Assignments: JOUR 314

I’m taking an online journalism course this quarter, and will be posting various assignments on this page. I won’t always be talking about the inadequacies of the Columbus Blue Jackets sports. You’ve been warned.

Jan. 10: Traits in Journalism

Greg Linch provides a list of traits in We Are All Web Workers Now that he believes are imperative for journalists to possess to adapt and succeed as the industry continues to evolve. I’ve highlighted a few of them that to elaborate.

Provide context — Thanks to the 24-hour television news cycle and the internet, people can get breaking news and information as soon as it breaks. As a journalist, you would often like to be the one breaking it, but that will not always be the case. Therefore, it’s crucial that you explore the context of the event. Why is it significant to your audience? Why did the event occur? In many cases, this could mean putting a local spin on the story.

This is also especially important in sports writing, specifically recaps. Nearly all major professional sports game are televised, and many readers will have already seen them. A recap can no longer be just a rattling off of the scoring and statistics. Fans can get that on the web minutes after a game has come to an end. To be successful, you have to contextualize the game. Why was the win important? Look at the story lines within the game — The battle in the trenches between an offensive tackle and a defensive end, the the success of the power play after an extended hiatus, the resilience of a pitcher getting outs with runners on base. Those are just a few examples of contextualizing in sports writing.

Adapt — The field of journalism is always changing. First it was radio, than television and now the internet. Even the way people get news on through the internet has drastically changed over the last five years. Social network sites such as Facebook, or social media sites like Twitter are new media to direct readers to content anywhere on the internet.

The most successful journalists, and by extension media outlets, are the ones that adopt these new media and use them to their advantage. Those that don’t often get left in the dust, which has unfortunately been the case for many old newspapers. It is survival of the fittest, and as a journalist you have to use all the tools at you disposal to get your message across. That also includes incorporating other forms of media also known as to…

Synthesize — The internet is an extraordinary, unprecedented platform to provide any and all types of content to readers. In fact “readers” isn’t even an accurate term anymore because the most sucessful media outlets provide more than just words on a screen. They incorporate pictures, audio and video to compliment, and often drive the story. Television stations now have websites that have video content that’s reserved for the web.

The Columbus Dispatch, a Central Ohio newspaper, provides video as well as podcasts from many of the writers. In fact, a video they shot of a homeless man with a “golden voice” for radio became so popular across the nation that the man, Ted Williams, was offered numerous jobs and appearances on various television programs over the course of only a few days. To be a successful journalist in the evolving field of journalism, especially one based online, you have to incorporate all forms of media at your disposal.

Feb. 12: Live Blog Analysis

Columbus Dispatch hockey beat writers Aaron Portzline and Tom Reed both report from Columbus Blue Jackets games using the mini-blogging website Twitter. For this analysis I will be comparing the two’s live blogging from the Friday Feb. 11 Blue Jackets vs. Colorado Avalanche game.

One criticism I have come upon for beat writers is that they often “Tweet” too much information from the game that it’s often difficult to determine what is newsworthy, especially when a large portion of the audience may be viewing the game as well. But, Reed and Portzline both did an excellent job putting out the pertinent information without overloading the reading audience. They also adhere to AP Style standards, while utilizing hash-tags to reach a wider audience, which is just like using key words in a blog.

Both began their coverage of the game by announcing the starting lineups as well as scratches, which is an excellent feature for fans. Early on in the first period, as the game was scoreless, they updated the shot totals at a few minute intervals, to provide context as the Blue Jackets were being outplayed.

Both tweeted about a fight that occurred between the Blue Jackets’ Jared Boll and the Avalanche’s Cody McLeod. While Portzline’s tweet was more colorful: “#CBJ Boll and #Avs McLeod have a good ol’ good one at 6:23. Split decision, I’d say.” Reed’s tweet complemented it and provided as much context as possible in 140 characters: “#CBJ‘s Jared Boll and #Avs Cody McLeod fight at 6:23 after McLeod knocks down Clitsome and Russell.”

Both reported the goals of the evening, which is an absolute necessity for a hockey live blog. They also did an excellent job describing (in 140 characters) the goals, instead of simply Tweeting “Derick Brassard scores at 14:02 into the second.” Readers of the live blog can get the scoring information from any number of places, it is the Internet after all. So, Portzline and Reed broke down the play and again, their Tweets complemented each other.

Portzline: “#Avs with a mongo turnover in their own zone by Liles. Nash forces, Brassard gets the scraps and scores at 5:58 for a 2-1#CBJ lead.”

Reed: “#CBJ takes a 2-1 lead as Nash forces a turnover behind net and feeds Brassard, who shows patience before finishing at 14:02″

They both Tweeted that Blue Jackets forward Derek Dorsett went to the locker room after a fight. Reed continued to follow up the story, Tweeting new information as he got it throughout the game. After the game, he asked Columbus coach Scott Arniel about Dorsett’s status (concussion symptoms) and Tweeted Arniel’s response, providing quotes and insight from the people that played a big role in the event. Portzline also Tweeted a number of post game quotes from players, and provided the context to the quotes, which is essential when there is a limited amount of space to write.

Overall, both Dispatch beat writers do excellent jobs providing complementary coverage of the event, without trivializing it by overloading their audience attempting to provide a typed play-by-play.

One Response

  1. Bart, Really good observations on the Tweeting.

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