Your final projects

Here is the map of your final projects. They are really good — I’m very pleased with how hard you worked on the various elements of these stories. Even though the class has ended, I hope you’ll take the time to have a look at your classmates’ work. I’m going to be posting this on Media Nation as well.

I had a terrific semester, and I hope you did, too. I urge you to keep blogging and refining your multimedia and social-media skills. If you are graduating on Friday, best of luck, and I will see you at the Garden.

Finishing up your blogs and final projects

As promised, here is the blog post laying out deadlines over the next few days. Just to remind yourselves about the details of the final project, here they are again.

1. This Friday, I will keep the Mac lab (our classroom) open from 4:30 or 5 p.m. until midnight so that you can finish your news videos. I would like to see all videos uploaded to YouTube and embedded in your blog by the time we wrap up. Please note: If no one has showed up by 8 p.m., I will leave. I recommend arriving as early as possible, since we all know we can run into unanticipated problems when editing video. If you find yourself locked out of the building, call me on my cellphone (978-314-4721) and I’ll come and get you.

2. Also this Friday at midnight, your memo on how you used social-networking tools such as Twitter and Facebook to assist with reporting on your final project will be due. This does not have to be a big deal — between a half-page and page, single-spaced, is fine. Just send it by e-mail.

3. The syllabus says that I will assess your blogs on work done through today. I consider that to be a soft deadline. I will probably start reading blogs during the weekend, so, again, think in terms of Friday at midnight.

4. The last deadline for your final project is this coming Wednesday, April 28, at 10 a.m. I realize I had said Tuesday at midnight, but if you need to pull an all-nighter, there is no reason for me to stand in your way. I am looking for:

  • A completed and revised blog post.
  • Your Flickr slideshow, embedded in the post.
  • Your news video, also embedded in the post.
  • Your link from a Google map that I will put together. Details to come on that, so please pay attention to this blog.

You may either revise your existing blog post or write a new one and delete your first draft. Whatever works best for you is fine, but I would suggest that writing a new one will be easier.

An important note about proper names! I did not check proper names when editing your projects, but I will definitely be doing that when grading them. Any misspelled proper name will affect your grade. I have been easy about this with your blogs, but your final project is an edited piece of journalism. Triple-check every name. Make sure you don’t offer multiple-choice spellings on subsequent references. I will be very happy if I don’t have to lower a single grade because of a misspelled name. Do not undermine all the hard work you’ve been doing.

Dan Gregory on entrepreneurship

Dan Gregory

Our last guest speaker of the semester was Dan Gregory, a senior academic specialist in the School of Technological Entrepreneurship at Northeastern and the faculty adviser to Idea, “Northeastern’s Venture Accelerator.”

Gregory led us in a discussion of the skills that journalists bring to the table — the ability to ask questions, tell stories, write and meet deadlines — and talked about how those skills can be used in small entrepreneurial ventures.

Some of the most interesting journalism projects today are entrepreneurial in nature, whether they are nonprofit or for-profit. For instance, projects such as Global Voices Online, GlobalPost, Talking Points Memo, NewsTrust and community sites such as, the New Haven Independent and the Batavian all exist because of the entrepreneurial vision of their founders.

Gregory’s talk should help us all to get beyond our traditional focus on jobs in legacy media and to start thinking of ways to apply our skills to the media environment as it exists today.

Our last full week together

This is our last full week together, and of course the first two parts of your final project — your blog post and your slideshow — are due this Friday at midnight. (The syllabus originally said 5 p.m., but I’m giving you a few extra hours.) Please go over the guidelines carefully. Because I want you to have as much time as possible to do a good job on your projects, I am not going to ask you to do any other work outside of class.

Today I would like to renew a discussion we had about comments. We’ll be talking about this story in today’s New York Times and looking at some other material as well.

On Wednesday, we’ll be talking about entrepreneurship, so please do the reading in the syllabus. Our final guest speaker of the semester will be Dan Gregory, of Northeastern’s School of Technological Entrepreneurship. Please try to be thinking about how you might want to turn your blog into a business. What do you offer that no one else has? What could you offer?

Your wiki journalism assignment

I have set up a wiki called “Student NewsTrust Pages” using WikiSpaces. After you have finished submitting at least three stories to NewsTrust and rating them, I would like you to list them on “Student NewsTrust Pages” exactly as I have done with my own information. We will go over this in class today.

Note: All you have to do to get started on “Student NewsTrust Pages” is click on the “Edit” button in the upper right. You do not have to register or log in. That’s what makes this a wiki.

NewsTrust assignment

Mike LaBonte; click on image for more photos

Yesterday we heard from Mike LaBonte, an editor and reviewer for, which allows users to submit and rate news stories for journalistic importance and quality. As a learning exercise, we had four teams read and analyze this story in the Washington Post on a Tea Party protester.

For your next assignment, you will use NewsTrust and reflect on the experience. I would like each of you to find, submit and rate three stories between now and 5 p.m. on Friday, April 9, and to write a 350-word post on your blog. You will need to register with NewsTrust if you have not already done so. You should use the “Full Review” form and write something in the “Notes” for each one. You may choose stories on any topic you like.

In your blog post, you should link to each of your three (or more) reviews; reflect on the experience, and explain whether you think NewsTrust is a valuable tool; and make suggestions, if you have any, on how NewsTrust might become more useful.

I haven’t forgotten about our wiki assignment. You will add what you have done with NewsTrust to a wiki I am putting together. I’ll explain it in class on Wednesday.

Matt Carroll on data as journalism

Matt Carroll

Boston Globe reporter (and Northeastern alumnus) Matt Carroll visited our class on Wednesday for a discussion and demonstration of data as journalism.

Carroll, an investigative reporter whose most recent major story exposed a deadly hazard inside the Big Dig tunnels, is also a specialist who makes sense of numbers for the Globe and its Web site, Among other things, Carroll is the person behind the “Mass. Facts” section of Be especially sure to see some of the presentations he has put together in “Your town,” which you can reach by scrolling to the bottom of “Mass. Facts.”

On Wednesday, Carroll demonstrated a few of his “Your town” datasets and showed us visualizations at a site called Many Eyes, a set of free, Web-based software tools from IBM.

Please write a post for your blog on Carroll’s talk, working in a few of his “Your town” presentations as well as Many Eyes. Compare and contrast this with traditional story-based journalism. You should have your post online by 5 p.m. on Sunday.

A newcomer’s guide to NU

I spent part of yesterday going over your efforts and cleaning up the map so that we had a consistent look and feel for each spot. I am very pleased with how this turned out, especially given the problems that I was having with the initial set-up over the weekend. It looks like the problem was on Google’s end, and now all is well. You all did a very good job.

Tragically, the various map symbols you used were not working, at least not to my eye. Some of them just didn’t fit, and there was nothing for the two bowling alleys. So I changed everything back to the generic teardrop pointer, which, though not too exciting, is at least not a distraction.

Not all of this worked out as I had planned. Many of you included your assessment of handicap access, which I had asked for. But some of you didn’t. And I must confess that I forgot to include it in my own write-up. Overall, though, what we came up with is a useful example of map-based journalism with multiple points of entry.

I’ve locked down the map except for two students who haven’t added anything yet. That’s because I’m going to brag about you on my own blog, and I don’t want to risk anyone vandalizing your work.

Thinking about maps as journalism

You all began writing a blog post about the journalism and mapping in class today. In case you haven’t had a chance to get started, I would like you to look at any three of the maps I ran through in class today. You’ll find them linked from the syllabus or from my Delicious account (right near the top).

Tell us something about the maps. Do you like mapping as a form of journalism? Are you dubious? Explaining your reasoning. Write a 200- to 300-word post, with links to the maps. Due Friday, March 26, at 5 p.m.

More on our Google map project

Each of us now has a place we’re going to report on for our project on things we want newcomers to Northeastern to know about. By this Sunday, March 28, at 5 p.m., please upload a 200- to 300-word post on what you have chosen.

Be sure to take at least two photos — a shot that clearly identifies the place (outdoor shots of signs are good), and a more feature-like shot, perhaps taken inside. You will use the feature photo(s) in your blog post. The identifying picture is for the map. Make sure that picture is available to you next Monday, when we will put together the map. Uploading it to Flickr is probably your best bet.

Please include the following information:

  • The proper name of the place you are writing about
  • The address
  • The hours of operation
  • Whether it is handicapped-accessible
  • Be prepared to offer a two- to four-word description of the place
  • Web site, if applicable

Here is “The Caffeinated Campus,” from the fall of 2008.