Individual Blog Guidelines

Obviously, you will want to choose an area for your blog's coverage that inspires your interest and enthusiasm. You may not be an expert in the subject now, but you should have the desire to be.

You should also choose a topic where you can cover original news on a regular basis. In other words, covering the United Nations with input from insiders may be difficult to do from campus.

In choosing the "beat" for your blog, you might want to start by thinking about your methods for newsgathering:

Do you have ideas about particular people you would interview?

Are there specific events that you plan to attend?

Do you know other journalists working in the same news sector whom you see as competitors or collaborators?

Do you have legal and ethical access to records that might be of interest to the public?

Personal Blog Grading Criteria


An "A" blogging portfolio demonstrates that the student can present him or herself as an expert on a topic and write sophisticated and engaging news storiesthat are supported by new material and proficient evidence. We have a clear sense of the writer's authority and credibility. Sources are vividly presented but there is also evidence of journalistic restraint.

The approach to the news topic is insightful, credible, unique, and worth developing; the level of thinking/analysis is strong; the ideas are clearly communicated with focus and specificity; the topic is considered/addressed from several facets or perspectives; the writer understands journalistic conventions for producing and communicating knowledge; the content is tailored to a focused audience.

The writer incorporates appropriate, clear, and smooth transitions, well-constructed paragraphs, and an arrangement of organizational elements that seems particularly apt. The writer uses sophisticated sentences effectively, usually chooses words aptly, observes the conventions of written English, and makes few -- if any -- minor or technical errors.


A "B" blogging portfolio demonstrates that the student can present him or herself as a credible source on a topic and write coherent and engagng news stories that are supported by additional material and satisfactory evidence. We have a general sense of the writer's expertise. Sources are sufficient but aren't well described or integrated into the story.

The approach is acceptable, reasonable, thoughtful; the level of thinking/analysis is appropriate; the ideas offered are generally specific and focused, some are insightful, usually communicated clearly; the writer shows an awareness of multiple facets or perspectives; the writer seems to understand journalistic discourse and has taken some care in including content appropriate to the intended audience.

The writer presents distinct units of thought in paragraphs controlled by specific, detailed, and arguable topic sentences and clear transitions between developed, cohering, and logically arranged paragraphs. There may be a few mechanical difficulties or stylistic problems (which/that use, split infinitives, dangling modifiers, etc.), and the writer may make occasional problematic word choices or syntax errors. There may also be a few spelling or punctuation errors or a cliché.


A "C" blogging portfolio demonstrates that the student can present him or herself as an accurate source on a topic and write basic short-form news stories that are supported by some evidence, but the writing may only focus on minimum competence at the tasks of blogging with less substantive analysis or less specific description to support claims than a "B" portfolio would provide. Sources may be lacking or inappropriately cited.

Often "C" portfolios only partially develop a story, fail to go beyond shallow analysis, leave ideas and generalizations undeveloped or unsupported, and make limited use of textual or visual evidence. The prose sporadically illustrates the writer's understanding of the genre's methods of organizing written discourse; the organization is intermittently apparent, coherent, and on occasion, contributes to the overall goals; the development of ideas is somewhat insightful, specific, focused, and logical; transitional devices are inconsistently employed to connect the ideas; the reader can occasionally follow the writer's chain of reasoning or progression of ideas.

There may be some awkward transitions, some brief, weakly unified or undeveloped paragraphs, and the arrangement may not appear entirely natural or contain extraneous information. These portfoilios may have more frequent wordiness, unclear or awkward sentences, imprecise use of words or over-reliance on passive voice, and some distracting grammatical errors (wrong verb tense, pronoun agreement, apostrophe errors, singular/plural errors, article use, preposition use, comma splice, etc.).


A "D" blogging portfolio shows serious problems with writing competent blog entries. The style may be inappropriate, the evidence may be obviously insufficient, and the student's online persona may raise questions in the reader's mind about credibility.

The prose does not clearly illustrate the writer's understanding of the genre's methods of organizing written discourse; organization is random, simplistic or inappropriately sequential, and rarely (if ever) contributes to the overall goals; little or no development of ideas is evident, with limited insight, focus or logic; the writing has little or no internal coherence, using few or inappropriate transitional devices; the reader has difficulty following the writer's chain of reasoning or progression of ideas.. The writer may digress from one topic to another without developing ideas or terms or make insufficient or awkward use of textual or visual evidence. The style of a "D" portfolio is often simplistic with a tendency to narrate or merely summarize.

The approach is inadequate or confusing; little or no evidence of critical thinking and analysis is present; although some of the ideas may be worthwhile, the level of insight and clarity of presentation are lacking; the writer does not take into account other facets or perspectives, or does so in an inappropriate or simplistic manner; the thinking lacks focus and clarity, illustrates misconceptions; little or no evidence of awareness of the prospective audience.

These portfolios are often characterized by major grammatical or proofreading errors that indicate problems with Standard Written English (subject-verb agreement, sentence fragments, word form errors, etc.). The language may also be frequently weakened by colloquialisms, clichés, and hyperbolic statements or repeated inexact word choices.


An "F" blogging portfolio may ignore the requirements of the class to produce writing that is substantive, coherent, engaging, and oriented around original analysis.

The writer may write too little text or produce a personal diary not of interest to outsiders or issue only political or social rants or post a series of stream-of-consciousness entries lacking a common theme. The student may have other severe difficulties communicating through journalistic writing.

There may be little or no development; the writer may list disjointed facts or misinformation; in style, there may be no transitions and incoherent paragraphs that suggest poor planning or no serious revision. Numerous grammatical errors and stylistic problems seriously detract from the argument. This writing often does not meet Standard Written English requirement. Plagiarism is also grounds for an "F" grade.