How students are using the blogs
Students report in both classes that the news blogs are engaging them more with news. Most report they're having fun with the exercise and that it's helping them write as well as read the news. So in that respect, all is well. We did have a student complain that the blogs weren't helping her writing -- that she was just learning about how to gather information. I told her I didn't think that was a problem at all. In fact, that's exactly the skill these introductory news blogs can develop. The student also complained that it was difficult to find stories reported in more than one news outlet. To find stories she could compare, she said, she had to look for ones that weren't as interesting to her. Also, some students noted that if both local newspapers carried a story, often it was the same AP report. My response to the student's complaint about having to go outside her interest area? Great. That's the goal of this assignment. What good is it to read only news that interests you? How do you expand your interests? And my response to the complaint that local papers are frequently running wire stories on important stories? Welcome to journalistic consolidation. It's a reality. Students are seeing it. And so, we have another unanticipated benefit.
Some students are merely summarizing news coverage in their blogs. But at times, we get engaged students who note -- and are surprised by -- interesting gaps in coverage. Check out one student's blog of local coverage about the recent cartoon-promotion scare on the East Coast. http://blog.lib.umn.edu/lapp0025/3121news/ . As a teaching tool for engaging students with news, I coudn't be happier with these kinds of observations. It's the basis for the critical thinking they need as journalists.
See the comments sections for notes from the other instructors and TAs about how students are using the blogs.