Final site analysis assignment

CNN front page

Due May 16, 7 p.m.: (20 percent of your grade):

This is an analysis of a news website (at least five 250-300-word blog posts for the undergrads, and seven for the grad students), selected from the following list (you may consider a different site with my approval):

Traditional news sites:

  • USA TODAY, New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, BBC, CNN, ESPN, Wired, MSNBC, Daily Beast

Web-only news sites:

  • Politico, Huffington Post, TheStreet, Slate, Salon

I will only mandate that you make your first post by April 1 and your third post by May 1 so we are sure that this isn’t being done at the last minute. I feel like it’s easier this way, and you will do better work as a result. Please practice good web-writing practices that we have learned so far this semester. Your blog entries all need to have a compelling, SEO-friendly headline, images/screenshots and good links. If you are discussing a particular video element, audio element or photo gallery and the site provides embed code, go ahead and embed it in your site.

Please use your final post for some kind of conclusion about what you have learned from following the site for more than two months.

In the course of the next 10 weeks, you can choose from various elements about which to write:

  • how well the site uses navigation
  • how clean its design is
  • how well it uses photos and graphics
  • broadcast features (including audio and video and podcasts)
  • interactive elements (such as chats, blogs, polls, Google map mashups, quizzes and searchable databases)
  • how much (if any) original reporting appears to be done by the online staff
  • how well stories are written and presented and make use of the medium
  • advertising: is it effective or just annoying? What kind of ads are served and why?

You should tell me about any other features you loved or hated and why. And you should tell me what changes editors and publishers might consider to better position themselves for the future. I recommend that you open your first post by explaining why you chose the site and then get into a particular issue.

Grad students will be required (but if you are an undergrad, feel free to do the same thing for one of your posts) to contact a member of the site’s online staff and carry out a discussion about an online news theme of your choosing. You could write this as a straight Q&A or you could compose it in a more traditional feature story format. This particular post must be at least 400 words so you have a chance to get into some depth with your subject.

Since you will be creating multiple posts on one subject, use the tools within WordPress (tags, keywords, sidebar widgets) to organize your posts into one easily digestible package. You could even consider making a “landing page” as a post in your blog that includes thumbnails and descriptions and links to each individual post. Keep in mind that since this is not just a paper and ink medium, you have some room to be creative.

Each time you complete a post, please send a direct message to kni2103 on twitter so the class’ twitter feed produces an entry. This is because along with your own entries, you must make three comments on blog posts done by your classmates following the guidelines we used for the media diary assignment.

Factual mistakes–including misspelled proper names and faulty URLs–will result in full letter-grade deductions. A URL that directly links me to your series of blog posts on your site must be e-mailed to me, so I get the time stamp, by 7 p.m. on the due date. Assignments turned in after deadline will receive an F.

About danfriedell

I'm a sports writer, editor, adjunct professor, mystery book lover, Cleveland native and a softball player. More about me can be found at
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