Syllabus

Alternative Media (jour435)

Instructor: Matt Forsythe

Viewable online at: altnewsmedia.wordpress.com/syllabus

Download the Course Outline here (PDF)

Download a current version of this Syllabus here (PDF)

All readings are online.

September 7

WEEK 1: Getting Started

* Introductions

* How do you use the web?

* Informal discussion. What are your passions? What is your niche?

* Present concept map of course

* Course Outline / Overview

*Online News Magazine

Learning outcomes: Students will be given a formal survey of concepts and grading system of the course.

September 14

WEEK 2: The Past / The end of mainstream media?

READ: Newspapers and thinking the unthinkable

Clay Shirky, 2009

READ: “The Propaganda Model: An Overview

David Cromwell, Excerpted from Private Planet, 2002

READ: “Why I quit my job

Kai Nagata

Objectives: What are some of the critiques of mainstream media? What are the challenges facing journalists today?

* WATCH: Video – Chomsky: Manufacturing Consent

* Journalism and War

Learning outcomes: Students are able to discuss critically the transitional nature of contemporary journalism.

September 21

WEEK 3: The Future / Google and the Long Tail / Writing for the Web introduction

READ: The Long Tail, Chris Anderson, WIRED Magazine

READ: Computer-generated articles are gaining traction, New York Times

READ: Is Google Making Us Stupid?, Nicholas Carr,  The Atlantic

Objectives: Discuss, Search and Google, the Long Tail, and the future of news.

Learning outcomes: Students will understand the economic variation within the Long Tail and critically discuss what that means for the present and future of journalism.

September 28

WEEK 4: Writing for the web (Part I)

7pm GUEST: Carly Wilkie Steven, SEO Consultant (The Daily Mail, The Gazette)

READ: How Search Engines Operate, by SEOMoz

Objectives: Though new media require a new way of reading and writing, the basics of style, concision, and grammar are more important than ever. But writers on the web are writing for a new audience… Google. We will discuss the basics of formatting HTML and RSS for the web and best practices for linking and image-use.

Learning outcomes: Students will apply the following with respect to writing on the web:

* Concision

* “Publish then select” philosophy

* Understand fundamental differences between Web and Print

* Basic HTML mark-up

* Basic RSS tools (FlipBoard, Feedly, etc)

October 5

WEEK 5: Writing for the web – Part II: Practical Guide 

READ: “Truth and the Net“, by Cory Doctorow

READ: “Ten Tips for writing a blog post“, by Darren Rowse, Problogger

Using images on blogs

Use your blog to land paid writing gigs; 9 Practical Tips

Kick Your RSS: Jumping on the Syndication Bandwagon

Objectives:

* Does the inverted pyramid still apply?

* Daily Blog Tips articles

* Importance of Links

* Keyword Research

* Article idea generation

* Citation on the web

* Creative Commons licensing

* Anchor Text

Learning Outcomes: Students will be able to link appropriately, use Creative Commons images with their posts respectfully, and write subjects that are Google and RSS-readable.

October 12

WEEK 6: Video for the Web; NFB Case Study

GUEST: Joel Pomerleau, Manager, NFB.ca

READ: “A Canadian Broadcasting Policy for a world of Abundance,” by Michael Geist

http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/2252/159/

READ: “NFB Unreels Smash Hits” by Michael Geist

http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/4749/135/

READ: “Canada’s NFB Archive: a success story”

by Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing

http://boingboing.net/2010/01/22/canadas-national-fil.html

* NFB Case study and discussion

* Mistakes and Successes

Learning Outcome: Students will learn best practices for embedding video online

Understand the challenges of moving from traditional to digital distribution

October 19

WEEK 7: Huffington Post Canada: Pros and Cons of a

READ: About that Lawsuit… by Arianna Huffington, Huffington Post, Feb 2011

READ: Pay Me for My Content, by Jaron Lanier (Free registration required)

7pm SKYPE GUEST: Ron Nuriwasah, News Editor, Huffington Post Canada (confirmed)

Discussion:

Why is the HuffPo so sucessful?

Is it the future of news or a healthy alternative?

Major differences between traditional news and online news.

October 26
WEEK 8: Generatives / Audio & Video for the Web II

READ: Better Than Free by Kevin Kelly

READ: Better Than Owning by Kevin Kelly

READ:The Economics of Abundance” by Chris Anderson

Objectives: For discussion…

* What are generatives?
* What are people willing to pay for?

7pm LAB-WORK
* HTML Mark-up workshop
* Embedding Audio and Video on the web workshop

Learning outcomes: Students will be able to discuss Kelly’s 8 generatives with respect to current media. Students will be comfortable writing in HTML and embedding multimedia content in their posts.

November 2

WEEK 9: Alternative Media, Citizen Journalism, and The Wisdom of Crowds

GUEST: Tim McSorley, Montreal Media Coop – to discuss Alternative Media (confirmed)

READ: “Spin Cycles for Social Change,” by Joanne Penhale, Dominion Magazine

READ: “The Rise of Crowdsourcing”, by Jeff Howe, Wired Magazine

READ: The Wealth of Librivox, Michael Erard, Reason Magazine

READ: Citizen Journalism Wants You!, Jay Rosen, Wired Magazine

* Wiki culture

*Activism and Alternative Media

November 9

WEEK 10: Open data, Open Journalism

7pm GUEST LECTURE: Michael Lenczner, OpenMTL (confirmed)

READ: Free Culture, chapters 1, 4 & 5 (PDF)

READ: About Michael Lenczner

READ: About OpenMTL

Objectives: How does unlimited choice affect the news? Does it create greater accountability or just engender a race to the bottom?

* Links between open source software and Open data movement

* Access to information / transparency

* The Free Culture movement

Learning Outcomes: Students will be able to list reasons for curated and edited content in a world of unlimited choice.

November 16

WEEK 12: Branding / Marketing yourself / Social Networking

Objectives:

* Branding yourself and your work on the web

Discussion: Revenue streams for the online journalist

November 23

WEEK 13: Checking your Facts in a Networked World

GUEST: Craig Silverman, (confirmed), Journalist (Globe & Mail, NY Times) and author of Regret the Error

VISIT: OpenFile.ca
READ: We Stand Corrected: When Good Journalists Make Stupid Mistakes

by Christopher Scanlan

Poynter Online

Objectives:

* NewAssignment.net

* Regret The Error

* Fact Checking – How to do distributed fact-checking, the rise of external fact-checking groups, and the potential for using CJ to achieve better accuracy in the press.

November 30

WEEK 14: Future of the Web

READ: What Technology Wants, Kevin Kelly

In class:

*Watch: The next 5000 hours of the internet
* What is the future of the web?
* Data journalism?
* How does this affect the news industry / our careers?

Bibliography

We The Media, Dan Gillmor

The Search, John Batelle

The Long Tail, Chris Anderson

The Wisdom of Crowds, James Surowiecki

Reference

On Writing Well, Zissner

Elements of Style, Strunk & White

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