Blog assignment for March 1

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Blogging is a great pasttime. Thousands of people do it.  It’s a few steps above Tweeting–you have an infinity of space to write about your opinions, passions, and issues.  The trick is to get followers.  You will need a good design, captivating title, and most important, you need to say something!  most often very opinionated.  In this assignment, however, you must back up your opinions with facts, quotes, support in other ways.

Check it out.  Use WordPress.

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Identity Theft

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If I can create a blog using WordPress, you tech savvy students can, too.  There is a book at the library, WordPress for Dummies, but the actual wordpress website helps you out.

My worst problem these days is finding passwords.  They say you should change your password every six months or less.  I have given out of catchy memorable passwords and am now resorting to use pet names.  I have passwords for my bank, Facebook, Itunes, Netflix, credit cards,health insurance, telephone, Towson, Google, grocery store. . .all different.  Just so hackers don’t get into my files.  You don’t want to write them down all in one place, because some computer thief can steal your sacred address book. But when I can’t remember which is for which, I can’t get into my own files.

Don’t Miss (Extra Credit available)

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Towson University Journalism Grad Brian Stelter will be coming back to Towson to talk about his success as a top communications reporter for the New York Times. There will also be a screening of a great documentary on the Times, featuring Brian. Brian is a totally self-made success, who started at Towson as a blogger.

 It’s Thursday, April 12, 7- 8:30 p.m. at Van Bokelen, Room 204.  If you go and write it up,as a 3-graf analysis, you will receive extra credit.

To make a reservation, call 410-704-5353, or email Towsonuspj@gmail.com.

Blogging vs newspapers

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They say a new blog is created every day, just as a new blog vanishes into cyberspace.  It takes some of the anxiety out of writing, knowing that it potentially has the shelf life of a carton of milk; whereas with print, someone could always find in an attic a copy of your terrible, inconsequential piece on the winter weather. A study, cited in the Sunday New York Times, found that teenagers who wrote in their blogs about their problems and allowed response on the Internet showed significant improvement in mood.  Students do get a lot out of their social networking.

In a brief unscientific survey of my Mass Communication class, almost all students reported that they spend at least an hour a day on the Internet.

A number of them said they used the Internet to read news, but far more use it for socializing, with everyone in the world!  One or two said they spend up to 5 hours a day on the Internet, or “too much” time.  And perhaps conversely, most said they NEVER read a newspaper.  I am going to bring New York Times for all next class, along with donuts, to illustrate how comfortable reading a print newspaper can be.  After all, can you spill donut crumbs and coffee on your computer?

Blogging–whatever you want

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I just checked Brian Stelter’s blog.  He has been the supreme success story; his blog

TVnewser, done while he was at Towson University, gained a huge following from TV executives and others, who did not know the Stelter was a mere student pecking away at his keyboard. There is also the example of Julie of

Julie and Julia, who documented her efforts to make every JuliaCchild recipe in her cookbook in a blog that consumed her to the point of nearly breaking up her marriage.  A blog can be intense, or it can simply drop a line or picture to make you think, as Brian Stelter does in his current ctumbler “The Deadline.”

There are also blogs devoted to news that might not have made it to the national TV news, but nevertheless reveal in-depth reporting that might not be titillating enough to grab headlines.  The article for last month’s Current Events is a great example.

Whatever you do, make it new and original, and  reflect your interests.

Hard Copy Forever!

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How could print be better than the svelte, instant communications of the Internet? From the lastest batch of student essays on Internet Pioneers, I pick up on an unabashed love of the Internet.  You can get it all–music, video, connect to your friends, etc.  Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are the new  pioneers.

I have this deep-rooted devotion to print, that which you can hold in your hands, spill coffee on, mark up and see, and keep for posterity in your paper files.  Hard copy.  Electronic media vanishes so quickly.

I had one seminal experience.  A friend got me one of the earliest digital calendars and address books, in which you could input all your addresses, and important dates.  I loved it for a month, until it broke, just stopped working, ceased to be.  And my appointments, along with addresses sank into the Black Hole.  That black hole is infinity, where all the lost cell phones, spare coat hangars and other debris of life fall.

I’ve had a few other panic attacks, in which I lost some great writing through some glitch of the computer, or through my failure to save often enough.

Maybe you can relate to this feeling, when a paper on which you have slaved, suddenly disappears from your screen.  Or your whole computer network is hit by lightning, and you suddently realize that you forgot to save it to a flash drive every  minute.

At the same time, digital IS forever.  You can’t erase what you put on Facebook from those digital gods in the sky, whoever is keeping tabs on the World Wide Web.  As we discussed in class, there are experts who can dig into the recesses of your rowdy college exploits and make you embarassed, if not forever regretful, that you have posted evidence of your crazy college days.

Finally, what to do about archives?  Already I have old discs with writing that I would like to resurrect, but no machine that will process the old discs.  It is so amazing that we can store so much information on a flash drive the size of a twig.  Yet will those flash drives be accessible to the computers in ten years?

Write here for opinions, stories, messages of inspiration

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Today I want my Intro students to figure out how to use a blog to express themselves and share with the class, or indeed, the world.

I am a relic of the print age.  I find that I am overwhelmed by all the options opened up by the Web, all the websites I could visit, all the people I could reconnect with from high school and way long ago.  Now with my semi-smart phone, I can play games of Scrabble while I wait in the doctor’s office.  Now my students are recommending “Wild Birds” or something like that. I will try, but my thumbs are clumsy, and invariably,

after pushing five buttons at once, I give up.  Give me credit, I’m trying to span the gap.  And I am fascinated by how savvy students are on the Internet.

As illustrated by Kyle’s website, one can do it on your own, be a media center, advertise your goods, and spread the word about whatever you like.

I can’t quite drop the old romanticism that surrounded journalism when I pursued it as a student right after the summer of Watergate.

Woodward and Bernstein, with their dogged reporting, impeccable and crafty resources, brought Nixon to task.