Journalism and Social Media

Without making light of the events that have made it one of the biggest stories of 2014, it’s safe to say that Ferguson, USA has become an invaluable case study in social media’s impact on journalism and activism.


photo by Robert Cohen, St Louis Post-Dispatch

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Session 2 – Contextualising social media

We kicked off the semester by discussing social media’s status as an emerging societal institution. It’s quite a lofty way to look at it, but consider the reality: in little more than a decade, social media has become integral to the way we communicate, do business, and learn about the world. For better or for worse, the technology has become the embodiment of the public sphere, and social-media-driven public discourse is becomingly increasingly important to our civic and political engagement. Similarly, the fields of journalism, PR, and advertising are now adapting to an unprecedented array of challenges and opportunities, all of which we’ll examine over the next few weeks.

apple applications apps cell phone

Photo by Tracy Le Blanc on

Our first task, however, is defining and contextualising social media itself.

Read on.

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Session 1 – Planning your project

You’ve been given an opportunity to prove to yourself, the public, and future employers and clients, that you’re capable of consistently producing quality content for digital platforms. Beyond simply a valuable asset, that skill is increasingly becoming a necessity for communications professionals. So keep that in mind as you approach this coursework, and aim to produce something that is exciting, uniquely you, and manageable.


Today’s update focuses on that ‘manageable’ bit. I want you to think big and bold, but I don’t want you to bite off more than you can chew. Here are some simple guidelines for developing an appropriate project idea, and for using the social media platforms that are most appropriate for your goal.

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COMM 351 – An Opportunity to Excel

COMM 351 will be one of the most heavily practical courses you’ve encountered so far. While we’ll spend a portion of the semester looking at the status-quo-shifting aspect of the technology, we’ll focus primarily on establishing (or enhancing) your professional presence on social media.


Your main assessment will require you to work towards a goal of your choice using social media as a primary tool. The project can be a professional endeavour, a personal objective, or something that complements your studies. Be sure to define the goal clearly in your mind (you should be able to state it in one short sentence). Only then should you begin to select the social media platforms and services that best suit your needs as a student or professional.

The graphic design crowd usually excels in this course. As artists, creators, and makers at heart, many of you are already using the technology to build your skills and display your design work, illustrations, or photography. Some of you will want to use this opportunity to pursue personal projects that don’t fit into your school and job workloads.


Read on.

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Crowdfunding in the Classroom



image via TechCrunch/Shutterstock


I’ve been struggling for a while now to incorporate a meaningful, interesting segment on crowdfunding and crowdsourcing into one of my social media theory classes. So far, those efforts have resulted in middling explorations of Trinbagonian Kickstarter projects and reiteration of the “social media empowers audiences” theme. It’s a topic I was beginning to dread covering, but this semester, I have an opportunity to add a lot more substance to my illustrations.

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Why study media?

The following is an example post for students of my introductory media theory courses:

image via Shutterstock


A few years ago, while speaking to other students at a graduation, I jokingly remarked that due to my programme of choice, every movie I watched, every video game I played, and even every podcast I listened to could be considered research. I was only half joking, though. I had, after all, been studying mass communication.Time and time during my studies, I was able to illustrate concepts and deepen my discussion of theory by using examples of everyday media. I explained convergence and consolidation using Sony’s virtual monopoly of Spider-Man-related electronic media in the early 2000s. A page of Vladimir Putin memes sparked a discussion that I later referenced in an essay on public relations. Critical observation of media has always reaped rewards for me professionally, whether as a teacher, a former reporter, or a freelance writer. And media studies has remained a fresh and exciting field to me because it’s based on an ever-developing, ever-changing media landscape.

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On heroism and representation in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The following is an exemplar blog post for COMM 365 (Audience and Reception) students.

I’m conflicted about Finn.

Like most moviegoers, I was fooled by JJ Abrams’ mystery box marketing and went into Star Wars: The Force Awakens expecting to see the character established as the new Luke Skywalker of the series. As a black nerd, even an older, jaded one, the idea of a young man of colour becoming the central figure of that fabled universe was…exciting.

Finn is not that sort of hero.

Read on.


I want this poster, though.

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