. You’re looking for blogs about the journalism, PR, advertising, or social media industries. You’re free to use one of the links from the “Sites worth seeing” section on the course blog, but no more than one. Here are some sites that might help you find blogs. Don’t just randomly grab blogs from these sites. Choose four good blogs that INTEREST YOU and that you wish to FOLLOW REGULARLY. Feel free to find blogs on your own.
  • Subscribe to these blogs’ feeds using Google Reader. Sign in to your Gmail (Google) account. (If you don’t have a Gmail or Google account, you need to create one.) For each blog, find a link to its RSS feed. Look for the RSS icon or an XML button, or search the blog’s main page for “RSS” or “feed.” Click the icon or the link. The Firefox browser will give you the option to add the feed to Google Reader. For other browsers, you may have to copy the URL for the feed page (in the address bar at the top) and then paste it into Google Reader. (Click the “Subscribe” button in the left pane in Google Reader, and then paste the address.) If the blog doesn’t have a link to an RSS feed, try clicking the “Subscribe” button in Google Reader and then typing the main address for the blog’s home page. If the blog doesn’t use RSS or you are unable to get the blog’s posts to appear in Google Reader, you’ll have to find a different blog.
  • Once you’ve added the four blogs to Google Reader, create a folder and place all four blogs underneath that folder. To do this, select one of the blogs (it doesn’t matter which one) in the left pane in Google Reader. Click the downward-pointing arrow immediately to the right of the blog’s name. Select the “New folder…” option. Give the folder an appropriate name. Now, you can drag the other three blogs into the folder (or click the arrow next to each blog and select the folder name).
  • Next, add these same four blogs to the “Blogroll” of your WordPress blog. Make sure you’re logged in to your WordPress account. Go to the Dashboard for your blog and select “Links” from the left column. You’ll probably see some links are already there in the category “Blogroll.” I recommend deleting those links unless you really think you’ll be visiting those sites a lot. To delete them, check the boxes to the left of them and then select “Delete” at the top (underneath “Bulk Actions”) and “Apply.” Now, add your four blogs. For each blog, select the “Add New” button. Then type in the official name of the blog and paste the URL for the blog’s homepage (NOT the RSS feed URL). Make sure the URL is the full address, including the http, the colon, and the two slashes. Under “Categories,” select “Blogroll.” You don’t need to fill in anything else. When you’re done, click the blue “Add link” button to the right. Follow this process for all four blogs. Need help? This WordPress support page might be of assistance.
  • Make your blogroll appear on your blog’s main page. In the Dashboard, go to Appearance > Widgets. Drag the “Links (Your Blogroll)” widget from the left-hand side into the Sidebar on the right. Try to place it in the Sidebar if you can, but some WordPress themes may require you to place it in the Footer. Now, click on the Links widget. Make sure that under “Select Link Category,” Blogroll is selected. You will see some other options for how the links should be sorted and displayed. Make sure that “Number of links to show” is set at a high enough number that all of the links you’ve just added appear on your blog’s main page. Click the blue “Save” button for the changes to take effect. Now view your blog’s main page to make sure the blogroll appears and to make sure all of the links work properly. Need help? This WordPress support page might be of assistance.

Finding and following four blogs about a topic of interest:

  • Next, find four blogs that all cover a single topic you’re interested in — preferably, a fairly narrow topic (but one that’s broad enough that you can find four blogs about it). This doesn’t have to be a journalism or PR topic. If you’re a journalism student, think of this as a “beat” you’re interested in. If you’re a PR/advertising student, you might choose a particular brand, cause, company, organization, or type of product. Blog search engines such as Technorati or Google Blog Search may be able to help you find relevant blogs.
  • Add these four blogs’ feeds to Google Reader, following the same steps listed above. Also, create a separate folder and place all four blogs under that folder.
  • Add links to these four blogs to your WordPress blog, following the same steps listed above. However, instead of putting these four blogs in the “Blogroll” category, create a new category. (In the Dashboard, go to Links > Link Categories). Now, add these links to your blog’s main page. Go to Appearance > Widgets and once again, drag the Links widget into the sidebar (or footer). This time, instead of selecting the Blogroll category, select the category that you just created. Click Save, and then take a look at your blog’s main page. You should now have on your blog’s main page a Blogroll widget with the links to the four blogs related to journalism, PR, advertising, or social media AND another widget with links to the four blogs about the topic that interests you.
  • If you want to delete the “Blogs I follow” widget from your sidebar, go ahead (you don’t want to overload the sidebar with too many lists of blogs). You will continue to follow those blogs, even if you delete the widget.

Creating a blog post

  • Write a short blog post that references one of the recent posts on any of the eight blogs you’ve just followed and added. Use the post on that blog as a starting point or inspiration for your own post. Make sure you discuss that blog post and LINK to it within your post. Your writing should either be a response to that blog post or should build upon that blog post in some way. Basically, you’re continuing the conversation that was started on another blog.
  • Your blog post:
  • Must be 300 to 500 words in length. Do NOT go over 500 words.
  • Must contain “bullet points” (a bulleted list) somewhere within the post. (Use the “Unordered list” button in the WordPress editor’s toolbar to create a bulleted list.)
  • Must include a link to the post on the other blog.
  • Must include either a Creative Commons image found on the web (with proper attribution, either in a caption or at the end of the post, including the person’s name or user name and a link to the site where the photo is located) or a photo that you took yourself. To find Creative Commons photos that you can use without violating copyright, go to Flickr’s Creative Commons search site or the CC search page. This page also has links to some other search engines for finding Creative Commons content and some tips on avoiding copyright issues. In the WordPress editor, go to the place in your blog post where you want to insert the image, and click the “Add Media” button. You may have to play around with the sizing and alignment until you get it to look the way you want. Having trouble inserting the image into your blog post? This WordPress support page may be of help. The image must be relevant and appropriate for the blog post. It can be a somewhat generic image, but no puppy pics if the post isn’t about puppies.
  • Be sure to preview your post before submitting the assignment to make sure everything looks right and works correctly.

Submitting the assignment

This challenge is due at noon Monday, Feb. 18. Send an email to COJR3002@gmail.com with all of the following:

  • A link to your blog post. (I will also be checking out your blog’s main page to see if you added the 8 blog links.)
  • The 2 questions you are prepared to ask Brian Donohue.
  • A Microsoft Word attachment with a screenshot of Google Reader in which your eight feeds (placed in two folders) are visible. To get a screenshot: Open Google Reader and expand it to fill the screen. Make sure the eight feeds in the left pane are visible. On a PC, hit the PRT SC button (probably in the top row of the keyboard). On a Mac, hit the following key combination: Command+Control+Shift+3. Now, open Microsoft Word. In a new, blank file, select “Paste” (or Ctrl V). This should “paste” the image into the Word file. Save the file and attach it to the email.

Grading

The challenge is worth 20 points, broken down as follows:

Blog post (12 points): You will be evaluated on the quality of the post (including grammar and spelling), and whether you followed all instructions (including word length, bullet points, image, etc.).

Blogroll/RSS feeds (5 points): Did you find appropriate blogs? Were the links correctly added to your blog? Were the RSS feeds correctly added to Google Reader?

Questions for guest speaker (3 points): Did you include two relevant, substantive questions?

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