Going upstream on viral content

Today affords us a chance to catch up individually in the lab. By now you should have:

  • created and designed your own WordPress site,
  • added your site’s unique URL to our spreadsheet,
  • added an About Me page and included an image, and
  • have written, formatted, and uploaded one post from your first fact-check.

Remember this unit is graded on the quality of 5 posts, as well as one final, longer fact-check at the end of the unit. It’s important not to fall behind.

Fact-checking strategies.

Before we begin to work individually, let’s quickly review the 2 fact-checking strategies you’ve read so far in Caulfield’s book:

  1. Drawing from previous work, including Wikipedia (which stresses a neutral point of view, or NPOV).
  2. Going upstream to use web-based searching strategies to locate original sources of information and evaluate them.
  • Why are these strategies necessary or helpful?
  • What is “reporting on reporting”? What is “sponsored content”? What is “syndication”? What is “viral content”?
  • What do these search strategies specifically entail?
  • How did you make use of them in your first post?
  • Start thinking, too, about the difference between outstanding posts and posts that meet minimum requirements. We can talk more about this on Wednesday.

Practice going upstream.

Draw from your reading, especially Chapter 11, to investigate a piece of viral content. You can find such viral content on your own feeds, but I recommend using Buzzsumo, a search engine that tracks and ranks viral content based on the number of shares from social media.

Try to find a source that isn’t very reliable and go upstream. Hopefully, these strategies include:

  • executing advanced search commands (“–” and “site:”)
  • utilizing the highlight/right-click search feature
  • scanning search results for URLs — not titles

As you craft your post, consider discussing other aspects of this section of the book, including issues with sponsored content and syndication.  You might also consider discussing other content you see on the page, including comments. Aim to post something that’s ~500 words and includes embedded content, links, and multimedia. You want to provide a context for the fact, but then present the narrative of how you went upstream to locate information closer to the original source.

Homework for Wednesday, 1/31

  1. Finish the piece you started in class today — your 2nd of 5 posts in this unit — and publish it before class.
  2. The blogroll on the right sidebar lists the WordPress sites of your classmates. Click on them and find a few excellent examples. Be ready to discuss these in class on Wednesday.
  3. Read Caulfield Ch 12-18.