Saturday, January 28, 2012

Social media gives students a voice in the Blogosphere

   It was exciting to see the students create their blogs last week.
   There were lots of questions on how to create certain elements, how they will use their blogs, and if they can post what they want.
   Let me preface by saying creating a blog is not as easy as it seems. We use, but there are so many other choices these days. I plan to look into Wordpress this summer, to see if it offers other features we could use. But for this semester, we are sticking to what I’m familiar with.
   Anyway, students are required to add certain elements, like a blog description and a blog roll. Besides learning how to accomplish doing these things, they also have to learn how to design their blog, post text and photos, follow other bloggers, and share their posts on Facebook and Twitter. But like anything else, you have to use it to know it, so they have the weekend to get comfortable with their new blogs before I post their URLs.
   They will use their blogs to post their mandatory essays and photo assignments. I also encourage them to post anything else they deem interesting or newsworthy, as long as it has to do with photojournalism, photography, media or education. I want them to make their blogs their own.
   Inside their course manual is a list of legal and ethical guidelines for using social media. This includes not posting personal information, like phone numbers, and not spreading gossip. This latter comment refers to ensuring that they verify anything they post or repost.
 Their URLs are now available in the Page bar at the top of the blog. 
 Right now their heads are spinning, and it’s fun to watch. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Students will blog for more than letter grades

   The first block of instruction on the basic meaning of news ended today.
   Now that the students are aware of the major elements of a newspaper (headline, logo, cutline, etc.), the six basic news values (impact, immediacy, proximity, novelty, conflict and emotions), and the history of news, they are ready to add another tool to their photojournalism toolbox: blogging.
   They will create their blogs on Wednesday. Maintaining a blog in this class will be easy because of the mandatory posting assignments. The challenge will be writing weekly essays that keep your attention, and posting captioned photos that warrant your viewing.
   The beauty of blogging in a college class is that the student's homework assignments will earn more than letter grades. These scholastic photojournalists will gain experience by blogging for a real-world audience (you), which will help prepare them for communicating in the 21st Century.
   Social media is here to stay, so they better embrace it now, when they can make mistakes without being fired for them.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Photojournalists should first have a keen sense of what news is

   What is news?
   That's a good question that really doesn't have a definitive answer. News means different things to different people. What is news to me might not be news to you. That's the challenge of trying to answer this question.
   So, what's news? Let's start with why we need news. According to David Zeeck, who wrote an article on this subject for the Poynter Institute, “News is the ultimate manifestation of a human desire to know what’s going on, to make sense of the world, to catch up on the latest.”
   Okay. But how do we find out what's going on? Who helps us make sense of the world? Journalists do. It's a journalist's job to report on whatever is deemed “news,” make sense of it, then share that information with others. Report. Explain. Share.
   Photojournalists do the same thing, with the added task of reporting the news in a visual way. To a photojournalist, news means house fires, car accidents and political campaigns. It also means shooting food arrangements, rich people at society events and kids having fun at a playground. And don't forget sports and entertainment.
  To document life around us, photojournalists should have a keen sense of observation, anticipation and reaction. We need to be curious about life, even when it's extremely boring. But most importantly, we must understand that we are the eyes of our community. Without photojournalists, society would be blind. Can you imagine if we didn't have photos to prove that the Holocaust existed?
   The homework assignment this week focuses on this topic, because before they begin to represent this class as scholastic photojournalists, they must understand the responsibility that comes with that title.
   Their homework includes:
  • learning the history of journalism. One of their first blog posts will be on what they learned in the history chapter of their textbook, Photojournalism: The Professionals' Approach; and in the Poynter NewsU course: The Building Block of News.
  • studying an issue of the local paper. They are to label the parts of a story and of a page.
  • filling out a questionnaire to see if they got what it takes to be a journalist.
   Once they have a good, basic sense of what news is (which is life-long lesson), they will learn their ethical and legal rights as photojournalists.
   The students will create their blogs next week, and they can tell you themselves what is news to them.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Welcome new Intro to Photojournalism students!

   Dear new students:
   Today I welcome you to the Intro to Photojournalism course.
   You're a small class, only eight registered, but considering this course was intended to only run during Fall semesters, I think 8 is great!
   Become familiar with this blog because you will be a big part of it during the next four months. Why? because much of your course work will be learning about social media, like blogging and tweeting. These are only a few communication tools that you will undoubtedly use someday no matter what career you end up choosing.
   Of course you will also learn more about your camera, and how to think like a photojournalist. I am confident you will enjoy this course as you learn about your First Amendment rights, your photographer's rights, your ethical and legal boundaries, and much more.
   Thank you for choosing this course as part of your curriculum.
   Sincerely, Lori King, your instructor.