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Guidelines for the news blogs

We have all come up with guidelines for the news blogs. It's important for students to have clear parameters to avoid the blather of unfettered blogging. Here are some guildelines I put forward linked to the points students can accrue for their blog entries:

We are judging the blogs based on the following criteria:

• The blogs must be fact-based, not based on opinion rants.
• The blogs must primarily summarize stories from credible news organizations, which profess journalistic standards. If the entry does link to a blog, that link must be because the blog’s reporting has spurred coverage in a credible news organization.
• The blogs must have links to more than one version of the story, again drawn from credible news organizations.
• The blogs may offer opinion on the journalistic techniques in a story, such as the nature of sources or the disclosure of sensitive information.
• The blogs may NOT offer opinion on the content of the news itself . (In other words, do not take sides with an issue. Remain reportorial and balanced in your approach.)
• The blogs should look deeply at various reporting issues we cover from week to week. (You won’t be asked to do this every week. But many weeks, we will ask you – announced in class – to analyze how a basic reporting skill shows itself in a story. Please do this only during the weeks we say in class that you should do this.)

We will communicate with you on your blog entries. If you’re getting too far from facts, or too opinionated about the content of news itself, we will let you know via the comments.

One issue, of course, is what constitutes a credible news organization. I'm sure we'll be in discussion about that. Meanwhile, here are some related and other guidelines Dan Bernard put forward in a response to a student's question on that:

# "Full-length" excludes briefs. News articles excludes opinion columns and editorials. Articles labeled "news analysis" are OK.
# "Timely" means coverage of news that occurred in the past day or so.
# Magazine articles usually don't count, because they usually have a weekly or monthly cycle and so do not face the sort of pressures that we're talking about in this class. However, the newsweeklies have begun posting breaking-news stories on their web sites. So, if you find an online article by Time or Newsweek or the Economist or U.S. News and World Report, etc., that covers news that occurred in the past day or so, that would count. If their articles use opinion, please note that in your blog posting.
# TV coverage usually doesn't count. However, the major national television networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, Fox, MSNBC) often produce written coverage exclusively for their web sites. So do NPR and MPR. Those would count, if they read like news articles. CAUTION: Some stations and networks simply type up their scripts or transcripts and post those on their web sites. Those do not count. If you can't tell whether it was written to be read, don't use it.

So, for now, we're off and running. Links to the blogs forthcoming.