Blogging class finalization: Readings

No baby yet, so I’m battening down the pre-semester hatches at work. I’ve mentioned before that I’ll be teaching a blogging and journalism class this semester (you can check out the as-yet sparsely populated course blog). Currently I’m finalizing the syllabus, which means currently I’m trying to fit 15 pounds of sausage into a ten-pound bag. Is it any wonder why I’m letting myself be distracted from the task to write a blog post?

In seriousness, I’m hoping a little bloggery will help me suss some things out (as well as clearing the cobwebs). Now’s the time when all those great ideas I had in the shower need to crystallize into something teachable, doable, and gradable. So maybe you, Internet, can help with a few things.

Today, I’ll talk about the course text. We’re using Dan Gillmor’s We the Media, which I realize is a little dated as social media texts go, but it’s also one of the seminal works in this area. I don’t want to use some “how to blog” book as the main text because I want students to also get at the history and philosophy behind what we in journalism and communications are currently grappling with.

Also, although it’s been colloquially known as “the blog class” around fair Martin Hall, the class is about more than that. To my mind, the “what can we do with this?’ tone of Gillmor’s book allows for a good first approach for students.

Finally, the class will be supplemented with a number of other readings (in addition to the actual blogs and feeds students will be following). Right now the list includes:

Some of these, like Gillmor, are activism-oriented (Beckett, Shirky), but others are here as texts that are practice-oriented (Huffington, Mathison), or context-oriented (Perlmutter), or just interesting artifacts (Ward; no Twitter handle that I can identify – heck, the website for his text is now just a link farm).

I am assigning groups of my 22 students to each of these texts (except Mathison, I think, which is more of a reference), and throughout the semester they will report as a panel on the text and how it applies to real-world examples. They’ll each be posting these to their personal blogs, and I’ll provide links on the main course page.

In addition to all this dead-tree media, the readings will be supplemented by readings from online; Jay Rosen‘s Pressthink, for example. But in this area, as well as the texts listed above, I’d love any suggestions you might have to offer.

That’s enough for today, I think. Tomorrow I’ll try to post more, perhaps on some of the projects I’m planning. For now, though, I’m going to get back to actually MAKING the syllabus.

4 thoughts on “Blogging class finalization: Readings

  1. I definitely recommend a visit to to see how work/life balance columnists are building an audience for their upcoming book on modern motherhood, Good Enough is the New Perfect.:) And I am still happy to speak to your class, Bob! -H

  2. I love it, Bob. Sounds good. I am, ahem, just getting around to my syllabus revision for this semester. I love your idea of having your students report as a panel on the texts. Great idea.

    • Thanks Carrie – feel free to steal it (but let me know how you improve it).

      The idea was born of frustration. I wanted all these books, but knew it was an unrealistic reading list. Then I thought about book reports, but that seemed lame; presentations on books sounded better, but hearing five people talk consecutively about the same book still seemed kinda draggy. Thus the panel: After a brief summary for everyone, we can get on with extending the ideas. I’m even thinking of inviting the J-school to these (but that’s still just a thought).

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