ONLINE DISCUSSION

On Friday each week, I will post instructions and any links to relevant readings for online discussion on this page.

DO NOT POST COMMENTS ON THIS PAGE.

Most weeks, you will complete any relevant online readings, then post your comments on your designated discussion group page by 11:59 p.m. Sunday (two days after the assignments are posted). You will post feedback, if it’s required, by 11:59 p.m. Tuesday (two days after the comments are posted). To post feedback, hit “Reply” on the comment to which you are responding.

Any exceptions to these deadlines will be noted in the weekly instructions. You will need to read the instructions carefully every week.

If you do not fully participate by the deadlines (contributing both comments and feedback, if required), I will deduct a point from your participation grade.

Week 15

Write at least five sentences on some things you’ve learned this semester about storytelling, and storytelling as it relates to different platforms. This should be an expanded description of one or two things you’ve learned, rather than just one sentence each on five different things. I don’t want your comments to simply mirror those of other class members. Anyone reading through these comments should be able to get a sense of the various topics we covered, from writing and reporting techniques to the different types of non-event stories to telling those stories on various platforms. Make this specific to you. I want to know what you found especially enlightening, interesting and/or useful and why. This is not meant to be an evaluation of the course (please do that anonymously here if you haven’t already). I’m looking for an overview of your personal takeaways from the semester. Comments are due by 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6.

Week 13

Watch the video assigned to your group. Pay attention to the storytelling techniques used, including (1) scene-setting, (2) character development, (3) telling details, (4) the dialogue (contained within the quotes from the interview subjects), and (5) the anecdotes (also contained within the quotes).  In your comments, you should cite at least three specific examples for whichever of the five categories your fellow group members have not addressed already and briefly explain why you thought they were effective. Post your comments by 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 15. No feedback required this week.

Week 12

To help you think about the topic for your trend story, I want you to analyze the trend stories that I posted under Story Types. Read one of the stories posted. You should choose a story that others in your group have not yet read. In your comments, due by 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8, answer the five questions below. No feedback required this week.

  • Are the causes and consequences of the trend clearly stated?
  • Does the story include enough specific examples of the trend?
  • Is the scope of the trend clearly established?
  • Does the story address the “why now” and “why should I care” elements of the story? What are they?
  • Does the story quote at least one neutral yet knowledgeable expert? If so, does that give the story more context and/or credibility? If not, does the story need that for context and/or credibility?

Week 11

No online discussion for the week of Nov. 1.

Week 10

Find a good journalistic sports photo, post a link to it, and describe what makes it good in two or three sentences. Refer to our class discussion for how to analyze the photo (what it illustrates, what it captures, composition, lighting, etc.). The photo cannot be of action on the field of play. It can be of action near the field of play. But it cannot be a photo taken during the normal course and boundaries of a sports event. You cannot post the same photo as any of your classmates. So you must check all group pages before posting. You must post the photo you select to your group page by 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25. No feedback required this week.

Week 9

Read all of the articles listed below. Then choose one of the four questions to address in your initial post, due by 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 18. You must choose a question that others in your group have not yet addressed. (Groups 1 and 3 will have two people addressing the same question.) For the feedback portion, which you must post by 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20, reply to someone in your group who does not yet have a reply.

Questions:

  1. How much of a “blind eye” should journalists trade for access to high-profile sports figures, if any? How do the Internet and social media affect that equation?
  2. Should journalists who have outside relationships with athletes or coaches — such as co-authored books, in Jenkins’ case, or charity events, in Vitale’s case — recuse themselves entirely from commenting on those athletes or coaches? What are the pros and cons of having them comment?
  3. Should you publish or broadcast everything you observe and hear about the athletes and coaches you cover? If so, why? If you do draw boundaries, what are they?
  4. With heroic narratives as ubiquitous as they are in sports, what are some strategies sports journalists should employ — in perspective, in approach, and in day-to-day reporting — to avoid being sucked in by stories that really are too good to be true?

Week 8

Find a great sports infographic, post a link to it, and describe what makes it great in two or three sentences. Here’s the hardest part: You cannot post the same infographic as any of your classmates. So you must check all group pages before posting. You must post the infographic you select to your group page by 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 11. No feedback required this week.

Week 7

Now that you’ve reported and written a profile, it’s a good time to explore the journalistic lessons of the Manti Te’o story. First, read the original South Bend Tribune story. Then read the Deadspin debunking. Lastly, read this interview transcript from Sports Illustrated‘s Pete Thamel. After you’ve read all those, I want you to consider the questions below, first within your discussion groups and then outside your discussion groups. Post your thoughts about the question assigned to your group by 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 4. If you are the first to post within your group, you can express whatever opinions you would like. All subsequent posters within the group should not just mimic what earlier posters wrote. Add something new to the conversation. For the feedback portion this week, comment on a post in a group other than your own. Choose a person that does not yet have a reply. Feedback is due by 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 6.

  • Group 1: What are some of the basic fundamentals of journalism that were not followed in this case?
  • Group 2: What red flags do you see within Thamel’s interview transcript (not the explanation preceding it) and how could he have handled them differently?
  • Group 3: Why do you think this story was spread so far and wide, by major media outlets, before the truth was discovered?

Week 6

This week, I want you to spend some time with a well-written profile piece. Take the time to thoroughly read the story assigned to your group. Pay attention especially to (1) the place descriptions, (2) the person descriptions, (3) the telling details, (4) the dialogue, and (5) the anecdotes. In your comments, you should list what you think were the most effective and/or well-written passages for each of the five categories. You should also briefly explain why you thought they were good. For feedback, you will reply to just one other person in your group. Based on that person’s comments, discuss what storytelling lessons you think can be gleaned from the story. Choose a person that does not yet have a reply. Your comments are due by 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 27, feedback by 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 29.

  1. The Fatalist, Louisa Thomas, Grantland, Feb. 5, 2015
  2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s jump shot, voice remain a work in progress, Lee Jenkins, Sports Illustrated, Feb. 5, 2015
  3. Jerry Football, Don Van Natta, Jr., ESPN The Magazine, Aug. 28, 2014

Week 5

First, read this Washington Post profile of Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly. Then, read this Backstory post about the Kelly profile (also listen to the short audio clip embedded in the post). After completing the readings, choose one of the questions below to answer in your first discussion post, due by 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 20. You must choose a different question than any group members who have posted before you (i.e. no two group members should post a response to the same question).

For your second discussion post, due by 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22, respond to another group member’s first post. The response needs to go beyond “I agree” or “I disagree.” Spell out the reasons you agree or disagree and expand on the points raised.  Everyone in the group should respond to a different group member, so that every member has one response.

The questions:

  • Should high-profile sports figures such as Kelly be required to fulfill one-on-one interview requests? Why or why not?
  • If you were a reporter on the Philadelphia Eagles beat, what would be your approach to establishing a working relationship with Kelly? Explain the reasoning for your strategy.
  • The Backstory post lists some journalistic reasons that argue for Babb tracking down Jenkins for his story. What are some others? Are there journalistic reasons that argue against tracking her down?
  • If you were Babb, how would have you approached an interview with Jenkins once you found her? Where would you have asked to meet her? What types of questions would have you asked? What would have been some key questions?
  • Should reporters respect the wishes of high-profile sports figures who want to keep all details of their private life secret? Why or why not?

Week 3

We’ll do the Story Types exercise one last time, to make sure everyone is familiar with every type. Post the links by 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8. No feedback is required this week.

Group 1

  • Localized enterprise
  • Looking back at a significant event
  • Off the beaten path
  • Preview of a big event

Group 2

  • Profile
  • That was then, this is now
  • Trend story
  • Where are they now

Group 3

  • Behind the numbers
  • Behind the scenes
  • Insider explanatory/analysis
  • Life off the playing field

Week 2

Same exercise as last week (see instructions below), except you’ll be looking for different story types. Post the links by 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 30. No feedback is required this week.

Group 1

  • Profile
  • That was then, this is now
  • Trend story
  • Where are they now

Group 2

  • Behind the numbers
  • Behind the scenes
  • Insider explanatory/analysis
  • Life off the playing field

Group 3

  • Localized enterprise
  • Looking back at a significant event
  • Off the beaten path
  • Preview of a big event

Week 1 

For our first online exercise, I want you to find and comment on sports stories that fit the Story Types we’ll be producing this semester. You should post links to three sports stories you think fit each of the types (one link per type) assigned to your group (below). All group members must post different stories, so make sure you check to see what your fellow group members have posted before you start searching. In addition to the links, include one or two sentences per story in which you comment on whether you liked the story and why. The stories can be text, video, audio or an infographic (infographics need to be detailed enough to tell a story on their own). Post the links by 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 23. No feedback is required this week.

Please note: I’ll have to approve your post after you submit it. Once I’ve approved this first one, your future comments should post immediately.

Group 1

  • Behind the numbers
  • Behind the scenes
  • Insider explanatory/analysis
  • Life off the playing field

Group 2

  • Localized enterprise
  • Looking back at a significant event
  • Off the beaten path
  • Preview of a big event

Group 3

  • Profile
  • That was then, this is now
  • Trend story
  • Where are they now
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