Teaching Online Skills: Journalism Prof Wants Ideas

MSU prof Dave Poulson wants to lead his students into the murky waters of online media.

(NOTE: I’m cross-posting this from Poynter’s E-Media Tidbits, since I thought Contentious readers might find it interesting as well.)

Today I received an intriguing query from my colleague Dave Poulson, associate director of the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism at Michigan State University. With his permission, I’m excerpting and answering it here.

Poulson wrote: “…I’m going to take your concept of coming up with a toolkit of basic online stuff a reporter should know and turn it into some class assignments. I’ll have them pick a beat and set up Google Reader to [subscribe to] relevant feeds. I’m not sure how I’ll evaluate the result.”

That’s a great idea, Dave! Make sure they practice subscribing to search feeds (about topics), as well as feeds from specific sources (like blogs). And here’s a short video tutorial on Google Reader I made for one of my clients. The first half of it is the bare basics, most applicable to what your students would be doing.

To evaluate this assignment, you could have student export their feed list as an OPML file and send it to you. In Google Reader, that’s under “manage subscriptions,” then “import/export” (choose the “export” option there.) You can then import that OPML file into your Google Reader (or many other feed readers) to see what they’ve subscribed to.

Poulson continues…

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It’s Not About Your Site Anymore

Amy Gahran
In your own home, you get to put the couch where YOU want it. Who cares if that’s not the living room?

Here’s another reason why learning to use a feed reader is a cornerstone skill for truly succeeding in online media today:

It’s not about your site anymore.In fact, it hasn’t been for at least a couple of years now.

In other words: The way online media works today, you’ll probably succeed more through participation and off-site distribution (syndication) than through publishing alone.

More and more people — especially, but not exclusively, younger folk (you know, the people you hope will become your community or customers someday) — prefer to craft their own custom hubs for information and interaction. That’s what’s driving the popularity of feed-supported, syndication-oriented social media experiences like Facebook, MySpace, MyYahoo, iGoogle, Digg, del.icio.us, YouTube, co.mments, Twitter, and podcasting. (And, on the bleeding edge, Zude, CoComment, and Pageflakes.)

It’s kind of like furnishing your home…

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Culture break: Why I adore Vladimir Nabokov

Author Vladimir Nabokov

From “A Guide to Berlin,” part 5, “The Pub.” I just read it last night in The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov:

“There, under the mirror, the child still sits alone. But he is now looking our way. From there he can see the inside of the tavern — the green island of the billiard table, the ivory ball he is forbidden to touch, the metallic gloss of the bar, a pair of fat truckers at one table and the two of us at another. He has long since grown used to this scene and is not dismayed by its proximity. Yet there is one thing I know. Whatever happens to him in life, he will always remember the picture he saw every day of his childhood from the little room where he was fed his soup. He will remember the billiard table and the coatless evening visitor who used to draw back his sharp white elbow and hit the ball with his cue, and the blue-gray cigar smoke, and the din of voices, and my empty right sleeve and scarred face, and his father behind the bar, filling a mug for me from the tap.

“‘I can’t understand what you see down there,'” says my friend, turning back toward me.

“What indeed! How can I demonstrate to him that I have glimpsed somebody’s future recollection?”

Stephen Colbert v. Andrew Keen, online troll extraordinaire

Comedy Central
Watch this video. Better skewering than a shish kabob festival!

My colleague Tish Grier has joked that the fastest way to get traffic to your blog is to “flame an A-list [blogger].” That’s the troll ethic in a nutshell.

Andrew Keen — a consummate smarmy snobbish gadfly and author of “The Cult of the Amateur” — definitely has his troll routine down pat. In fact, by peddling his ill-informed, poorly reasoned scorn for all things online, he’s managed to piss a lot of people off (not just geeks) and sell a lot of books.

Hey, good for him. There are harder ways to make a living.

Last night, Keen was a guest on Comedy Central’s Colbert Report. Don’t miss this video, it’s hilarious — and telling. My favorite exchange:

Keen: The Internet is destroying our culture

Colbert: Doesn’t the internet spread our culture? I mean I can go onto any old web site and get any old picture I like. Isn’t that culture?

Keen: That’s stealing culture.

Colbert: But it’s still culture, though. I mean, the Nazis stole culture but it was still culture.

Keen: It’s worse than that, it’s worse than stealing culture.

Colbert: It’s worse than the Nazis? The internet is worse than the Nazis, that’s what you just said sir.

Keen: Even the Nazis didn’t put artists out of work.

Colbert: Tell that to Egon Schuler.

…Note, though, that despite his avowed internet aversion Keen does have a blog. It even allows comments, to which Keen does not deign to respond.

(Thanks to Tom Vilot for the tip.)