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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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Can I Get Pressed? Blog Post about Blogging.


Blog traffic chart

The peaks and valleys of blog traffic, seemingly indifferent to my posts.

Not sure why blog traffic is of any importance to me, nor do I know why it is so erratic.

I noticed that WordPress just changed the appearance of its dashboard and made the blog traffic chart easier to see. So I show it in all its blue glory above.

That’s OK. But, the data is more confusing to me than illuminating. For instance, on Sept. 5, I posted what I thought was a witty little essay about how JRR Tolkien would have written “The Hobbit” had he lived in Omaha, Nebraska.

I got a few hits that day, but suddenly 4 days later, there was a big spike. But, the JRR post didn’t seem to generate much of that traffic, and I had not updated my blog. The next day, I again posted—and traffic dropped from 39 hits to 9. Apparently, the blogosphere likes it when I keep my fingers idle. Maybe it’s a good think that I am not a daily blogger, at most I blog twice a week—too busy doing other stuff.

So, what gives? Beats me. I know that two of my previous blog posts—“A Joe by Any Other Name” and “Puerto Rico, Island of Enchantment” seem to periodically show up as the most popular blog posts in any particular week—though one is months old, the other over a year. A few other posts, such as “The Spider Month,” are also what I think of as “zombie” posts—they may age, but they never die.

Hmmm. What conclusion do I draw? None at all, at this point. Blog pals, any ideas? It is the tags? Is it happenstance combinations of words that appeal to Google searches? Have I offended the blog gods or do they just act capricious?

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