Tag Archives: Blogs

Students Begin Their Blog Adventures

hands typing

Students typing in computer classroom.

As is normal in my writing classes, I have a set of students who are starting their blogs this semester. I look forward to reading what they do with their own stories.

Blogs sometimes can be too personal—online diaries. But many are entertaining and informative. I have students write blogs so that they can self-publish and play with professional writing. One of my former students, Jenny Valliere, a radio personality at z102.9 in Cedar Rapids, even told me her Mount Mercy blog was helpful to her in launching her career, and she has maintained a blog since then.

Blogging, of course, is not the main or only form of writing I’m hoping my students learn in Introduction to Journalism. But a person who aspires to be a communicator in 2019 needs some online communication experience, and I’m hoping to prod my students in that direction.

Besides clippings from “The Mount Mercy Times,” which students will gain this semester, I’m hoping that a few of them catch the blog bug and continue this form of writing.

Personally, I maintain three blogs: This one which is about gardening, life in general and my experiences as a professor at Mount Mercy University. I also blog about:

My experiences as a bicycle commuter.

My thoughts, as a journalism professor, on media and how media changes our lives.

Anyway, later I’ll post some samples of the students’ work. I’m always excited to see new student blogs, and where this new writing adventure will take them. Some of the writers:

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My Favorite Student Blogs This Term

As I often do in media writing classes, I required some students to establish or update a blog this semester.

Some student blogs never really take off. Others become more personal to the student, and she or he ends up doing some interesting writing.

This semester, I thought three blogs in particular have content that appealed to me.

Lakin Goodman has turned her blog into more of a personal web site, complete with resume information. She has an interest in photography, and I would like her to use more of her images on the blog, but she does have things to say. She notes that she has no theme to the blog—but that’s not really a downside, to me.


Chuck Uthe is a self-described nerd, writing about film and games. His reviews are not casual—they have some depth and background to them. I appreciate how reflective he is.


Matt Trueblood says he has more caffeine than oxygen in his blood right now—and I hope he can recharge soon. But his writing is honest and has what another blogger once called “emotional nudity,” which is meant as a positive thing. His blog seems to be an honest peek into his psyche—which is an interesting place to be.


I am sure I will continue this assignment in media writing classes. Now and then, a student who is introduced to blogging via the class will own it and continue their online efforts. Today, when students who wish to be communicators need to consider their online identity and the nexus of social media they can use to showcase and promote themselves, a blog gives them something to tweet about and share on Facebook. It also is a minor taste of web writing for students, which is a key skill.

The three that I am choosing to feature here (and it does not mean that other students have not done interesting work, this is a personal and ideosycratic look at blogs that just tickled my fancy) are all visually interesting, too–it’s a feature of this semester’s crop of student blogs that those who seemed to care the most about their writing also cared some about the presentation of that writing, which has not always been true.

I hope you check out and enjoy the writing that these students are doing!

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And Let The Blogging Begin

Students type in their CO 120 lab this morning. I asked permission and was careful not to show faces.

Students type in their CO 120 lab this morning. I asked permission and was careful not to show faces.

I’m launching 8 new bloggers into cyberspace this morning. Student in my CO 120, Introduction to Journalism, course are busy typing away, trying to come up with original thoughts.

I wish them well. I hope that they enjoy the self expression.

And I hope that they learn to use their blogging powers responsibly. Blogs are personal, can be self-indulgent, but can also be insightful and interesting. As future professional communicators, I want my CO 120 students to know about blogging, and having them each maintain a person blog is part of the lesson.

What will I be looking for from them?

  • They should maintain journalistic standards. If a journalist is blogging as part of her role as a writer, the facts should be verified, the names spelled well, the copy written according to Associated Press style, etc. These are not “news stories”—blogging should be more personal and emotional than that—but if a journalist is writing the blog, it should still be journalism.
  • Their blogs should be interesting. A blog lets a writer express his world view. If that view is well thought out, it should be worth the readers’ time. I am not limiting their topics or writing choices. That can be scary for them, but I also hope it is liberating. Anyway, wish them luck.
  • They should have fun. Writing is an activity that is rewarding on its own—to a writer. To write is to think and to organize and to clarify. And that process, while intimidating because a blog exposes you to the world, is also nice.

Look for these new bloggers. In the coming week their blogs will show up on this site. Click the link if you want more insight into what a college student in 2014 is doing from the student point of view.

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Green With Envy Over A Nice Girl I’ve Never Met


A honey bee. Hold on, it will make sense. It’s from wikicommons, uploaded by درفش کاویانی

The internet is a strange planet, and one of its odder cities is the blogosphere where prophets shout and poets dream and sometimes no one is listening.

Sometimes, they are—just not to me.

It’s long been a dream of mine to have the special validation that comes from being “freshly pressed,” even if my clothes never are. For those of us with WordPress blogs, that is a special place, in our blog neighborhood, the “as seen on TV” part of our blog town.

Not that being “freshly pressed” is the only thrill in the blogosphere. To the contrary.

Or to Girl on the Contrary.

She’s a sweet thing—at least she seems so from her blog, and she’s just recently wedded herself to Captain Thoughtful, and that’s nice, y’all (a word that seems much more natural coming from her than from me).

Anyway, Ms. GOTC has had two (two! that’s like, well, two more than me!) of her blogs performed on stage.

And, as you can see above and as she notes on her blog, the video is the bee’s knees—which, by the way, is a saying that actually sort of makes a crazy kind of sense, since a honey bee’s honey sacks are sort of on her knees.

Anyway, read all about GOTC’s experience having her blog made into high art on the stage, see the video, and follow her blog. Her blog babies are never ugly and always worth reading.

And then think of me with at least a little pity in your heart. My blog has not yet made the New York stage, nor has it been freshly pressed nor has it inspired a book or Hollywood movie.

But it totally should. Just so GOTC could be green with envy, for once.


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Welcome to Blogtown

MMU student hands at work

Students typing in the MMU lab. I got their permission, had them approve this image, but it wasn't easy. I had no idea students would be so picky about their own hands being published.

Nine new ships set sail today on a new adventure—well, not really.

For one thing, several of the ships are already at sea. I’m forcing students in CO 120, Introduction to Journalism, to launch their new blogs, but some of them had me in previous classes and so have already been to Blogtown before.

Why should student journalists blog? For lots of reasons:

  • Journalists today report news instantly. They Tweet events, they post live video and they blog. So this, blogging and posting it NOW,  is a skill students must master.
  • Blogging is excellent practice for writing as public performance. It will show, based on the low number of hits at first, how hard it is to draw an audience, but, on the other hand, the world is now open to these students. Will a student blog be “freshly pressed?” It’s not terribly likely, but not impossible, and it will be interesting if it happens.

One of the students, based on a previous assignment in another class, won a statewide journalism blogging award. Congratulations Jenna, and keep writing.

There are, of course, some dangers in having students blog. Blogs can involve libel, like any public writing. It’s not always easy to get students to understand how copyright works, and when and how you can use images will, I’m hoping, be an issue. (I’m hoping because blogs should be visual, too. But you need to use images that can be re-used and credit sources).

Beyond that, there is the saying that Jon’s Microsoft pals oft repeated during RAGBRAI last year. Take it from the pros who run the world, students. “The Internet never forgets.” So don’t do anything on a blog that you don’t want remembered.

On the other hand, the greatest sin in writing is to be dull. And I would rather students be a bit spicy and take some risks and have to be reined in, than simply play it safe.

So have at, brave bloggers. Show the world what you can do—what you can write, what your individual point of view is. Engage in what my blog friend and MMU colleague Jenion calls “emotional nudity.”

Students, share your world with the e-world, and enjoy the experience.

More hands

A male student's hands. He didn't complain at all. Hmmmm. Male hand modles seem less picky.

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Julie, Julia & Joe

“The New York Times” liked Julie & Julia. It’s definitely a “chick” movie, but one that I saw Friday with Audrey (and Nelena and Ben) and enjoyed very much too—partly for reasons cited in the Times review.

On the other hand, I don’t think that Meryl Streep, while obviously a “mega” actress, detracts so much from either Amy Adams or Anne Hathaway that I forget them, as the Times critic suggests you might-indeed I have never seen Anne Hathaway in any movie in which she did not demand and receive, at least from me, rapt, total attention. Can she act? I have no idea. I’m too busy staring to care. But even if I nearly worship Anne, she’s no Meryl. Some critics didn’t like “Mama Mia,” but I could watch Meryl Streep sing Abba songs until the cows come home (to be cooked by her Julia character or over-cooked by Julie).

But I digress. The real point of Julie & Julia, of course, is that a movie can be made from a blog that turns into a book, if the blog has enough followers. So make sure you tell everybody you know about what a cool blog you follow on WordPress. Spread the word! Make Joe rich and famous!

So, if any literary or Hollywood agent is reading, the answer is “yes,” I will gladly turn my blog into a book/movie starring Meryl Streep, and I don’t mind Amy Adams co-starring at all. although if Anne Hathaway doesn’t mind playing Audrey in movie, I certainly could play myself. (Some may suggest that Audrey resembles Meryl more, and yes, I would gladly settle for Meryl in that part, if it comes to that …)

Of course, first I have to organize my blog around a theme that draw attention and provides the drama and material. Putting new plants into gardens that owe their existence to petty neighborhood disputes doesn’t seem like much of a hook. What will my movie from my blog be based on?

  • The Biker Boy. A middle-aged, overweight college professor with a super-model beautiful wife (Anne Hathaway) blogs about his adventures sneaking daily across the Rockwell-Collins parking log. Unfortunately, R-C security hasn’t made the “sneaking” part very interesting yet, and Anne (or Audrey) never rides with me.
  • Life in the Cellar. A middle-aged, overweight college professor with a super-model beautiful wife (Anne Hathaway) struggles to keep his Norfolk Island pine alive in a room where the steam radiator is never totally off. I guess it has life-and-death struggles, but watching the tree wither is about as exciting as, well, watching a tree wither.
  • Chaos in Lundy: Project Times. A middle-aged, overweight college professor with a super-model beautiful wife (Anne Hathaway) blogs about his adventures advising a college newspaper and trying to keep a shaky Mac computer network functioning. Amy Adams can star as one of the student editors. Meryl can be another professor or a dean. If Man Mountain Mike were still around (TV wresting character of my youth), he could play Brian. The idea has some drama and tension—a good campus newspaper always stirs up some trouble—but it’s pretty dull maintaining a Mac network. You turn them on, they run. They’re like Toyotas. If only we had PCs …
  • Father of the Fourth Bride. A middle-aged, overweight college professor with a super-model beautiful wife (Anne Hathaway) blogs about the toast he writes for his fourth daughter’s wedding, a toast that becomes a blog entry that becomes a book, a best-selling movie and a TV series on AMC. Except Nina, while she has a steady boy, isn’t engaged yet. Of course, she could be played by Amy Adams …

Nah. Somehow I haven’t come up with the winning idea that will turn my blog into a best-selling memoir. I do not have time or energy to cook my way through “The Joy of Cooking,” and I can’t take a year off to bicycle the continent. Still, if there’s a role for Anne or Meryl or Anne or Amy or Anne (or all!) I’m open to ideas.

My dozen of blog fans, any suggestions?


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