University of Montana, Missoula:
Who controls a free press? Blogging and the citizen journalists' challenge to Mainstream Media
Fall 2005 Syllabus
Instructor: Dr. Christine Boese
Meetings: 11 am to 1 pm Mondays in 2nd Floor Journalism Library & Honors Computer Lab
Class Blog: www.serendipit-e.com/494private
Office Phone: 406-243-2934
Office: 208 Journalism Building
Office Hours: 1-3 pm Weds., Tues., Thurs. unless I'm meeting with other classes. I'll also be available M-F during the day most days
Texts and Electronic Tools:
Available in the campus bookstore. The Gillmor text can also be downloaded free online at https://www.oreilly.com/catalog/wemedia/book/index.csp, but I want you to bring the book to class, so you'll need to print the whole thing out somewhere. Also, the two optional texts are usually available with two-for-one discount pricing as a package deal at Amazon.com.
We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, For the People. Dan Gillmor. O'Reilly Media Books, 2004. See also https://www.oreilly.com/catalog/wemedia/book/index.csp.
The Weblog Handbook: Practical Advice on Creating and Maintaining Your Blog. Rebecca Blood. Perseus Publishing, 2002.
We've Got Blog: How Weblogs are Changing Our Culture. Perseus Publishers ed. Introduction by Rebecca Blood. Perseus Publishing, 2002.
Each student will be setting up at least two (if not more) individual blogs as a course requirement. One will be a blog publishing forum and the other will be a professional journalism portfolio you can use to archive your clips and career achievements and show to potential employers (also part of your final grade). DO NOT jump ahead, as I will walk you through the process if you don't have a blog already. There are certain advantages to pre-planning and I want to make sure you understand the features and options before you plunge in.
The software I hope all will use (unless you are already a web-tech whiz-bang) can be found at Typepad.com. There is a low monthly fee, but I want to make sure you set up the account that will best fit your needs. I know that free blog accounts can be set up at places like Blogger.com (and even LiveJournal, egad!), but ultimately you will find future options limited at the free sites, and this is an investment in your professional credibility. Whiz-bangs may consider excellent products such as WordPress or Drupal, but prepare to be technically challenged by the installation and maintenance (and onerous comment spam, something Typepad has cured).
Finally, I'm hoping some adventurous students will take a stab at podcasting this semester, and Typepad just set up the easiest on-ramp to podcasting I've seen so far, to go along with its streamlined interface for photoblogging and mo-blogging. Typepad has also indicated that video-blogging will also be supported with the new podcast features.
New Yorker press critic A.J. Liebling wrote in 1960, "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one." In this course we will examine and participate in one of the most radical restructurings of media ownership since moveable type displaced monks copying manuscripts by hand. Now the price of owning a "press" has fallen to nearly zero. In this time of great social change, the media landscape and its "powers that be" seem thrown into chaos. Some (like RIAA) are fighting the changes while others embrace them. The stress of change also releases great creative energy. These are exciting times for journalists! We will compare the social structures and technologies of broadcast and interactive media, and discuss the idea of a coming "convergence." We will also launch our own blogs and join the larger blogging "ecosystem." Along the way, we'll conduct online research into the bloggers' challenge to mainstream media (or MSM, as they call it), in an attempt to discover what is giving this grassroots journalism movement its power.
No specialized technical knowledge or web-building skills are required to take this course. We will learn to maintain web templates and style sheets with blog software. We will also learn practical writing strategies and media management skills for interactive journalism. By the end of the course, each student will have created a polished professional portfolio blog as well.