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Post your assignments on your blog so the class can view, learn from and respond to your work. Full assignment details are provided in the Study Book.
Discussion Questions
Discussion questions will be posted in the Discussion Board section of Blackboard each week. Please respond thoughtfully to as many posts as possible, as well as to other students' posted questions and replies. Minimum number of postings required: three per week.
(with notes)
Reading Assignments
(due Wednesday of each week)
Assignments & Deadlines
(due 11:59 p.m. each Sunday evening)

Aug. 21
Modules 1 & 2
Writing Well

>> If you don't have an email account, visit ATN's UserID Services.

>>Aug. 29: last day to register

1. Kurt Vonnegut’s “How to write with style.”

2. Barb Palser, “Web surfers on speed: ...and other misconceptions about writing for the Web,” American Journalism Review v. 24, no. 8 (Oct 2002): 82. Posted on

3. Mitchell Stephens, “Beyond the News,” Columbia Journalism Review (January/February 2007). On Blackboard.

4. Mitchell Stephens, “We’re All Postmodern Now,” Columbia Journalism Review (July/August 2005). On Blackboard.

5. The introductory and syllabus sections of this Study Book. Please read them carefully. They were written carefully, specifically for you, and they contain information you will soon need.

>Readings should be done prior to the week assigned so that you are ready to discuss them in Blackboard. Because this is the semester's start, read those assigned for these first two modules when you can.

1. Set up your blog and send the URL to the instructor. (
2. Write an introductory post introducing yourself to the rest of the class. Details in the Study Book.

3. Writing sample of about 700 words, or enough to be able to spot strengths and weaknesses in your writing. Post the piece to your blog. Details in the Study Book.

Due: Sunday, Aug. 26.

Sept. 3 : Module 3
Nuts & Bolts

>>Wall Street Journal's Style & Substance blog

Jay David Bolter, “Theory and Practice in New Media Studies,” in Digital Media Revisited, Gunnar Liestol, 15-34. On Blackboard.

John December, “The World Wide Web Unleashed,” in Living in the Information Age, 165-171. On Blackboard.

John Pavlik and Shawn McIntosh, “Convergence and Concentration in the Media Industries,” in Living in the Information Age, 67-72. On Blackboard.

P. Elbow, “Revising with Feedback.” On Blackboard.

This module is organized as a writing workshop. The instructor will match you with workshop partners, who will work together to improve the writing of each. The instructor also will diagnose and offer suggestions.

Email your critiques to one another and be sure to CC: the instructor (bc at More details in the Study Book.

Critiques due to partners and instructor Sept 9.

Sept. 10 : Module 4
New Media v. Old Media

>>Columbia Journalism Review's Language Corner (great archive of past columns)

John Morkes and Jakob Nielsen, “Concise, SCANNABLE, and Objective: How to Write for the Web” (1997). On Blackboard and on the Web.

Eyetrack III reports:
Jeff Glick, “When, How to Tell Stories with Text, Multimedia,” Poynter Institute (2004). On the Blackboard. On the Web.

Steve Outing and Laura Ruel, “What We Saw Through Their Eyes,” Poynter Institute (2004). On Blackboard. On the Web.

Jeff Small, “When It Comes to Homepages, It Is Polite to Stare,” Poynter Institute (2004). On Blackboard. On the Web.

Observations on Multimedia Features, Poynter Institute (2004). On Blackboard. On the Web.

How to Write for the Web (1997). On Blackboard and on the Web.

First , revise your Module 1/2 writing sample based on the feedback and help you've received. Feel free to continue dialoging with your workshop partner(s) and/or the instructor during this revision process.

Second , begin adapting the piece for online readership. Use this module to inform this process.

More detail in the Study Book.

Due: Sept. 16

Sept. 17 : Module 5

>>Acquaint yourself with UNC's policy on plagiarism and intellectual theft. You do not want to learn about this the hard way.

Anders Fagerjord, “Rhetorical Convergence: Studying Web Media,” 293-326. On Blackboard.

Patrick Lynch and Sarah Horton, Web Style Guide 2, Read through Chapter 2.

Nathan Wallace's Web Writing for Many Interest Levels

1. Choose a Web site you visit regularly, one where you read a lot of the content. Let’s imagine that you have been hired as the site’s new editor-in-chief. Make specific recommendations to improve the presentation of content at the site, integrating and referencing this week’s module as much as possible. What elements or features promote consumption of the site (again, think of all the elements described in this module)? How are graphics and visuals incorporated in the site, and do they encourage or discourage use of the site? How do they do this? Post critique to your course blog. Length: Approximately 700 words.

2. Continue experimenting with your blog (settings, templates, code). If you are having problems, be sure to get in touch with me. Fortunately, WordPress is supported by UNC IT (

Due: Sept. 23

Sept. 24 : Module 6
Journalism Primer

Bonnie Bressers, “Getting a fix on online corrections” (ASNE, 2001). On Blackboard.

Brian Carroll, “Culture Clash: Journalism and the Communal Ethos of the Blogosphere,” Into the Blogosphere (University of Minnesota, 2003). On Blackboard.

At least scan Bob Haiman, Best Practices for Newspaper Journalists (Freedom Forum, 2000). On Blackboard.

Familiarize yourself with the New York Times Ethical Journalism Handbook (Sept. 2004). On Blackboard.

Familiarize yourself also with the Poynter Guide to Accuracy.

Scan C. Max Magee, “The Roles of Online Journalists,” Medill School of Journalism (2006). On Blackboard.

Report, source, write, edit and post one news story on any topic. The article must have or rely upon at least three human sources. Details in the Study Book.

Due: Sept. 30

Oct. 1 : Module 7
Headlines and Hotlinks

Patrick Lynch and Sarah Horton, Web Style Guide 2 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2001). Read:
• Page Design (Introduction, Graphic design 100, Balanced pages & menus, Design grids for pages, Graphic safe areas for Web pages, Typography I & II, Consistency, Editorial style)
• Interface Design (Information access issues, Navigation, Links & navigation)
• Site Design (Introduction, Site structure, Site elements I, Site elements II, Intranet design factors)

Andrea Marks, “The Role of Writing in a Design Curriculum,” Oregon State University, for American Institute of Graphic Arts. On Blackboard.

Kendra Mayfield, “Reality Check for Web Design,” Wired magazine, October 2, 2002. On Blackboard.

1. Find three examples online of poor headlines used as hyperlinks and provide their solutions (fix the headlines). Post to your blog.

2. Find at least one article on the Web that you think could be improved with the use of lists. Submit the “before” version and your edited “after” version of the article, or part of the article. Post them to your blog. Re-write the headline for your Weeks 1-3 writing sample with this week’s module in mind.

3. To practice writing to spec, write three different headlines for the following story lede. Make the first headline eight words and the second six words. For the third headline, provide both a headline and a subhead, a headline of about six words and a subhead of about eight words. Separate the head and the subhead with a colon. More in the Study Book.

And a head's up: In Week 11, you will be asked to blog an event, conference, convention, trip or business meeting. Be thinking now what you will be blogging.

Due: Oct. 7

Oct. 8 : Module 8
Knowing Your Audience

>>Extra: Web design tips

Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” articles (December 2006). On Blackboard.

For a series of assignments that begin with this one, you will need to identify a publication, company or organization for or about which you will create online content. Your assignment this week is to write a post telling the class as much as you can about the point of view you are taking, about the publication or organization for or about which you will be creating content. Include somewhere in your post the style guide you will adhere to when creating online content. Details in the Study Book.

Due: Oct. 14

Oct. 15: Module 9
Online Editing

>Oct. 19-Oct. 21 is Fall Break

Mindy McAdams, It's All in the Links: Readying Publications for the Web. On the Web.

Alysson Troffer, Editing Online Documents: Strategies and Tips (Read all parts.) On the Web.

Write another post detailing online content you will create for your organization or publication (the one you detailed last week). Details in the Study Book.

Due: Oct. 21

Oct. 22: Module 10

Espen Aarseth, “We All Want to Change the World: The Ideology of Innovation in Digital Media,” 415-439. On Blackboard.

Resources for Moderators and Facilitators of Online Discussion. On the Web.

Begin working on the content piece you detailed in last week’s assignment. It will be due at the end of Week 13. Feel free to dialogue with your workshop partner and with the instructor, to get help at any stage of content development.

Due: Oct. 28

Oct. 29 : Module 11
Personal Publishing & "We" Media

>>Extra: Sample Blogs

Mark Cuban
David F. Gallagher
John Hiler - Microcontent News
Josh Micah Marshall - Talking Points Memo
Lawrence Lessig

Rebecca Blood, weblogs: a history and perspective. On the Web.

Daniel W. Drezner and Henry Farrell, “Web of Influence,” Foreign Policy journal. On Blackboard.

John Cassidy, “The Online Life: Me Media, How hanging out on the Internet became big business,” New Yorker magazine (May 2006). On Blackboard.

Nicholas Lemann, “Amateur Hour, Journalism without journalists,” New Yorker magazine (August 2006). On Blackboard.

Chuck Salter, “Hyperlocal Hero,” Fast Company (November 2006). On Blackboard.

Blog something – an event, trip, conference or meeting.
Length : approximately 700 words, but feel free to blog on.
Example: USA Today's entertainment reporter, César Soriano, attended Star Wars Celebration III

Due: Nov. 4


Nov. 5: Module 12
Public Relations

Andreas Kuth, “Among the Audience,” The Economist (April 2006). On Blackboard.

“It’s the Links, Stupid,” The Economist (April 2006). On Blackboard.

Katharine Q. Seelye, “Answering Back to the News Media, Using the Internet,” New York Times (January 2006). On Blackboard.

Lynne M. Sallot, Lance V. Porter, Carolina Acosta-Alzuru. “Practitioners' web use and perceptions of their own roles and power: a qualitative study,” 69-278. On Blackboard.

McGraw-Hill's online primer on public relations

A collection of short articles on writing a press release, including one for online dissemination or publication. Pay special attention to the "Press Release Builder"

10 Tips for writing press releases

10 Elements of an Effective Press Release

Writing and Sending Press Releases

Publicity Primer

1. Draft a press release on behalf of your organization or publication. You choose the topic or purpose, which could be to promote an event, raise public awareness about an issue or cause, or respond to a crisis, among other things. The timelier, of course, the better. Make sure the release is developed and published for online consumption and distribution (in other words, integrate this week’s module). Post to your blog. Length: it’s up to you.
2. Revise your online writing presentation based on feedback from the instructor. Solicit feedback also from your writing workshop partner(s) from modules 1 & 2.
3. Surf your classmates’ blog posts for Week 12 about challenges. Offer suggestions for overcoming those challenges. Help each other.

Due: Nov. 11

Nov. 12 : Module 13

(this week/module bleeds into the first part of next week, which is abbreviated by Thanksgiving.)

>Nov. 21-Nov. 25 is Thanksgiving Break

Chris Anderson, The Long Tail

Chris's blog:

John Cassidy, “Going Long,” New Yorker magazine (July 2006). On Blackboard.

Your online content is due this week, posted to your blog. Be sure to present the piece for online readership, using the techniques and tools discussed in Modules 3-12. Do not merely post a large block of text or cut-and-paste from Word. This assignment asks you to apply what we’ve been discussing. Include, if applicable, a headline, byline and dateline.

Due: Nov. 25 (or before, for holiday's sake)

Nov. 26: Module 14
Business Writing Online

Dan Bricklin of Trellix Corporation, How to write for the Intranet

Dan Baum, "Battle Lessons," New Yorker magazine.

Jon Fine, “When do you stop the presses,” BusinessWeek (July 2007). On Blackboard.

John Nichols, “Newspapers . . . And After?” The Nation magazine (January 2007). On Blackboard.

Create an interactive FAQ help page for your entity (publication, company or organization). This frequently asked question section should anticipate common problems and questions users might have. Make it as interactive as possible. The page should have:
• Clear, comprehensible instructions
• Clear organization
• Thorough consideration/anticipation of user questions
• Informative, helpful answers to FAQ questions
• Design that promotes, rather than impedes, page usability
Length: About 10 questions (and answers)

Due: Dec. 2

Dec. 3: Module 15 Wrapping it up

Last day of class is Dec. 5

There is no final exam for this course.

Read Plagiarism and the Web and take the self-test.

1. Write an end-of-semester blog post that catalogs, explores and details how your writing for and understanding of digital environments have changed. Details in the Study Book.

2. Write another post answering these questions:
How this course could be enhanced, improved, changed? What the instructor could perhaps do to better facilitate maximum learning? Which readings were most useful, and which were least useful?

3. Complete final revisions on your original reporting piece (Module 10 + 12), press release (Module 13) and FAQ list (Module 14), and post all revised assignments to your blog.

Week 15 assignments due: Wednesday, Dec. 12

Last modified: August 2007


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