Thanks to the massive interest in hyperlocal blogs a lot of journalism courses are either asking their students to create hyperlocal websites, or finding their students are creating them anyway. This post is to ask what your own experiences are on these lines?
PS: I’ve also created a Google Group on the topic should you want to exchange tips with others.
Yes. In my Intro to Online Journalism classes at San Francisco State, I give students a choice of launching a hyperlocal blog or a blog on a niche topic. We use WordPress.com.
Each student has a blog and posts 1-2 times a week throughout the 15-week semester. Some weeks they do multimedia pieces (audio or video stories, slideshows, etc.). For the most part this has worked really well. Their blogs are the centerpiece of the class and the main way I assess their progress.
At one point I was considering making all students focus on hyperlocal, but much of the best and most surprising work has come from students doing niche topics, e.g. blogging about books, local sports, music, and so on.
Some of the challenges they face: coming up with fresh, compelling ideas week-to-week, linking (they get the hang of it after much nagging from me), writing SEO-friendly headlines and self-editing.
I love this model because it gives students room to explore subjects they’re passionate about and it gives them ownership of their work. It’s a lot of fun and highly recommended.
A couple of my favorite student blogs:
Bay Area Bookends
Whoops, wrong link to the second blog: Bay Area Bookends
Thanks Justin – sounds very similar to my own undergraduate class, with the only difference that they run a personal blog in addition to a group website. This year I’m going to mix it up a bit, with half the class working on a group website and the rest on smaller niche projects.