Online Journalism: Fridays 2009


the class blog for Columbia College Chicago’s Online Journalism class: Friday edition

Thursday! Thursday! Thursday!

Hey Everyone,

Here’s the info for Thursday. Please plan on meeting inside the lobby of the Tribune Tower at 9:45 am . We will work our way through security and then be escorted to the conference room where you’ll present.

Remember: professionalism is crucial here. Look the part! Be prepared!

Here’s a map if by some strange occurrence you don’t know where the Trib is:


Filed under: group project

your presentations next week

As we approach the end of class, it’s important that we check in on your site as you prepare to populate it with content (or, in the case of the content that’s already there, evaluate its value). It is also a time to strongly consider the presentation of the site itself, and to fine-tune the look & feel, because content is only as good as the site that showcases it. And it’s also crucial, of course, that you consider audience at every juncture as well.

The format for this presentation will be similar to our last, with slides and a group presentation. However at this point you should also be able to walk us through various aspects of your site itself, and be able to answer questions about the content and the look/feel of the site overall. Because of this, we will reserve the end of your presentation for a walkthrough of the site. Prepare one of your team members to “drive” this walkthrough, taking over the projection computer. Map out what it is you want to talk about and highlight, however, so that your presentation remains professional and succinct.

As with last time, you will give both a presentation and hand in a report, signed by all group members.

presentation & report

The Site Idea and its Relationship to Content
–Be as succinct and clear as possible. Start with a one or two-sentence description of the site.
–Succinctly, how does content fulfill that mission?
–In other words: why are you featuring what you’re featuring?

The Content Itself
–What types of content do you see regularly appearing on your site? And why?
–Written pieces: How? Why? What kind?
–Multimedia pieces: How? Why? What kind?
–Interactive pieces: How? Why? What kind?
–Social media: What’s your strategy? Why? How?
–How do you plan on grouping the various content types?
–In other words, what are the various sections or categories on your site?
–How do these categories work to clearly state at a hierarchical level what your site is all about?
–Give seven specific examples of content currently on your site and ten specific examples of content still to come.

Content and its Relationship to Audience
This is important, so I will bold it: invite five members of your targeted audience to preview your site. Get as much feedback as you can from them regarding the content. For this section include bios/info about the people you talked with for the report and give their specific feedback there. In your presentation include photographs of these people interacting with your site.
–Who is the audience you are targeting and why? BE SPECIFIC.
–What content do you think they are looking for online, and why would they come to you to get it?
–How did you come to this conclusion?
–When you previewed your site to audience members, what was their reaction to the content?
–How did they feel it could improve?
–What other content did they feel could go in the site?
–What other feedback did they get?

Look & Feel
–Why does your site look the way it does?
–How does your site classify and display content?
–How can a user access the various pieces of content–is there a menu system that makes sense?
–How does the way your site looks compliment the content?


The walkthrough of your site should highlight the following:
–demonstrate the way that a user would access various content types
–highlight some of the unique ways your site is presenting its content
–show off your site’s look & feel and explain why it works the way it does
–demonstrate the categories your content falls into


Follow the same process as before in terms of uploading your slides to Flickr and creating a set and slideshow. Your slides should correspond to the major sections of your presentation. Create as many as you see fit.

Link your slideshow and paste your report in the comments of this entry.

Your presentation should be no longer than 10 minutes, including the walkthrough.

Filed under: group project

the Site Community Presentation explained

Next week is our first of a few graded check-ins on your site. Driven by our focus on social media and community engagement, it is a check in that’s centered around the audience/community that you hope to reach with your site.

Next week we will have presentations and you will turn in a report. Your report and your presentation should encompass:

presentation & report

Who is the audience you’re targeting?
— what age/gender/etc are they?
— what do they do, both for a living and also for fun?
— what are their hopes/dreams?
— why are they interested in the things they’re interested in?
— where do they go? (both in real life and online)
— why are they a part of the community(ies) they are a part of?
— what will they gain by visiting your site?
Give three specific examples of people, complete with photo documentation. For your written report, write a short profile of each person.

Where is the community that already exists around your site’s topic?
— where do they go online?
— where do they go in the real world?
— what do they do when they’re there?
For both locations, please cite three specific examples of each (both virtual and real), explain the motivation your audience/community has in going to those places, their activities once they are there and what you can learn from these things to apply to your site. For the real-world place, please include photo documentation of your visit there: show us your community “in the wild”.

Who are the influencers in your space?
— identify three people who help to drive interest and people towards other sites, places, and concepts within your topic space
— talk with two of them (this can be a virtual conversation over Twitter, e-mail, or wherever)
— where do they go online? Why do they go there?
— what do they feel are the needs within your space?
— what leads them to recommend certain things?
— why do they believe they’re influencers?
In your report, be prepared to explain why you’ve identified these people as influencers.

Who are your competitors?
— give three specific examples and list their Google PageRank score
— how are you different?
— what are they doing right?
— what are they doing wrong?

What keywords are people searching within your space?
— how can those keywords influence your content?

Bring it all together
With all this information about your audience/community, explain how you will reach them and engage them with your site.
— three specific online examples
— two specific real-world ideas

Your report will be handed in, but please paste a copy in the comments section below. Be sure that every member of your team signs the report.


You will make a number of slides for this presentation. You will upload them to the photo-sharing site Flickr. Flicker will automatically make a slideshow of your photos, though it’ll help if you arrange them in a set so you can reorder them as you see fit. Your slides need to cover:

  1. Intro to your site with a one-sentence description
  2. Your audience defined, with photos
  3. Their community defined, with images of them in the locations you identified
  4. The influencers in your community
  5. Your competition
  6. The keywords around your space
  7. A slide for your conclusion

Your slides can contain as much information as you want (though remember: less is often more, you will be talking along with them), but need to cover these eight points. Link to this slideshow on the class blog.

If you don’t have a good image editor for making slides, check out Picnik, a web-based image editor that’s surprisingly robust (and free!).

Presentation specific notes

–Your group’s presentation should not last longer than 10 minutes, that will leave plenty of time for questions from the class and our panelists.
–Plan your presentation out in advance, and make sure everyone’s practiced it as well. Rambling doesn’t help anyone.
–Be prepared to answer questions with further detail about your site and your strategy.
–Finally, you will end your presentation with a brief look at the site. So, you know, you may want to have some stuff on it, huh?

Filed under: group project

tools for group collaboration

Getting together as a group is important, but so is being able to work by distance. There are any number of tools available online for group collaboration. Here are some links to a few:

Google Sites is a free service that allows you to build very customizable collaborative sites. You can make Sites work almost any way you want: as a blog, as a wiki, as a wireframing system.

Wet Paint. A nice, free, easy-to-use Wiki system.

Basecamp. This is a high-level collaboration tool, geared towards managing projects. While it is mostly a pay service, they do have a free plan that allows for the management of one project.

Google Calendar. You can share a calendar among groups–great for scheduling meetings or making sure that everyone is on the same page as far as deadlines go.

Google Docs is a great solution for all working collaboratively on your papers and presentations (they even have a Power-pointesque tool)

Filed under: group project

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