Quick story: One October a number of years ago, I was getting ready for the upcoming winter when I realized the snowblower wasn’t really running all that well. Two days after I managed to pull the entire carburetor apart and had it in pieces all over my workbench, we got hit by a freak snowstorm that buried us in about eight inches of slushy crud. Had it not been for the largess of a nice neighbor, I might still be stuck in that driveway.
I mention this because that’s essentially what happened this summer with the blog. The goal was to take the regular month off and then come back with the same general approach to writing and posting as normal. However, the good folks at SAGE had gotten some feedback about this thing needing a refresher. Furthermore, we launched the “Exploring Mass Communication” textbook and they were hoping the blog could do something to cover the topics associated with that book.
So, I figured, “What the hell?” Let’s take this thing apart and put it back together. Of course in the middle of all of that we had more than a few news items that I desperately wanted to cover:
- The Supreme Court ruled that a web designer didn’t have to play nice with LGBTQ couples that wanted a wedding website.
- The student newspaper at Northwestern broke major stories about the abusive nature of the school’s football program, leading to the firing of the head coach.
- The student newspaper at Stanford dug into allegations about the school’s president and potential misconduct in his research. That guy then resigned.
- Texas A&M made a big splash hiring Kathleen McElroy, a journalistic giant, to rebuild the school’s journalism program, only to basically keep changing the terms of the deal until she had no choice but to back out. The reason for all this? Her background in DEI research and journalism.
I’m sure there’s more I’m missing here, and I’ll do my best to get to those at some point in the future. But for now, I wanted to do a quick breakdown of what the blog is going to look like going forward:
- Simplified categories: I rebuilt the categories to avoid associating each topic with a book chapter. That will be particularly helpful, given the redundancies in the categories and the chapters, and the fact I’ll now be juggling three books on this thing.
- Revamped approach: To try to hit on the key aspects of what people need to know for classes, I wanted to standardize how I approached each day. To that point, we’re going with:
- MASS COM MONDAY: Meant mostly for the folks using the “Exploring Mass Com” textbook. It’ll touch on a topic that could spark in-class discussion or provide an example of something rooted in the content of the mass com book.
- WRITING AND REPORTING WEDNESDAY: This is what most folks are used to seeing here, with a look at anything from student media successes, exercises for writing or reporting, help with specific writing and reporting issues and more. This will pair with the “Dynamics” texts (News Writing and Reporting; Media Writing)
- THROWBACK THURSDAY: Turns out, over six years, I actually did some stuff that was helpful. We’ll bring those things back to the forefront with the goal of updating and advancing them.
- New(ish) look: I wanted to update the look of the blog, but apparently every other template WordPress uses felt like it was built by the same people who handi-craft the “Love” and “Bliss” wooden signs you see at every art mall. Either that or they focused on visuals. Very few, if any, relied on text. Thus, we just polished the site with a new header, some color changes and other stuff. (Still not sold on the color, but let me know what you think.)
This approach doesn’t mean we’re getting formulaic. If news breaks or someone wants me to cover stuff, that’ll supersede whatever I’m doing. If you want kind of a rank-order of what will get covered and when, here you go:
- Anything anyone requests: You send me a “You know what I could REALLY use?” email, and it moves to the top of the list.
- Breaking news: If it’s current and important and I think you can use it in class, I’ll go there, regardless of the scheduled post. If it happens on a non-publishing day, I’ll do it then, too.
- The planned post of the day: Mass Com Monday, Writing and Reporting Wednesday, Throwback Thursday.
- Some sort of snark I throw together when I’m behind on whatever I’m supposed to be doing or whenever writer’s block hits and I am trying to break through.
So, that’s the old, the new and so what’s up with you. I’ll be posting intermittently over the next month until school starts and the new formula comes into place.
In the mean time, if you have questions or thoughts, just hit me up on the contact page.
Vince (a.k.a. The Doctor of Paper)