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December 17, 2013

Professor Uses Blogging as Teaching Tool for Aspiring Journalists

Journalism program director Linda Villarosa began blogging to connect digitally with her students.

In November, students in Professor Linda Villarosa’s “Introduction to Journalism” class participated in an online press conference with the producers of “Overly Attached Andy,” a new YouTube television series. After the Q&A was over, each student filed their story and Professor Villarosa selected two of the best, by Aurea Gonzalez and Akbar Mirza, to post on “The Conversation,” the City College journalism program’s blog.

Two years ago, Professor Villarosa, the program director, began the blog because, she explained, “I needed a way to connect digitally with my students.” Today, she not only has a blog for the program but for each of the courses she teaches. The journalism program, which is housed in City College’s media and communication arts department, offers an 18-credit minor that has approximately 100 enrolled students.

For “The Conversation,” she typically writes one or two posts a week. Topics can be anything that would appeal to journalism students or people interested in the media. One recent post was about a City College graduate who sued P Diddy for back wages from an unpaid internship. Another showed students how to visually communicate data with their stories, and linked to a training site produced by the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.

The blogs are published in WordPress, a blogging tool that many mainstream media sites are based on, she noted. In addition to commenting on media trends and issues, she provides practical advice on topics such as obtaining internships and resume writing.

Blogging represents a big change from Professor Villarosa’s days as an editor and writer with “The New York Times” and executive editor of “Essence” magazine. There, she was accustomed to stories that ran 1,500 – 3,000 words. “I had to train myself to write tighter because blogging is for people with less time to read,” she said. “The goal is to figure out your point of view and story and boil it down to a simple concept.”

Not only is blogging a useful communications tool, but also a good model for journalism students to follow, she added. “Students need to link to stories they have written online so they can establish a digital presence and promote their work.” Her latest post describes four must-do steps for doing this.

Professor Villarosa uses the individual class blogs to post supplemental materials, such as articles she wants her students to read, and a planning calendar to keep students abreast of deadlines and other vital dates. She also has them submit their written assignments as Google docs, so they don’t have to be printed out. That saves paper, which, she added, gives blogging another benefit: it is good for the environment.

About The City College of New York
Since 1847, The City College of New York has provided low-cost, high-quality education for New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. More than 16,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in: the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture; the School of Education; the Grove School of Engineering; the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, and the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership. U.S. News, Princeton Review and Forbes all rank City College among the best colleges and universities in the United States.
  

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