Pro-am goes political


"Off the Bus" is a pro-am journalism page sponsored by the Huffington Post.

Off the Bus” is a page on The Huffington Post dedicated to citizen journalism related to the upcoming elections. Contributors include professionals in politics, education, and media as well as journalism students and those who are interested in the political process. The Huffington Post gives out assignments and also allows people to post their own stories and experiences.

Pro-am reporting

  • This is a pro-am site because it allows anyone to be a reporter to cover issues related to the upcoming elections.
  • With protests going on across the country, “Off the Bus” allows citizens to post photos of protestors. All protests and demonstrations can be covered, even ones in small towns. As Mark Briggs says in Journalism Next, news reporters can’t be everywhere. This site allows citizens to show what is going on around the country.

Covering all viewpoints

  • The 2012 Presidential Election is a very broad topic. By allowing many different people to contribute to this pro-am site, hundreds of angles can get covered. Sometimes the average citizen can find an issue that has been overlooked by mainstream media.
  • This site also allows for hyper-local reporting. Many stories pertain to specific states or cities that have held political rallies or discussions.
  • “Off the Bus” changes the way the media looks at politics. Instead of focusing on the political candidates and where they are campaigning, this site shows how the country is viewing the elections. It shows what is going on around the country in relation to the candidates but focuses more on the average citizen.

Negative points about the website

  • There is not much organization or categories. All articles are posted on the same page and older posts get pushed to the back.
  • The site is a little difficult to navigate. Many links take the viewer away from the “Off the Bus” section and it can be hard to get back to it.

Good points about the website

  • It has a broad range of topics.
  • There are many links to related articles by Huffington Post staffers as well as other citizen journalists.
  • The layout is very attractive with many pictures and catchy headlines.
  • The contributors range from college students to political analysts to journalism professors. This allows for a greater spectrum of knowledge and viewpoints.


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Wordle: 2007

Wordles Graphic

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Wordle: Guest Blogging

Graphic created by from “Guest Posting.”

Cool Infographic

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Psychology of Color [Infographic]

Courtesy of NowSourcing, Inc


I found this infographic very useful for me. As a graphic designer I need to consider color when designing logos and creating corporate identities. I found the image to be visually pleasing as well as informative.

Guest Posting


"Six powerful guest post tactics that no one's talking about" by Tom Ewer

Before reading Tom Ewer’s “Six powerful guest post tactics that no one’s talking about,” I hadn’t even thought about guest blogging. In fact, I didn’t even know people did that. We just recently learned about blogging in class and how to make a successful blog. This article is a great resource for anyone interested in generating more blog followers.

What is guest posting?

Guest posting is when a blogger lets another blogger post an article on his or her website. This article, written by Ewer, is a guest post he wrote for Pro Blogger. Ewer’s blog is called “Leaving work behind” and it is meant to provide tips to people who wish to be self-employed. In this article he wrote for Pro Blogger, he discusses ways to increase traffic to a blog by writing for another blog.

Love your blog

Most of the article discusses how to choose what blog to write a guest post for. According to Ewer, it’s important to choose one that would generate the most traffic. Like Mark Briggs says in Journalism Next, it is important to “love your blog.” In his article Ewer says that it is equally important when guest posting to write for a blog that is loved.

“If a blogger doesn’t love their blog, its subscribers certainly won’t. And by extension, you will receive little to no traffic.” ~Tom Ewer

Loving a blog, according to Ewer, means updating the site frequently and posting new blogs in a consistent manner.

Interact with readers

Ewer also talks about the importance of choosing to guest post for a blogger who is actively involved in the community of readers and subscribers. He encourages guest bloggers to make sure the blogs they’re writing for have many comments on each post.

“If a blog’s community is highly engaged with the owners’ posts, they are far more likely to take interest in a guest post.” ~Tom Ewer

The importance of interacting with readers was discussed in the text book and in class.

General blogging tips

Besides information geared toward guest blogging, Ewer offered tips on writing a good blog that were listed in Journalism Next.

These include:

  • Breaking the post into short paragraphs
  • Using bold and italics to highlight key information
  • Using sub-headers
  • Using images
  • Using lists

Blog length debate

In Journalism Next, Briggs says that it’s best to keep blogs short. Ewer disagrees with that theory and says that longer blogs can be beneficial.

“If you are writing interesting and engaging content, people will find the time to read it.” ~Tom Ewer

I found that interesting that Ewer goes against a common theory about blogs. I’m not sure if I fully agree or disagree with his belief. On one hand, some people may be in a hurry and want to get information fast. They may be turned off by a longer blog post. However, if someone is really interested in the subject, they will want as much information as they can acquire. They probably will read through an entire blog regardless of its length.

Benefits of guest blogging

Photo Credit: seosmarty

I found the whole article to be interesting and surprising because I had never given such a concept any thought. I’ve always seen blogging as a website controlled and written by a single person. I didn’t think people wrote for other people’s blogs.

Guest blogging can be a good tool for journalism and communications students because it is a great way for them to get their name out there. If they only write for their own blogs, they are limiting their audience. By putting their names on other blogs, they can attract more subscribers and create a better web presence.

Further Reading:

Primary Preview

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The Missouri primary on Tuesday is open to all registered voters in Missouri. It will be the first official look at the state’s preference for the 2012 presidential candidates.

The primary will be “open,” meaning voters can chose which party’s ballot they would like to vote on regardless of their affiliation.

Republican votes will not count in the primary as the caucus on March 17 will be the true determiner. Despite this fact, Republican Director of Elections of the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners, Gary Stoff believes voting in the primary is a great way for citizens to express their opinions and possibly influence those who will vote in the caucus.

With the Republican ballot serving as more of a straw poll, some party leaders are predicting a low turnout.

“I don’t expect many people to come to the polls at all,” said Joe DeLuca, president of the Democratic Committee in Creve Coeur. “I don’t see any point to it.”

Stoff foresees a low turnout of Democrats as well as Republicans.

“On the Democrat side, we have an incumbent who is popular with the party, so that may discourage people from voting,” Stoff said.

John Gwalthey, president of the Democratic Committee in Airport Township, estimates a 15 percent turnout of Democrats, but slightly higher numbers for the Republican voters.

“A lot of people don’t realize there’s a lot more going on at the primary,” Gwalthey said. “It serves its purpose, especially in a challenger year. “

Though Missouri is trying to switch to a caucus system, Gwalthey prefers primaries.

“At the primaries, you hear the opinions of the everyday Joe, whereas the caucus is mostly those who are very politically active,” he said.

Gwalthey said the caucus system worked well in the past when it was used to educate the voters on the candidates and the issues. The advancement of technology has created more informed voters than in decades past, making primaries a more efficient way of choosing a candidate.

Unlike the Republican ballot, Democrat votes in the upcoming primary will count toward Missouri’s pick.

Three other Democrats will be on the ballot with Barack Obama. They are John Wolfe from Tennessee, Randall Terry from Washington, D.C. and Darcy Richardson from Florida. None of them has held a public office.

“Taking on an incumbent who is popular in his party is a very big undertaking,” Stoff said.

Many Democrats expect Barack Obama to be the final candidate. Richardson even explained in a T.V. interview that he doesn’t expect to win. He simply wants to bring certain issues into light such as the war in Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay and the rights of the working class.

For many voters, the economy is the number one issue on their minds.

“I think everybody’s concerned about having a job,” Gwalthey said. “It’ll be about who can put the people to work.”

About the Missouri Primary and Caucus

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The 2012 Missouri voting for a Republican presidential candidate is taking a sharp turn away from tradition by holding both a primary and a caucus.

Missouri has traditionally held primaries to elect a candidate, but state legislators have recently decided to adopt the caucus system which hasn’t been used in the state since 1996.

In a primary, polls are open most of the day and voters are free to cast their ballots at any time. Those attending a caucus, however, must meet in a certain location and stay for several meetings before they vote publicly at a specified time.

Officials in Jefferson City attempted to push the Feb. 7 primary back to comply with the National Republican Party’s rule that certain state primaries could not be held before March 6. When the Missouri Congress was unable to move the date, it voted to switch to a caucus system with the caucus being held March 17. This means, however, that all votes in the primary will not count toward Missouri’s Republican nomination.

“If it has no meaning, why spend millions of dollars having one?” said Sen. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington in the Post Dispatch. “We’re slashing budgets throughout state government, so there is just no justification for spending $6 million on what amounts to a beauty contest.”

Republican candidate Newt Gingrich agrees with such an argument and did not put his name on the ballot because of it.

“The Missouri primary doesn’t have any delegates attached to it and so this was a conscious decision,” he said at a news conference in New York.

The Feb. 7 primary will count toward the Democratic nomination, however, and any chances of the primary being used as a straw poll have been eliminated by Gingrich’s name not being on the ballot.

Auditor Tom Scheweich and former Senator Jim Talent saw Gingrich’s decision as being disrespectful to the state of Missouri.

“It is a mistake to ignore the Missouri primary as caucus goers and delegates will be influenced by the results of the primary,” they said in a statement.

Some people are unhappy that Missouri is moving to a caucus system because historically less people participate. It is a longer process than voting in a primary. Caucuses are also typically dominated by party activists and may not represent a majority of voters.

Phil Christofanelli of St. Louis, a member of the Missouri Republican State Committee, disagrees.

“I like the caucus system because I think it encourages people to get involved,” he told the Post Dispatch. “It’s a much more involved process than simply showing up and casting a vote in a primary.”

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