Sound and fury! Customising your blog and adding sound

Chris Wheal tells journalism students about adding features to their blogs

Radio New Zealand: Crime Writing

In a third lecture on online journalism, writer and blogger Chris Wheal talked to students about a variety of features that they could add to their blogs to make them look better and be more interesting for readers, including:

  • Changing the theme of their blog;
  • Adding widgets to sidebars;
  • Adding sound clips to their blog.

Changing the blog theme

Chris Wheal explained to the class how WordPress allowed users to select from a range of free blog themes, which have different looks and features, and customise those themes in a variety of ways. This allows bloggers to use their creativity to create the best look for the information they wish to share on their blog.

Adding widgets to sidebars

Chris also told students about some of the many different widgets that could be added to the sidebars of their blogs, from RSS feeds, links to Twitter and Facebook pages, and much more. I have chosen to add a link to a Facebook page I manage – the Ngaio Marsh Award page – and a YouTube video I shot while dog sledding in Lapland.

Adding sound clips

Along with words and visuals (pictures and video), Chris told the LSJ students how they can add further interest to their blogs through the use of sound. Blogs and online journalism really are multimedia tools!

There are a variety of ways that sound can be added, from Spotify feeds to uploading our own sound. I have included a link to a radio interview I was part of on Radio New Zealand in September, above at the top of this blog. I have used the embed html code from the Radio New Zealand website, which has created the link.

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Adding photos to your blog

Chris Wheal teaches LSJ students some key things about adding photos and other media to their blogs

Entering Utah on a road trip

Craig Sisterson entering Utah on a road trip

Chris Wheal told the London School of Journalism students in October that visuals were an important part of online publishing. Modern publishing is about multimedia, not just words. To have the best blogs and websites, we need to include photos, videos, and sound clips that will help inform and entertain our readers, capture their attention, and keep it.

In a follow-up class to our introductory lecture, Chris Wheal demonstrated how to include photos in WordPress blogs, as well as how to add videos from YouTube – either in a blog post itself or in the sidebar.

I have added a YouTube video in an earlier post, and one of my own YouTube videos into the sidebar to the right. The photo I have included above is one of my own, from my recent trip to the United States in September, so I have added it directly from my computer.

Where bloggers use photos from other websites, Chris cautioned us to link to the photo on the original website, rather than downloading it onto our computers then uploading it from our computers onto our own blogs.

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Getting to grips with online publishing: key lessons from Chris Wheal

Award-winning writer, editor, and teacher Chris Wheal taught budding journalists about online publishing by at the London School of Journalism this month.

In the first of a series of classes on online publishing platforms, Wheal spoke to the students about a number of topics, including:

  • the importance of having a good online presence;
  • the differences between print and online publishing;
  • the benefits and challenges of online publishing; and
  • search engine optimisation (SEO).

In the early part of the lecture, Wheal invited students to Google his name and see what they found, and also to Google search themselves and their neighbouring students. Students could find a lot of information about Wheal from his own website, where he was described as being an experienced writer, editor, blogger, and website creator who also provides media training to commercial companies and trains journalists and others in writing and online skills.

“As a modern journalist, you need to proactively make yourself easy to be found on Google,” said Wheal to the students. “You need to make your Facebook and LinkedIn profiles something worth reading.”

Wheal introduced students to the art and craft of blogging, and demonstrated how quick and easy it is to create a brand new blog, for free, on platform such as Blogger and WordPress. Some key lessons for the students included:

  • Be specific and mention key topics early, as web users scan rather than reading word-for-word;
  • Keep it short;
  • Write half as much as you would for print;
  • Bullet points work better than lists;
  • Use links to additional information.

In future lectures Wheal will teach students more skills which will enable them to create better blogs and take their online journalism skills to a higher level.

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